so, i posted this photo on facebook earlier in the week and asked if anyone would be interested in a lenten meal plan and the the response was huge! it’s nice to know i’m not the only one struggling with mealtimes during lent. i love cooking, even lenten cooking, but it drives me crazy trying to figure out what to cook each day.
meal planning makes life easier any time of year, but especially during lenten periods because you have far less flexibility when it comes to throwing meals together last minute.
in this post, i’m going to share with you the best meal plan binder instructions that i’ve seen. i’ve tried tons of them, trust me, but none of them were convenient enough to help keep me organized and efficient. which means, i didn’t feel like the effort i needed to put into using them was worth it. but this binder, oh this binder is different.
when i saw the color coded post-it’s in this binder, it was love at first sight.
i found it while browsing recipes on pinterest and started playing around with it a little for non-fasting days and immediately saw the potential of it. you can watch the video tutorial and download the pages here at Homemade by Carmona. she is a genius! this system is so practical and easy to use and i love that she gives you the option to customize the pages. this allowed me to create my lenten sections!
now, it was a tad bit of work getting it all ready, but it is already well worth it.
so, without further adieu, here is my new favorite meal plan binder!
What you’ll need:
- hole puncher
- at least four different color post-it strips
The first thing you’ll want to do is download the pages and add your own page titles. I made ‘Lenten Dinner Ideas’ and ‘Lenten Dessert Ideas’ pages in addition to my everyday non-fasting pages. I actually made two of each, but realized when I started adding recipes that one was enough. The pages work as spreads, like shown below, or you can do what I did and make it a Dinner/Dessert spread. I also made a ‘Breakfast/Appetizer’ page.
Next, you’ll want to laminate the pages. I placed them back to back to use less space and laminating sheets. This will help you move the post-it’s from page to page.
Then, you’re going to take your post-it strips and grab all of your favorite cookbooks. Be sure to go through all the recipes you’ve torn out of magazines or newspapers, too. Figure out how you want to color code them all. This is important! This will allow you to see what you’re eating. For example, I made veggies green and when I looked at my pages, I noticed how little green there was, so I searched for more vegetable side dishes.
I coded mine like this:
- Yellow=Fish/Dairy meals (for days when only dairy is permitted).
- Pink=Slow Cooker Meals.
- Blue=Pasta, Potatoes, Rice.
You can see in the photo below, sort of how that is set up.
For my lenten one, since we don’t eat dairy or fish, I changed the yellow tab to seafood. I only included a few seafood recipes because I figured since it is only permitted on weekends, I didn’t need that many.
Once you have your color system figured out, it’s easy peasy. You just go through all of your favorite recipes, the tried and true ones to ones you’ve been meaning to try and write the recipe titles on each post-it. If you look closely at my tabs, you’ll see things like pinterest, kraft mag, or greek cookbook pg. 104. I did this so that when I need to access the recipe itself, I’ll know exactly where to find it. I even created a folder in my bookmarks titled “Meal Planner” and added all the recipes I had bookmarked to that folder. *you can follow my vegan recipe pin board here.
Then, go to town! Write down all those recipes. See where your holes are. Are you not eating enough veggies? Too many carbs? Do you have too many sides and not enough entrees? This is totally customizable, which is why it actually works. Go through all your cookbooks, bookmarks, pinterest boards, etc. You’ll want to take advantage of this time to gather ALL those recipes into one place and fill up that idea section. You can even put post-it’s on top of each other, like I did below.
After you populate your idea sections, you’ll go to the weekly menu plan (I made two because I shop and plan for two weeks at a time) and choose which recipes you want to make for that week. Peel off your post-it’s and add them to each day. Now, you’re ready to make your grocery list!
You’ll know what you’re cooking, what you need to prep ahead of time for each day of the week. This takes sooo much of the pressure off during lent, allowing us to put our inner Martha’s to rest and focus on being Mary’s during Lent.
Sprout was helping me decide what dishes to choose. Love these kids. 🙂
Now, I know that this is only half the battle. The other half, during Lent at least, is figuring out WHAT to put on those recipe tabs. So, I’m going to share all of the recipes I chose for my binder. Of course, some you may hate and want to replace, feel free. Also, feel free to share them with me, because I have as hard a time as the rest of you figuring out what to cook and am always open to new ideas!
I’ve included 26 recipes for main courses. Which means, you can use each one twice and still have six for Holy Week. 🙂 I only posted 3 sides but am planning on adding more, so check this post again in a couple weeks. I’ll highlight the new additions. I’ll have a separate post for breakfast, appetizers and desserts. K?
*I tried not to post many recipes that used soy, as I’m trying to stay away from it. I keep reading in different places how bad it is for our health, especially thyroid and hormone related issues.
Are you ready? Here we go…
Pasta, Potatoes & Rice