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The ULTIMATE Menu Board

I see that it has been two years since my homemaking tip of the year. Did I have nothing to share in 2010? Apparently, not. But I came up with something right at the end of 2011, and I do not intend to disappoint.

For years I’ve toyed with different ways to menu plan. It never failed to surprise me when I’d find myself, once again, sitting down for 2+ hours at a time planning meals and making shopping lists for a new week. I knew I had done this a million times, and that it was ridiculous to keep reinventing the meal… I mean wheel.

For the past couple of months I have been pinning different menu boards on Pinterest. I admired all of these-

After much deliberation, I decided to take what I loved about each one (ie what I thought would work for me) and combine those aspects into a menu board that would serve my needs perfectly. So now, I introduce the Ultimate Menu Board (for me)—

What I love about this particular design—

1) It’s weekly. I shop weekly and plan my calendar weekly. I can adjust for company, evenings out, leftovers, etc.
2) Meal cards have ingredients listed on the back, so I just gather my cards for the week, flip them over, and jot down the ingredients I need on my shopping list.
3) Using the two pockets I can store all of my meal cards right on the board. With a rotating system, I start with all the cards in the lower box and then after we have that meal, I place the card into the upper box until we go through the majority of the cards. Then, I start over choosing from all of them again.
4) It uses clothespins so no slipping and no holes. I was afraid that after I laminated my meal cards that they would get too thick/heavy for magnets.
5) The base is a picture frame—easy to hang and by using two nails I can keep it from tilting under the lopsided weight.

You will need-
11×14 picture frame
2 sheets of decorative 12 x 12 scrapbook paper
2-3 additional coordinating decorative papers
several sheets of solid colored card stock (for meal cards and pockets)
7 clothespins
the boxes from two 16 ct crayon packs
Elmers glue
Hot glue gun and glue
letter stickers (for title)

Meal Cards
Preparatory to using your board, gather several meal ideas (I have about 35) and their recipes. Make a 2 column word document- typing your menu on one side of the page and the ingredients in the column next to it. You should have room to print about 5 menus/ingredients per piece of printer paper. After printing, cut the meals/ingredients out into strips and fold each strip in half, giving you a front and back. Laminate the cards. I used self-laminating paper which worked okay but not perfectly. (Because I didn’t leave much empty space around each card, some of my cards did not seal well all the way around. If I did it again, I would have them done professionally or with the use of a heated laminator.) My cards measure 1 ½ inches tall and then half of the width of an average size paper (4.25 inches) across.
update- My cards didn’t stay sealed well and I found them to be a little heavy and bulky all together. Now i use just one thickness of scrapbook cardstock and no laminating. I have also found it easier to handwrite the meals on one side and the ingredients on the other.

Frame Background
Trim the decorative scrapbook paper to fill your frame. You will use one full sheet and just need a couple of inches of a second piece of paper in order to fill the entire frame. Where the two sheets overlap, place a thin piece of coordinating paper across the width to hide the seams. Put the title above that line using scrapbooking letter stickers. Place in the frame. Secure the background into the frame. Everything else will be done on top of the glass.

Trim strips of paper to fit on top of your clothespins. Using a mixture of 1 part elmers glue to one part water (homemade mod podge,) brush the glue onto the clothespin, place the paper on top and add more of the glue mixture. I think I did about 3 layers of the glue. When the clothespins are dry, you may add the days of the week to each pin if you choose. I punched out little circles and just used the letters m, t, w, etc to designate the day of the week. Space your clothespins evenly along the left hand border of your frame and hot glue them into place.

I used 16 count crayon boxes as the base for my pockets. Turning the box horizontally, cut out one long side- this will be the opening of your pocket. Lay the box out flat onto a piece of card stock and trace it. Cut the card stock out and glue it on top of the crayon box—making folds to match the boxes folds as you go. Reassemble the box, gluing or taping together the open sides. I left just about a half inch extra along the long sides so I could wrap my paper over the top edges of the box for a smoother look. After assembling your boxes, cut a strip of coordinating paper to use as an accent and glue around the pocket. Hot glue the pockets directly onto the glass of your frame.
(update: My pockets fell off the glass after awhile. To remedy that I put a velcro sticky dot on each corner of the pocket and corresponding dots on the glass.)

And that does it!

Who knows, maybe I will solve the laundry dilemma in 2015…

For a favorite recipe and some great crockpot resources click on the ultimate menu board- addendum. And for even MORE menu board stuff, go to my article featured on The Creative Mama blog.

