Monday, August 24, 2015

Meal Planning with a Magnetic Calendar

Usually my meal planning is fairly laid back. I look over the sale ads, pick out 2-3 meals I feel like making this week, and try to do as much of the cooking as possible on Sunday so we can ride out the work week on leftovers. But this does sometimes lead to dinner ruts or accidentally making two very similar meals super close to each other (tacos and enchiladas a few days apart). I figured keeping track of what we're eating for longer periods would alleviate the dinner ruts and help us remember some of those recipes we just haven't made for a while. 

I saw this idea on pinterest and liked it immediately, but it's taken me seemingly forever to just DO IT. I gave up on making it pretty like the original and that made all the difference. 
Completely fictional menu plan to give an idea of how it will look - I don't cook nearly this much, considering there are only two of us to consume all the food. And don't mind Monkey's tail, the turkey sketch, or that I forgot to write September :)

This project is pretty low key. I bought a magnetic calendar (so nice for appointments!) and business card magnets. The magnets got cut into four pieces and rather than stick fresh paper to the adhesive, I just left the protective covering on most of them. A few got fresh paper because I messed up when I was writing.
Only the first 30ish meals to come to mind earned a spot on a magnet - I want to make sure I use and like this system before I make a million of them! Besides those 30 meals, I also labeled about ten with "leftovers," "takeout," and various side dishes, like fresh fruit, buttered peas, roasted veggies, etc.

What I like about this idea is that it's easy to change my mind - it's as simple as moving a magnet to a different day. Or if we end up with a surplus of leftovers, I can swap out a meal for later in the week or push it off completely. And when I ask Mr. G what he's in the mood for this week - he can glance over the magnets for inspiration instead of saying he doesn't have any suggestions. 

The only thing I'm unsure of is how I'm going to store these little magnets when they're not in use. It would be great to have enough space to display all of them near the calendar, but that's just not practical. I may have a small basket around the house to corral them in though.

What do you think? Do you use a calendar for meal planning or make a list?

14 comments:

  1. I think it is a neat idea. Wished I had done this when my family was young. We've left it a bit late but I still think of doing something similar with ingredients on the back to make writing the shopping list easier.

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    1. Ooh, I like the ingredient idea!

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  2. What a great idea! I especially like the fact that you have the pre-made tags to give you ideas - that is half the battle with meal-planning.

    We still use our chalk-board in the kitchen. It's a system that works well but one issue is that the chalk-dust is really messy - it coats the tiled floor underneath.

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    1. I do like the look of chalkboards but I wasn't sure (and didn't even consider the dust . . I think we'd wind up with cats tracking it everywhere). Glad the system works for you!

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  3. Great idea Amanda. I'm currently using a paper menu plan pad my daughter bought me last Christmas, but this seems a better long term solution.

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    1. I've been doing mine on paper for the longest time too. Maybe you could consider switching when your menu plan pad starts to run low?

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  4. I did a version - to remind me of all the meals we eat - I wrote them on the back of unused business cards (as in, they were out of date). Funnily, I haven't used them :p But I used different coloured pens for different 'styles' - all salads one colour, all Italian etc.

    We settle for a big meal cooked for lots of lunches (Lasagne, recently a new item, Mexibake, pasta) and then the odd other meals with enough for four serves for one set of lunches. With my fast two nights a week, I don't cook those nights, and the BF usually settles for the bulk meal. Though lately we've added a weekday night out (Wed the last two weeks), which can be a nice, as we otherwise sit in front of screens at home which isn't as bonding.

    Laura - I used a blank A4 for my shopping list, which stems from my meal plan. I fold it in four columns - one for fruit/vege, one for meat & dairy, one for pantry and then one usually ends up being the list of meals... Weirdly, I seldom 'display' it, so poor BF has to use his memory if he gets home early and wants to start prep. I could improve that!

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    1. I like the idea of using different pen colors!

      And I agree about bonding more over dinner out - we talk more and linger over our food when we go out to eat, but rarely seem to have that experience at home. It's more like Mr. G emptying the dishwasher while I cook, not very relaxing! Just another reason to love going out to eat :)

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    2. I just put off the hand washing up for when BF got home and was prepping his dinner. Far nicer than washing up alone, and nicer for him to have me in the kitchen (he actually asks 'are you going to come keep me company whilst I cook' once we're done with him changing/showering, which I shadow him on, and we chatter away)

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  5. meal planning is a live and time saver.. great idea.

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    1. Thanks! It definitely is a time saver!

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