February 20, 2015

DIY Weekly Menu Planner

Meal planning
Cute no? I live for, and love the world of visual organizing...although I don't really think there is more to organizing than for that of visual appeal? Anyways, during one of my browsing sessions through Pinterest I stumbled across Claire's 'Ultimate Menu Board' and thought that this would be a great little addition to the kitchen. 

In our family we tend to go grocery shopping almost every weekend to gather ingredients for weekly dinners (did that make sense?), I often plan out meals in advance...but when the actual day that I've planned the meal for rolls around, I forget what I'm supposed to make, or have used up the ingredients that I needed for some other meal. So not only does this give me a nice visual reminder for each night, when I flip over the card, it tells me all of the ingredients that I should be buying during my grocery trips!

I think I'll steal this directly from Claire's blog, but what I like about this menu planner...
  • A great visual reminder of what you have planned for the week, if you're stomach is like mine, it can also help prep it in advance so it can get excited about the meal you have planned (weird, I know!)
  • Since this is weekly, it greatly helps planning out your grocery trip, turn the card over, and jot down the ingredients that you need...or...take the card with you!
  • Using the pockets, I can store all of my meal cards directly on the board. This is also a rotating system, so all of the "used" cards are stored in the 'done' pocket, this makes it easier to pick out a new meal without having to rifle through the entire bundle of meal cards.
  • I don't have a lot of space to hang a frame on a wall as in Claire's original design so I had to improvise. I like the fact that this board is magnetic and can be placed anywhere on my fridge and is also very lightweight.
  • If you have kids it`s a fun way to help them plan out your weekly meals with you...and it`s also a bonus if your kid asks you "Mooooommm, what`s for dinner tonight?"
Step-by-step guide to your own Menu Planner:

What I used:
Foam core board for the frame $2
A magnetic sheet (if modifying for your fridge) $10 for 5 sheets
Decorative sheets of scrap booking paper $2 for 5 sheets
7 mini clothespins $4 for a pack
Spray adhesive or glue stick $4
Self-laminating paper $15 for 5 sheets
Approximate total for project (not including buying a heat laminator) = $35

Meal Cards
Have your list of recipes close by. I found the easiest way was to make a Word document with 2 columns, on the left column is the recipe name, on the right column is the list of ingredients. After printing (you can print on colored paper, I simply edited the color of each cell and printed on white paper), cut the meals into their respective strips, fold in half and laminate.

I ended up going out to buy a heat laminator to finish the menu cards, but originally I started by using self-laminating paper , I found that in order to maintain a proper seal, I had to leave quite a bit of room around each card when I cut, I'm a bit neurotic so I wanted to keep the cut lines close to the card...hence me ending up using a heat laminator in the end.

Background (magnetic sheet) 
I used a spray adhesive on the front side of a sheet of magnet paper and adhered it onto a sheet of decorative scrapbook paper. Let it dry according to the adhesive instructions (you can also use a glue stick if you don`t have spray adhesive), and cut to fit, I left a small overhang of 1/2" on the top and bottom because of how I wanted everything to fit.

I decided to over complicate things as usual, and instead of buying a small 8.5" x 11" frame, I made one myself! Because of how I wanted things to look and sit on the fridge, I opted to make my own lightweight frame using foam core and decorative scrapbook paper. If you're a normal person, I would follow Claire's instructions, otherwise fit your magnetic sheet on top of the foam core, trace, and use an exacto knife and a ruler to cut out your frame. 

After cleaning up the foam core edges, place it on top of your decorate scrapbook paper and trace out an edge large enough so you can wrap it around the foam core (I left an overhang of approximately 1/2" inch on all sides.

I used a glue stick to adhere all of the scrapbook paper to the foam core and placed a weight on top each section for a secure and flat bond. I used a triple gloss (love this stuff!) to seal the frame as well as stiffen the paper.

After everything was dry, I used a glue stick and white glue to adhere the frame to the magnetic sheet...also placing a flat weight on top to ensure a secure bond, make sure you let everything dry flat with the weight on top until completely dry, because of the moisture in the glue and the fact that you are using paper, it will end up wrinkling or bowing if it's not completely dry flat.  I ended up adding a clear plastic sheet between the frame and magnetic sheet for an added layer of protection that you can just wipe down in case something splatters on it.

Again...I ended up taking the complicated route, I didn't have any empty crayon boxes so I fashioned my own out of an empty Gusher's box, and wrapped it in decorative scrap booking paper...in retrospect, the decorative paper was thick enough to have used that as a box instead of taking the time to make a box and then wrap it *sigh*. I used a glue stick to assemble everything and also cut out a strip of accent paper to wrap around the finished box.

Since this is a magnetic project, rather than gluing the boxes directly onto the board, I simply dropped a strong magnet on the inside of the boxes so it sticks directly to the fridge. This is a bonus because when you go to choose your meals for each week, you can just pop the box off of the fridge and then pull out the meals.

Mini Clothespins
There are multiple ways of doing this,  you can cut strips of paper and mod podge them onto the top of the clothespins, you can paint the entire clothespin, you can just paint accents...which is exactly what I did! I liked the natural look of the clothespins and it also matches the color theme of my board, so in order to differentiate the days of the week I painted little circles at the tips with acrylic paint and filled in the lettering. I took my triple gloss and dabbed little blobs on each circle to seal & protect.

Evenly space out your clothespins on the frame and glue into place. I heard that hot glue may not be sturdy enough so I used E6000 glue.

You can use anything for lettering, but I used some extra scrap-booking letters that had in my stash because I wanted added dimension/depth. They are originally brown (as shown in 'yum' and 'done') but I painted the 'menu' letters to match the overall theme of my board.

...And that's it! Simple right? I really like having this menu planner, so cute, yet extremely practical.

Happy crafting!