My mom is one of those people who can walk into a grocery store and just KNOW what she needs without writing it down. She rarely has to go back to the grocery store to get extra supplies for her recipes because she just has it all figured out. I'm not that way. I must have a plan.
For the past three years, I would come up with something like this:
This one is INSANITY at its finest and can be yours for the low, low price of $140:
This is what I ended up going with:
I also grabbed some ideas from this lovely site as well.
Here's a list of the materials I used:
- Magnetic dry erase calendar
- Printable Magnetic sheets
- Small, clear plastic tackle box
- Color printer
- Microsoft Word
Here's the procedure:
I measured the boxes on my calendar to see how wide I needed to make the magnet strips. I wanted to make sure the magnet strips were exactly the same width as the calendar boxes. For my calendar, this was about 3". I then measured the height of the calendar boxes. I didn't want my strips to take up more than half of the box. They ended up being a little over a 1/2".
After measuring, I created boxes in Microsoft Word that fit these dimensions. I chose the color of the boxes based on the colors of my kitchen. I have a sunflower theme. It's actually called Evening Sun from Pfaltzgraff. I also have a little cornflower blue tucked in there as well. I agonized over my colors. Unfortunately, they printed out much brighter than I wanted them to. So, my color scheme is a little more rainbow-colorish. Oh well, I love bright colors too. Nobody will care if my menu matches my dinnerware.
I then typed up the names of the recipes I actually use using a text box overlay over the colored boxes. This was a painstaking process. I'm sure there is an easier way to do it. I'm notorious for doing things the hard way because that's the only way I know. I used different colors for each type of meat to ensure that I don't eat chicken every day of the week. I'm also going to try to incorporate meatless meals into my meal plan, so I made a color for meatless meals. (I called them "vegetarian.")
I then printed out the strips on the magnet paper. Check to make sure your magnet paper is facing the correct direction in your printer. I just bought my printer from a friend who moved to Guam, so I didn't realize the paper got turned around somehow in the printing process. I thought I could just put the paper side up in the printer, and all would be fine. Turns out I printed my first batch of labels on the actual magnet part of the magnet paper. What was even worse was I did it again at the end of the project! Grrrrr....
While watching TV, I carefully cut out the labels with regular scissors. My husband recommended I use a paper cutter (you know the kind that chop off fingers too), but my boxes weren't lined up evenly and I was too impatient to drive all the way into work to use one. Regular scissors work just fine for this project and make a great excuse for catching up on Netflix episodes of Out of the Wild: Venezuela.
I also made tiny little squares with little codes on them. These are about the same size as the date box on my calendar. The red little codes are for sides. I'm really bad at actually having sides for regular/non-company meals. Here are the codes:
I then made codes that help me know how to prepare the meals more efficiently:
M- me (These are very helpful in helping me know what days my husband is working through dinner and I'm alone.)
CP- crockpot (These are to remind me to get my crockpot ready to go before work or before bed. I have a really nice programmable crockpot that automatically goes to warm when it's done cooking.)
Fr- freeze (This is to remind me to freeze the leftovers so I don't have to worry about eating them before they go bad.)
G- grill (This is to remind me to ask Ben to grill since he's the designated grillmaster.)
I also have a few other recipe-sized labels that are as follows:
New- this is so I can indulge my habit of trying new recipes.
Out- this is so I don't plan a meal when we have a comittment or want to go out to eat
Frozen- this is for me when I'm home alone and don't have time to cook
Leftovers- this is for when we eat leftovers instead of a new meal
After cutting up all of these labels, I then stored them in a small, plastic tackle box insert that has the right number of compartments. You could also use a craft storage box as well.
I also laminated a template I found here to help me keep track of the new recipes I wanted to try. I used self-laminating paper that I bought at Office Max. I'm planning to write on it with a wet-erase overhead project marker, which will stay on better than a dry-erase marker.
I'm still working on getting all of my recipes in one binder. I think I'll type them up as I use them because I'm too lazy to do it all at once! This website has great templates for that as well.
I attached this menu board to my wall using interlocking command strips. We aren't allowed to use nails, so command strips work really well for me. Plus, I can rearrange with little to no problem. Here's the final product: