Monday, March 4, 2013

Home Management Binder- Getting Started & Menu Tab

Up until two years ago I had not even heard of a Home Management Binder. Then I was given a recommendation for the book Large Family Logistics (see where I talk about this book here). At the time I was pregnant with my second child and ready desperate for a little more organization in my life. So I began to put together my own Home Management Binder.

In case you have no idea what I am talking about let me answer this: What is a Home Management Binder? Briefly, it is a book, often a 3 ring binder, that includes any paperwork that helps your life/family/house run smoothly (many are designed to keep your household running and to be "you" if you are gone, sick, or ill with pregnancy; your husband and children should be able to navigate the book in your absence). A HMB may have calendars, schedules, menus, grocery lists, budget worksheets, To Do lists, goal charts, and so much more!

Let's get started...

Supplies Needed: 3 ring binder, dividers/tabs, paper, 3 hole punch
Optional: Markers/Pens/Colored Pencils, zipper pouch, clear pocket protectors, ruler, index cards, post its, anything from the office supplies isle that you couldn't resist buying because it was cute

Step 1: Gather your supplies
Step 2: Decide which sections you need: Remember to tailor this to your lifestyle. For instance, nearly every HMB I have explored has a section for Finances. In our house I don't do any bill paying or financial things. So that tab is useless to me. Another example are school/sport schedules; my kids are too young to be in either so I do not need those. Here is a loooooong list of sections to consider for your HMB (the ones in bold are in my current binder and will be featured in upcoming posts):

  • Calendar(s) (daily, weekly, monthly, year-at-a-glance)
  • Schedules (family birthdays, church activities, breastfeeding/newborn schedules, school, holidays, sports/extra curricular activities, maintenance logs, medical check ups/pet check ups, gardening, etc)
  • Cleaning Schedules (daily list, weekly/monthly list, kids chores, seasonal projects/spring & fall cleaning, etc)
  • Menu Planning (weekly & monthly menus, lists of recipes or family favorites, pantry/freezer inventory, ideas for hosting/special events, editable grocery lists, household items refill lists, etc)
  • Finances (budgets tracking, bill payment schedule, kids' allowance tracker, anticipated expenses, holiday budgets, etc)
  • Kids (current clothing sizes, allergies/special needs, medication tracker, gift ideas, vaccination records, etc)
  • Contact info (address book, list of numbers for: doctor, vet, dentist, babysitter, emergency contacts, close neighbors)
  • Personal or Family Health (exercise goals, nutrition guidelines, gym hours/upcoming activities, etc)
  • Bible Study (reading plan, verse memory sheet, church notes, Thankfulness Journal)
  • Personal Lists (books to read, Things on Loan, gift ideas, goals accomplished, movies to see, etc)
  • House (work needed on the house, project ideas, decoration ideas, supplies needed, seasonal work, de-cluttering schedule, etc)
  • Usernames & Passwords list 
  • Homeschool Lesson plans/ideas
  • Seasonal Bucket Lists
  • Blogging (schedule, ideas, tips)
As you can see, there are many things to consider when making your own HMB. I made my first one in the summer of 2011; since then there have been about 6 revisions. As my life changes and the lives of my kids change, I am constantly adapting my binder to work for me. This is key- a HMB should work for you, not the other way around. 

My first tab is my most used tab: Menu.

Making a menu is key to staying within my grocery budget and making sure I prepare healthy meals for my family. There are dozens of great menu planning printables out there (of which I have probably tried 6-10), with none of them exactly the style that I wanted. So I draw my own on notebook paper. I number the amount of dinners I need to plan for, and have a section on the back for lunches and things I make at home (like salsa, granola, bread, etc). I don't adhere to a daily lunch or breakfast schedule, I just make what sounds good to me at that time. That is why more detailed lists were not my preference. Here are just a few links  to free menu planning printables (seriously, try searching "Menu Planning Printables" on Pinterest and see how many options there are):

Some suggest using a page protector with your menu planner so you can dry erase each week instead of printing out 52 pages (do whichever works for you).

Several menu planners have built in grocery lists or have color coordinating grocery lists that come with them. I have smaller pieces of paper for grocery lists that I store in a page protector in the back of my binder.

 Other things I include are: a Master List of favorite meals, and Seasonal Lists (favorites for winter, things to cook on the grill in the heat of summer, and so on), Breakfast & Lunch Ideas, and Homemade foods. So far I make homemade bread, salsa, granola, biscuits, and taco seasoning. I hope to add ketchup, yogurt, tortillas and pancakes to this list soon. (I have all of these recipes on my Pinterest boards: The Alternative, and Sides, Sips, and Snacks).

That sums up my first section in my Home Management Binder. Visit me tomorrow for the next part: Front Pocket and House Section.

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