Everyone wants to save money when they shop, I certainly do. Shopping for weekly groceries can be expensive, not only because of the cost of food today but also because I found we weren’t always eating what we bought and ended up throwing food away. The best way I have been able to ease the dent in my wallet and eat what we buy is by planning ahead. Planning ahead helped us be more conscious of what we were eating on a weekly basis, helped to make healthier food choices and helped to save money off our grocery bill each week. However, trying to create a weekly meal plan for 3 meals a day was a bit overwhelming. So I started out by focusing on planning ahead our weekly dinners only. Dinners for us, is our most expensive meal of the day. So, I creating a menu board (that is really just a chalkboard) that hangs in the kitchen and I fill in what we are having for dinner every night of the week.
By planning for what we are eating every night, I was able to look at what we had on hand and only shop for the foods we needed to make the dinners. I was also able to see how balanced the dinner menus were i.e. eating too much meat or carbs or not incorporating enough fruits and veggies. It really helped us to make healthier choices.
I also started to make as much as I could from scratch (bread, pasta noodles, crackers, etc) so we could limit the amount of processed food we were buying. This way, when I went shopping I was able to focus on the foods that are on the outer perimeter of the supermarket first, which tend to be where the fresh produce, meats, etc., are kept vs. the inner isles where most of the processed food is.
Once I got in to a routine about planning our weekly dinners before grocery shopping, being conscious of what we have on hand and what we need to buy for breakfast and lunch also became a natural part of the process.
It still amazes me that this simple DIY craft of creating a chalkboard has helped us save money, be much more aware of what we have on hand and helped to avoid the mid-week runs for forgotten items. But, what amazes me the most has nothing to do with these things (even though that is the main reason I did it), it is that everyone gets involved. Everyone sees what is planned for the week and because of this, they started making dinner suggestions – which is kind of cool. It eases the pressure off of me to always think of dinner ideas and it has become something we do as a family.
The menu board
The menu board doesn’t have to be fancy. I have a string that hangs from the board for the chalk and eraser to hang in a maple syrup can. I also draw a smaller box in chalk off to the side of the menu to remind me of the things I need to make that week. For example in the picture above, I need to make bread for our BLTs plus dog food and cookies for our dog Clarence.
To make the menu board I used an old framed print I had hanging around the house I had bought many moons ago at Winners or HomeSense, sprayed it with chalkboard paint that we purchased from the Home Depot and voila!
However, if you don’t have an old framed print hanging around you can very easily make a menu board by taking an old frame, cut a board to fit the frame and paint the board with several layers of chalkboard paint.
Regardless of how you make your chalkboard, I recommend to respray with a fresh coat of chalkboard paint from time to time.
I hope that this craft has inspired you to be creative in your home – enjoy!