Every single day we are faced with the dilemma:
“What’s for Dinner??
We’ve each tried different menu plans over the years. We’d like to share what works for us…most of the time. I know for me personally that the days I have “a dinner plan” go more smoothly because I can focus my energies elsewhere and tackle the dinner preparations with my designated helper when it’s time to hit the kitchen in the evening.
Menu board ideas are all over Pinterest. I adapted my own a few years ago by combining what appealed to me: flexibility, easy-to-use, and able to be quickly updated for the season.
I used a 12 x 12 scrapbook frame that holds up to 25 pages of paper:
I loaded it up with scrapbook paper for seasonal background color.
I used glue dots to affix tabs for days of the week and mini clothespins to hold menu items. This could be simplified further by using clothespins or mini chalkboards that have days of the week already labeled.
— alphabet stickers for the title: What’s for Dinner??
— a line of ribbon for color
— two mesh index card holders with small chalkboards labeled Entrees and Sides
— cork board attached by spray adhesive; this area gives you a place for extra food cards or new recipe ideas
I made pockets out of folded index cards to hold individual menu items, loosely organized by food group categories. **Adding the page number and name of cookbook for specific recipes is helpful to you later!
In each category pocket, there is a card with a specific food item. Some have been personalized by the family member that made the card or who is the “author” of the dish.
My kids take turns being my dinner helper. When we are discussing the menu plan for the week, they each get to pick what they would like to help make for dinner on their helper night. This helps their motivation tremendously!
I encourage them to choose an entree and two sides. Since there is only one card for each item, this is an easy way to get a variety of fruits and veggies throughout the week.
When I began this project I used paint chips to add a splash of color. I now have blank index cards pre-cut into strips to make additional labels as needed.
Start with your favorite foods and add as you go.
Although I’ve been using this system for years and making a grocery list each week, I just recently had the insight to keep track of weekly menus that have worked for us to use again in the future. #duh!
It takes a bit more time to make a menu plan and coordinated grocery list, but I think it will be worth it next month when I can pull out a weekly menu and head right to the store! I even did myself a favor and grouped the shopping list according to sections of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, frozen, canned/dry goods) and made a copy to use as a checklist, keeping the original in a menu planning binder.
You can personalize your menu board however you like. Pick the basic elements and streamline to your family’s needs. You can make it as simple or sophisticated as you want.
Give yourself a break and include cards for “Take out,” “Dinner Out” and “Scrap Night” (aka: Leftovers) as well as some simple themes such as “Soup & Sandwich Night” and “Pizza Night.” Adapt what works for you and your family now. You can always tweak it later.
I’m off to “test” my shopping list with 3 boys…I may rip my list in sections and challenge them to see who can locate all their items first. Since I’ve provided them with ample shopping opportunities before, they know to search for store brands and sales items first. They may grumble a bit now, but their future college roommates will be impressed with their grocery skills, right?
“So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” I Timothy 6:8
Yes, menu planning is a chore. It does take time and effort. Every once in a while I need a reboot. When I freshen things up, I get a little more enthusiasm behind the process.
Ready, set, go! Let us hear how YOU are doing!