Category Archives: Magnetic Menu Board

Why I Can’t Quit Meal Planning

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

For those of you that have been around here for a while (and especially since the “very beginning,”) you likely know that I am somewhat of a meal planning junkie. In fact, one of my very first posts to ever go viral was my Magnetic Menu Board; and despite very little work on my part, it is still one of my most popular and shared posts almost 6 years later! While I still love and believe in that monthly meal-planning system, somewhere along the way it stopped working for me. I’m a pretty big believer in adjusting our organization methods to meet our needs (or else we won’t stick to them!), so I simplified our system about 2 years ago and have pretty much stuck to it ever since. Fast forward to this year and, for some reason, I have been in a meal planning, shopping and prepping rut! Planning out our family meals, and even more so, shopping for them, has become one of my least favorite (and most procrastinated!) home responsibilities. Since that’s usually a big ol’ red flag that I need to change something, I set about to re-vamp our system yet again. Today, I thought I’d chat a bit about all the various things I’ve tried over the last year to get our meal planning system back on track and share why, despite all my failed attempts, I still can’t quit meal planning (even if I really want to!)!

The Magnetic Menu Board System

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

As I mentioned above, my first attempt to reign in our meal planning was a project I called the Magnetic Menu Board. Henry was a brand new baby, and I was not enjoying my weekly meal planning sessions at all, so I decided to adopt a one-month-at-a-time system. At the start of each month, I sat down for a few hours and hashed out all of our outside-the-home meal commitments, new recipes I wanted to try, and other events, and then filled in the rest of the calendar with a well-balanced variety of meals and sides. The monthly planning session did require quite a bit of time, but I really liked that I only had to sit down and plan once a month. And while I continued to shop for perishable items weekly, having the entire month planned out allowed me to take advantage of sales and bulk offers on certain shelf/freezer-safe items. I actually stuck to this monthly system for several years. There were certainly times that I moved meals around or strayed from the calendar entirely. But overall, the single month system worked really well…until Greg left on deployment…and then the whole system seemed too much for a single person.

Planning from a Recipe Log

When the monthly menu board became too much, I wanted an easier version of the same system. Besides planning out one month at a time, the other “trademark” of the above system was how I organized my recipes: by protein source. For some reason, this method of organizing and dispersing recipes across a week made the most sense to me (so much that I haven’t changed this particular part of my meal planning ever since!) I find these 6 categories are enough to keep things separate, distinct, and organized, but aren’t too many to keep track of or understand.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Instead of relying on my magnets, I transferred all my recipes to a log sheet...still organized into these 6 groups…

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I then used my Recipe Log to plan out my meals weekly in my planner…

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

When Greg came back from deployment, I stuck to this weekly planning from my Recipe Log but displayed meals on a dry-erase board in the kitchen so he could see too.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I found the weekly meal plan was quicker and easier to manage (meaning I was more willing to actually do it) compared to the monthly version. However, planning one week at at time didn’t quite guarantee a strong recipe rotation, use of freezer stock, or bulk shopping the way the monthly system did. Still…it got the job done for about another 2ish years.

No System!

Then this past Spring, my willingness to meal plan came to a screeching halt. Not only was I “over” planning out our weekly meals (and shopping for them), but I was really, really tired of our usual recipes. I decided to halt all my planning and try the “just wing it” system. I eased off on following recipes (which were feeling really burdensome to pull together) and instead stuck to more of a protein + side + salad combination. Surprisingly (or perhaps, not surprisingly), this approach proved even harder and more frustrating for me. Without a list of recipes (or at the very least, loosely planned out meals), my shopping list became difficult to fill out. This caused me to spend more time and money at the grocery store just filling my cart with things I “might” use or need. More over, without a plan, pulling together evening meals became an even bigger chore. I would stand looking at the pantry and fridge and become increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t make basic meals because I was missing one thing or another. What I thought would liberate me from my meal planning boredom and frustration actually led to an even greater disdain for the entire task.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Meal Planning with Relish!

