Wednesday, April 18, 2012

67 Reader Space: Magnetic Meal Planning!

Although I recently posted about my meal planning process here, I couldn't resist sharing another super incredible and fun way to go about it.


Reader, Megan, has recently put together a menu planning system that I thought was a great concept that many could take the idea and run with!  I will say, at first glance it seems a little intense, but really, it's quite simple and fantastic and can be tailored to your specific needs.  In the end, there is such a great return on the initial up front time investment, which makes this a fabulous menu planning option.

Megan started out with a magnetic dry erase calendar, magnetic printing paper and binders for her recipes:


She organized her recipes by category in each binder:


Then, she printed out all of their frequently used recipes onto her magnetic printing paper {I totally dig the color coding!}:


After cutting out each recipe {magnetic paper cuts like butter, just like regular ol' printing paper would}, she could use those recipes and pop them on the calendar for each day of the week!

{notice the awesome key on the left side of the calendar}



I love that she gave herself some extra magnets for eating out....


And for trying out new recipes:


And even for leftovers!


She uses codes to determine the side dishes that she plans for each main dish:



And then tucks all of the remaining magnets into a labeled divided container:



She stores the menu board with the recipes, so everything is out, visible and simple!


When I asked Megan what she LOVES about her system, here is what she had to say:
  • "I really love planning my meals only one time a month!  There were many a times {before I implemented this system} when I wanted to go get my grocery shopping done because I had some free time, but I didn't have the meals planed out and couldn't go.  Now, whenever I am ready or have time, the meal planning is done and I can just gather my list and go!
  • Although putting the board together for the month takes a bit of thought and time, once it comes down to prepping/cooking the meal, there's not much thought required {which is key at the end of a long day}.  Because of this system, I know what to pull out of the freezer ahead of time, exactly what sides I am making, and when I need to start certain meals earlier {because they take longer}.  Meal time has become so much less burdensome because all the planning is done.  I am cooking more and we are eating pizza less!
  • An added bonus: my husband never asks what's for dinner, because he can go over and check for himself!
  • The magnets are really what make this system perfectly functional for me. Like any family, there are times when I don't feel like cooking whatever meal is planned, or we are out too late into the evening to start dinner and we order pizza or have breakfast for dinner...but because the meals are magnetized, I can quickly re-arrange and adjust as necessary. 
  • Lastly, I am really, really proud of this project because I took a lot of time and effort to make this more than just a pretty picture. I really wanted something pretty {because, really, who doesn't love a color-coded menu board?!?}, but also something that was really going to work for me and my family. The final result meets all my requirements of functional, easy, and pretty!"

I couldn't agree with Megan more!

  • She thought outside of the box and used different materials to make a super functional menu planning system.
  • It is color coded to make it simple to use and learn.
  • It is visible so it will be used!
  • It is versatile.  The magnets give her flexibility in her planning and scheduling.
  • It is PRETTY!  This could have been a really sterile project, but I love that she took the time to go above and beyond and used such lovely colors.
  • She really thought things out by giving herself blank magnets for future recipes, magnets for eating out and leftovers.  Smart girl!
  • This system can be adapted and implemented by anyone.  Simple and EXTREMELY effective.
  • She is saving time and money by planning her meals so far in advance.  She always knows what to grab from the store and she isn't over purchasing.
  • My favorite part - no more "What's For Dinner?" dilemmas!

There are many more details to Megan's process that you can find over on her adorable blog here and here.

A special thank you to Megan for allowing me to share her brilliant menu planning solution!

Now it's your turn!  What's your favorite part?  Who is excited to give this a whirl?  How do you handle your weekly menu planning process?






ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to iheartorganizing@gmail.com and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and unedited.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More info HERE.

67 comments:

  1. Such a great idea! I need to do something like this. I think it would help with my cooking.

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  2. I can totally relate to this post! I like to meal plan but haven't found a way to do it longer than a week. This makes total sense!

    Seriously in love with this idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. oh wow, this is AMAZING! Great idea, thanks for sharing.

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  4. I love this idea! I never knew magnetic printing paper existed- that just opened up a whole new world for me! :) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I think I might die. This is amazing!!

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  7. She needs to contact the Container Store and have them sell this! I would totally buy it.

