Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m queen of micromanagement. You give me a task and I will micromanage it down to the smallest detail. Last summer I made a simple dinner menu board (pictured left), using a dollar store baking pan, some scrapbook paper, cardstock, magnets, and bottlecaps. We had a selection of cards to choose for dinners, but never really had a way to visually see how we were going to cook it (crockpot? grill?), which sides we wanted, and so on. That alone wasn’t enough to warrant changing the board drastically, but add on my husband’s new full-time job (and me not wanting him to eat fast food daily for convenience) and summer vacation for the kids approaching, and now we got a full meal planner board (pictured right).
Making the Board
I used Microsoft Publisher to setup a layout for dinner and lunch menus, though I’m sure that other programs would work just fine. They are printed on cardstock. We got the bulletin board from a local hardware store and the pushpins are a crazy variety. The tins are the bottom halves of old Altoids tins.
Each family member gets their own lunch menu–the three kids’ menus are in the bottom half. I didn’t include weekends for lunches since (a) it wouldn’t fit well and mostly (b) everyone is home on the weekend anyway, so lunches are a mix of free-for-all or a group meal. The tins hold different meal components; the bottom row is all for lunches, while the top four are for dinners (they’re lower because I’m short enough that I couldn’t see in them if they had been placed closer to the dinner section). I decided to just give each person pushpins ahead of time since most of those should end up there anyway once it’s fully in use, and then I didn’t have to worry about extra pin storage.
A board this fine in detail might not work for everyone, but I definitely recommend having some way of pre-planning a week of meals. When we started using our older dinner menu we stopped spending excess on our grocery bill, so hopefully once the lunch menus are in full swing that will have an even greater impact. If you already have a menu system of your own, I’d love to see it!
Here’s a look at what birthed the idea of the lunch system (these will get their own blog post in the near future):