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


  • 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!



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.


2015 Planner – Dividers

I really like reading and seeing how others set up their planners. It helps me brainstorm how I will set up my planner. So, maybe there’s someone out there doing the same thing that I do.

My set up is slightly different from my 2014 set up. I have 3 Main divider sections, Sub-dividers within the main dividers, sections within the sub-dividers for further use and interaction.

  • Main dividers are used as dividers that group certain sections together
  • Sub dividers are used to group smaller sections together.
  • Sections, are things like projects, that require attention. When finish I can remove the section or add more to any area in my binder.

1st Main Divider:

  • Section tab: Routines
    • Section tab: Brain Dump – this section is used just get things out of my head that need attention.
    • Section tab: Shopping List
  • 1st Sub divider: Financials
    • Section tab: Debt 1
    • Section tab: Savings
  • 2nd Sub divider: Meal Planning
    • Section tab: Weekly Meals / Grocery List
    • Section tab: Recipes
  • 3rd Sub divider: Projects
    • Section tabs: By project

2nd Main Divider:

  • Sub Dividers are my Monthly Calendar dividers. I only keep four months in my planner. Otherwise it would be too thick.
    • Sections tab: Quick Month View
    • Sections tab: Goals for the Month
    • Weekly actions / to dos.

3rd Main Divider

  • Journal area, blank paper and extra sheets needed for the organizer.

Back To A Paper Planner

I have decided to go back to a paper planner. Work has disabled the sync capabilities and my work around wasn’t very efficient. I decided that going back to a paper will be the easier, more efficient thing to do. Luckily, I can still use my tablet for my class notes they sync perfectly with my home computer. I can still use it when I’m away. Originally, I was going to use the tablet for my personal planner. But, after doing research on planners and organizations, I decided to go back to a paper planner for my personal planner as well. While I have been in my digital life, I had no idea that there were things such as Hobonichi Techno planners, Midori Travel Notesbooks, Fauxdoris, and Fauxnichi’s. After a day and half of watching videos, reading articles, joining Facebook Groups, I’m sold. I think I’ll eventually go to a system where I’m using both a paper and digital planner. But, I’ll allow that to evolve.

As I’m setting up my planner, I’m working on some DIY hacks to make it a efficient for me. I’ll posting those as I finish with it.


Review of My Digital Planner

The past 8 months I have been using my tablet as a planner. I have to admit it was a bit strange and not so easy to transition to. But, things have really worked out nicely.

I use my tablet to take notes in class and also take notes in meetings. It syncs nicely to the cloud, where I can retrieve all my notes on my laptop. But, I have the ability to take all my notes, todo’s etc… with me on my tablet.  And if I don’t want to bring the tablet I still have access on my phone.  I’m going to go back to my initial post, Moving To A Tablet As A Planner and go down section by section for an update on what I do.

These are the apps I had listed before to use, with updates to how I used it or if things have changed.

Calendar & Email – I still use Google Calendar for all everything I need to schedule. I have several calendars I maintain. I have also added a few of my friend’s calendar as well. It’s been great because of the syncability to all devices. The only frustration I had, was that it took a long time to schedule a calendar entry. Click the plus sign, add the title then change the time. It seems like it was much easier to just jot it down as a quick note. But, I have recently purchased the Galaxy S5. Like the tablet there is something called the S Voice. And now if I need to quickly write down a calendar entry, I activate S Voice and tell it to add an item to my calendar. Now, when I need to, I can quickly add calendar entries.

Notes – I have been using OneNote for everything. I have several “notebooks”. One for work, one for class, one for personal stuff. And they’re all accessible on all platforms. The only bad thing is recently, work has really limited access online.  I no longer have access to my OneNotes on the cloud. For work, I use my tablet in meetings then sync to my work OneNote. That way I always have historical detail for notes. Considering that a lot of things change, at times I do need to understand how things have changed and why. The notes are searchable and work great in that manner. There’s also a feature where I could add “To Do” items in a meeting, then at a later time do a search and all the “To Do’s” from that day will be organized nicely on one page with a quick link back to it’s original source. I can’t talk enough about how awesome OneNote is. But, not having the ability to sync, I’m having to figure out an alternative to get my notes into OneNote. I may need to send myself emails. I still have access to Google, so that might be an option. Not sure yet as this just happened this week.

Task List – For work, I use OneNote to track any task / to do list items. It’s very organized. For personal use, I like Google Tasks and GTasks. GTasks also has an add a quick note feature along with using voice to take down tasks items. I am currently looking at WeeklyPlan. It’s a way to plan the week and prioritize tasks in a goal oriented manner. Right now I need something to help me with working on my task list. I’ve just added another area to my work, so I have more responsibilities that I need to manage. I normally use my calendar to book time to work on my task list, but that hasn’t been working lately.

Project Planner – I really never got around to using a project planner. I’m not really sure if I need something to plan out my projects. I think OneNote would probably be fine.

Lists | Database – I am still using Memento Database. But, I’m no longer using the free version. I went ahead and purchased a key. It’s a great little database and perfect for keeping track of everything I need to keep track of. I have my apothecary as a database. So, I have my dried herbs and tinctures listed along with amounts I have left. It keeps me from double buying. And if I want to create something rather quickly I can look at my list and see what I’m missing. I also use it as a tarot journal. I jot down my daily card pulls along with quick spreads. I can easily go back to any question and review what I had pulled.

Pinterest – So far no Facebook on my tablet. But, I did add one game.

Recipe | Cookbook – I haven’t really found something. I haven’t used Pepperplate. I think if I ever get that organized it’s going to a huge project.

Prior to writing this article, I actually was reading a few articles for paper planners vs. digital planners. I think there are some misconceptions about digital planners. I wanted to walk through a few of them.

1.) Misconception: It’s better to write things down, than to type. Tablets, even the iPad, have a handwriting option now. I actually write a lot of my notes instead of typing them.  For everything that goes into my Tablet,I write it in. I don’t type. At times recognizing the words I’m writing isn’t perfect. But, it forces me to write nicer. And if I don’t want my notes to be automatically updated to write my words out into text, I can turn off that feature and have sloppy handwriting like any normal planner.

2.) Misconception: It takes sometime to jot down a note, or a calendar entry. As I mentioned earlier. There are voice activated options. I’m sure Siri can assist in taking down notes or booking appointments like the S Voice. If not, Google has an integrated feature that will do the same.

3.) Misconception: You can’t customize the planner pages. Yes you can. If you use OneNote you draw like you would your planner. You can add images to a page. If you wanted to, you can really customize the way something looks. And if you don’t like OneNote, you can customize S Note on the Galaxy. I believe there are options for the iPad, but I’m not very familiar with those. 🙂

The last note I’d like to make is that there is a complaint that there is a learning curve to working a tablet. And I agree, of course there is. But, if you don’t push yourself to learn new things than you’re not growing. The older we get the less likely we want to push ourselves to try something new. It becomes a process. I say, this shouldn’t be a complaint, we should look at learning something new as enjoyment. Makes me think we’re getting too lazy with instant gratification.

I’m not saying paper is bad. I’m actually thinking about carrying a mixed planner where I have my digital source and also a paper alternative. Only because of my syncing issues. But, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll go back to a paper planner or move forward with a mixed planner.

What do you use? Paper or Digital Planner?