I wonder how many people hate planning meals. With my own busy schedule, there are moments it is more stressful than I'd like to admit; but in general, I love doing it. It is because so much of it involves pouring over food blogs I adore, tagging appealing recipes or ideas I come across, flipping through my favorite cookbooks, gathering inspiration from the CSA or farmer's market, & perusing special ingredients at our natural marketplace. All favorite past-times.
I used to use blank weekly calendar sheets to plan meals, which worked well, but were fairly wasteful.
Months ago, we made a chalkboard from a large metal sheet Dave found at Home Depot. I did not share this project before, because it's not "perfect". I even had trouble with the actual painting, because I wasn't using enough paint when spreading it over the sheet. Dave saved the day & finished it for me; he hung it on the wall with mirror brackets. (A bit of leftover cork was needed to fill the space between the board & bracket.) I've learned to love our shabby chalkboard & its blemished nuances.
It is fairly rough & not the smoothest surface for writing, which gives it a sort of rustic look. At least this is what I tell myself.
A bit of paint occasionally scrapes off; I think this might be because it's on a metal surface. I love we went with metal though, because Dave recently found awesome day-of-the-week magnets at Target. Now we can write meal ideas anywhere on the board, even before we know which days will go with which meals. We can simply swap magnets around as moods or other risings change our meal schedule during the week.
I write needed ingredients below meal titles & keep a list of the produce we have on hand on the left side of the board. This spurs ideas when brainstorming meals & helps us not let food go to waste, because it is forgotten in a drawer or back corner of the fridge. I hang a rag for erasing from a magnetic clip in the bottom corner.
The huge size of the board & ease of writing, erasing, & crossing out ideas & lists with chalk make me so happy with this addition to our kitchen.
You can buy chalkboard paint or make your own like we did.
Simply mix together:
- 8 ounces paint (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon tile grout*
My mom shared this recipe, & it's cool you can make your own chalkboard paint with any paint. I'm really happy with ours, though the homemade version might be why ours is rougher textured. I'm not sure but think it's worth mentioning in case you decide to make your own. I've also heard calcium carbonate powder works, though I do not know the proportions.
Another overly simple, long overdo element we added to the kitchen was a spot to jot down meals we love & want to have again. Maybe most people don't have this problem, but often when we are enjoying dinner, we comment how much we'd like to repeat it; then much later when we are trying to come up with a menu for the week, we go blank on those meals we want to make again. The simple ones are often the most elusive. We needed a note in clear view to keep track of those meals, with the intention of adding to the list the night we make something worthy of repeating.
Now this hangs on the fridge, & it has already been used.
What tactics do you use to reduce waste in the kitchen & help with meal planning?
*Tile grout usually comes in a large bag, so it might not be worth buying it for only a spoonful. We found a ripped/spilling bag at Home Depot when we were shopping, so they gave us a small handful at no cost.
**This is part of a series I am doing while we strive to embrace a simple life & home. We are committing to analyze & consider every item in & coming into our home, the ultimate goal being to come to as close to a zero waste home as possible & comfortable.