When we moved into our house here in California, I knew I needed to get our meal planning back on track. The “no system” I was using before, during and right after our move was increasingly making me frustrated and caused me to dread grocery shopping and meal time even more. For some reason, my previous systems felt too cumbersome to return to so I began the hunt for a fresh approach. This research lead me to the digital meal planning service: Relish! This very reasonably priced service did everything I didn’t want to do: pour through/select recipes and generate a grocery list…and I was more than ready to give something new a try!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Once logged on, all I had to do was drag-and-drop the meals that appealed to me into The Weekly Menu and set the serving size. I loved that it showed me which meals were crockpot-,  freezer-, and kid-friendly and that I also had the ability to browse their full recipe library (rather than being restricted to certain meals for the week). Each meal also came with a pre-designated side dish, but it was super easy to go in and change out anything that didn’t appeal to us!

Relish Online Meal Planning Program

But my absolute favorite part? Once your meal plan was done, it automatically generated a printable grocery shopping list pre-populated with all of the items needed for that week’s recipes (in the correct quantities!).

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

In just a few minutes, I was able to pick all of our recipes for the week, and print out a grocery list as well as all the corresponding recipes. Not only did this cut my meal preparation time down dramatically, but it also was super efficient when it came time to prepare the meals. The recipes, when printed, included both the main dish and all the corresponding sides on a single sheet of paper. Each night, I just had to grab the next sheet and get to work.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I honestly thought I had found my ultimate meal planning solution. I loved Relish’s online platform; the pre-populated grocery lists were pretty much the best thing ever; and the meals were super tasty and easy to make. It took away so much of the effort and brainpower behind meal planning and prep and really got me out of my meal planning funk. Unfortunately, it only took a few weeks for me to grow tired of this system as well. Why? Well, for one, I found that I was buying lots of random ingredients to make very specific recipes. This left me with higher-than-usual grocery bills and lots of leftover ingredients. Second, I again grew weary of making a recipe every single night and didn’t enjoy feeling like a “slave” to the system. Third, I was having a hard time working in my “usual” recipes, pantry staples, and family favorites on both the meal plan and the grocery list. I don’t like to duplicate my my efforts or use two systems to accomplish the same task, and it was taking me a lot of time and effort to adapt/merge the online system with my family-specific needs. Finally, as nice as it was to have a pre-populated grocery list, it didn’t match up with how I shop our store(s) and organize my own lists. I was constantly missing items as I was shopping because the list wasn’t organized the same way, making my trips longer and more tedious.

What I’m Doing Now

After my experience with Relish!, I was feeling a bit defeated. I was so hopeful I had found a perfect system (so much that I was planning a whole post to tell you all about it!), and was frustrated when it turned out to be too cumbersome for my needs. I waffled around a bit more with not planning at all, planning a month at a time, and even thought about digging my dry-erase board back out of the garage. While I brainstormed and worked through my options, I decided to print out a bunch of  my Weekly Planners and Grocery Lists as a “for now” solution. About 2 months later, I’m still using my printable worksheets and am LOVING the simplicity of it all.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I printed out a bunch of both my the weekly planner and grocery lists printables and have them clipped to the side of the fridge. I sit down every Monday morning with one of each and plan out that week’s activity and meals on the same sheet and then fill out our grocery list to match. I’ve eased off on forcing a consistent spread of protein sources and recipes and instead try to pick recipes that are easy to make, satisfying to the whole family, and work with our schedule (crockpot versus freezer versus fresh). It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s no fuss. And what’s most important: I’m sticking to it!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

So you might be thinking to yourself, “Gosh Megan, if you’ve struggled so much, maybe meal planning isn’t your thing!” But it is. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in the last few year of my meal planning is that I need it. If I don’t use some sort of meal plan, grocery shopping and meal preparations becomes infinitely harder; our grocery bills go up; we constantly face an empty pantry and refrigerator; and we eat out more often. I don’t LOVE meal planning, but I’ve learned that, for our family at least, it’s a necessary evil!

