Some of you have asked about the menu planning board I’ve posted on my refrigerator, where I can see a month’s worth of recipes at a single glance. For anyone who would like to make one, too, here’s a quick tutorial.
But first, some background. Before coming up with this magnetic system, I struggled for years to discover the best way to plan my family’s meals. I firmly believe in the value of planning ahead, especially now that I live out in the country, miles from a grocery store. The thought of packing everyone up for a long trip to the grocery store to purchase one last-minute item is more than I can bear. Thanks to my menu plan, I now have all my ingredients on hand.
The trouble is that I often get stuck in a menu-planning rut, making the same meals over and over. “If only I could come up with a way to see all the possible recipes in one place,” I thought, “I wouldn’t keep cooking the same meals all the time.”
That’s when I discovered this magnetic calendar while shopping for school supplies. The wheels started turning, and here’s what I came up with.
Step 1 – Purchase a magnetic, dry-erase calendar. I chose this one for two reasons. First, because it’s pretty. What can I say? I like bright colors in my kitchen.
I also picked this calendar because it has extra space at the bottom for me to write down ingredients and kitchen supplies as soon as we run out. Again, I hate to get all the way home from the store, just to remember that we needed paper towels. Or basil. Or grape juice. Now, I just write down whatever we’ve used up as soon as I throw the empty container away. Come shopping time, I have a ready list of extra supplies I need to buy.
Note: This dry erase board doesn’t come with magnets to help you hang it, so I super-glued some magnet strips to the back. It’s not pretty, but since no one sees it but me, I don’t really care.
Step 2 – Make a list of all the meals your family enjoys. Pull out the old cookbooks and recipe cards to find the family favorites. Write the menu titles on a word processing document on your computer, using whatever fun font you want to see every day.
Step 3 – Print the list onto magnetic paper. To be honest, I had no idea this kind of paper even existed, but I came across it one day while shopping for craft supplies.
Tip: Print your list of menu items on regular copy paper first, checking to see if each menu item fits in the individual calendar squares. I had to print my list twice before I was happy with the results, and I would have been super bummed if I had used up two sheets of magnet paper for nothing!
Step 4 – Cut out the individual menu items and start placing them on your calendar. Here’s the part I love about this system. I can easily change the menu plan at will, depending on what ingredients we have on hand. Even better, I can see all the meal options at once, helping me keep more variety in our diet.
Tip: You may want to print meals you serve more than once a month, such as spaghetti or roasted chicken, twice.
Thanks to this magnetic system, I can now see all our meals at a single glance, and menu planning doesn’t feel so much like a chore. Instead, I think of it as a puzzle, moving pieces around the board until I come up with the best solution each month.
For just under $20, I have a menu planning system that actually works!
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