You know I have been decluttering lately. I have tackled all the hidden areas around my home where most clutter lurks…basement, garage, and attic, but I felt it was time to take on a space that is the most seen and lived in…my kitchen.
On my path to simplify and declutter, I also want to eat better…to get back to eating whole foods and less processed junk. This is hard to do since eating healthy takes a lot of meal planning and preparation in advance. Most everything has to be made from scratch. This takes time out of an already busy schedule, but I want to focus on making it part of our lifestyle so organization is a must!
To make food prep and cooking a more enjoyable pastime, a good glass of wine helps as you chop. :-) Jest aside, although this helps you feel like you are living in a Williams Sonoma catalog as you prepare a meal. Preparation is the real key to making meal prep feel less daunting for someone who is not a “foodie” and also for sticking with it over a lifetime. Just like any DIY project, preparation leads to success.
So I have been going through my kitchen and prepping it for whole food eating success. I am organizing it to be 100% efficient. Tossing out junk food, and condiments with a ton of unwanted additives. Sharp knives in easy reach, easy to find cookware, and tried-and-true recipes all in one place so when I am asked, “What’s for Dinner?”, I have a healthy answer or can find one in an instant.
One of the biggest parts of the job comes down to meal planning. I can’t just pull a frozen meal out of the freezer for dinner anymore. I will have to make it.
One of my projects was to makeover my recipe box. I set up my kitchen table for the task. I have a lot of family recipes as well as ones that I have clipped from magazines or have gotten online. Ed asked me why I was not making my new recipe file on my computer? My answer… I need a visual, something I can see and hold in my hand when looking for meal inspiration. As I went through my recipe box, I decided to not only organize it for healthy eating success, but to revive it, to make it the best recipe box ever.
My recipe box. It is now my go-to box when I need to plan out for the week what I will make each night as well as make a weekly shopping list. I can then put them here for the week so I know what I am making.
As you can see it is not filled.
I added a foam core divider to the box so I can place newly clipped recipes I want to try in the back. If I make it and we like it, it is a winner and I will make a card for it. Otherwise the clipping will go into the trash. As I add more “winner” recipe cards, the divider will be pushed back to make room for the new recipe cards.
Recipe Card Makeover
To help keep all of our favorite recipes in one handy place, I also added cards to the box as a cross-reference to recipes we enjoy in the cookbooks I have.
I have a lot of cookbooks and have favorite recipes in each. Instead of bookmarking or trying to remember what book the “Apple Crisp” recipe is in. I made up a card with the name of recipe, the category of food it belongs in, the cookbook name, and page number it is on in the cookbook. This way I only have to look in my recipe box to find the cross-reference to the cookbook. This will save me a lot of time in the kitchen.
I also cut down every magazine and printed out recipe I had and then taped the recipes to an index card.
Since I am such a visual girl, I like to include the photo from the clipped recipe if there is one. On some cards the printed recipe and photo didn’t fit. On these cards, I taped the photo on the card first, then taped the top of the recipe section so it becomes a flap and just needs to be lifted to see the photo. This helps keep the box nice and orderly.
I bought notebook divider tabs at the office supply store and cut them down to fit into the box to separate the categories. I also only had a few index cards that were made to fit in a box this size. I looked everywhere to find more, but couldn’t find them. I ended up buying larger index cards and cut them to fit in the box using my paper cutter.
I am hoping this new way of organizing my recipes will make meal planning and prep easier as the weeks go by. Eventually using it will become habit and the joy of meal planning and prep should become less daunting.
How to do you organize your recipes?
**To try out some of my favorite recipes, head over to my Recipe Archives.