Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Organizing recipes

I have decided not to wait till New Year's to work on my goal to become more organized.   Today, I'm working on on a system to save money on groceries by planning menus based on what meat is for sale.

I have dabbled with the once-a-month, or freezer cooking system.  (If you're unfamiliar with this, check our the 30 Day Gourmet website).  Rather than spend one looonnnggg day cooking, I cook and freeze by protein type.  When ground beef is on sale, I'll buy ten pounds and make 6-7 dishes, serving some and freezing some for later.   I haven't been as diligent at this as I need to be because I get tired of looking through recipe books for dishes that will use the meat that's on sale.

Using Word, I made some charts to list my family's favorite recipes.  Each sheet is devoted to a specific protein type: Beef, Poultry, Pork,  and Ground beef (I gave ground beef it's own category since it had so many recipes).   I began browsing through my cookbook collection for notes I had written about recipes and added the ones that my family enjoyed to the appropriate list.  (Don't be afraid to write notes in your cookbooks,  they're all yours, including the margins).   I found some recipes I hadn't fixed in years but had noted that my husband had liked them. 

Next to each recipe name I listed the amount and cut of meat needed (steak or roast, boneless/skinless breasts, etc.).   THen I listed the appliance used in the recipe--crockpot, pressure cooker, or oven.  When I look at our school calendar I like to pick crockpot recipes for the days we'll be away at co-op, or I'll pull a fast pressure cooker meal before Wednesday night church.

Next, I made a column Y/N Freezable?  If a dish can be frozen, why not make two or three batches and freeze the extras.  By chopping and mixing and dividing big batches, tt doesn't take three times as long to make three pot pies instead of one. 

Finally, I left space to note the recipe's location.  I'm terrible about buying all the ingredients for a dish in my stockplie of "Taste of Home" magazines and then not being able to remember which issue it was in when I went to cook it.  Now I at least know what month and year to look for or if I've clipped it for my recipe box.  When I select a recipe, I will actually look at it and see if there are any other ingredients I need to add to my shopping list.  (Don't assume you remember the recipe--that's why I had to dash to the store at 9pm the night before Thanksgiving).

At some point I may redo this as an excel spreadsheet so I can sort by cuts or appliance.  For today at least, I can quickly find some family approved recipes as I look through the grocery flyers.

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