It’s no stretch to say our family is in a rut when it comes to evening meals. The truth is we’re simple folks with simple palates, content to stick with what we know. But when 5:00 pm catches me by surprise, I stand, like a deer in headlights, staring in our pantry, trying to recall what we ate the night before and what I have on hand.
Last night, I was convinced I was feeding our kids something I’d just made a few nights ago, but none of us could remember. I ended up pulling the Kroger receipt out of our bill tray, so I could at least figure out when I bought some of the things I was serving. (sigh) There has to be a better way.
And I think we’ve found it.
First, we brainstormed a list of the meals we typically eat, with the added rule that if you add it to the list then you’re saying you’re willing to eat it when served (I probably should get that in writing). Then we had the brilliant idea to put these meal options on magnets and keep them on the refrigerator for easy reference. After we’ve had a meal, the corresponding magnet will be moved to the far side of the refrigerator (or a basket or a drawer) so we know it’s out of the rotation for the rest of the week (if not longer). Fingers crossed this will stave off the begging and bargaining that comes when our boys want pizza for the third time in the same week and it’s their word against mine.
I’m sure my dad will get a chuckle out of this. He writes out menus for all three meals of the day, whether it’s just a meal for him and my mom or a gathering of the whole extended family. For us, broad descriptions work better than a specific menu. Our oldest son’s spot on the autism spectrum makes him very attached to details, so I build wiggle room into my life whenever possible. For example, “chicken and pasta” can mean cooked chicken that’s shredded and added to a cold pasta salad or chicken in the crockpot with cream of chicken soup and seasonings, served over buttered noodles, or chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, if that’s our mood.
We’ll start this new approach to organizing our meals next week, so I can’t tell you how successful it is (yet). But I can tell you how easy it was to make the magnets!
My plan was to put each meal option in a 4″ x 6″ acrylic/magnetic frame. But that takes up a lot of real estate and is a little overwhelming, so I designed our meal magnets a bit smaller (2″ x 3″).
I printed them on plain, white cardstock, and glued them onto a bunch of old magnet ads I’ve collected over years, because I was certain I’d find a use for them. You know, the thin magnets that come attached to the Yellow Pages or a catalog, or from your pharmacy or doctor’s office, promoting a new business or special deal. They’re perfect for this kind of project.
I used Mod Podge (of course) to adhere each printed meal option to these magnets, then used regular old scissors to cut them out (thin magnets are crazy easy to cut).
Now they will live happily ever after on the side of our refrigerator, right next to my grocery list.
If you want to try this yourself, here’s a pdf of the meal magnets I made. Enjoy!