Writing up weekly menus saves money, time and adds variety. I like to cook using the weekly specials, what is in season and I like to try new recipes. I have recipes on photocopies, in several cookbooks, handwritten on cards and in magazines (I have a subscription to a cooking magazine). I find it very tedious to sort through all these recipes when looking for ideas for the week ahead (the result being that I often don't make complete menu plans.) How do your readers organize their recipes and menu planning charts so that it is easy and not too time consuming to plan weekly menus?
I had the same problem and bought a 3 ring notebook and some plastic sheet covers. I sorted through all my recipes and magazines and ripped the pages out I wanted to keep and tossed the rest. Any recipes I knew I'd never use I also tossed. I then slipped them into the sleeves. You can put two recipes in each sleeve back to back. Some recipes that were little I even retyped on my computer using pretty pink and yellow paper and slipped that into the sleeve. Then I put them into piles desserts, main dishes, appetizers, etc., and put them into the 3 ring binder. You could even buy little tabs to help out with finding them although I didn't get that far!
This really only works with a computer, but I have found it really does help. When you come across a recipe that you like, think you will like, make every year at a particular season, etc., list it in a data base. Do it in Word or WordPerfect or even Excel. Set up a table with the following columns - name, location, page #, info/type. If you do it in a table, it can be sorted by recipe, location, or type. I know this takes a while in the beginning and IT IS A PAIN, but once you have it set up, you will love it because you can always find where a particular recipe is, be it a magazine, cookbook, recipe box or on your computer. I usually sort by either recipe or info/type because frequently I am looking for Holiday recipes or a particular type of recipe. You can add more columns if you need to, but I find these adequate for my use. I collect cookbooks and have been know to have to sort through 87 cookbooks looking for the particular Pasta Primaver my family likes (I write in my cookbooks so I know). This works as follows:
|Five Layer Cass.||Campbells||17||Cass, hearty|
|Flypaper||I Hate to Cook||79||Cass, ham|
-- Mary deJ.
My husband just gave me a wonderful Christmas gift...It's a software package from Current and DVO called Cook'n 99. It has recipes from over 60 cookbooks, it can help in planning menus a week at a time and will even print out a shopping list with (estimated) prices. Also, you can add your favorite recipes and create your own cookbook! (No more loose recipes on 4x6 cards hanging around!) The software can also adjust recipes depending on the number of servings you need. Additionally, you can download updates from the internet. The cost of the package was around $30.00 (purchased at Best Buy). The company also has a referral program...you can send in the names and addresses of your friends and family and the company will send them brochures - for each person that buys the software, you get $10! I've only had it a few days, but I love it already and highly recommend it!
editor's note: Of the responses that mentioned software programs, Mastercook was mentioned far more often than other programs.
Here's how I solved my "scattered recipes" dilemma. I got 3-ring binder style photo album with magnetic pages and a set of dividers. I labeled the sections with headings like chicken, beef, pork, veggies, salads, appetizers, etc. Then I placed the collected recipes in the appropriate categories. I included recipes I had clipped from magazines and newspapers, those written on recipe cards, and recipes written on scraps of paper. If you have a lot of favorite recipes in cookbooks, you might consider adding a page at the front of each section with a list of the names of recipes followed by the name of the cookbook it's in and the page number. That way you have just one source to consult when you do your menu planning, and you'll know exactly where to look for recipes that are written out in your other cookbooks.
I organize all my recipes into categories. For example, All my chicken recipes go under a catagory of "Poultry". I also have categories of vegetables, meats, pork, soups, salads, pasta, desserts, etc. When you make your menu for the week, you pick out 7 entree recipes, 7 vegetable recipes, 7 starch recipes, etc., and put them in an envelope marked "Recipes for the Week" This also makes it easier to do weekly shopping. It will be less likely that you will forget something.
I too have recipes on cards, in notebooks, cookbooks etc. I actually lost a couple of recipes because they were just on a little card. So I purchased the larger index cards and wrote my most used recipes on them. I took a hole punch and punched a hole in the upper left hand corner of the card (about 1/2 inch from the top and from the side of the card). I took a key ring type loop and hooked them together. I ended up with two rings of cards. One has main dishes and the other has everything else. This way I have the recipes in two places and hopefully I'll never loose one again.
I save all my "loose" recipes (cut from magazines and such) in a photo album that has those sticky pages covered by a sheet of plastic. It works great. I can make whole sections like "Main Dishes", "Desserts", etc. I can add more pages, move pages around, add recipes, toss recipes, etc.
She could use one book for her recipes and one book for her weekly planner. She could just take the recipes she wants to cook and insert them in the weekly planner book then put them back into the recipe book at the end of the week. She could also put loose leaf notebook paper in the weekly planner for her grocery lists and tear them out when she goes to the store.
Dawn in Tally
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