Planning out meals can be an instrumental part of getting better with healthy eating habits or helping to stick to a budget. We’ve tried so many ways to make menus, but all have fallen short. We tried to figure out what our downfalls were from previous attempts and I think we may have come up with a winner. Most of our past menus were not flexible, or easily adjustable to fit our schedule. They also didn’t tell us what we had in the basement freezer, so we’d think we were out of quick meal options and order out.
I found a good deal on a medium size white board at BJ’s. It is a little more decorative than most available at office supply stores and was only $10.99. It includes a corkboard frame with fun thumbtacks, magnets, magnetic clips and two dry erase markers. I picked up a pack of wet-erase markers from Staples for $10.99. I also dug through our pile of office supplies and found a pack of blank magnetic business cards (so if you are going to duplicate this, pick up a pack while you’re out).
To make the calendar grid I used a ruler and the wet-erase markers. The advantage of the wet-erase markers is that you can change what is in the grid without erasing the grid itself. I’ll be able to use the board month after month by just changing the numbers for the days.
I cut the business cards into smaller pieces to write the menu items on. When we go shopping, we can add what we have to the “HAVE” column. When we put portioned packs of chicken in the basement freezer, we can also add it to the “HAVE” column so we don’t forget it’s there. After something is used we can move it to the bottom to say it’s done, or move it to the “NEED” list and not forget for the next shopping trip. The biggest thing for this is going to be the ability to move magnets for our schedule. If a steak dinner is planned for Monday, but I end up working really late, Devon can simply move it to the “HAVE” and substitute something else we have or sub a dinner from another night without having to re-write the whole menu. We plan on making one or two “Dining Out” or “Takeout” that we can schedule in. This will help us limit the number of times we eat out to help the wallet and our waistlines. We can also use the markers to write in days we may be out of town or at dinner events. We can write miscellaneous groceries on the need list as we’re prepping food, so we make sure the pantry gets restocked on the next shopping trip.
Now for placement. We’ve had web based menus and we’ve had menus in a kitchen drawer. They’re close by, but not right there. We decided that the best place for the board was in on the side of the cabinet in the middle of the kitchen. It’s kind of hidden, but right out in the open. I did not want to drill holes to mount the board with the included screws, because… well who the hell wants screw holes in the side of the cabinet if this doesn’t work out for us. I picked up a pack of the 3M Velcro quick release tabs from Home Depot for about 5 bucks. I chose the Velcro, because I can take the board down to redraw lines if it gets messy, and I can keep the fasteners completely hidden. The 3M quick release tabs themselves work great, but you have to leave the tab accessible for removal and they are not reusable. Be sure to check the weight rating on the fasteners you choose, and to use enough to hold the white board you have. I always use a few extra for safety’s sake.
How about your fam? Do you menu plan or just wing it? Any tips to staying on track?