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Musing: meal plan + diy kitchen chalkboard

September 20, 2010

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.

do-it-yourself kitchen chalkboard

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)

Finishing nails


Miter saw


Measuring tape



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Check on the paint.  If it’s dry, apply a second coat.
  6. Treat yourself to a cup of coffee.  Or use these precious free minutes to plan next week’s menu.
  7. 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!)
  8. 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.

48 Comments leave one →
  1. Megan permalink
    September 20, 2010 8:37 am

    So the Green Soup is a repeater, eh? Nathan leaves for Paris that day; I have an Avon Club meeting (are you also on Ways & Means?) at the Fire Escape at 7 pm…so maybe I will swing by…

  2. September 20, 2010 9:29 am

    Love it, love it–want one ( or two, or three…).

  3. September 20, 2010 11:33 am

    This is great! Love it. Makes your kitchen a bit like a diner 🙂 Also love the idea of planning it out more.

  4. September 20, 2010 11:35 am

    Chalkboard paint is great! I always *always* wanted a whole wall of my bedroom painted with it when I was younger….my mum never did let me though!

  5. September 20, 2010 11:56 am

    Such a fantastic idea. I love this! I’m hoping that the coming months means a change in residence for me, and if so, I’m so putting this into production!

  6. sayitinasong permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:35 pm

    I love your kitchen chalkboard! And I envy how organised you are… this may just inspire me to do the same….

  7. September 20, 2010 12:39 pm

    Oh my gosh. This is genius!!! I love your recipe cards too. Thanks for those – gona whip up some super green soup asap.

    You are so right about the multiple trips to the shops. So uneconomical yet it just seems to be the way it happens. I get fed up of fruit and veg going off – so I just buy as I need.

    I’m going to try your weeks worth of menus. I think the husband will love being able to see what he is having to eat – and will look forward to the meals.

    Thanks alot.

  8. runningtowardstillness permalink
    September 20, 2010 12:52 pm

    great post. i am all about the chalkboard in the kitchen – good for organization and fun ( AND I am a big fan of homemade pizza ( great site. i will add you to my bookmarks.

  9. September 20, 2010 1:14 pm

    I painted an entire door in my kitchen with chalkboard paint a while back – and I LOVE it! We use it for listing chores or projects – and, of course, reminders. (It’s amazing how much I plan to do, then forget all about until I’m in the middle of doing something else!)

  10. September 20, 2010 1:46 pm

    What a great, inspirational post!
    Seriously, this is going to the top of my to-do (or honey-do) list. My lists usually don’t make it home from the grocery store, since I tend to browse my cook books for ideas then write out what’s missing for the next trip to the store. Then once the food is home, some of the ingredients get used for something else (we once consumed a whole package of bacon for breakfast, with iced coffee on the side). Then by Wednesday, I remember what recipe I was going to try, and now there’s no bacon for it!
    Congrats on Freshly Pressed 🙂

  11. September 20, 2010 2:02 pm

    I do this too! I don’t have a chalkboard in my kitchen but I LOVE that idea. I do the one grocery trip/week and Sunday is my food prep day. I make enough food not only so that we can have good food ready to go for dinner, but also so that we can take our own healthy lunches. We both work FT, and are competitive rowers, so nutrition is very important to us. It takes a lot of work on the Sunday, but it makes the entire week so much easier (and I really notice it on a week when I fail to be this prepared :S)
    Good for you! And, I am looking forward to a kitchen remodeling so I can put up some chalkboard paint!

  12. September 20, 2010 2:08 pm

    I love the green soup – it includes all the healthy stuff! Enjoy the week.

  13. September 20, 2010 2:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing these two great ideas – both meal planning on Sundays, and creating a chalk-board in the kitchen. I also work FT and am a proud mama to two boisterous babies (well, make that three – the third one is quite large :), and find that 5pm-ish time the hardest part of the day. Everyone’s hungry, fussy, wanting my attention, and I have to shoo them to play by themselves and quickly come up with diner.

    I’ll try planning it all out next Sunday. I know it MUST go better than the 5pm chaos we experience daily.

    Thanks for an uplifting, helpful post!

  14. September 20, 2010 2:19 pm

    Love this! With four little ones and a husband who does both the shopping and the cooking (yay me!) I try to help out by making the shopping list and it always works best to shop from a menu. I would love to hear how you are able to afford all that healthy food. Want to go in that direction but grass fed beef is soooooo expensive. I’ll be checking into your posts more often.