While my simple two-page printable system (shown above) is working pretty well, my experiences with all of these different meal planning systems have taught me a lot about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to meal planning. As such, I have identified a variety of new systems that will truly make meal planning a more efficient (and maybe even pleasant!) experience. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months brainstorming and creating a whole series of printables to take the hassle out of meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation! I am so excited about what I’m putting together and think you guys will love it too. I’m not quite ready to spill all the beans just yet, but here is a sneak peek!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

These printables and SOOO much more will be ready in the New Year. To make sure you stay up to date on what and when everything is available (and to get more sneak peeks and freebies!), make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list. If you aren’t already, you can sign up below:

I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I’d love to hear from you! Is there anything specific you need from a meal planning system?  What do you currently use? What kind of system works best for you? What is something you really need from a meal planning system that you can’t find elsewhere? You guys always have the best ideas, so be sure to share in the comments!

This week is Thanksgiving in the United States (so Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!), but I will be back here on Thursday nonetheless with the post that was supposed to hit last week (when I took a very much needed break!). I’ll see you then!

Megan Signature

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Relish! did provide three free months of their meal planning service for me to try. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

Organize This: Recipes (and how I meal plan now!)

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself tightening up little areas of our home. I’m not sure if it’s a case of “We’re moving soon so I need to finish everything,” or just that with me nothing is ever finished. Either way – I am LOVING knocking out some of these smaller projects that have been nagging at  the back of my brain for a while. Whether it’s an area that I hadn’t gotten to yet (our bakeware!) or a system that needed tweaking based on the changing needs of our family (our family command center!), it’s been fun for me to get back to some smaller nitty-gritty organization projects. Organizing and finding just the right solution for our family right now is one of the tasks that makes me happiest.

My latest project: freshening our recipes and meal planning system!

Organize This Recipes-001

For those of you who have been around here a long, long time, you may recall that I developed a pretty “sophisticated” meal planning system…just about four years ago now (what what?). It was one of my first big projects here on THIHM, my first project to go “viral,” and still my most viewed post(s) to date. You can read all about my Magnetic Menu Board here!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

Back when I developed that system, I ultimately decided to sort and organize my recipes based on main protein source. From this simple concept, the whole color-coded meal planning system was born and REALLY worked wonderfully. For the almost four years since I developed our menu board, I have used it quite faithfully and sold many Magnetic Menu Board templates in my Etsy Shop so others can easily make their own!

I still love this system, and if you are a busy bee and need a way to streamline meal planning/shopping/preparation, I highly recommend you check it out.

However, things change, right? Schedules and priorities change. How we use our time and what we need organized and streamlined shift around. Over the last year (especially while my husband was deployed), I found myself not needing or wanting to plan an entire month’s worth of meals at one time. It was starting to feel cumbersome and unnecessary (especially since I was mostly cooking for myself! #mythreeyearoldwonteatanything) Instead, I was planning out one week’s worth of meals in my planner.

Even though I wasn’t using the magnets or the magnetic calendar anymore, I was still using and LOVING my color-coded recipe books. The only downside to no longer using the magnets (that had all the recipe names printed on them) was that I had to leaf through all my different recipe books to plan out a single week. It wasn’t a huge deal, but in recent weeks, I found myself wishing I had a “key” of sorts that listed all my recipes so I could pick meals and plan the week much easier. This was just the itch I needed to give my recipe books (that were still holding strong) a bit of a refresh and refine my whole system at the same time!

Ready to see?

Since I was giving my recipe books a refresh, I picked out a new color scheme too. I started by printing out a new set of Recipe Book Spines onto photo paper (so that they are nice and glossy!), and my new Recipe Catalog onto heavy-weight cardstock.

Organize This Recipes-002

I trimmed down the printed recipe book spines and then secured them to the spines of my recipe books using clear packing tape, just like I did four years ago. #ifitsnotbrokedontfixit

I know I will get questions about my recipe books, so let me answer it here! I bought/hoarded a bunch of these clear-paged books while we lived in Okinawa, Japan (at their version of the dollar store). Unfortunately, I haven’t come across anything here in the US that looks or functions exactly the same. However, you can mimic the function of these books by filling binders with clear page protectors!

