| |

Menu Planning Basics + A DIY Menu Board

Menu planning may or may not be one of my favorite things ever.  As I have fallen into the routine of menu planning, I’ve learned a few things along the way.  If you want to start, or need some encouragement I hope you’ll find something in this post that will help you! 

This post may contain affiliate links.  See my full disclosure and privacy policy HERE.  I was provided vinyl by StyleTech Craft for this post.  

The idea of planning a menu can be so overwhelming.  But, it does not have to be fancy or difficult! Putting together a small list of your family’s favorite meals is the first step to building a menu you can work with over the days to come.  

But why?  Why take the time to plan your meals? Today, I am excited to share with you some of my best menu planning tips and tricks to get you started!

WHy menu planning is helpful:

  • It is one less thing to think about.  Let’s face it, as moms, our minds are truly like a computer with as many windows open as possible.  Work, extra curricular activities, cleaning, laundry, homework….the list goes on and on.  I have an amazingly helpful husband, but I still find myself thinking about a thousand things at once!  Giving myself 15-20 minutes to peruse my Pinterest boards and get my menu thoughts down for the week saves me a ton of time and stress.  I can just look at the menu board the night before, and prepare accordingly for the next evening’s dinner.
  • Menu planning keeps me frugal.  When I menu plan, I first determine what we already have on hand that I can use for meals.  I can usually get the majority of my meals planned.  From there, if there are extra ingredients or things I need for dinners, I add them to the grocery list so I don’t forget.  Nothing is worse than planning a menu, and realizing I forgot something at the store.
  • Planning a menu gives us variety in our meals.  If I didn’t plan our meals, we would eat a lot of convenience foods and carbohydrates.  Sure, I throw in a Stouffer’s lasagna every once in awhile, but it would be SO easy to be a short order cook or just make another box of macaroni and cheese.  When I am planning, I try to make sure we have a variety of foods for the week.  Red meat, chicken, pork, pizza, etc.
  • Menu planning is dependable.   I’m all about ease and routine in our house.  When it is time to meal plan, I fill in “Pizza” on Friday night.  Also, I fill in any special events coming up where we will have dinner provided.  For example, during Advent and Lent I write “Soup Supper” next to Wednesday on my planning board because we eat dinner at church those evenings before service.  Also, if we have youth group on a Sunday evening, I will often write “Leftovers” on Sunday because I know we will be eating and running.

tips for easy menu planning:

  • First, make it fun!  Set aside a special place in your kitchen for your menu.  This could be as simple as a printable that is filled out and placed on the refrigerator.  Perhaps it is a jar filled with slips of paper of your favorite meals.  On Sunday, you each pick one to add to the menu rotation for that week or month.  Or, you can get crafty and create a cute menu board!
  • Have your “go to” meals.  For me, this is Pizza on Friday night, and at least two crock pot meals during the week in the winter time.  Summer, we grill almost every night.  That being said, our “go to” meals are pizza, roast with carrots and potatoes, and parmesan chicken.  Those are not something we eat EVERY week, except pizza on Fridays.  But, they are meals we have frequently and I always keep the ingredients for them on hand.  They are easy, fast, and family favorites.
  • Consider your weekly activities.  Every Sunday, I ask my husband what nights he will be home for dinner that week.  This helps me plan meals for the kids and I.  Things that are not his favorite, such as lasagna or pasta, we will eat when he’s not home.  If there is a night that we have to go to dance, he has a meeting, and the teenagers are home alone, I make a crockpot meal that they can serve to themselves.  I try to have at least one or two meals a week that involve a little more prep time than others.  I like to make our nights when we are all home around the table together special.
  • Check the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Do you have shredded cheese and ground beef on hand? Perfect, add some taco shells to your grocery list, and you have an easy weeknight meal.  Did you buy 4 pork roasts when they were BOGO at the grocery?  Excellent.  You are good to go with at least two meals that week.  One night can be pork roast with mashed potatoes and a salad. Then shred the rest of the pork for sandwiches later in the week.  Shop your cupboards and kitchen while you make your menu. You’ll find tons of inspiration!
  • Keep your recipes in an easy to find place.  For me, this is Pinterest.  Instead of a general “Supper Ideas” board, I have them broken down by Main Dishes, Chicken Dishes, Soups, etc. That way, I don’t get overwhelmed when looking for a meal, and it helps me put some variety in our meals.
  • Work with a theme.  This can make a world of difference in your time it takes you to plan, and the meals you make.  This also simplifies things SO much.   Soups, Mexican, Italian, Sandwiches…..so many options here!  Take a look at your recipe collection, or start one based on some themes, or a central focus.  Basics like chicken, beef, pork, etc can all be the base of so many awesome meals.  Sandwiches, soups, salads.  Any theme works!

To create a DIY Menu Board, you just need a few simple supplies.  

First, you need a cutting machine. The Silhouette Cameo is my machine of choice, but a Cricut works as well.  Secondly, you need some adhesive vinyl and a blank board!  For this project, I used the Style Tech Craft Matte Removable Vinyl. I think this is the best option for a project like this.  If I decide to change my color scheme, or use the magnetic chalkboard for something else, I can just peel the vinyl off and replace it with something else!

This is really a great vinyl project for a beginner.  Open your design software, and choose the font you’d like to use.  For this, I went with a script and a non-script font to make it extra cute! Set up your “MENU” type to cut.  Cut that from your color of choice, and set aside.  

Next, set up your days of the week in the design box. Because of the size of my board, I used abbreviations.  Cut these, weed, and set aside.  Now it’s time to assemble!  Using transfer tape, place it carefully over the top of your design, and smooth it.  Gently peel the backing off your vinyl, and place it on your board.  From here, at an angle, gently peel the transfer tape off your vinyl.   Repeat this with your days of the week.

From here, you could probably use a chalkboard marker to write your menu plan.  However, I chose to embellish some chalkboard clothespin tags with a tiny fork and spoon….so cute!  I added a magnet to the back, and I can just clip my meals to these!  Using cardstock, I cut some one-inch strips to write our meals on.  We tend to eat MANY of the same things each month, so I will keep these in an envelope and just pull out the ones I need as the month goes by.  

Hot glue some heavy duty magnets to the back of your board, and you are all set!

You could use a magnetic chalkboard {I found mine on Amazon}, a white board, or even put it directly on your refrigerator!  Using the removable vinyl would make this SO cute on the side of the fridge, and you would not be in a long term commitment with permanent vinyl on your refrigerator.  

When I step back and look at a menu board that is filled out for the week, I know I am already one step ahead of myself.  This takes a huge load off my stress, and I can easily focus on other things for the week ahead.  I ask myself what I can do the evening before, or the morning of, to make dinner prep go smoothly that evening.  When I refer to “menu planning”, I am only referring to dinner. I do not plan all three meals of the day. I used to do so, when I was home with our kids when they were young and it was very helpful.  However, now my main goal is to get a meal on the table every evening for my family.  Menu planning helps me do just that!

Carrie Hurst

Married to my high school sweetheart, we are raising two pirates and a princess. A lifelong Disney fan, lover of good food, and all things creative, I hope you will join me in sharing joy and making memories everyday.



  1. This is great for a busy family.
    I think you should post your board each week for those of us that are meal planning challenged.

    1. Thank you!!! I think I will post it to my Instagram each week!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *