As you may know, I've talked about menu planning a few times on this blog. What you don't know, is that it is a constant battle for me to keep up with my menu planning. My biggest problem is time, but couple that with the fact that I loathe menu planning, and it's practically a recipe for disaster.
Well, a couple weeks ago the broccoli really hit the fan when we got our taxes done, and I realized that we have been spending way too much money eating out two and sometimes three times a week. That had to stop.
So I sat down with my monthly menu planning calendar and I got to work.
I've been using this system for over a year now, somewhat intermittently. In spite of what some people think about teachers and their supposed part-time jobs, I regularly spend ten hours a day at my teaching job. Add to that a couple more hours a night that I've been spending lately on the yearbook, volunteering my time, and it's all I can do to keep the vomit from pooling in the back of my mouth when I hear about my cushy schedule and summers off. Although I wouldn't say that teaching is the hardest job on the planet, it is definitely the hardest job I've ever had.
That being said, I, and I'm sure every other mom out there as well, need every time saver available to me to manage my responsibilities. Eating out just can't be one of those time savers anymore.
So, as I was saying, last year I posted about menu planning and this laminated menu planner that I could write on and wipe off. The only problem with this system, for me anyway, is that our schedule seems to always be in flux and I would need to move things. Then I would have to apply spit to a Kleenex to wipe off the menu plan for the day, so glamorous, I know, and have to rewrite that menu item elsewhere. Such a chore for me and my impatient self. My problems are so enormous.
Quickly I took to using mini Post-It notes to write my menu plans on, because they could be quickly and easily moved around. The only negative to that system is that the Post-Its didn't fit perfectly into the the menu squares, so I had to trim them to fit neatly in the squares. Because I'm anal about things like that. Again, I have such enormous problems.
This enormous problem has led me on a quest to design a magnetic menu planning calendar that could work for me. I have seen some pretty brilliant menu planning calendars out in the blogosphere this year, but none of them were a fit for me. The biggest problem being that I don't have any usable wall space where I can post a magnetic menu planning calendar. Any menu planning calendar that I use has to fit on the side of my refrigerator.
Enter the Cricut Lite Chore Chart Cartridge. This cartridge was the springboard for my inspiration. I've been thinking about a potential solution for months, and I had decided that I needed to create a calendar grid in vinyl right on the surface of my refrigerator. The problem being, how do I cut the vinyl for a calendar grid and keep all the lines straight and in proportion? I'm sure some of you reading this could do just that with only your Cricut and possibly a program such as Sure-Cuts-A-Lot, or the Silhouette, without using another expensive Cricut cartridge, but my skill set does not extend that far. As it is, I already wasted an entire sheet of vinyl trying to figure out the correct size to cut for my available space.
For my first calendar grid, I used the Fit to Page button on my Cricut, not 100% sure of what it was going to do. I loaded up my $5 sheet of vinyl and pressed the Cut button before I could chicken out. Then I screamed and watched in horror as the Cricut cut a calendar fit for Ginormica, knowing that hitting STOP couldn't save that piece of vinyl that was already soiled. Plus it had to be done anyway, because I needed the numbers to set up a proportion problem to figure out how big I had to cut my calendar to fit in a 16 inch wide section on my refrigerator.
Listen up people, the next time you open your mouth to say "I've never once had to use algebra in all my life, blah, blah blah" this is a prime example of how useful algebra is. I want you to come back here again, bring your children and your children's children, and show them exactly how
Algebra is Useful
I'm going to make a vinyl sign. Who wants one?
Don't all jump at once.
The ginormous calendar that I originally cut with the Fit to Page button ended up being 11.5 inches by 19.75 inches, which was 3.75 inches longer than my available space of 16 inches. Enter algebra and the following simple proportion problem:
11.5 = x
Solving for x, I found that my calendar should be 9.316455696 inches high, which I neatly rounded to 9 inches. Sir Cricut can only cut in 1/4 inch increments anyway, so what's the harm in taking it to a nice round number?
Now I will stop with the numbers. So scary to some, yet friendly to all.
So, before I show you the end result, here is one of the problems with the Cricut Chore Chart cartridge. It cuts the "C" and the "H" for the "Chore Chart" title with the calendar grid.
I just amputated them with my X-acto knife. Easy fix.
Then I pulled away the vinyl parts that weren't needed.
And there were so many.
It wastes a lot of vinyl, but I couldn't see any other way around it. It turns out that my first wasted cut would have been wasted anyway because I forgot to set my blade pressure to LOW, so it cut right through the vinyl and the sticker backing paper. Doy.
I was able to correct that for my next calendar.
Here is my calendar ready to have the transfer paper applied. By the way, I see no way to transfer this grid without the transfer paper. It's the only way to keep the lines straight and keep the calendar from becoming distorted through stretching.
I didn't take pictures of me transferring the transfer paper to the design because that stuff is like fly paper, and I don't have three hands. I know, excuses.
I was a little excited when I was pulling my excess vinyl away, and I made this little boo boo. Not to worry, it can be fixed later. I just need to fit a small scrap piece over the cut and no one will ever know.
I'm calling this picture "Man Does Multi-task." It's Peanut Head eating a doughnut while helping me to tape the calendar grid up so it's level.
Here I'm getting ready to pull the sticker backing paper away and slowly apply the calendar grid. It doesn't pay to rush this part.
S-l-o-w-l-y, slowly said the sloth.
Pretty slick, eh?
You may have noticed that this calendar grid only covers three weeks. That's really not a problem for me, as I have no plans to add numbers for days or even a month label. It will simply serve as a plan as I go menu plan, and just having three weeks done at a time will keep me super happy.
If you wanted it to be four weeks, you could easily cut little vinyl strips to extend the boxes into the area left for a title. I'm not planning on using that part anyway.
In fact, I just amputated it. It just takes up space. I know it's my menu plan, I don't need a title on it. Space is precious on my refrigerator.
Next, I cut out days of the week and put them on. It's a little squished in the Wednesday region, but it's such a cumbersome day of the week, isn't it?
The last step was to make my menu choices. I just typed six choices to a 4x6 print, layered on top of digital scrap booking paper, then cut my squares to 1.75 inches, mounted them on a layer of card stock, and laminated them to protect them from kitchen mishaps.
Then I applied a piece of magnet left over from my bazeeeeeellion magnetic bookmarks, and I was in business.
Pretty nifty, eh?
Now I think I'm ready to conquer the whole World Peace problem.
Since I first posted this, I have found someone will make this menu grid for you for just $9.50. If you want to buy one for yourself, go read this post for the details.
If you want a way to store your extra menu magnets instead of on the fridge, go read this post.