Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Weekly Menu Board

Hey there - have you had a chance to check out the post on my new Kitchen Command Center (KCC)?  The original design included a quick reference folder, a magnetic bin for shopping lists/notepads, and a magnetic bin for our takeout menus folder and family reference folder.  That was actually supposed to be it but I got to thinking....which can sometimes get me into trouble!  But not this time.  My KCC seemed incomplete somehow so I added a menu board to help organize our weekly meal planning.                        
There are myriad examples of menu boards on Pinterest so there's bound to be one that will meet your needs.  I wanted something simple, compact, and magnetic.  I already had most supplies on hand including the square linen canvas, ribbon, and several clothespins so that was my jumping off point.  

Here are the supplies I used to create the Weekly Menu Board:

12 x 12 linen or burlap covered canvas

hot glue
natural clothespins
scrapbook paper
small black letter stickers 
full sheet label paper
chalkboard tag
small kraft sacks
chalkboard stickers
chalk & chalk pen
super strong magnets (3)

First, I glued the black grosgrain ribbon equal distance from outside edge leaving 2" of canvas showing.  

Before gluing the remaining components (clothespins, chalkboard header, and sacks to hold meal option tags), I did a "dry fit" to make sure I had the spacing right before actually gluing.    

I then created the chalkboard header and chalkboard stickers using the same technique I used in my glass chalkboard post.  I printed off desired words and images. Rubbed back generously with regular chalk.  Placed word or image on front of chalkboard and traced with pen.  I then traced with chalkboard marker, allowed to dry, and then lightly rubbed entire area with chalk.  

I created my meal option tags in my "Pages" app on my iPad using a chart (but skipping every other space).  I printed this off on a full sheet of label paper and cut out each label using my paper cutter.  I also cut out several pieces of scrapbook paper (1" x 4") attaching  meal option labels to each piece.  You could also print directly onto your scrapbook paper.  I also plan to laminate these tags for longevity.    

The addition of the Weekly Menu Board was the finishing touch I was looking for to complete our Kitchen Command Center.  I've already noticed our boys getting more involved choosing meals for the week.  I think it's important to empower kids to make healthy food choices.  What better way than involving them in choosing and preparing meals.  Cooking and eating should be a multisensory experience.  

Shopping for fresh ingredients at your local grocery store, farmer's market, or even picking fresh berries or corn at a local farm can be a fun outing.  As a young girl, I have great memories of picking and shucking fresh corn.  As toddlers, my boys loved visiting our local berry patch and could not resist sampling the yummy produce. 

I hope this post inspires you to create a menu board that will encourage your family  to make meal planning a fun, multisensory experience.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kitchen Command Center

I have a dirty messy little secret (and I'm not alone). Based on what I've seen at the homes of family and friends, many of you share my tendency for hanging myriad items on the refrigerator. You know the kind of countless items I'm talking about.  Here's a partial list of things on the side of my frig - photos, children's art, recipes, school info, camp info, group exercise schedule, kid's sports schedules, magnets, graded papers, report cards, magnetic bins, highlighters, business cards, box tops, and a school phone directory.  It's a complete mess!!  I wince and look away each time I glance at it (which is multiple times per day) promising myself I will work on this one of these days.  Well, enough procrastinating!  I am bound and determined to make sense of this cringe-worthy chaos.  Today is the big day...                                           

Wondering just how messy this area was before I got to work organizing everything?

First things first, I removed everything and wiped the area with cleaner.  Nothing like a clean slate... It already looks better!

 I sorted through the mess seemingly important items.  Most items ended up being recycled, shredded, trashed, or relocated because all kinds of "papers" dominated the clutter I removed.  Only a few important papers will come back because I refer to them on a regular basis.  I found the perfect solution to keep papers not only neat but easy to access (and update a needed) - clear front presentation folders with 3-rings brads as well as page protectors.  These are inexpensive and readily available at office supply stores (and even the grocery store).  You may already have something you can use in your stash of school or office supplies.

I attached magnetic strips to back of quick reference folder with hot glue.  I then placed several page protectors in the folder securing with brads.  I printed "Quick Reference" on an 8.5" x 11" piece of scrapbook paper and placed it in first page.  Papers I will include in my quick reference folder will be the group exercise class schedule, school calendar, sports/game schedules, cooking measurements conversion chart, and important phone numbers (for caregivers).  I have additional empty page protectors for any new papers that I deem worthy of the quick reference folder.  My litmus test - if I don't look at a paper on at least a weekly basis it doesn't go in the quick reference folder.

I have one magnetic bin for pre-printed grocery shopping lists and blank note pads.

I have a second magnetic bin for a takeout menus folder and a family reference folder (both folders are same style as quick reference).

Our family folder includes papers that I refer to occasionally (on a biweekly, monthly, or quarterly basis):
School - class schedules for each child, login IDs/passwords for district websites to check grades/assignments, teacher contact info
Sports - roster with contact info 
Church - volunteer schedule/duties, small group contact info
Neighborhood - contact list
Gym/YMCA - family member login and account pin

For most families, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  Since we spend a lot of time in the kitchen area and we have a refrigerator, why not make it a multifunctional appliance. It's a logical place for locating your kitchen command center (preferably on the side).  I seem to do more planning in the kitchen than any other room so it's nice having my shopping list and notepads handy.  I can also quickly peruse my takeout menus on those nights when I don't feel like cooking.  This system is super flexible - if you notice that you are referring to papers in your family folder more often than expected, you can easily move those papers to your quick reference folder.     

This project was a snap and I don't know why I put it off for so long.  It can easily be personalized with different folders and scrapbook paper that coordinates with your decor.  I found my mesh bins (with magnets on back) and chalkboard clips at HomeGoods.  You could likely find everything you need at the dollar store.  I hope this post inspires you to create your own unique kitchen command center.  I feel more productive already!!