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    1. Me too! I love it but the liklihood of me implementing something like this is small since my "DIY" list is way long.

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  8. This truly might be the most fantastic thing I've seen in a LONG time! Love it!

    Jess
    anaromaofmySavior.blogspot.com

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  9. Absolutely Amazing. I've been looking for someway to do something like this, and her method is perfect! Didn't even know magnetic paper existed until this post!

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  10. I LOVE this!!!! This is similar to something I pinned on pintrest but I think its better. I have to try once a month meal planning. I think that would be great. I hate meal planning but HATE not having a meal plan more so the less frequently I do it the better. Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

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  11. This is a wonderful idea. Very organized meal planning.

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  12. Oh my gosh, this is SO smart!! Im definitely heading to the store this weekend so I can make one. Thanks for the great inspiration!!

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  13. This is such an awesome idea. I'm going to give it a shot--I'm trying to eat healthier, and I just have a hard time determining the easiest/best way to put a menu together!

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  14. WOW. I am thoroughly impressed. I am a meal planner but only one week at a time. This girl has it together. It just shows how a little effort can really save you a lot of time and energy down the road. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. I saw this project on Pinterest this Saturday, and I HAD to make it right away. I immediately stopped what I was doing and created my own (so I could change the colors to fit my scheme). I even bought the same board--I love that it has space for a "key" and a shopping list! So far it's worked great for us (I mean, I've used it for 4 days, haha). If anyone out there is on the fence about making one, DO IT! It's super easy!

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  16. That is amazing! and totally doable! I've been looking for a way to meal plan.. I hate sitting down every sunday, going through menus and deciding what's best. This is great too because it can keep you trying new things :) Will totally be stealing this idea!

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  17. What an amazing project!!! I can't wait to try it!

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  18. I've seen tons of meal planning options and have never really been a big fan because they always seem like more work than they're worth... BUT, THIS ONE IS AMAZING! It's clean, sleek, and well executed... not to mention, easy to use! NICE JOB! Thanks for sharing Jen!

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  19. Thanks for sharing this Jen. I had found the same pin that inspired her originally, but her version looks a lot simpler to make, so I might actually do it!

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  20. Ahhhhh I love love love it!!!!!! This would take my recipe binders to the next level easily! I think I'm going to try it out when P gets back! =) Lately I schedule meal ideas for the week in my ipad and hope for the best! lol

    xoXOxo
    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

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  21. You link to the magnetic printing paper doesn't work! Thanks for a great idea!

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    1. Thanks for the heads up! It's working now: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00006HN5Q/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=iheaorga-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00006HN5Q

      xoxo!
      Jen

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  22. Fabulous idea!! I have stpe kids that are not with us each day so some nights I am planning dinners for 2, others for 4 and then combined with sports schedules etc, this makes dinner prep easy and efficient. I think this has been my favorite menu planner idea to date.

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  23. This may be my favorite project yet!

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  24. This is pretty much what I've done for some time, though I only do mine on the computer. I monthly menu plan, then I just make up my weekly grocery list from that. Much easier/quicker, though the first of the month takes an hour or so. But I have categories like soup, pasta (Italian), vegetarian, mexican, etc, so when I pull one thing out of each category, plus things like "eating out" and "leftovers", it simplifies things significantly, but we're not having the same thing each week. And I only plan pizza 2/month.

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  25. I am going to try and do this. I love it.
    Thanks for finding these fabulous people to share with us Jen (and Emily)!!!

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  26. I really like this idea, but I'm afraid I wouldn't implement it. I have a hard time planning ahead weekly, let alone for a whole month. I am a planner by nature, but my life seems to make me a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal! Probably why I'm slightly to highly stressed most of the time!
    I didn't even know there was magnetic paper! Thanks for the heads up on that.

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  27. This is the best idea I have seen in a long time. Smart and cute! WOW!

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  28. Love this! I have had a new white board in my pantry for about a month waiting to do a meal planning board, but this takes it to a new level! I may have to re-think my plan :) ~gina

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  29. This is seriously such a smart/cute idea!!

    I'm your newest follower. I blog over at http://freshlycompleted.blogspot.com

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  30. Great execution - her board looks awesome and I am a huge fan of color-coding!