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March 5, 2013 - 5:00 pm

Menu Planning in an Ideal World | Centered Plate - [...] those interested, here are the instructions, adapted from CG Dickson.  I’d recommend it as a project for adults or slightly older kids.  Note that the [...]

March 11, 2013 - 12:30 am

The Menu Planner to Rule Them All — the thinking closet - [...] cannot take ANY credit for coming up with this genius design. All I did was create a replica of the original created by the oh-so-brilliant Clair Dickson. If you’re interested in making your own, I [...]

March 14, 2013 - 11:02 pm

DIY Crafty Ideas | Hot Mama's Blog - [...] Menu Planning Board I like this idea because I am always getting too caught up in the day and all of a sudden it is dinner time and I have no idea what to make. Planning ahead helps you be prepared but also eat healthy. [...]

April 2, 2013 - 11:01 pm

Amy - I originally looked at this on your old website and I think you addressed my question in the comments there. But they are all gone! Can you tell me about the different colored cards? We’re they for different types of recipes (crock pot, vegetarian, chicken, etc)?

April 3, 2013 - 9:14 am

admin - Amy- yes, I used different colored cards for themes such as crock pot, mexican, quick and easy, etc. However, as I have been adding new ones I am not set on a certain color. Choosing a week of meals at a time, it is pretty easy to keep things varied.

May 25, 2013 - 8:36 pm

Tracy - With regard to the laminating, if your cards don’t seal to your liking you can always follow up with a very thin dishcloth and an iron. It seals mine up just right. Brilliant menu planner by the way. ;)

July 13, 2013 - 4:06 pm

llama - I found this on a pinterest site and I just love the idea of not having to think to much about it. Just do what it says. Maybe this would also work for the things I need to do in a day. Thank you so much for your foot steps and your hard work in providing all of us with your idea.

August 30, 2013 - 11:44 pm

Jill - Thank you, I have been looking for a menu board this not only looks adorable but very functional! Also I am very excited that I can have my 9 1/2 year old daughter help me design our menu board. So excited to make this and spend time with my daughter!

October 2, 2013 - 2:22 pm

What’s for dinner?! | The Drankas - [...] Brian and I have always loved to cook together, but the days of sharing a bottle of wine while spending hours preparing something delicious out of the most recent Bon Appetit (and getting dinner on the table at 8:30pm) are gone. Now, we’re all about tasty, healthy, quick recipes that can be on the table within one Curious George episode. For the last year, we’ve been using eMeals and have been quite happy with the results, but we were missing some of our old standbys and family favorites in the weekly dinner plans. In hopes of streamlining the grocery shopping/dinner prep process with our own recipes, I put together a family menu board inspired by this. [...]

May 16, 2014 - 10:12 pm

Jen Christensen - Love your menu ideas! Would you ever be willing to share your recipe file, so I can just print this and go?
I realize some of the recipes I won’t be familiar with, but I am always up for something new.


June 17, 2014 - 1:06 pm

mel @mydaysni - That is a great idea. So simple yet effective!

July 17, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Marty - I made one one similar to this recently, but I also added a “Leftovers” section. Below the 2 card boxes I not glued a binder clip. As we eat the meal that day, I either place the card back in the “reuse” box – or I clip it in the “Leftovers” clip. I fan them out if I have more than one leftover so you can see them all. This way when someone is hungry, they can see what’s in the fridge without opening the door – and we eat up those yummy leftovers before they go bad.

July 17, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Nicole - I just started making my menu cards for this board. I LOVE this idea. The problem I’m running into is that I rarely serve the same sides with my meals. For example, when I make pork chops, I might make au gratin potatoes and corn with it one time and couscous and cauliflour another night. Any creative thoughts for how to account for this? Thank you!

July 27, 2014 - 12:01 pm

I’ve made a breakthrough! | Mum of Organised Chaos - [...] totally stumbled across The BEST idea for meal planning here http:// (credit where credit’s due and all that because it wasn’t my [...]

August 14, 2014 - 11:18 am

Organize Your Whole House with One Trip to the Dollar Store - Mad in Crafts - [...] Scrap Ribbon Storage 30.  Tidy Bakers Twine Storage 31.  Keep Tights Organized 32.  Daily Menu Board 33.  Organizational Wall Grids 34.  Weekly [...]

October 23, 2014 - 12:45 pm

felicia - I love to laminate everything! here is a tip if you do not have a heat laminate machine use an iron it will seal them them just as well ( just no steam) ;) I laminate everything because i have teething children in the house. This idea is awesome!

February 16, 2015 - 3:55 pm
March 14, 2015 - 12:30 am
March 15, 2015 - 4:24 am

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