Organize This Recipes-003

Organize This Recipes-004

With pretty new spines on all my books, it was time to do the nitty gritty work. I haven’t sorted, purged or reorganized my recipes in the four years since I first did this project (whoops). There were new favorite recipes that needed to be added (either from online or from cookbooks), and old/un-used recipes that could be tossed. I also acquired a bunch of my Mom’s handwritten recipe cards when we cleaned out my folks’ home, so those were also added in. I trimmed recipes down and secured smaller recipe cards to copy paper using clear tape before sliding them into the pocket pages.

Organize This Recipes-005

With my recipes now updated and sorted, I filled out my Recipe Catalog (with pencil!), making sure that the recipes in the books corresponded with the recipes on my sheet!

Organize This Recipes-006

Organize This Recipes-007

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I LOVE that I now have visibility of all my recipes on a single (double-sided!) sheet of paper. Each Sunday, I sit down with my planner and fill in dinners across the week using my recipe catalog. Like before, I try to use a recipe from each column (to vary the protein source across the week),; I also try to make different recipes from week to week to avoid fixing the same things over and over again.

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!By the way, I am using this planner this year!

Organize This Recipes-009

With my weekly meals planned, I then populate my Grocery List with all the necessary ingredients. My recipe books are close by (and color-coded) to help me find recipes/necessary ingredients quickly and easily!

I print about 10 or so of these grocery lists out a time. I keep them clipped up on the refrigerator, so we can add items to the list all week long! When it’s time to head to the store, I grab the list and go! 

Organize This Recipes-010

And that’s it! My refined meal planning system that I’ve been using of late. There’s nothing too complicated here, but in just a few hours of my time (after the kiddo was in bed), my system feels fresh, up-to-date and ready to rock for at least another four years 😉 For where we are in life right now, I am loving this simple and fuss-free approach to recipe organization, meal planning, and grocery list making.

Organize This Recipes-011

And want to know something really fun? If you want/need to get your recipes in order, I’ve done all the hard work for you. All my templates are now available in my Etsy Shop!

~

Updated January 2017: These files have now been updated, expanded and re-packaged into a bigger, more comprehensive Recipe Organization system.  Get all the details and your Recipe Organization Printable Kit HERE!

Get your Recipes sorted and organized with the worksheets in The Ultimate Kitchen Printable Pack - 200+ printable pages to organize and improve function in every area of your kitchen!

~

Organize This Recipes-012

I’ve combined my Recipe Book Spines, Recipe Catalog (double sided), and Grocery List printables into a neat little pack that is available for instant download HERE! I have the kit (as well as my original menu board kits) available in 6 new color schemes!

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Go to the printable kits here!

If my Magnetic Menu Board system was a bit too much for you but you are still looking for a good way to meal plan and prepare for your grocery shopping, I urge you to give this system a try. It’s easy to use and maintain (and pretty to look at!), so it’s a win, win, win!

Organize This Recipes-015

Organize This

My Organize This series is all about (relatively) simple and quick organizing projects that make a big difference in your day-to-day life. These aren’t intended to be large organizational overhauls, but rather quick sessions you can accomplish in an afternoon or weekend! This recipe organization project is exactly that: quick and easy enough to do today or this coming weekend! Catch up on other projects in this series by clicking on the pictures below:

Organize This Bakeware-013 Organize This Printer Station-01 Organize This: Recycling Storage Solutions for a Skinny Pantry Organize This: Thread Organize This: Laundry Supplies Untitled-1-16 Small Toy Storage Bags-001 Organize This: Fabric Organize This: Batteries Organize This: Your Gym Bag Organize Your Cleaning Supplies with these simple & colorful DIY cleaning kits! Get your Lego kits organized and labeled with this simple organizing project! Never loose a manual or piece again! Is your purse a black hole you can't find anything in? Check out my solutions for creating order in this most used item of the day!

What do you guys think? How do you organize your recipes? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions as I am always looking for new things to try!

Looking for even more PRETTY PRINTABLES to get your recipes, meal planning, coupons (and more!) organized, check out The Ultimate Kitchen Printable Pack HERE!!!

