Meal Planning

Recipe Organization Binder + Easy Meal Planning

Why You Need to Use a Recipe & Meal Planner Binder

A recipe organization binder will help to streamline your meal planning by giving you a one-stop-shop where you keep all of your recipes. When it’s time to meal plan, you’ll find it goes more smoothly when all of your recipes are in one spot. And when it’s time to cook, you can just refer to your weekly meal planner binder (which also happens to be your recipe binder) to start making dinner!

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Before I started using my recipe binder, I had recipes scattered all over the place! First, I had a cute recipe box with handwritten recipes that my Mom and I wrote out when I went off to college and I had added to over the years. Then, I had recipes that I had printed off the internet in a folder (or 2 or 3, if I’m really honest.)Finally, I had recipes saved digitally…in my email, my Pinterest account, and a bookmark folder.

Do I officially sound like the most disorganized and inefficient recipe-keeper ever? I certainly felt like it!

binder with the words "my meal planner"

How do you create one binder for both recipe organizing and meal planning?

The Recipe Section

First, create a recipe section in your binder. This is mostly what your binder consists of. Basically, you organize your recipes into several basic categories (such as entrees, desserts, beverages, bread, snacks, etc) or more specific categories (meat, poultry, fish, crockpot, etc.)

recipe tabs in a recipe organization binder

How Does Meal Planning Work with the binder?

In the front of my binder, I have larger tabbed sections set up for fast and easy meal planning. Some reference sheets of our favorite dinners, dinners to eat when our plan fails, as well as a place to keep a weekly plan.

meal planner binder with tabs

Getting Started On Your Meal Planner Binder

Recipe & Meal Planer Binder Supplies

You really don’t need many supplies to create your own binder. Here are the things you will need for a basic recipe binder (including if you purchase my complete system to use!)

  • Binder Kit/Meal Planning System (optional) – You can get your binder kit as part of my meal planning system here which will provide you with all of the printables you need to make your own binder. In addition, it comes with Your Meal Planning Guide which will walk you through the steps of meal planning. Of course, you can make basic labels on your computer, but this upgraded system will give you plenty of options for categories, 5 color choices, and save you plenty of time.
  • Binder – I have my recipes organized in a really basic binder like this and labeled with the cover sheet from my meal planning binder kit. Alternatively, you could use a pretty binder like this.
  • Packaging Tape
  • Cardstock– I like to print my category pages and tabs on cardstock to make them hold up better in my binder. However, you could just use plain paper if you did not have or want to purchase cardstock.
  • Plastic Sheet Protectors – You will use these to keep your recipes safe and clean.
  • Optional: Recipe Card Page Protectors – Like these, if you have 4 x 6 recipe cards or these for 3 x 5 recipe cards or smaller.

How to Make a Recipe Organization Binder

Making a recipe organization binder can be a great way to organize your recipes. Here are a few easy steps you can use to create your own.

  1. Gather all of your recipes together. – Think of everywhere you keep recipes. For example, recipe cards, printed recipes, recipes online, commonly referred to recipes from your Pinterest boards, etc. Print any recipes off of your computer or internet that you want to keep in your binder.
  2. Divide your recipes into categories. – You can either buy my recipe binder kit (in my complete meal planning system) done-for-you category pages OR if you have extra time you can create your own tabs and categories.
    – I recommend printing the category pages on cardstock to make them a little thicker than the recipes you will be putting in your binder.
    – If you have my meal planning binder, you can simply cut out the included page tabs and tape them on the page protectors as is instructed in my kit using packaging tape. However, if you don’t have it, you can make your own tabs.
  3. Put your recipes in sheet protectors and then put them in the binder. – I find it works best to keep my recipes in sheet protectors. When I want to cook that recipe, I just pull it out of my binder and can then wipe it down after I’m finished cooking before I put it back away. However, alternatively, you could use a 3 hole punch to put your recipes into the binder.
  4. Optional: Create an index for each recipe category for quick reference. Some may find this too tedious, but many find it helpful to have a place they can quickly see all the recipes in a particular category.
diy meal planning binder with a recipe index page

Popular Recipe Binder Categories

Here are some of the popular binder categories including ones I’ve chosen to include in my personal binder (as well as available with my recipe organization system):

  • Main Dish
  • Slow Cooker
  • Soup
  • Sides
  • Bread
  • Salad
  • Dessert
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Beverages
  • Freezer Recipes
  • Appetizers
  • Miscellaneous
  • New & Inspiring – I include recipes I have not tried yet but would like to, here.

If you have a lot of entree/main dishes, you could divide those up into further categories (which I’ve also included as a recent bonus with my recipe binder printables.) For example,

  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Vegetarian

How to turn your Recipe Binder into a Meal Planning Binder

Turning your recipe binder into your meal planning binder simply makes meal planning more streamlined. Now that you have all of your recipes together in one place, you need to set up a system for easy meal planning.

At the beginning of my binder, I’ve created a few custom categories and lists that help me plan my week more efficiently. Basically, I include lists of my most common family dinner meals and another list for fallback or “plan B” dinner ideas. This is also a great place to keep your physical plan written out for the week. If you have more than 1 person in charge of cooking dinner each night, having this plan written out makes it easy for anyone to pick the binder up and start cooking.

printable page in a meal planning binder such as a weekly meal plan

How to Use the Meal Planning Binder

At the beginning of the week, I write out my meal plan. You can use my easy meal planning template to help you get started. Then, I pull the recipes I plan to cook from my binder and place them to the front of my binder, directly behind my plan for easier reference during the week.

To create my plan, I have our favorite dinner list to help me quickly see our favorite dinners. Then, I may add 1 new recipe to try or something I don’t make as frequently to my weekly plan. And that’s it! I have one place I can go to get my recipes and check my meal plan for the rest of the week.

FAQ for Organizing Recipes into your Meal Planning Binder

How do you organize recipes from cookbooks?

You can approach this in a few different ways. First, if you only use a cookbook for 1-2 recipes, simply photocopy the recipe and place it in the binder. You can then simply declutter the cookbook from your shelf.

For cookbooks you frequently use many recipes from you can tab the pages and/or you can also write down the recipe and where you find it (page number) in the your recipe index in your binder. This will help you to still have an easy way to quickly view all of the recipes you use.

I recommend keeping your cookbooks in the kitchen if possible; hopefully, near your recipe binder. By the way, this is a great time to declutter your cookbook stash and get rid of the ones you never use!

Wait, what about digitally organizing recipes?

If you are looking for a digital recipe organization and meal planning system, many people love the Plan To Eat meal planning subscription service. It’s budget-friendly and allows you to import your own recipes, move them into your meal plan, and then create your grocery list. Go Plan to Eat” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener sponsored nofollow”>sign up for a free trial if this sounds like something you could use.

My Recipe Binder Kit + Meal Planning Guide

If you are ready to get started making your binder and don’t want to go to the headache to create your own categories and pages… I’ve upgraded the one I made for myself and made it available for you to purchase!

I have even now added 4 new colors (plus, the original blue) for you to choose from at the request of my readers.

Grab it right now…

the complete meal planning and recipe organization system includes a recipe system and a meal planning guide

After you get your binder set up, I would love to see a photo. Please take a picture and tag me on Instagram @dietitian.meets.mom so I can see it!

Text reads, "Make a recipe binder for easy meal planning" with photos of a meal planning binder printables
turn recipe mess into a meal planning system that actually works

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