Monday Made It - The Ultimate Meal Planner!


During the school year, I almost never have anything to share for Monday Made It. But today, I am excited to share something I made a few weeks ago and am really loving. Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with teaching (well...there is a slight teaching connection). It will tell you how I keep it together and actually cook for my family with a full-time teaching job, a TPT store, two blogs, and a blog design business.

I have always struggled with planning meals for our family. I like to cook, and I have a ton of recipes that we like. The problem is that I never seem to think about what's for dinner until 3:30 when I'm leaving school. By then, I'm exhausted and just don't care, so we end up eating the same five or six easy prep meals that I know by heart. 

I've tried making a meal plan lists on the weekend before, but it always resulted in me sitting on the couch for hours looking at recipe books and Pinterest boards and making a grocery list. By the time I'm done I feel like I just wasted half an afternoon.

Enter the Ultimate Menu Board, created by Clair from The Creative Mama. (Here's the teaching connection: I actually taught two of her kids fifth grade! What a small world.) A few weeks ago a link to her menu board popped up in my news feed. I had no idea at the time that I knew the person who came up with this fabulous idea.



Here's what I love about it... I always *think* I'm going to get all creative about meals, but in reality, we have our family favorite combinations that we like to stick to. If I made meatloaf without mashed potatoes and broccoli casserole, there might be a mutiny at my house! The thing that makes this work for me is that you start by typing up those meals and printing them on cardstock on little cards like this:

Over the weekend, when you do your meal planning, just choose some cards and decide what day to cook them. Right now, I am drawing cards from the top box and discarding in the bottom one, and when I finish, I will start rotating again from the bottom box to the top. This keeps your meals fresh and keeps you from repeating certain meals every. single. week. (*cough* spaghetti) I realized when I started typing meal cards that I have well over 30 recipes that we like, but I've only been cooking about 7 of them for the last several months.

Change your mind? Zucchini all look gross at the market today? Change out a side dish. Schedule potato soup on the random warm day in December? No problem, just swap the cards for something else. NO ONE is holding  you to your specific meals other than yourself, but it's so nice to have a PLAN!

On the back of the cards, you type all of the ingredients you need for that meal along with where to find the recipe. This is GENIUS because when it's time to go shopping, you just grab your cards, flip them over, and copy the list!

I went to the store planning to make one exactly like Clair's, but then I saw this adorable red frame that matches my kitchen perfectly... only it's 8x10, and she used an 11x14. Here's the tutorial on how I made my smaller version.

To make your own, you will need:
  • An 8 x 10 frame with a nice wide border
  • Two pieces of coordinating scrapbook paper
  • Some matching ribbon (I used less than 1 foot)
  • Alphabet stickers - I used small round ones for the days, and larger ones to spell "the menu" at the top
  • Seven clothes pins - I found cute mini clothespins in the scrapbook section that were already decorated to match my frame, but you could always decorate yours with washi tape
  • Two small boxes - I used 16-count crayon boxes
  • E600 glue
  • Mod Podge
  • Plain Cardstock
Here's what to do:
  1. Print your meal cards on the plain cardstock. Cut them out (after laminating, because you know you can't resist the opportunity to laminate!) You can download the PPT file I used to create my menu cards {HERE}. The fonts & graphics are included!
  2. Trim one sheet of scrapbook paper to fit inside the frame as the background. Put it in and close up the frame.
  3. Next, stick your day of the week stickers to the clothespins. I used small stickers with just the first letter, but you could certainly spell use the days. I used E600 glue to fasten the clothes pins to the frame. I did mine Monday -Sunday because I tend to menu plan & shop on Sundays.
  4. Now, for the boxes. I cut about 1/3 off of the top of my crayon boxes, leaving the size I wanted to hold my cards. Then I cut the scrapbook paper in half, using one half for each box. Wrap your boxes with the scrapbook paper, using mod podge to glue the paper to the boxes as you go. Once the entire box is covered, add some decorative ribbon, and coat the entire thing in 2-3 coats of mod podge. 
  5. When your boxes are fully dry, use E600 glue to attach them to the glass on your frame.
That's it! I attached my frame to the fridge using Command strips for picture hanging (the velcro kind), and it works perfectly. Just wait until it's totally dry to hang it and put your cards in the boxes.

Head over to 4th Grade Frolics to check out what everyone else has been making!

5 comments

  1. Totally love this idea! It is on my list for during our Thanksgiving break. Thanks so much for sharing!

    ~Laura
    Luv My Kinders

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  2. Love the menu board idea! I end up going through all the recipe cards in my box, but forget what I planned to make for the week. So cute too!

    Stephanie
    Forever in Fifth Grade

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  3. I need this! I always end up making the same easy meals, too but have pinned gazillion other recipes!! Now I'll start to implement! Thanks for the idea!

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  4. AHHHH! I am in love!!! Thanks for posting! I cannot wait to get started!

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  5. I LOVE this idea!! I read it and went straight to Joann Fabrics and bought all the stuff to make it! Did you make the black circles on your menu strips?? I would love to make more.
    Thank you so much for sharing!!!
    Lynn

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