Making the Photo Album Meal Planning System

If you read the first post Photo Album Meal Planning System. These are the directions on how to create one for your family.

Pre-Work before you make the Photo Album Meal Planning System.

I’ve read that most families tend to make similar meals over and over again. The easiest thing to do is to write down your favorite meals on 6 x 4 index cards. If you have a photo of the meal, glue that to the other side of the card.  Gather a total of 35 recipes.  You can follow my set up and then modify it to fit your recipes.

Recipes to Start: The recipes below are just to get you started. Enough for you to have meals for two weeks straight.

  • 15 One Dish Meals (Crockpot meals)
  • 10 Main Dishes
  • 10 side Dishes

Recipes to Complete: The recipes below are for the completion of your system. During the next two weeks, you can start gathering more recipes. I’ve ripped out recipes from magazines and folded them into 6×4 index card size, so I don’t have to rewrite them.  But, below is enough for a month or two worth of recipes. Since the album has 50 pages, 100 pages front and back with two images for each page, you have room to add over 100 recipes.

  • 22 One Dish Meals
  • 42 Main Dishes (12 Beef, 10 chicken, 6 Pork, 6 Lamb, 8 Fish)
  • 22 Side Dishes (All vegetables) We normally always have rice with our meals.

Photo Album Meal Planning System

Materials:

  • 1 Photo Album 50 pages (100 pages front and back), 2 images to 1 page (2 Up Style)
  • 1 6×6 My Mind’s Eye 24 Sheet Coordinated Paper
  • 2 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of solid coordinating Paper (optional)
  • Tape runner
  • Label Stamp & Ink (color to coordinate with paper) or ready made sticker Labels
  • Sharpie
  • Paper trimmer (not pictured)

Directions for Making the Index Cards:

  1. Cut the 6×6 pieces into 6×4 cards. Keep the 2×6 pieces to the side.
  2. Using the 2×6 pieces, stamp the label on the coordinating pieces.  Save pieces not used and put aside
  3. Match the label blanks to the cards and glue them to the card. I have mine all to the bottom right corner.
  4. Put these cards aside, they’ll be used for title cards.
  5. Taking the left over pieces which should be about 2×2. Make 14, 1×2 sized pieces. Write the days of week for 2 weeks.
    • Modification – Fit your planner to your buying schedule.
    • Modification – You can make the index cards any way you want. You can decorate them more.

Blank Title Cards

Create the following Title Cards:

  • 1 Title Card – Name it Your Family’s Monthly Menu
  • 4 Eat Out Cards
  • 4 Left Over Night Cards
  • 1 Card for One Dish Meals
  • 1 Card for Main Dishes
  • 1 Card for Side Dishes
    • Modification – Based on your family and how you eat, you can modify the title cards.

“Eat Out” & “Left Over Night” Title Cards

Other Title Cards

Album Set Up: I will list the details of how my album is set up. But, please feel free to set up your album to what fits.

  • Page 1 (This is the first page, when you open the album) – Insert Title Card
    • Modification, you can skip the title
  • Page 2 through 15- Tape the label using washi tape for the beginning of the week. I always start with Monday. (make sure it’s one day per page.)  I have all my Day Labels on the first photo pocket, on the bottom left hand corner. At first I had it on the top left, but, I realized it blocks the view of the name of the recipe.

  • Page 16 & 17 – These pages hold the “Eat Out” and “Left Over Night” Cards
  • Page 18 – Title Card for One Meal Dishes. This section will hold all recipes that are one meal recipes.
  • Page 30 – Title Card for Main Dishes
  • Page 58 – Title Card for Side Dishes
  • Page 68 – Title Card for Lunch – I didn’t suggest making one. I use this, because I have to make myself lunch. You can also add this to your set. I have about 10 recipes at this moment. Most of the time it’s left overs.
    • Modification – title cards aren’t necessary. You can actually use Post It Note Tabs to create your sections and use the space intended for the title card, for another recipe.
    • Modification – you can space out the title cards and make more space for more recipes. The numbering is specific to my set.

Setting up your recipes:

Place the recipes in the sections they belong. Then when you plan for the days you can insert the recipes into the photo spaces provided, Monday through Sunday. The top insert can be for the main meal. The bottom insert can be for side dishes. Because, I have lunch. I put the main dish and side dish in the top photo space. I put my lunch on the bottom.

If you take the time to try this. Please let me know how it works for you. I’d love to see photos of your album too!

Thanks!!

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Photo Album Meal Planning System

A few years ago I created a menu planning system for my family. It was created to be flexible and easily accessible to anyone at home needing to cook. We are a family of four and our schedules fluctuate often. There are times I plan on cooking and I have to work late. Or my husband is planning on cooking and he gets called to work. We needed a system, where who ever was home could pick up where we left off and take care of dinner. My kids are older one teenager and one in college, so they help with cooking. But, you can also adapt this system if you have smaller children. We strongly believe that everyone should pitch in where needed. When the boys were younger, we let them cook one dinner a week. And it was what ever they wanted. Mac and cheese, hot dogs, what ever they wanted to make. Part of that was to teach them how to cook. So, when they got older they would have the ability to cook for themselves. Teaching them this skill benefits their growth, but now, it really helps us out.

The Photo Album Meal Planning System 

I used a photo album, with two photos on each page (2 up style). The first four pages are labeled Sunday through Saturday for two weeks straight. The following pages are recipes our family likes to eat.

How I Plan: I look through the photo album that has all our recipes and I pick out 14. I also have 2 “Eat Out” Cards and 2 “Left Over Night” cards. I take those cards and reference my calendar.  I try to plan the ‘big meals’ on weekends when I know I’m home. The quicker meals get planned for work week. I also think about using left overs. So, if I plan for Roasted chicken, we never finish it, the left overs can be turned into soup or chicken tacos. So, if I pull out the Roasted chicken card I know to pull out the chicken taco recipe card. I then review all the recipes and write out a grocery list. When that’s done, I write the meals on the magnetic white board weekly calendar that’s on the fridge.

How the system works: Who ever is home can look at the calendar and see what’s for dinner. Then they can grab the Photo Album and pull out the recipe. This is where the flexibility lies. If my younger son ends up being the one to cook, and lets say I have Roast chicken on the menu and he doesn’t want to make that. He can look through the rest of the weeks and pick out a recipe he can make. He just swaps out the Roasted chicken for the recipe he wants.  When we’re done with making dinner the recipe card gets moved to the back of the Menu Planner. Or let’s say, he doesn’t want to cook and there’s enough left overs. He can make something with the left overs and I can take what ever was planned for dinner and move it to a different night.

If you want to try this system yourself, I’ll be posting a how to create one for you and your family in the next few days.