Master Page

This is the master page I made up. I made mine on AppleWorks, but I am sure it would be a simple thing to do in any word processing program. You can customize it to meet your needs by changing the column headings and number of columns. "Main Dish" is self explanitory, "Side" is a starchy item - potatoes, rice, & pasta type things, "Vegetable is something green usually, "Other" is when I want an added item to round out the menu, and "Dessert" is for if I have one planned, which you can see I normally don't.

To the right is an example of a master page in progress. I have decided on the category and made a note of it at the bottom so I can see it as I flip through the pages in my notebook. The category is "Ground Beef" and the subcategory is "meatloaves, meatballs, mixed then cooked". These steps are all completed before the prepared food goes in the freezer. These are the same categories that are in my recipe file on index cards.

The main dish column contains all the recipes that fit into this category and subcategory. These are the actual main dishes, not the master recipe that I use to make each one.

I then went through recipe books, magazines and my own index cards for side-dishes. (Side dishes are also sorted and categorized on a master sheet.) I put things that I know we would like to eat together. Don't be afraid to use a recipe more than once. For instance, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans all get served a lot because we like them.

These pages look like a lot of work - and they were, but the rewards have been worth it many times over. Usually, I just sat down in the evenings with my recipe books and hand copied recipes. You could do this on a computer, but I found it kind of relaxing to visit with my family while copying recipes.

Most of my books did not have a lot of useful things for my particular family and our eating habits, so I got rid of several books and magazines I used only rarely. Clutter control is a great side benefit! Now I can find and use the recipes I never had before because they were in some obscure book or magazine I never picked up.

I sold the recipe books at my garage sale and gave the magazines to my daughter to copy out of. I kept the really good books, of which there were only a handful, and put them in an attractive apple crate on the top of my refrigerator.

I still have some blank spots to fill in, and some recipe sources to go through, but this has already emptied several shelves near my kitchen. I use these shelves to store appliances I wouldn't use because I couldn't get to them easily.

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