Create Your Own Meal Planning Binder – Day 3

Welcome to the two week series on creating your own meal planning binder.

Day 1 – Introduction
Day 2 – Using Pinterest to Organize Recipes

UPDATE: Scroll through HERE to see them all

Today I will give you a guided tour of my binder so you can start brainstorming how you would like to set up your own.

What Is A Meal Planning Binder?
In a nutshell, it houses all the material needed to create a meal plan, formulate a shopping list and retrieve the recipes you need. You can create tabs for coupons and sale ads, keep track of pantry/freezer inventory, store extra copies of blank monthly meal plans, and so on.  With a properly organized binder, you can shave some serious time off your meal planning efforts. You will also eliminate the hassle and headache of hunting down recipes and planning calendars when you need them.

My binder is always evolving.  Each month I add a new recipe or two, and remove ones that just aren’t cutting it.  I jot down notes on recipes, and really make them my own.  Over time, my binder has grown to become an invaluable tool containing the best and most loved family recipes.  It is my friend.  I think that by the time my children are grown, it will be a multi-volume set that is filled with all our family favorites and holiday food traditions.

A Look at My Binder
Here she is in all her glory.  Yes, she is a she.  I call her Martha.  Martha the Meal Planning Binder.  Don’t you judge me.

In the front of Martha, I have an assortment of pens and pencils along with extra tab dividers in case I decide to make any changes to my system.  It happens.  Then in the front pocket I keep my current meal plan and shopping list.  This one is blank because I am fixin’ to make one for the month of August.

Since I plan my meals based on daily themes, I have this information written down for easy reference.  The themes change from time to time as I get bored, but for now they are…

  • Sunday: Mexican
  • Monday: Salad
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday: Italian
  • Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
  • Friday: Pizza
  • Saturday: Chicken

The following pages are my “Table of Contents”.  They contain a list of all the recipes I use for dinner.  In the photo above, you can see my “Beef Recipes” page.  Most of these recipes are contained in the binder, but those that are in cookbooks are noted in pink (along with book name and page number).  These pages make formulating my meal plan a breeze.

Next comes the recipes. Most of these are directly from my Pinterest boards.  They are categorized based on theme nights.

Next I have a section with extra blank copies of monthly meal planning sheet and shopping lists.

Finally in the back I keep my current sale ad for my favorite local grocery store, along with any store specific coupons.

And that’s it!  Are you ready to start making your own?  Okay!

Today’s Assignment:
Gather materials to make your own binder. You will need:
• 3 ring binder (mine is 2”)
• Page protectors 50-100 ct.
• Tab dividers (I use Post-It)
• Optional pencil holder and pocket inserts

Tomorrow we start building our binder, beginning with a discussion on the whole theme night idea. There are even a few free printables involved!

If you want to learn more about meal planning, you can find my book on Amazon for just $4.99! Includes all the free printables you need to make your own meal planning binder, along with techniques for shopping and meal prepping and over 75 recipes. Get Operation Dinner – How to Plan, Shop & Prep for Easy Family Meals.


  1. Thank you for sharing. Love your binder set up! I have been doing weekly meal plans but this looks like it would be fairly easy to expand it for the month…with the theme night. Do you freezer prep or batch cook along with this?

    • Hi Michele – I don’t do traditional freezer cooking, but I do prep meat, fruit, veggies, etc ahead and freeze in meal size portions. All of that is discussed in my book :)

  2. Hi, where do you get yo dividers from

    • Hi Meghan – I went to Staples, but they are available at Target, Walmart and elsewhere. I used Post-It Tab Dividers because they stick to any page.