    I also started planning out meals a month at a time last year. It is SO MUCH EASIER. Things inevitably shift around as the month progresses, but it's much easier to shift meals than to create a new menu each week. I personally prefer to use my Google calendar to track my meals. 1) it's easy to change things and 2) I can see my schedule right as I'm planning my meals so I know which nights have to be simpler meals and which nights I can spend more time in the kitchen. My husband travels for work quite a bit and it's also great to know how many people I'm feeding each day!

    I also have to recommend keeping recipes digitally. I have a Google site (which I keep private), but a blog would work just as well. When I need another dinner that uses ground beef, I simply search for it using the built-in search function. I can come up with 20 ideas in 10 seconds. Much easier than hunting through my cookbooks. And of course I always have my cookbooks to look for new ideas.

    Thank you for this awesome blog, I LOVE following it!

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  31. This seriously makes me happy in my heart. I might have to tackle this one as meal planning is serious issue in my home. I am on a mission to organize my crazy life one thing at a time and this just might have moved to the top of my list.

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  32. Wow! Perfect timing, you recently posted about meal planning and now this great idea. For the past week I've been thinking that I should plan meals at least for the week. Just takes patience and organizing = )
    I may have to give it a go in the very near future, and I hope it saves my husband and I some money = )

    ~ L.

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  33. Sweet! I wished I could be that meal planning awesome. I really should at least try to be better at it, maybe not this great, but better. ;) It would save me from the times I go in the kitchen and look around like 'ummm what is for dinner tonight again'. haha

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  34. LOVE this, wow! Didn't know about the cool printable magnetic paper either...I want some.

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  35. Thermomix (at least here in Portugal) has now a recipe box, all magnetics and with a list of ingredients to buy and the recipe. The purpose is using like a weekly planner in the fridge and, who arrives first at home, pick the recipe and start doing the dish.
    I loved this solution. It worths the work on board preparation:)
    Thanks,
    Filipa
    www.welc-home.blogspot.com

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  36. I linked above to my blog where I post a weekday menu every Sunday. I keep several weeks worth "hidden" on my blogging page with an automatic date to post each one.

    This allows me to have a plce to put links to recipes I come across on the Internet that I want to try. I never knew where to put them, didn't want to add to my clutter problem by printing them out, and found it generally hard to find desired recipes again.

    If I need to change my menu, I just cut-n-paste to move the recipe to another day or week that is still hidden. If I make a double batch and freeze half, then I cut and paste the recipe link into a menu 2-3 weeks in the future, with a note that says "from the freezer," so I don't forget to eat the meals I have prepared ahead.

    I can quickly look at my menu to see what I'm going to need for the week's meals, and dh can look at the menu any time he wants to see what we are having.

    I choose simple recipes/meals because I work and we have a family of seven. I love knowing exactly what we are going to have each day (with leftovers for the weekend), and it will be something easy and I have the ingredients on hand to make it.

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  37. Wow, that's such a great idea! Jen, I've nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award, check out my April 18th post for information. Have a great day!

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  38. That is such a well done project. We have a menu board too but Husband STILL asks me what's for dinner. Argh. Drives me nuts.

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  39. I really like this blog and also get knowledge from these type of blog, nice entry. Thanks

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  40. WOW...never though it coludí be posible...amazing

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  41. This is such an awesome planner. Megan even has the templates on her blog where you can print out your own. But for some reason the link won't let you download or print it like it supposed to. I'm bummed :(

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    1. Hello! This is Megan checking in :) Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful comments. I've gotten a few comments like this one that people were not able to download the file from the linked site. I have been able to download it fine, and it appears that others have too...but I am looking into the problem and hopefully can fix it for those of you having trouble! Stay tuned :)

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    2. Hi Everyone! I just wanted to take a minute to close the gap on the downloading trouble with the original link. Here is what Scribd just sent me: "I apologize for the inconvenience. There is a known issue with Internet Explorer that our development team is currently investigating. I appreciate your patience while they work to resolve the matter." I recently moved the file over to "box" and there should be no trouble downloading it now! Thanks again for all the nice comments, and good luck!

