“Sooo…. What’s for Dinner?” – The SOLUTION!

I am SO EXCITED about this project!!!!  I have been working on it for about a month and it is finally a reality! 🙂  I really believe it is going to help us so much in terms of healthy eating, saving money, saving time and the stress and arguments over “What’s For Dinner?!??!?!?”

It’s 4:00 pm and the dreaded call from my husband…

Him: “So, What’s For Dinner?”

Me: “Well, I don’t know!  You tell me!  I’ve been working all day- have not given it one thought.  I’m a busy person & don’t have time to come up with a new and exciting meal every night.  Why does this responsibility always somehow end up in MY lap?  Why don’t you figure it out?”

Him: “I’m easy- whatever you want, honey.”

Me: “No.  That is not an acceptable response.  That does not make it ‘easy.’  I still have to do the thinking, the planning and the figuring out if we have all of the ingredients for whatever I come up with and then if we don’t I have to re-think and re-plan…”

Him: “Jeez!  I’m sorry I asked!”

Okay, so to give him some credit- he does occasionally come up with dinner plans.  And, he doesn’t mind if I suggest eating out- but then he still wants me to decide WHAT we will be eating from outside.. and trying to come up w/ healthy options from outside is not easy, nor cheap, nor necessarily any faster… uggg.  Honestly, the hardest part ISN’T the cooking.  It’s the PLANNING.  And planning for healthy, cheap and easy is NOT easy!

I considered various methods: creating a google calendar, writing it down on a physical calendar.  I even tried using a dry-erase calendar on the fridge.  I tried the meal planners online- spark people etc. but they always included recipes i wasn’t familiar with and didn’t have the ingredients for… None of it seemed like a great solution- for a variety of reasons.  I am a visual person- I needed something that I enjoyed looking at- that would make me inspired, motivated & happy.  A black & white calendar or even one printed in color just wasn’t doing it for me… and if I got on the computer to create it I’d be tempted to look up new recipes all the time- which I don’t have the time or energy to incorporate into our routine on a regular basis- even with my best intentions.  I’ve been wanting to make butternut squash SOMETHING for months- I’ve bought at least 3 and they’ve all gone bad b/c I didn’t have what it took to find a good recipe and go do it.  And it takes a WHILE for those to go bad!!

The SOLUTION?  A MAGNETIC DRY-ERASE MONTHLY MEAL PLANNING CALENDAR!!!

So, I came up with a list of the meals we eat the most frequently that are healthy, cheap and easy.  That part wasn’t really that difficult.  I chose meals like Turkey Burgers, Grilled or Baked Salmon, Chicken Salad, Roasted Veggies, Steak, Cranberry Chicken- things that are easy to pre-prepare in the freezer, throw in the crockpot, in the oven or on the grill.  I selected healthy veg side items: roasted brussel sprouts, simple salads, stir-fried veggies and healthy carb sides: quinoa, low GI rice, sweet potatoes, whole grain breads…

Then, I made codes for: if I’m going to make extra of that meal to put in the freezer for later, if it’s already in the freezer and just needs to be pulled out, if we are having guests, eat with friends, out of town, if it’s a holiday and who will be cooking! (It seems to fall mostly on me but it’s just by default b/c he doesn’t seem to be able to do the planning and so I think of meals that I can make easily.. plus, the things he comes up with are not always the healthiest options… like, eggs & hot dogs…??) So, now he’ll be more involved in cooking, too! *evil laugh* *cough* I mean… 🙂

Here’s the prototype (before it transformed into a LIVE creature!)

ANYWAY.  This process took a while… measuring, formatting, coming up w/ how many magnets I would need etc.  It wasn’t super cheap- it cost around $65 I think, altogether.  But I LOVE IT! 🙂  And, I think it will be great when there are kids- they’ll love playing w/ the magnets and it’s a good opportunity to teach about diet, nutrition and meal planning.  And, I can recycle these over and over and over and over… you get the picture!!  I’m still looking for the ‘perfect box’ to hold my magnets- will have to make a trip to the container store… But I like this one for now.


Several of my friends have already asked for one!  I’m working on a smaller version that will fit on a fridge.

I am seriously considering selling these if I can figure out a way to lower costs… probably by buying in bulk…  I could sell a set of standard meals or customized magnets. 🙂

Haven’t decided if making a Breakfast/Lunch calendar would be worth it… that seems like a little much… breakfasts are fairly easy to come up with on the fly- shakeology, oatmeal, fruit, a protein bar if you’re in a hurry, eggs… would seem a little silly to plan that.  Lunches are another matter, though… But I’m afraid to try to plan too much at once.  I usually pack fruit, leftovers from the previous night, throw a salad together in the morning or make a stir-fry if I’m at home…  I should probably keep other quick-to-grab items ready… like frozen grilled chicken strips to throw on the salads… That’s a project for another day!

The final product?  Well… I can’t share the whole thing b/c I’ve already set it for this month and well.. I don’t like to display when we are out of town on the internet.  (I couldn’t wait to start it at the beginning of the month!! lol)

But, here’s a sample:

 

 

 

Oh, and did I mention that it’s COLOR CODED?!?!  Ahhh!!!  I love it…

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  1. #1 by rachelmeeks on July 26, 2012 - 3:47 pm

    O_o my mind is boggled.

  2. #3 by createincomenow on July 27, 2012 - 2:27 am

    Hello Melissa,
    It is great to see other people that spend much thought and effort in eating healthy. You are very creative with the calendar, planner, and magnets. I have a butternut squash recipe the next time you decide to make that. It may be the wrong time of year right now in your area. Here is my recipe section of my blog. The squash recipe is not far down the page as I remember just making that this past winter.

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