Ready to organize your kitchen? These 200+ printable pages can help!

I hope you all have a fantastic long weekend. Despite the cold, I have a few projects up my sleeve. Fingers crossed I’ve got some upates in the family room to show you next week!

Have a good one, friends!

Megan

A Magnetic Menu Board Update – Answering Your FAQs!

I hope everyone is having a great labor day weekend! Let me tell you, we are putting in A LOT of labor this holiday weekend, working in the garage on some really great furniture makeovers. Unfortunately, none of them are quite done and ready to reveal (I really should try to focus on one project at a time, huh?), but thought I would take this chance to write a post I’ve been meaning/wanting to write for a while now!

 You can now catch up on all things Magnetic Menu Board HERE!

And you can shop all my printable templates now HERE!

To date, Part I has received 55,800+ hits and 40 comments; and Part II is “close” behind with 18,700+ hits and 57 comments. These numbers probably seem small to many “big” bloggers out there, but for me they are huge! This project (originally posted in February 2012) has brought me tons of traffic, new followers, wonderful compliments and kudos, and also recognition from some pretty great blogs!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

I Heart Organizing / The 36th Avenue / http://www.lemeilleurdudiy.com / The Happy Housewife and others!

I’ve also received lots of questions…lots and lots of questions…many of which are repeats, and that is the exact reason why I am writing this post today. I’ve been so overwhelmed with the positive response to this project that I wanted to try and answer some of the questions I get frequently.

Q. How do you get your recipes printed on the magnets?

A. I surprisingly get this question a lot, and perhaps it’s from people who didn’t read Part II, where I detail exactly how I made the entire thing! Or maybe I just wasn’t as clear as I thought I was. The recipe magnets are simply printed right from my computer onto Glossy Magnetic Paper purchased from Staples. Yes – this stuff exists, yes it’s safe for your printer, and yes…it’s awesome! I did not print labels on stickers and adhere them to the magnetic paper. I simply loaded my printer with the magnetic paper, printed them out, and cut them with scissors! Couldn’t be easier!

Q. What kind of printer did you use to print the magnets?

A. Our household printer…we have an HP Photosmart C5580 All-in-One. I did make sure I had new cartridges, and printed them at the highest quality I could.

Q. What font did you use for the magnets?

A. Arial

Q. How do you match the labels to the color combos found on Design Seeds or other sites?

A. I made my labels using My Digital Studio, and in that software is a “match” tool, where I can match text and shapes to other objects on my screen. I simply saved the jpeg of the color scheme I wanted from the Design Seeds website, opened the image in my label file, and then used the match tool to color all my boxes. After everything was colored the way I wanted it, I deleted the color swatch graphic out.

Q. I have the JPEG files of the label templates but can’t seem to edit them! Help!

A. The JPEG files DO NOT have editable text boxes. To insert your recipe names onto the JPEG files, any photo editing software, such as Photoshop or Illustrator, is ideal. Digital scrapbooking programs or Microsoft Programs (i.e., Word, PowerPoint, Publisher) also work. If you choose to use Word or PowerPoint, note that the files are JPEGs, so you must insert them as images/photos and place text boxes over the labels in order to add your recipe names. If you are a Mac user, you can add text boxes to the JPEG files using the Preview program. Finally, there are free photo editing programs available online that will also work, PicMonkey is a favorite!

Q. I want to make my own. How big are all of the labels?

  • Recipe labels: 2.25″x0.75″
  • Spine labels: 11.0″x1.0″
  • Month labels: 5.5″x0.75″
  • Sides labels (the small red ones): 0.75″x0.75″

Q. Do you sell these?

A. I don’t sell the completed boards, but I DO sell the digital templates. Visit my shop here:

Q. Do you really use your menu board and plan your meals this way?

A. Yes!!!!! Absolutely! I do not have the time or desire to create projects for the sake of blogging about them. Everything I make is intended to be used, loved, played with, and cherished…or simply to make our life easier/prettier/better. I meant what I said in my original blog post: I gave this project a TON of thought before I actually executed it. I wanted it to be exactly what I needed it to be, and it is!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