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  42. Be careful when downloading the templates for this project. I tried to do it and had issues with my computer and never did get the templates. It downloaded something else instead and messed things up. My computer then could not find my printer. My husband had to uninstall the offending stuff and restart things from scratch before it would find the printer again. Very frustrating.

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    1. I've been having issues too. Maybe as a suggestion to Megan...maybe try using "box" like what Jen uses instead of "Scribd". I've never had issues downloading and printing Jen's stuff

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    2. Whoever left this tip...thank you! I have now linked my menu board templates to "Box" instead. Hope it works for everyone this time!

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    3. You're welcome Megan. And thank you for the awesome templates! Is there any way to add our own text? I hate my handwriting (Lol) and would love to be able to type in my meals.

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  43. After seeing and commenting when you first posted Ive tried to look for a magnetic calendar EVERYWHERE but it seems they arnt so popular in the UK - I would really like to make this idea but does anyone have an idea of where I can buy the calendar online? Help
    Thanks!

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  44. This is very similar to robbygurl's menu board. Check it out at robbygurlscreations.blogspot.com

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  45. I love this idea! It's definitely something I'd like to implement. We have quite a few family favourites, and this is a great way to make sure you're not always ending up cooking the same thing. Now just finding the time ... Thanks for sharing, Jen!

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  46. This made my inner organized geek just light up all over. In an interesting twist of fate I had spent the better part of the morning getting together a grocery list to for my "eat one freeze one" menu. This would tie everything together so nicely :) Thank you for sharing!!

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  47. Could Megan possible provide instructions on how to edit the tempaltes digitally to add menu items?

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    1. Hello! I've received comments like this one a lot - wondering how to edit a pdf document or if I will make editable files available. For the time being, I am only offering the PDF files. I've been really excited and a bit overwhelmed with the interest in this project, so I am exploring other options for making editable files available, but it will take me some time to get some things together. In the meantime, other readers here have suggested some great programs for editing your pdf files such as photoshop, gimp, paint shop, illustrator, Preview, or pixlr.com. Good luck!

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  48. I sometimes do weekly meal planning, but prefer monthly. The hardest part of meal planning for me is the sitting down with my recipes and deciding what to have that week. While I have my recipe binders out (1 for tried and true + 1 for new recipes) it is easier to pick which chicken ones i want and spread them out, beef, vegetarian and so on! Nothing is set in stone and i can always move things around as life happens, but the brain part is done.

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  49. What a great way to simplify meal planning! And you're right, it would make me so happy to look at that each day!

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  50. Thanks for the opportunity to link up my Menu Plan Board, Jen. Your blog is such a pretty place, glad to be a tiny part of it! ~ Robin

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  51. Although the concept seems a bit complicated to me, I think it could work--even better if a month's menus were repeated for 3-4 months, requiring changes only 3-4 times a year (and on special occasions, of course). Thanks for posting this idea.

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  52. Absolutely Amazing! Every instance covered and all the regular meals right there to see. This is the part that I struggle with in the meal plan process - trying to remember the regulars that we like especially with the change of seasons.

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  53. Amazing! She could make a fortune selling those kits!

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  54. Great idea, beautiful design.

    I have a completely digital version which works similarly, using google calendar. We have a shared family calendar for meals and one for school, sports and dr appointments. For the menu calendar, I use repeating calendar entries for our favorites. Any new recipes, I put new the entry and link to the recipes. My planning is done for the year, I just need to throw in new recipe each week and make my shopping list at home or at work.

    The best part for our family is everyone can see it, so dad has everything he needs to know what to make (including recipes) and I allocate the appropriate amount of time (20 minutes for easy, 2 hrs for weekend cooking and 8 hours for crock pot meals, etc).

    And someday, I plan when my boys are older they will be cooking too when I'm on my way home from work. It's pretty awesome.

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  55. Hi,
    I am one half of a mompreneur team that created a magnetic menu planner back in 2010. (check out www.sticktoitplanner.com for more info) We too used printable magnetic sheets in our first prototype. What we found was that after continued use, the magnetic sheet is just too thin. Eventually the magnets start falling off the planner. We upgraded our magnets to a heavier gauge and they have been working beautifully ever since. So if anyone wants a planner without a lot of work, stop on by and take a look. :)
    Happy Planning!

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