Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thrifting Thursday: DIY Menu Board/Meal Planning

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like meal planning is a Herculean task. I go through really rough patches where I don't plan anything for meals and I end up running to the store every night of the week or scrounging around the pantry like a hungry, frustrated  mouse.

I love cooking and eating the food, but it's the actual planning step that always seems to go to the wayside when life gets busy.  In the past, I've used notebooks to plan out meals, a calender on the fridge and putting a list in my phone. Nothing seemed to work as a long-term fix. All of those methods were so easy to ignore. So, earlier in the fall I decided to do something about it! After perusing Pinterest , I decided that I wanted to make a large, fun-colored menu board that was more of a part of my kitchen; Something that wasn't going to get tucked away & forgotten. 

This is what I came up with: 

It's bright and cheery and reminds me to plan out my week of dinners. You could make one to plan breakfast lunch and dinner, but I never struggle with putting those together, so I made mine just for dinner. 

The construction was very simple. I cut a piece of cardboard from one of our discarded moving boxes. I bought a bright, yet simple fabric from my local craft store and covered the cardboard, hot gluing it at the back. I took a Jiffy Corn Muffin box from the recycling bin, cut it in half, and covered it with a contrasting scrap booking paper with Modge Podge. I hot glued the boxes to the board. I then glued day-of-the-week tags on mini clothes pins and glued them on the board. I started with Sunday, as that's my usual shopping day, but you can start the week on Monday if that is better for you. The whole construction probably took 10 minutes. 

Next, I set to work writing out the meal ideas. I rated recipes by difficulty and time commitment. I know that on Wednesday nights, after I get home from work at 5:30, the last thing I want to do is make a roasted chicken dinner. But that recipe is perfect for, say, a Sunday night. You might want to make a similar scale for yourself. I made a card for "Rick's Choice", on nights Rick is feeling like cooking. I also made several "leftovers" cards because we eat a lot of leftovers in this house. I use the top box for recipes that we haven't had in a while and the bottom box for used recipes. There are definitely dinners I probably make every week. For example, this winter, I have something like my grandma's veggie soup  A LOT. That one is in heavy rotation. I move all the recipes back to the top box every two weeks.

Changes I would make: At some point I will probably type out, print and laminate all the cards, just for ease of use and tidiness.I really don't like my handwriting on most days and some of the tags are already looking a bit dingy. I would probably also use bigger clothespins and bigger slips of paper. 

Here are a couple of other examples of really fantastic menu boards:

I like that this one is magnetic. Plus, it looks like they used an old cookie sheet as the board. Thrifted, maybe? (link)

Chalkboard paint! So 'in' right now! (link)

If you aren't so crafty and the thought of painting, sawing or gluing makes you woozy, there are plenty of really cute options available on Etsy. (link)

I have found that menu planning allows me to save time and money. By getting all of my shopping done all in one whack, I'm not running to the store every night or making impulse buys while I'm hungry. I can plan, make a list and go to the store in a much more intentional way. I also feel like we eat better when I plan our meals. I find myself making balanced choices when I can see an entire week's meal-plan in one place.

Do you have a similar board? If so, what suggestions do you have for me? Or do you have a completely different meal planning system? Please feel free to share! :) 

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