Where Logic Meets Love

An Easy-to-Use Meal Plan Display

Sunday, February 19, 2012

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I mentioned... oh, 2 1/2 months ago that I had developed a cute but functional meal planning setup, and then I completely failed to post any pictures of it.

So I'm remedying that right now! Here's what our meal planning system looks like.

An Easy-to-Use Meal Plan Display | Faith Permeating Life

I don't know how well you can see it, but there are seven clothespins with labels for each day of the week. I made up index cards for "Leftovers" and several basic meals that don't need recipes (Spaghetti, Tacos, Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup). Along with these, I clip up recipes from my recipe binder or new recipes from the Internet.

The clothespins are clipped to a clothesline strung between two hooks drilled into the wall. Mike hung it up above the stove, which is not ideal because I keep being afraid something's going to fall behind the stove, but it was the best spot either of us could find in our little apartment. It actually works pretty well because Mike can consult it while he's cooking. And so far we haven't lost anything :)

This picture was taken a month or two ago, so there's a lot more printed recipes than an average week has now. Every Sunday I evaluate any new recipes to see if they should become part of our rotation, and if so, I copy them onto a recipe card. This week's meals were all on cards already. The recipe binder makes it a lot easier on me because I just need to flip through my recipe binder to plan the week's meals.

An Easy-to-Use Meal Plan Display | Faith Permeating Life

So there you go! Maybe not exactly Pinterest-worthy, but if you're looking for a system that works well and looks relatively nice, it's worked for us.

Do you meal plan? How do you organize your recipes and display the week's meal selections?


Speaking of Pinterest, here's a tip if you're concerned about properly sourcing your pins, or just want to find the original article. Save the image to your desktop, then drag the file onto Google Image Search and it'll find all the pages that image is on. If there are a lot of hits, you can limit the search time frame to narrow it down to the earliest appearance of the image.


  1. Thanks for the Pinterest sourcing tip.

    As for meal organization...I am still working on this, but for now we use a recipe binder, some pdf booklets of meals plans I've made, and I put corkboard on the inside of my cabinet doors (~$5 at Target and I put up with 3M removable adhesive). The corkboard is a bit too thin for pushpins, so I keep a mini stapler handy. I use one door for recipes and another for phone numbers, coupons, and things I don't want cluttering my fridge.

    In my spice cabinet I have a pencil cup that has scissors on one side with pens, colorful index cards in the middle serving as a divider, and pencils on the other side. I also keep one side of my fridge clear for displaying whatever recipe we're using at the time.

    Here's another great, but time intensive, idea: http://robbygurlscreations.blogspot.com/2011/04/robins-menu-board-part-iii.html

  2. @e
    So do you post up on the corkboard the meals for the week and then move the day's meal to the fridge, or is the corkboard more for generally holding recipes to try?

    Thanks for the link--that does look way too time-intensive for me, but I suppose it would work well if you had the time to put all that together!

  3. So far the corkboard has served as a place where I have colored index cards with meal ideas for various occasions (quick lunches, easy dinners, desserts, holiday favorites, etc.), and as a holding station for new recipes I'm planning to use soon and haven't yet filed in our recipe binder.

    We've been experimenting with different whole foods, vegetarian and vegan meal plans, and we haven't found a diet that works for us yet. When we do, I plan to switch from using unprinted pdf's of weekly meal plans to printing out 2 weeks to 1 month worth of individual meals on halves of index cards. Then, each Saturday I could just grab an appropriate amount of meals, staple them on the corkboard and make my shopping list from there. If a new meal strikes my fancy, I can just make a new card. I probably won't post a breakfast for everyday since we like to eat the same thing, and I might make multiple copies of some of the more often used lunches.

    I think we'll stick with cookbooks and recipe binders for holding recipes, and whoever cooks can just quickly locate the recipe and put it on the fridge. On the index cards, I plan to list the location of any necessary recipes.

    So far, the most time consuming part of this project seems to be coming up with healthy, quick and realistic meals. So we'll continue to experiment with the unprinted pdfs for a while more.

    In each pdf, I have a table of contents listing days and types of meal plans. Then each meal that requires a recipe hyperlinks to that recipe. So lately, we've just been bringing our laptops to the kitchen with us.

    Wow, this all sounds very complicated. I'm trying to take each little thing a step at a time so that eating better doesn't become overwhelming. I think it's worth it though because I've found that if I don't plan our meals then we eat pasta 4 nights a week, and stir fry or hummus sandwiches the other three.

    Your system is definitely nice in that it doesn't require putting holes in anything and Mike doesn't have to flip through the recipe binder. For someone who doesn't want to use a clothesline but wants the freedom of your system, they could try magnetic boards in their cabinets.

    I've seen some relatively cheap adhesive magnetic sheets that could be trimmed to fit the inside of cabinet doors. You just would have to make sure the material is "magnetically receptive". This site might be a good starting point: http://www.magnetsource.com/Solutions_Pages/flexiron.html

    Ikea, the Container Store, and other vendors sell magnetic strips that could be placed on the inside of cabinets using 3M strips. You could have 1 magnetic strip per each day or two. These would be nice for those little magnetic spice canisters too. (http://www.containerstore.com/shop/office/messageBoards/magnetic?productId=10007058&green=78B635C0-5C6A-58A9-A445-267036A8C1F4)

    There is also magnetic paint, but I've heard mixed reviews (http://www.amazon.com/Rustoleum-247596-Rust-Oleum-Magnetic-Primer/dp/B003ZW7XL4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329793105&sr=8-1).

    A strong magnet, like "mighties", should be capable of holding up an index card and a recipe clipping without being obtrusive. You could even buy one with a hook so that you could hang recipes from the magnets(http://www.amazon.com/Neodymium-Hook-Magnets-Holds-Pounds/dp/B001KUWGHE/ref=pd_sim_k_3).

  4. Oh, and here's where I got that corkboard idea: http://www.younghouselove.com/2008/11/somebody-put-a-cork-in-us/

  5. @e
    That's a great suggestion to use a magnetic board if someone didn't want to do the clothespins but wanted something similar. They'd definitely have to use strong magnets to hold up multiple cards, but it could work.

    Meal planning has been very beneficial for us, not necessarily in terms of eating healthier, which I think we do OK with, but in terms of cost savings. At first it seemed more expensive because we were making whole meals instead of just grabbing, say, a box of mac and cheese, but now that we have some regular recipes in rotation, we have all of the spices or whatever on hand already. I also can prioritize using up whatever vegetables we have on hand from the previous week, so we waste less food. And we've gotten in the habit, whenever we have unexpected leftovers, of eating those and then pushing a meal to the following week. That means less planning to do the next week and less shopping!

  6. I have been keeping it simple by just writing a very brief description of the meal on a sheet of paper hanging on the cabinet. If a recipe is needed and it's not one that's in our recipe binder, I note which cookbook and the page number; it's easy because I have looked up the recipe to check that we have all the ingredients.

    I think it's funny that both you and I decided to make exceptions to long-standing policies of not publishing photos at about the same time! :-)

  7. @'Becca
    That's what I was doing originally, but with a sheet on the fridge rather than a cabinet. I wanted something that was more attractive and also was a meal plan/recipe holder all in one, so Mike didn't have to look up the recipes. This ended up being a good solution for us.

    I actually have posted "real" pictures before--of our rats and our bookshelf. I just don't post pictures of myself or Mike, and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon :)


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