Easy Menu Board and Meal Planner

I, like all of you, see so many cute menu boards for meal planning on Pinterest and on blogs.  My initial thought is “how cute!”, followed quickly by “I don’t think I could ever replicate that!”.  Unfortunately I inherited the ideas gene, but not the crafty gene, so I have to stick to very simple DIY projects.  While making the board, I realized that I could create double or triple categories, such as price-per-meal, or country of heritage.

Here is how I created the board:

I started with the following items: board that is half cork board and half dry erase/magnetic board, scrapbook paper, pins, day-of-the-week magnets (I found these at Target), clip magnets (I also found these at Target), alphabet stickers, colored index cards, index card file, scissors and tape.

You first either cut or fold a piece of scrapbook paper so that it fits over the cork board section of the board.  You can just use pins to attach it to the board (this makes it easier to change down the road).  Do the same with another piece of scrapbook paper on the dry erase side of the board.

Cut out pockets that are large enough to hold index cards, but small enough to fit 4-5 on the board.  Using the alphabet stickers, label each pocket with a recipe type.  I used “Slow Cooker”, “Quick”, “Fancy”, “Sides/Desserts”, and “New.”  Pin these to the cork side of the board.  Then arrange the day-of-the-week magnets on the dry erase side of the board, with a clip magnet under each one.   I would recommend arranging them in staggered rows, so that there’s plenty of room for the index cards.

Determine sub-categories for your recipes, one for each index card color.  I’m pretty frugal, so I organized them by price-per-meal.  You can also organize them by country of heritage, type of diet, or any other method that would work for you.  Cut a small strip of one index card of each color.  On the strip, write which sub-category it correlates to from your recipes.  Tape these on your board as an index card “key”.

Your board is finished!  You can then simply write your meals on the index cards and display them on the board.  If you don’t have an extensive recipe collection yet, I have created a list below of some of my favorite websites for each kind of meal.  Most of these sites have fabulous recipes for each of these categories, but I separated them by my favorite sites for each type of recipe.  Also, you can write the meal on the front of the card, and the recipe or source on the back.

– Slow Cooker: Semi Homemade Mom, Six Sisters’ Stuff

– Quick: A Full Plate Blog, Somewhat Simple

– Fancy: Brown Eyed Baker, Taste of Home

– Sides and Desserts: The Hopeless Housewife, Lil’ Luna

– Great Sites to Find New Recipes: FoodGawker, I Wanna Nom, Punchfork, ZipList

– Sites for Inexpensive Meals: Poor Girl Eats Well, Budget Bytes

If you’d like to get super-organized with this, you can allow multiple sub-categories for each recipe.  In this case, you decide on a main sub-category, and use that color index card.  For the secondary (or tertiary) sub-category, cut a small strip of that category’s index card color, and tape it to the card.

Also, you may have way more recipes than will fit into these pockets.  In this case, keep an index card file for all of your extras.

Once you have finished this, you’ll have a nice-looking reminder of your meals for the week, meal planning will take no time at all, and your family will stop asking you what’s for dinner.  I hope you have fun making your menu board!