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Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekly Menu Planning Board

Over the years, I've tried various methods to plan our weekly meals, with little success. I'm good at grocery shopping once a week, a skill I had to learn when I had to shop with my three boys before they were in preschool, but I would usually just think of two meals to buy for. The rest were created by winging it. And hubby has never been any help. Whenever I've asked him what he wants for dinner, he always answers with, "food." You don't know how many times I've been tempted to set a can of Alpo on a plate for him. But we don't have a dog. And that would be wasteful.

Last fall, I realized the reason I had a tough time deciding what to cook was two-fold. First, some of my favorite meals are not liked by all six family members. Second, I simply had too many recipes from which to choose. Therefore, when it came time to menu planning, I couldn't think of anything. It's sort of like a closet. When it's so full of clothes, it's hard to see the best outfits. Once you weed out those that no longer fit or don't work because tastes change over the years, we can find the best ones. Some day I hope to add my soups into the mix. My solution last year was very short lived. I picked ten recipes and decided to rotate them like this:

Monday: spaghetti or chicken
Tuesday: breakfast or fast food
Wednesday: beef enchiladas or tacos
However, I hardly stuck to it because it was just too limiting. This year, in preparation for back to school, I got the family in on my plans. We went through and listed about five of our favorite meals in each category: American, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Crock Pot. I only put down recipes that most of us liked and that weren't too difficult to prepare. Many of them require ingredients I always have on hand like onions, chicken breasts, shredded cheese, and Italian seasoning.

Now to organize these meals, I created a cute but simple menu to put on the side of our refrigerator.

Here's all it required:
  • Card stock paper in several different colors
  • magnets
  • glue
  • letter stickers
  • scissors and/or paper cutter
  • permanent marker
  • pen

1. First get your family together and pick about five categories of food. You saw mine, but yours doesn't have to match. You may want Greek food, soup/salad night, grilled food, or meatless meals as options. The reason for the categories is to help create variety and consider the craziness of particular nights. For instance, if you know Monday evenings are hectic, you could always pick from your crock pot options. Don't forget to include a final category for non-cooking nights. Mine includes three choices: eating out, frozen meal, and left-overs.

2. Create cards in as many different colors as you have categories. They should be made out of card stock and cut into 2" by 3" in size. Feel free to combine categories for simplicity. For instance, I only have three Japanese dishes and four Italian dishes, so I combined those under my red cards. I then have American meals in blue, Mexican meals in green, and crock pot meals in yellow. (I tried to be clever and match food categories with nation's flag colors.) My fifth category is the non-cooking category and those are in a solid yellow. With a permanent marker, write the meal on the front, such as "pot roast." On the back, list the ingredients you will need for the recipe in pen. I only listed ingredients I may not have on hand. I always have seasonings and flour, so why list them?

3. You have two options for making magnets. Basically, you will be using them to label the days of the week and stick the cards to the weekly menu. I began with the first option where I used a cute star puncher I already had, figuring I'd simply stick them on top of magnets. This option is easy, but I decided on this other option, which is more time consuming but more durable. I actually learned to make these a few years ago as a MOPS craft, but we simply glued tiny pictures or inspirational words on them. I'll teach you how to make these at the bottom.

4. Cut a piece of card stock 6" by 4 1/4". Fold the long side at the 3 1/2" mark, so once folded, you've created what will become a pocket with the backside being 3 1/2" tall and the front being 2 1/2".Label the front "meals." Then carefully glue the two side edges to create the pocket. 

5. Use a 10" by 12" piece of card stock as your background. Label it with sticker letters or markers, whichever you already have. Let's face it, the simpler it is to make, the more likely we are to make it, but we still want it to be cute to inspire us! Now take your "meals" pocket and glue it to the lower, right-hand side.

6. Grab seven random menu cards and place four on the left side and three on the ride, figuring out where they will fit best. Take your marker, and place a neat dot where you will place your seven magnets. 

7. Put your card stock menu page on your refrigerator, using your four decorative corner magnets I discuss in the magnet making lesson below. 

8. Now you are ready to plan this week's menu. Go through your cards and pick at least one from each color and place them on your days according to your schedule. (Keep in mind your grocery shopping day too and how long certain ingredients will stay fresh. If I shop on Tuesday, I'll want to make something with my fresh French bread that night, for instance.) Slip the remaining cards into the "meals" pocket, and you are finished! Well, almost. Now you have to look at the back of those chosen cards to make your grocery shopping list and head to the store.

How to Make the Magnets:

You will need a set of craft magnets between 1/2" and 3/4" in diameter, clear glass gems/decorative marbles, white card stock, craft glue, scissors, letter stickers or marker, and a pencil.The set of eight magnets cost $1.99 while the bag of glass gems/marbles cost $2.99.

  1. Trace a glass gem.
  2. Cut out just a bit smaller than where you traced.
  3. Place initials using stickers or markers for each day of the week.
  4. Cut out.
  5. Use a couple dots of craft glue to adhere the paper to the back of the magnet.
  6. Once mostly dry, glue the magnet to the back of the glass gem.

You can make other magnet designs for your corner magnets by printing up tiny images from your computer. When we made this craft in MOPS a few years ago, we had words like faith, hope, and love printed very small on pretty paper, which is what I used as my corner magnets.

If you are curious about my menu, I will be happy to share them with you on my next blog along with links to the recipes. Some recipes I've already blogged about, but I'll eventually share the other recipes with you. Happy menu planning, shopping, and eating.

Adorned From Above


  1. Thanks for visiting my site. I just added you to my circles. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll visit "One Creative Weekend" on today (or any time this weekend) and link up!

  2. Great idea! It looks like something that would work well and be easy to change as needed.

    1. Thanks! Another benefit is it allows my kids to know what's for dinner, so they aren't always bugging me about it, and it gives them a chance to voice their opinions when we change out the board every weekend. Tonight I let my 11-year-old create the menu for the week, and he's thrilled, so at least I know one kid will be happy with what I serve every night.

  3. I love the idea of using magnets! I'm SO glad you linked up to the Mommy-Brain Mixer and I hope to see you again on Thursday! :)

  4. I am also one who just wings dinner. I really need to sit down and make a meal plan each week. It sure would make life much easier! Love those recipe cards!

  5. This is great! I've pinned it! I could use a lot of help in this department.

  6. It turned out lovely and my absolute favorite are those magnets! Thank you for visiting my washi tape mood board!

  7. I'm so glad that I'm following you! What a clever idea. Thanks for the inspiration:)


  8. This is so useful! Thanks for linking this to the Mommy Brain Mixer!!

  9. Love this- thx for the great inspiration- following you Bonny

  10. This is great! I should make one too!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer... From Dream To Reality!

  11. This is such a cute idea. Thank you so much for linking with my Wednesday Adorned From Above Blog Hop last week. I have listed your posting as one of my featured links for this week. So check Adorned From Above on Wednesday to see your featured post.

    Grab the featured blogger button or just add a link back to the my blog.

    Thank you again for participating, and the link party is opened for this week.

    Debi Bolocofsky

    1. Thanks, Debi. I'll be back this week, and I've added your featured button to my post now!


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