Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meal Planning Magnets

I don't know about you, but I am a visual kind of person.  Sketching and jotting down ideas helps me remember things and problem solve.  If I can't see something, I usually forget about it.

This is especially true when it comes to planning meals in our house.  Since the hubby usually works well past Buddy's bedtime, it's up to me to make dinner.  The process usually goes something like this:

1. Buddy starts whining.
2. I realize that it is nearly dinner time and he is whining because he is hungry.
3. I open the fridge and stare at what food we have hoping that some inspiration will come to me.
4. Buddy tries to climb into the fridge.
5. I pull him out and start looking in the freezer.
6. Buddy starts whining again.
7. I give up and microwave some frozen chicken nuggets.
8. Meanwhile the broccoli that I bought last week specifically for a stir fry sits in the drawer at the bottom of the fridge and goes bad...

I decided that I needed a new plan.

So I made this!

I created a weekly meal chart with color-coded magnets!  There's actually room to plan 2 weeks worth of meals on this chart... because I don't always plan a week's worth of meals beginning with Sunday.  The area at the bottom is to help me sort out what meals we have ingredients for in case I need to switch meals around.  It's kind of like a "sideline" in case it's one of those days and I need hot dogs to sub in for "3-hour fancy chicken with homemade sauce" or something.  I made the chart in Publisher and scaled it up to be two pages wide.  I printed it on regular paper and just stuck it up on the fridge.  

Then I brainstormed all (or at least most) of the dishes that 1. I know how to make and 2. my family enjoys eating and printed them out on some heavy cardstock.  I tried to color code them so that it would be easier to visualize "balanced" meals.  Blue dishes are pretty much just meat (hot dogs, meatloaf, etc.), red dishes are mostly bread and pasta, and green dishes are fruits and veggies.  Purple meals are "all in one" dishes like my homemade chicken lentil soup which covers all of the food groups.  I cut up some business card magnets into little squares and stuck them on the back.

Now I have a pretty rainbow of culinary options on my fridge that I can arrange into balanced meals for my family!  And now after I buy that broccoli I make sure to add my "stir fry" magnet to the mix so that I remember to make it.  Once we run out of hot dogs or pizza sauce I take those magnets off the fridge and put them into a little container I have next to my meal chart until we have a chance to buy them again.

So far it's been working well!  ...It's been nice eating more than just chicken nuggets!