Every month, I tear the board down and start from scratch exactly as I detailed in my original post. For some, planning out a whole month’s worth of meals isn’t practical, but for us it is. Do I alter it as I go? Yes! Do I sometimes opt to order dinner in rather than make the one I have planned? Yes! Do I sometimes swap magnets around or push meals to another week because we end up with more leftovers than I anticipated? YES! But this meal planning approach provides me with a jumping off point, helps me not repeat meals from week to week, and mostly: helps me prepare for and shop for groceries with much less time and effort! In the few weeks where we were moving and I was without my menu board, I felt a little lost and frustrated preparing for my grocery trips. As soon as the board and magnets came out of the packing boxes…it was up and running!

In fact, here it is in our new kitchen (you can tell it’s our new kitchen by the fun tile backsplash!)!

You actually might notice that I’ve updated a few things since the original post! First, I updated the colors to match our new kitchen (I know…totally un-necessary, but I’m kinda crazy like that!). It was pretty easy too…I went into my original file and just changed all the yellow boxes to green. I left some blank green magnets for future recipes, and then added in some of the recipes that have made it into our standard rotation! After I had my page all ready, I printed it out on another magnetic sheet. Just like before, I cut out all the magnets with a scissors and loaded back into the magnet box!

I also updated the recipe book to match the new color scheme and (finally!) put a “RECIPES” label onto my magazine file box!

I also added some heavy-duty magnets to the back of the board so that it can hang on the refrigerator rather than rest on the counter. This board is pretty heavy, so I used four heavy-duty magnets adhered with gorilla glue (ignore the glue seepage…I am so bad at judging the amount of gorilla glue required!)

I’ve also adapted how I plan my week just a bit! I found that the one meal that always got pushed to the next week was Saturday night’s meal. It seems like we almost always end up going out to eat, or we exhaust ourselves working on projects that I never feel like cooking. Finally, it dawned on me to make Saturdays “leftover” nights (and I cook accordingly during the week to ensure there is a meal in the freezer ready for us!) Other than that small change, I use the board exactly as I detailed in my first post!

Here is the latest iteration of the board, all spruced up to match the new kitchen and ready to work hard for us!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

Megan

Magnetic Menu Board – Part II

Hello, Hello!  On Monday, I showed you my Magnetic Menu Board and explained how it works! If you missed it, you can read it here! As promised, I am back today to show you how I made it!

I started here:

 My materials included:

  • A magnetic and dry-erase calendar (this one is from Target for ~$16)
  • 2 packages of magnetic sheets (you can find these anywhere from Walmart to Amazon…these are from Staples and are glossy, which give the magnets a nice and professional look!)
  • 6 books filled with clear plastic page protectors (mine are from the Y100 Store in Okinawa – yes, I stocked up before I left years ago! – but any binders or similar-type books would work!)
  • Scissors
  • Clear packaging tape
  • (Not pictured) Recipes – you’re on your own for that one!
  • (Not pictured) Small craft storage box to hold magnets
  • (Not pictured) Magazine file for storing recipe books
  • (Not pictured) Vinyl for labeling magnet box

Yup…that’s all you’ll need to make this beauty!

 

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

 Unfortunately, the first step is the most “not fun” and time consuming! If they are not already done so, you must first organize and/or sorted your recipes!

 

Before this project, I was already printing (or copying) recipes (from emails, online, or cookbooks) that make it into our regular rotation and then store them in handy books. As I said in my original post, my recipes were already somewhat organized…I just expanded my system. Instead of “Favorites,” “Classics,” “To Try,” and “Desserts,” I instead organized my recipes by main protein source, and then lumped my sides/salads and desserts into categories of their own. Here are my 6 categories!

  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beef/Pork
  • Vegetarian
  • Sides/Salads
  • Desserts

Once my recipes were organized, I could begin making my magnetic labels.

