Monday, March 12, 2012

menu boards, recipes, and cookbooks ... oh my!

While I am no Betty Crocker, I do shoulder the responsibility of cooking for the Domestic Rocket Clan.  Frightening, I know.

Between mom blogs and Pintercrack I am pretty much convinced that the path to culinary success is lined with highly detailed menu boards.  So while the minions were otherwise occupied this weekend I did some looking into this.

And I discovered something very, very important.

While I may be an OCD spaz who loves color coordinating charts, graphs, tables, and the like -- it turns out that when I look at really complex menu planning systems I sorta have a brain flatline.  You know on TV when someone is dead and the heart monitors have that one long, single tone beeeeeeeeep with the monitor reflecting that there is not beating in that ticker?  Brain flatlining is like that, but only with my head.

(and the wonky labels make my eyes want to explode)

And the mother of all highly-organized-I-am-never-going-to-be-this-awesome menu planning systems:

I am a firm believer in baby steps.  All of those menu boards up there, and the multitudes more you will find on Pintercrack and the mommy blogoshpere, are nice.  But not very doable for me.  If I did have the time, and did want to spend it making one of those, I wouldn't stick with it at this point.  Not even kind of.  Like at all.

But I see the value in meal planning.  It prevents the epic nightly fail of hearing "so whats for dinner?" and responding with the ever intelligent "uuuuuuuhhhhhh ...."

It also is a great way to save money and hit that grocery budget.  

But I am not there *points at any of the pictures above* yet.  Expecting me to pull that off would be kinda like asking a person who doesn't know how to ride a bike to do some awesome BMX tricks blindfolded.  And drunk.  While juggling chainsaws and monkeys.  I am not even sure I want to do that yet.  (the detailed crafty boards, not the BMX juggling act)

So I started with acknowledging that I have no system for the recipes I do have.  I print them off of the internet, then lose them.  I have some recipe cards my mother-in-law gave me for a wedding present, but I have no organization to them other than they were in a box.  I don't like the box, and none of "my" stuff is in the box because I don't have cards.  Really, like 80% of the time I just make it all up anyway and don't actually follow a recipe.
My labels

So I did this.  Its not a recipe card binder, but it is a binder.  I made categories for it, but being the rebel I am I couldn't label them logically.  So here are the section names:

Ole (Mexican)
Mangia (Italian)
Domo Arigato (Asian)
Good Mornin' (Breakfasts)
Slurp (soups, stews, chilies)
Warmin' Up (appetizers)
Fat Pants (desserts)
Not Veg (meat based meals)
Slainte (beverage, not all alcohol for the record)
??? (stuff that I had no idea where to put)
Faux (the cleaning supplies and what -not that I am making to save moolah)
Brrr! (specifically designed to be frozen, like this pizza dough)

I used "return address" labels and stuck them on the dividers because it is about a million times easier than trying to sit there and slide those stupid pieces of paper in those itty bitty things.  

I still have one blank section left so when I remember something, like side dishes, I can add that to the book.  

A page from the Fat Pants section
Then I just use sheet protectors for the printed off, full size recipes.  I can also just tear out any magazine pages I want and stick them in there too.  I will eventually make a format for my recipes, and then eventually I will need to have some way to visually represent them, I guess.  But in the mean time I figure this will have to do.  I have a white board on the fridge that I just wrote the days of the week on.  Each day gets a meal next to it, simple enough for now.

This "system" cost me nothing, the former-teacher-stock-piles had the nice binder, sheet protectors, binder dividers, and sticker labels.  

So, in summary:

1.) I got to do something that makes me look and feel more organized.
2.) It cost me nothing really!
3.) I got to tap into the teacher-stuff hoarder bins that my husband says I will never need.  So I proved him wrong, again!
Triple win if I do say so myself!

** A word about the Non Veg section -- We are actually a vegetarian family, slightly transitioning into the vegan world due to severe milk protein intolerance.  This blog isn't about that, so it doesn't come up often but that section of my "cook book" is for all the family recipes we have (ie my MIL's recipe cards) that are meat based.  I can modify them, but know where to look if I want one. **

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