Planning my meals week by week has been an unexpected boon in my life. Not only have I gone from five weekly grocery store trips (Was I crazy before having a kid? Five trips a week? How? When? Where? Why? What was I thinking?!) to one trip, I’ve also done a pantry/freezer inventory so that I first use ingredients already stocked in my kitchen. Better yet, I’ve stuffed all of the worry over what to make for dinner into just one day of the week (menu planning day) instead of every afternoon around 5:00 ish when my stomach typically begins making its demands known.
I’ve also gotten smarter about how to make timely meals. This week, for example. We have four days home in between two weekends away, making our dinners, by necessity, streamlined, efficient, and easy. So I’ve employed not one but two of my secret weapons from my easy (mentally and logistically) meal arsenal: breakfast for dinner AND make your own pizza.
Here’s this busy week’s menu at a glance:
Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner – French Toast with fruit compote (French toast made with fresh, whole wheat bread from a local farm bakery, raw milk, pastured eggs, pureed organic bananas frozen when bought on sale cheap, and a dash of flaxseed meal)
Wednesday: Cream of Green Soup (a new recipe from a friend involving yummy greenness compliments of broccoli, spinach, peas, and celery) and my grandmother’s refrigerator dinner rolls.
Thursday: Whipping Cream Salmon (another new recipe from my Green Soup friend—yes, she’s a kitchen inspiration) and fresh CSA produce.
Friday: Make Your Own Pizza night using Smitten Kitchen’s recipes for dough (her notes on substituting whole wheat flour work great) and sauce. When we feel especially ambitious (read—this is a real treat), we make our own mozzarella (blessing Ricki from New England Cheesemaking Supply for her expert guidance).
Saturday: Bean Tacos. Not sure what this entails. Will whip it up using whatever beans I can find in my pantry and whatever grass-fed ground beef I can unearth from the freezer. A few remaining fresh tortillas transported home from our Arizona vacation will be timely additions to this particular meal.
Sunday: Time to prep next week’s meal plan.
DIY Kitchen Chalkboard
One of my favorite parts of planning out the week’s meals is the chance to wipe the slate clean from last week. Literally. When we re-did our kitchen (I wrote that in past tense like this project was done. Finished. Kaput. It’s not. It’s a three-year DIY work in progress. Sigh.), my fun addition the plumbing, electrical, and cabinetry projects was a chalkboard painted on the side of my pantry cupboard.
Each week, I use the chalkboard to log the week’s meals, allowing me to prep ahead of time for the day’s meal and allowing other family members a head’s up on what’s for dinner. The board is also a great space to scratch quick notes and reminders. (Yes, that race date at the top has just passed. Laced up the sneakers. Philadelphia Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon, I conquered you. Slowly.)
Making your own kitchen chalkboard is surprisingly easy. I managed to concoct my chalkboard myself in under two hours with little to no husband-handyman guidance.
Small container of chalkboard paint from local hardware store
Trim (Any thin crown molding variety works fine)
- Select the wall or cabinet that will be the proud new home of your chalkboard. Using the measuring tape and pencil, sketch the outline of the chalkboard.
- Shake the paint can (or hire husband-handyman) for this job. Then dip the paintbrush and go to work, Monet. Since you’re eventually covering the edges with trim, it’s okay if you stray outside of the lines just a smidge.
- While the first coat of paint is drying (I found two coats worked best), use the same measurements to mark off the trim to frame the chalkboard. Since I went with a simple shape of a rectangle, I then marked my corner cuts at 45-degree angles. If you’re ambitious and creating a star-shaped chalkboard, you’re on your own to figure out angles, my friend.
- Put that miter saw to work. Cut your trim. Lay it out on the floor piece by piece to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes in your measurements as you go.
- Check on the paint. If it’s dry, apply a second coat.
- Treat yourself to a cup of coffee. Or use these precious free minutes to plan next week’s menu.
- Once the paint is dry, employ the hammer and finishing nails to put the trim frame around the painted chalkboard. I started with a long side piece and worked my way clockwise around the board so that I ended with the bottom piece. (That way if things are a bit out of place, it’s at the bottom and chances are nobody but you will know!)
- You’re finished. Chalk up your week’s menu and stand back to admire your handiwork.
- Chalkboard erasers will work on the chalkboard paint, but will leave some residue (a la second-grade classroom board). For a truly clean slate, dampen a kitchen towel and wipe down the chalkboard once a week or when needed.)
Chalkboard paint is so easy and fun, you will probably find yourself itching to chalkboard just about any surface. A plain IKEA mirror (hooks from Restoration Hardware) fell victim to some of my leftover paint.