I know I wrote a post like this a month or so ago, and only 100 or so of you actually got to read that post. However, because of the personal nature of the post, I had to delete the post altogether. Then a few days ago, Macaroni Kids TriCities contacted me and asked if I would write an article about the Menu Board, I figured now was as good a time as any to re-write about how the Menu Board came to be. You can read the actual article on Macaroni Kids here, and when you go there, you will have 5 opportunities to win a Giveaway from ME! (Robbygurl's Creations) So go on over and check it out, if it's past Mother's Day and the giveaway is over... you can continue reading this blog post, I copied my article from Macaroni Kids onto this post.
The Menu Board
By, Robin Lyman
Owner/Creator of Robbygurl’s Creations
Have you ever stood in front of your fridge, freezer, cupboard, or pantry hem-ing and hah-ing over what to make for dinner tonight? Do you often find yourself eating a bowl of cereal or just ordering pizza because you just can’t find anything to make? Then afterwards, do you commit yourself to go to the grocery store to buy food tomorrow, and then spend more time and more money than you wanted at the store, because you still don’t know what to buy for dinner(s) in the future? Believe me, I had that problem too. Notice, I said had.
Up until a little over a year ago, our family meal times consisted of cereal, eggs, some kind of sandwich or some kind of pasta, and believe me, it gets old. In fact, it was getting so old in my home, that meal times started to become a source of arguments for not only my husband and I, but our entire family. It’s not that I didn’t know how to cook; it’s just that our family was filled with picky eaters. It seemed like none of us liked the same things. The kids didn’t want to eat the food I cooked, my husband would end up making himself a sandwich by the end of the night, and I often went to bed frustrated and upset. It wasn’t a life I wanted to live any more. I needed a plan, an organized meal plan, and fast.
I had been mulling over in my head for months on what to do about our family mealtimes, when I stumbled across 2 different things that ultimately led me to the idea of The Menu Board. First, the initial spark came from my sister-in-law, who had 10-14 different meals (which included boxed meals such as Hamburger Helper and such) and would rotate the meals every two weeks. So she always knew what they were having for dinner and she always knew what to buy when she went to the grocery store. I wanted to do the same thing, except without the boxed dinners, I wanted to make meals from scratch, meals from outside the box.
Unfortunately, that idea sat on the backburner in my mind for another couple of months until I was asked to help teach the 14 & 15 year old young women in the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). In our church, we have a program for the Young Women called Personal Progress, it is the equivalent for girls to the scout program for boys, and it even has a high ranking award that is equal to the Eagle Scout Award. Inside this program, are activities and projects to help the girls not only get closer to God, but to teach them skills that will help them to be a better daughter, sister, friend, and eventually a mother. Among the requirements in this program was the project to plan, shop for, and cook dinner for your family for 2 weeks. This Personal Progress project right here is what essentially kicked me into high gear and I came up with The Menu Board.
First, I started off by collecting recipes from all over the internet. Over a year ago, I didn’t know much about blogger and didn’t know anything about Pinterest, so I did Google searches for recipes until I had found 100 recipes, including desserts and breakfast. I was determined that I was NOT going to make the same thing 2 nights in a row, and would not repeat a meal once for at least a month. When I had completed The Menu Board, thinking up and creating all of the templates for it, putting all of the recipes I had found into the same format, and putting the whole system into effect, I knew I had to share it with everyone I knew.
I had a blog that I had been using for some of my creations for Young Women’s, so I decided to post it on there. At the time, I only had like 4 followers, which were my family basically. After posting the Menu Board Tutorial on my blog (which teaches you how to make your own), I contacted Melanie from Sugardoodle.net and asked her if The Menu Board was something she would be interested in putting on her website, she immediately agreed and created a spot on her website for my Menu Board. Within a few weeks, my blog followers went from 4 to 40 followers and stayed there until this past December when someone suggested that I join Pinterest and put my Menu Board on there. It was only a couple weeks later when my blog got hit majorly, and by the end of January I had nearly reached 1,000 followers, all of whom were there for my Menu Board. I knew my Menu Board could help moms, but I never dreamed it would help so many!
So, now that I’ve spent all this time telling your how I thought up the Menu Board, how about I teach how to use your own Menu Board? Once you have completed your Menu Board (whether it be by making your own using the Menu Board Tutorial, or by purchasing the Menu Board Kit or purchasing the completed Menu Board from Robbygurl’s Creations), all you need to do is sit down with your family (or just you and your husband) and choose the meals you want to make for that month. (You don’t have to plan for the whole month, but I do, I found it saves time, stress, and money at the grocery store since I will be making fewer trips by doing the entire month’s grocery shopping in one trip.)
When you are getting ready to plan your meals for the month, get out your Menu Board recipes, and pick out the 28-31 recipes that will coordinate with the days of the month we are currently in. (So for February you would need 28 recipes, and May you would need 31 recipes.) Pay close attention to the colors of the cardstock that the recipes are printed on; our family usually chooses 2-3 recipes from each category. Once you have chosen your recipes, find their coordinating recipe title cards, and then place those recipe title cards on your Menu Board. This is where your attention to the colored cardstock will pay off, make sure that you do not have two of the same colors next to each other; this will help prevent you from cooking chicken two nights in a row, or pasta two nights in a row, make sense?
Once you have set up your menu for the month, using your recipes once again, you can now begin to construct your grocery list. Go through each recipe’s ingredients and write down the ingredients that you don’t already have in your house that you will need to buy. (Like I said earlier, I like to shop for the entire month, mostly because it keeps me away from the store more, and ultimately keeps me from spending more money than needed.) You may need to make another trip or two throughout the month to buy things like milk, produce, or bread. Here’s a little tip from me to you, when making your grocery list for your menu for the month, go through your home and look for other things that you will need before the month is over, such as toilet paper, shampoo, or diapers. This will also keep you from needing to make multiple trips to the store throughout the month.
Now that you have created your menu for the month on your Menu Board, and have done your grocery shopping, now all that’s left is to cook your meals. A couple more tips from me to you: first, always remember that you don’t have to stick to the order you originally placed your meals in. For example: let’s say that your morning was so hectic that you completely forgot to put the roast in the crock pot like your Menu Board said you were supposed to do that day…don’t panic! Remember, you already went grocery shopping for the month, so you have 30 other meals on your Menu Board that you can cook because you’ve already got the ingredients. Simply move the roast to another day and choose another meal that will match your family’s schedule for today. Problem solved.
My second tip, is to try to remind yourself the night before to look at what you have planned for dinner the next day, there is nothing more frustrating than getting your recipe out for dinner to find out something needed to marinade for 12-24 hours, or something needed to be cooked in the crock pot, etc, believe me, that extra few minutes the night before will save on a lot of stress the next night. I hope this has helped you in all the same ways that it has helped my other blog readers and followers. I think the world would be a much better place if meals were once less thing we had to stress about. I wish you the best of luck in your meal planning endeavors!
Owner/Creator of Robbygurl’s Creations