I started by making a template of rectangles using My Digital Studio, but this could easily be done in Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc! I specifically sized my labels to take up only half of a square on my calendar (the width was also dictated by the calendar box widths.) To do this, simply measure the height and width of a “day” on your calendar and use that as a starting point. My boxes are 2.5″ wide by 0.75″ tall. You may want to print a test to make sure the come out the size you want! I then copied and pasted the box as many times as I could.

Because I had 6 categories, I needed a color scheme. In preparation for our next move, I have been looking at a lot of different color schemes for our next house, and am pretty sure this is the one! (I know, I’m ridiculous already picking out ideas for our next home!)

 

(source)

Anyway, I used these colors for my labels and had a sheet for each color:

Using the text function, I simply added the title of each recipe to the appropriate color sheet!

I also made a sheet with 6 blank labels of each color in order to have extras!

Next, I made my sides and symbols sheet. You can see all these labels explained here!

 Lastly, I made “key” magnets (so I could always remember what each color stood for) and month magnets to match!

With everything all typed up and ready to go (make sure you proofread!), I printed out all my labels onto those magnetic sheets!

Here is how my recipe labels looked all printed out before cutting!

 

 Using a plain ol’ scissors, I cut out each label (btw – these cut BEAUTIFULLY! I was SO worried, but they cut just like paper!)

 

 I then added my “key” magnets and setup my board for February…learn how to set it up here!

 

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And then organized my remaining magnets in a little craft box:

 

I used my cricut to make a matching vinyl label for the top of the box!

 

 With the menu board and magnets done, it was time to turn my attention toward my recipe books. In addition to my labels, I also made a template for my spines…these I printed on card stock!

 I cut out each spine…

 

 And mounted each spine onto the notebooks using the clear packaging tape (use extra for re-enforcement!)

 Once all six were done, I had pretty spines that coordinated with my magnets!

 I loaded my books into a magazine file and now have everything sitting nice and tidy on my counter!

This project took me less than 1 nap to complete (ha…I measure my project length in nap time now!) ONCE all my recipes were organized and sorted – that’s the time-consuming part! It came together so quick and easy thanks to the magnetic sheets, and I’m telling you friends, this system really works great!

 You can now catch up on all things Magnetic Menu Board HERE!

And you can shop all my printable templates now HERE!

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Next week, I am sharing the beginnings of my newest project…a “tween” girl’s bedroom makeover!!! Can’t wait!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

Have a great weekend,

Megan

*affiliates link used!

Magnetic Menu Board – Part 1

Happy Monday Friends! I am pretty excited about what I have to share with you this week! Here’s a little fun fact about me: I am pretty “in to” meal planning. Geeky, I know! But not only does it keep my grocery list (and bill!) in check, but when dinner time rolls around, I like having a game plan ready for me. If I’m stuck facing a refrigerator or pantry saying “What should I make for dinner tonight?,” we usually end up calling for pizza!

Until now, I have been using a pretty basic, pretty functional system:

Each week, I pull out my “collection” of tried-and-true recipes, which are organized in clear-paged books into the categories of “Favorites,” “Classics,” “To Try,” and “Desserts.” I page through the books and identify what sounds good and/or what will work with items we have on hand! I then assign a meal to each day of the week on our little green wipe board, making an effort to vary our sources of protein and carbohydrates across the week. Once my meals are identified, I assemble our grocery list and set off for the store. I actually stick to my meal plan most of the time!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

Then…a while back, I came across this picture on Pinterest:

(source)

I was absolutely smitten with this menu board concept (and not just because I am allured by all things labeled and color-coded!) Although my meal-planning system was working, my recipes were in major need of updating and organizing…and despite having dozens of recipes, I was often making the same things over and over and over again. This menu board concept allowed me to plan a whole month at once (major time saver!), ensured that I made a different meal each night…AND it looked super pretty and organized with all the labels and colors (very important!)! Although RobbyGurl has a pretty awesome product here (and she even sells them!), I really wanted to give the menu board a go myself…yeah, I’m kinda stubborn and controlling that way! I really loved her concept, but there were a few things I wanted to customize in order make the final product more specific and functional for my needs!

