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!

Small Victories at the Dinner Table

One of my ongoing concerns with The Boy is his diet.  He would eat pizza 24/7 if he could, and never seems to tire of it.  He doesn’t eat anything green, drinks very little milk, and on top of it all, eats like a bird.  The homemade lunchables work fairly well (when I have the gumption to put one together, and not just send in a hotpocket with some applesauce – argh!), although we have been stuck with bagel pizzas.  But we have thrown a few newer things in with the pizzas like whole wheat bagels, ham pieces, and carrots.  I’ve also managed to get him to eat some summer sausage, cheese, and whole wheat crackers in his lunch, as well.  Baby steps.

Dinner is a different story.  I often try to get him to at least taste what I am eating, and I can usually get him to do that.  He will eat pork chops if I make them, and certain (okay maybe 1 or 2) chicken recipes, but NO vegetables, and only sometimes potatoes.  Last night, I intended to make a chicken crock pot meal, based on a new pinterest recipe I had found until I realized on the way home from the grocery store that my chicken was still in the freezer, and we wouldn’t eat until midnight if I tried it.  I made the mental switch to a different pinterest recipe which looked super simple, using hummus.  The trick was, I had already told The Boy about the first recipe, asked if he would eat it because it had cream cheese (anything with cheese is OK in his book), and he had said YES.  I didn’t tell him about the change of plans.  I simply served up the chicken, with a side of zucchini and summer squash, and…  He ate all the chicken!! (It was really good!) Then I told him he could have some cheezits if he ate one of the “green things”.  He ate it, realized it didn’t taste like much of anything, and when I asked if he knew what it was, said that he didn’t.  When I told him, he said, “I just ate a zucchini?!”

Yes, little man, you did.  And hummus, too.

Score one for me!

This is all that was left of the hummus-crusted chicken with zucchini and squash

This is all that was left of the hummus-crusted chicken with zucchini and squash