Wednesday, May 4, 2011

how to make a chalkboard meal planner

Thank you for the nice comments about my meal planning board from last weeks My Day in Photos post. Now that I've been using it for a few weeks, I thought I'd share how I put it together.
For years, I've been planning our dinners a week at a time. I've never been really happy about the way our dinner options were displayed (or not displayed). In the most recent past, I was using a pdf I found on the internet to make my weekly meal plan and grocery list. It worked fine but it didn't look nice hanging on our kitchen chalkboard. Ever since our kitchen remodel was complete, I've been making a conscious effort to not put any and every piece of paper up there, so I finally came up with this simple and reusable system.
Inside the frame, the chalkboard is almost 18" square. I punched seven 2" circles out of some scrap patterned paper, one for each day of the week. I used some old American Crafts stickers for the initial of each day (s-m-t-w-t-f-s) and then double stick taped the circles to the top of the chalkboard, leaving a little bit of room around them for as a margin.

Then I made a list of all of our favorite and most often cooked dinners. I went through my recipe binder and my cookbooks and wrote a pretty extensive list of all of my go-to entrees, side dishes, soups, salads, veggies, fruits, breads and more.
In Microsoft Word, I made a table with cells that measured 1 3/4" wide by 3/4" tall. I centered the text in each cell and started typing out each and every item from my list above into the table. I also added in a few 'new recipe' options, plus cells for 'leftovers', 'takeout', or 'restaurant.' I then printed the tables on printable magnetic paper that I found at Michaels.
I started using my cutting mat and X-acto knife to trim all of the magnets apart, but it was kind of tedious cutting apart all of those little rectangles. I found that the paper was very easy to cut using my Fiskars portable paper trimmer and the cutting was done fairly quickly.
To keep all of the pieces together, I divided the magnets into categories: pasta, poultry, side dishes... and I stacked and slipped them into a business card page protector that I keep in the front of my recipe binder.

Do you see why I chose the magnetic paper? Now each week when I make our dinner plan and grocery list, I can just pull out the magnets that I need and put them up on the chalkboard. Two things that I love about this new system is if I need to move some meals around, like if Mark is going to be unexpectedly working late, or if we make last minute plans to go out, or if I change my mind, then it's easy to swap them around. And the infamous 'what's for dinner?' question is no longer heard around here. Not that I minded it that much - but now it's kind of fun when Mark comes home and asks "What's for...oh, yeah" and he spins around to the chalkboard to check out our dinner plans.
Some of the magnets aren't terribly specific either. For example, on Saturday I put 'burgers, fries and jello salad' on the chalkboard, but more specifically, I know we are having turkey horseradish burgers with sweet potato fries (a new favorite meal!). And if a 'new recipe' turns out to be a favorite, I have a running list inside my recipe binder of new magnets I need to print.

This turned out to be a really cool little project, once I figured out what I was doing. Displaying it on the chalkboard turned out to be perfect in our kitchen since our stainless steel refrigerator isn't magnetic. Or you could decorate and hang a cookie sheet for the magnets to stick too. There are so many possibilities!

Do you plan your meals ahead of time or do you take each dinner as it comes? Does anyone else have a fun meal planner they made or like to use? Please share!


  1. Wow! That's so organised. A great project :)

  2. I love it! I wondered what was keeping the dinner idea rectangles on the board. Awesome, and so flexible. You've done it again.

  3. Hi from the BBFS class. Great board and system!!! Thank you for sharing. :)

  4. Thanks for the info! And oh printable magnet - I had no idea such a thing existed! Will have to check Ms next time I'm there - oh the possibilties!

  5. Thanks for the info! And oh printable magnet - I had no idea such a thing existed! Will have to check Ms next time I'm there - oh the possibilties!

  6. Wow, that is awesome. I love it. I will have to look for printable magnet here.

  7. I have a magnetic white board, I think it would be pretty simple to adapt your idea to that. Thanks for the idea!