I gave this project a lot of thought, and it took me a while to identify a system that would truly work for me. After a lot of thinking, organizing and sorting, putting it away for a while, pulling it back out, and thinking some more….here is how my menu board turned out!

Today, I am going to show you how my menu board works…then later on this week, be sure to check back, because I’ll show you how I made it!Are you ready to see how this menu board works?

At the start of the month, I clear the magnetic calendar, put up the correct month at the top, and write in the dates with a dry-erase marker.

 I start our monthly meal-planning by looking at our family calendar and identifying parties, outings, or other meal-related commitments we having coming up. I designate these days with the “OUT:” label. I specifically designed my labels to be slim enough that I can hand-write in where we will be going when we are eating “out.”

I then assign meals to the rest of the days we are home, using my “meal magnets.” As I said before, I make a specific point to vary our protein sources across the week, ensuring that we have at least 1 vegetarian and 1 seafood meal each week.  (The color-coding system I employed here is organized by protein, so I simply make sure I have all my colors represented each week!).

 Then, I add my red labels, which are all “sides and salads.” Some of my red labels are actually recipes, and I add those where appropriate. However, most of my red labels are a bunch of “code” letters!

 Here are what my “code” letters stand for!

Like our protein, I also like to make sure we get a variety of whole grains through the week. I add my little red letters to each meal, so when I am both prepping my shopping list and the actual meal, I know exactly what I need!

 Are you still following me? In the picture above…on February 19th, we will be having Barley Risotto with Salad (S) and on February 26th, we’ll be having Meatloaf Muffins with both Wild Rice Timbales and Salad (S)! Just like with the color-coded protein labels, these red labels allow me to quickly assess if we are getting too much of one thing and not enough of another!

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There are a few other fun features I added to my meal-planning system to really make this menu board versatile, flexible, and perfectly tailored to my needs!

First up, is this symbol!

I very often double recipes (whenever the recipe lends itself to freezing!) to save time cooking down the road. To remind myself to buy extra ingredients and/or make the full recipe, I add these + labels on the appropriate day.

Since I often cook extra and therefore have meals in the freezer, we eat “leftovers” at least once a week. So just like the “OUT:” label, I  can add the “LEFTOVER:” label and hand-write in what that meal will be!

Lastly, I created the “NEW:” label. One of my concerns with this type of meal-planning system was that we would eat the same recipes over and over because they were the ones labeled and on the board. What about all those recipes on my Pin Boards, in my email, and in all those cookbooks on my shelves? To make sure we keep our rotation fresh, each month we have 1-2 “new” recipe nights. Like with the “OUT:” and “LEFTOVER:” labels, I write in what the actual recipe is below the label!

And what happens if we really love a recipe and want it to become part of the regular rotation? I printed a bunch of blank labels that I can hand-write on so I don’t have to run back to the computer every time we find a good new recipe!

To organize and store all my magnets when they are not in use (because I have a lot more than 31 recipes!), I bought a simple craft box that can tuck in behind the menu board!

 

 So…I’ve showed you how I plan my meals for the month and how my complicated creative label system works! But what about the actual recipes? Where are those?

I really loved how RobbyGurl has all the recipes color coded with the menu labels and how streamlined and accessible they are right under the board. However, I was NOT up for re-formatting all my recipes – lol! My books with clear cellophane pages (from the Y100 Store in Okinawa!) were working really, really well for me…so I kept that system! I did sort, purge, and re-organize my recipes (more on that in my next post), and made corresponding spines to match my magnets. Now, when I see that there is a yellow recipe on the board….I reach for my yellow book of recipes. Easy!

I keep our recipe books contained in a magazine filer (some have to be stored backwards so they’ll fit!). The calendar, file box, and magnet box all fit nicely on my counter…in plain view, but out of the way!

 I’ve been using my menu board for about a week or so now, and I have to say I am just thrilled with its functionality. It may seem complicated, but it has all the features that I need to make it truly usable for our family!

 You can now catch up on all things Magnetic Menu Board HERE!

This FREE 5-week email course will help you clean out and improve function in EACH area of your kitchen!

And you can shop all my printable templates now HERE!

Have a great Monday!

Megan