DIY Magnetic Menu Planner

I plan our dinners (and lunches) weekly, and go grocery shopping every Sunday.  I hate shopping on Sunday, especially when there are no freakin’ carts left, but try as I might, I haven’t been able to switch to a better day.  Besides, I suspect our particular grocery store is crowded at all hours of every day of the week.  It’s an insane place to be.

While browsing on Pinterest for great ideas, I have often come across the cute little menu planner for the week.  This is not something I really need, but I kinda want to put one together for a few different reasons:

  1. I tend to get into ruts, where we eat the same things week in and week out.
  2. I want to try to use the groceries that I buy for the meals I intend, so that there’s less waste at the end of the week.
  3. I tend to forget to defrost stuff when necessary.
  4. I want to motivate myself to continue cooking throughout the week, rather than resorting to McDonald’s or pizza because I’m too tired to try to remember what I had planned for the week.

But I think it can safely be said that mine’s a little different than all the others you’ll see on Pinterest.  You’ll see how in a bit…

I started with good old Microsoft Word.  I didn’t want to write out every single meal, and all of the ingredients on the back, so I opened up Word, went to “Tools”, selected “Labels”, and clicked on “Mail Merge”.  This brought up a page of label-shaped cells, and I typed the name of my typically used recipes into each cell.  I’m not going to bother putting the ingredients on them, because thanks to Pinterest, I can look it up with a click or two, and I usually build the bulk of my grocery list sitting in front of my computer, anyway.  And truth be told, I make most of these so often, I already know what’s in them.

labels

My next step was to print off the “labels” on cardstock, and cut them up (using my cropping tool for scrapbooking for nice straight lines), and then laminating them.  I don’t think laminating is necessary, but it will keep the cards nicer for longer.  Then I used some adhesive magnet tape to adhere a small magnet strip to each one.

don't you love cutting up laminated stuff?

roll o' magnet

applying magnets...

Now I needed a surface, so I used a small cookie sheet that I no longer need, and covered it with contact paper.  Here’s how mine is different – I faced the raised edges of the pan towards the wall, so that I can store unused recipe magnets inside for the week. You may also notice that other DIY-ers have used cookie sheets and magnets, but only my recipe cards themselves are magnetized.  See?  I told you mine is different!

old cookie sheet

covered with Contact Paper...

magnetic!

store unused magnets on the wrong side!

Finally, I used some scrapbooking materials and tools to make it pretty, and mounted the board in my kitchen with those 3M velcro hangers.  Now I have a visual reminder of what meals are planned for the week!  As I try more recipes from Pinterest (or anywhere!), I can easily add more cards to the mix.

Finished Board without magnetsFinished Board with magnetsFinished Board Hanging in my kitchen!

Crisis Averted: How I Turned a Crisis into a Game

Blue sock

We decided to go to the grocery store at 12:30. “That’s 23 minutes, from now, OK?” I remind The Boy.  A few minutes later, I get up to make the grocery list, and I hear the beginnings of a meltdown.  I hear the frustration in his voice, and the elevated volume saying, “I can’t FIND it!”  It turned out to be a sock, a very particular grey and blue sock, for which he could not find the mate.  He had actually looked in the laundry basket of socks first, which is huge.  Usually, he will visually scan a room and if it doesn’t jump up and say, “HERE I am!!” it is lost.  Forever.  Somebody took it.  So we looked all over his room.  We looked in the clean clothes basket.  We looked in the basement.  I told him it would turn up sooner or later, and sat down because it was obvious we would not be going to the store today.  I was making a mental inventory of our groceries and trying to determine how not getting groceries today would affect our Monday… The Boy began to get very angry and started throwing things.  After he tossed a blanket across the room (thankfully only a blanket), I walked over to him on the couch, and said “STOP IT.”

From here it could have gone two ways: I could have started shouting, making things worse, or I could have gone the other route to try to get him to calm down.  Today (because I don’t always make the right choice), I made a split-second decision to get him to calm down.  I got him down on the couch, and lay down on top of him, using my body weight to give him some sensory input.  He was still yelling about not going to school tomorrow, me calling the police on him, him calling the police on me, and ended with, “Get off of me or I’m going to be bleeding!”  But he was calmer.  We sat up, and I pulled him into my lap.  We talked about better ways to communicate his frustration, and I laid out the options for him: We could clean up his room together, and if we didn’t find it, I would buy him a new pair, or we could hope it turned up, and choose a different pair.  He chose to clean up his room, and look in the basement again, which we did.

As we cleaned up his room, we threw every sock we found on his bed.  When we were finished tidying up, I said, “OK, Now we’re going to play a game.  We will each make as many sock matches as we can, and whoever has the most will get a candy bar when we go grocery shopping today.”  We sorted socks, I taught him how to fold pairs together, and we each snatched socks from the pile.  In the space of about 20 minutes, we had gone from potential meltdown to smiles and laughter as we played a game together.  And he lost, and it was OK.  He found a different pair of socks to wear (because we still didn’t find that darn sock that started all this), and it was OK.

If it had been 7am on a school day, when these types of things usually occur, I’m not sure I would have made the better choice.  But I did today, and we are both better off for it.