What’s for dinner? Organizing recipes into a Family Cookbook can help you easily choose your favorite cheap, easy, and healthy recipes to cook.
Trying to decide what’s for dinner is a task in and of itself. Having millions of recipes or cookbooks only seems to exacerbate the problem. Over the years I have acquired a few cookbooks. The recipes I come back to time and time again are from three sources:
- Family/Friend Cookbooks
- Our Family Cookbook
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While deep cleaning the kitchen, I realized I had a whole stack of loose recipes I had been saving for a future day. These recipes have been saved for years, and that day has never come. I quickly went through the stack and threw out 90% of the pile. When trying to decide what to cook for dinner, I find that I don’t look through loose recipes. Instead, I will go through my tried and true methods of finding great recipes.
I will choose a cookbook of compiled family or neighborhood recipes over a fancy cookbook any day of the week. The only exception to this is the Betty Crocker Cookbook which has a bunch of great fail proof staple recipes. In a family or neighborhood cookbook people usually submit their best recipes. Either that, or the recipes they cook so often they can recite without thinking. These foods are usually cooked with ingredients I already have on hand, so I’m not buying weird spices and ingredients specific to a certain dish.
When I cook a dish that I love, I write notes next to it that would include:
- What substitutions I made
- If the family liked it
- Anything I would change next time.
If no one in the family cared for the dish, I simply put a big ‘X’ through the recipe to remind myself to never cook it again! If we all loved it, I put a sticky note in that page for quick reference, and a reminder to add it to our Family Cookbook later.
I love to find good recipes on Pinterest. Generally speaking, I look for the recipes that are simple both in preparation and taste and have beautiful pictures. Collecting dinner recipes on Pinterest is preferred, because it doesn’t cause any additional clutter in my cupboards. My phone doesn’t get any heavier depending on the number of recipes I have pinned. Some sites that I have found that consistently have great recipes:
Our Family Cookbook is simply a collection of our tried and true recipes. Whenever I find a recipe the whole family loves, I add it to the Family Cookbook.
Why do I have a Family Cookbook?
- It makes it much easier to plan what’s for dinner
- When I ask the kids to choose something for dinner, I hand them Family Cookbook. 90% of the time I will have all ingredients necessary to make those recipes.
- It has ONLY recipes we love and that I can cook easily.
- Whenever there are super great sales, I stock up on the ingredients that I regularly use in the recipes found in my cookbook so I never pay full price for staple groceries.
How is our Family Cookbook set up?
How it is Made:
I used a simple 3 ring binder. Categories are separated with individual tabs. I wanted the book to fit flush in my cupboard, so the tabs are the simple kind that you slide the paper label into. I used to have the fancy pocket tabs, but it didn’t fit in my cupboard as easily. Each page is inserted into a sheet protector so spills, are easily wiped up with no harm done. It may not be the most beautiful or ‘cute’ cookbook, but I like it plain, simple, easy to read, and functional. You’ll also notice that instead of a fancy cover, I have my Monthly Meal Rotation. Not as cute, but definitely more handy!
I asked my friends on Facebook a couple of years back how they organize their meals. I had seen some great ideas, but wanted something that was catchy, easy, and fun to remember while still providing the perfect balance of variety. In addition to the regular Bread, Breakfast, and Dessert categories, I ended up choosing these themes:
- Meatless Monday: Pasta and Other
- Taco Tuesday
- Wait for it Wednesday: Make-Ahead, Crockpot, or Freezer Meals
- Thirsty Thursday: Soups and Salads
- Fun and Fancy Friday: This pretty much included meals that didn’t really fit in any other category.
Being totally honest on Friday’s category, these recipes are usually used through the weekend. If I were to further categorize how the weekends go, it would be: Something Simple Saturday, and Succulent Sunday, or something like that.
I reprint a fresh copy at least yearly so all the added recipes are in their own spot instead handwritten and stuck in. (plus, I like to have my recipes alphabetized by category so they are easier for me to find)
Because of the versatility of the categories (soup and salad), I was able to easily make up a rotating monthly calendar that I can use year round. Fresh produce and salads are enjoyed in the summer while hearty and warm soups are had in the winter. While we don’t stick to the rotating meal 100%, it’s certainly nice to have a back-up plan that requires no additional effort on my part.
Something I realized over the past few months is that I have a bunch of recipes up my sleeve that I don’t have written down. They are super easy (omelets, grilled chicken and whatever leftover side we need to use up) and don’t really require a recipe. I am adding a list of these within each category for those nights when I don’t want to cook what I had planned, I need something super simple, and I’m completely out of inspiration.
So, that’s our Family Cookbook in a nutshell! I love the simplicity it provides to an otherwise stressful event of everyday. Granted, that witching hour with whiny kids is still a battle, but at least the guesswork is taken out of the mix!
Do you have a Family Cookbook?