  15. September 20, 2010 2:25 pm

    ooooh, i LOVED coming across your post! such a great idea (i wonder if i can get chalkboard paint in Karachi..)
    but what made me clap my hand to my mouth to stifle a delighted giggle was the fact that we had DIY pizza yesterday, and breakfast for dinner tonight! (eggs scrambled with sliced onions, green pepper, chicken sausage, corn and some cheese and slapped on buttered brown toast)
    i like your style of writing too, so will add you to my blogroll if i may 🙂
    must be lovely to be Freshly Pressed!

  16. September 20, 2010 2:48 pm

    I love this chalkboard idea!!! And also your menu 🙂

  17. September 20, 2010 2:57 pm

    Love this! I have a chalkboard that I write out my menu for the week on also! Although, I bought mine at Ikea.

  18. September 20, 2010 3:26 pm

    Love the idea of the chalkboard paint. thanks for giving me a lot of ideas. And congrats on getting freshly pressed.

  19. September 20, 2010 3:37 pm

    So, I’m a busy grad student and find that with the years comes more on that ultimate “todo” list… I mean it never ends. I never thought about menu planning actually for the week mostly because I would feel tempted to bulk cook….another one of the banes of my existence. The menu seems that it would lift SO much stress off the week’s agenda though. Even cooking for one, “what’s for dinner” constantly looming in my head get’s REALLY annoying. So, I’m gonna try this for sure! and the chalkboard on the cupboard door= very cute :-). I can’t tell if you’re using colored chalk in the pics but that may add an element of festivity to the activity as well.

  20. Gaabriel permalink
    September 20, 2010 3:46 pm

    That green soup sounds lovely. I’ve added it to my own kitchen inspiration. Thank you for the interesting ideas. I have been itching to chalk-board things as well. Oh the draw backs of apartment living.

  21. September 20, 2010 4:24 pm

    The green soup really does sound great. I look forward to reading and enjoying more of you delightful blog.

  22. crazymominthevalley permalink
    September 20, 2010 4:26 pm

    Totally love the chalkboard…..I think that will be my next project!!

  23. September 20, 2010 4:50 pm

    This is amazing! I am always the person standing in the kitchen at 5pm wondering what to cook. I would love to make this DIY chalkboard, it’s the perfect way to inspire me to plan a week full of deliciousness. Thank you!

  24. September 20, 2010 4:59 pm

    I’m showing this post to my mother-in-law, pronto! She’s been putting me off for weeks about meal planning. I only want to plan five days in advance (I would prefer to do the entire month) – and that freaks her out.

    She didn’t say this, but I think she likes going to the grocery store all the time because the butcher is super cute.

    She’s not slick!


  25. September 20, 2010 5:30 pm

    What fun to read your post – I’ve been tempted by the chalkboard – but have relied on my white board mostly…. I am always inspired by others who manage to regularly meal plan. I do it periodically – and really like it when I do!!

    Anyhow – my thoughts on the matter are on the link below.

  26. thebumblingbaker permalink
    September 20, 2010 5:39 pm

    Awesome! Last month I started doing a weekly menu for my family, too, and it has positively saved my life (and my waistline!). The chalkboard is a wonderful idea to share the upcoming meals with the family.

  27. September 20, 2010 6:09 pm

    oh good girl, this looks real neat and handy too! Love the no. 6 🙂
    Nice work, and very good idea to plan a week ahead. I’m so bad at that, and go to the supermarket all the time.. must try. Good post!

  28. September 20, 2010 6:27 pm

    HELLO …you wonderful person..Brilliant! I like the chalkboard idea. When you said you could make it your self the “light bulb” must have burst from too much power! I love it…..I had to leave a comment for you to tell you how clever you are and to thank you . I’m going to do exactly the same thing. I like your green soup too. Good ideas good eats!. Love it!

  29. kristinpaints permalink
    September 20, 2010 9:05 pm

    What a great idea! I will definitely have to try a version of this in my home.

  30. September 20, 2010 9:27 pm

    I love the idea! So creative.

  31. Junker permalink
    September 20, 2010 9:36 pm

    great ideas, thanks

  32. September 20, 2010 9:56 pm

    I’ve been itching to use the chalk board paint. Thanks for sharing such wonderful inspirations!

  33. September 21, 2010 1:04 am

    I have to say you are way more ambitious than I am!! Good for you! I am not a cook, I consider cook a four letter word! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I love your handy idea too!

  34. Kate permalink
    September 21, 2010 1:44 am

    Brilliant idea! I love it! 😀

  35. September 21, 2010 2:14 am

    Aww, that’s cute and convenient. I would probably play house (even though I’m 19) and pretend like I’m working a busy restaurant, writing the day’s specials on the chalkboard. Mmmm, fun.

  36. September 21, 2010 4:00 am

    wow, I’ve been seeing this chalkboard thing a lot lately! And I LOVE the mirror with hooks idea. Did you know you can get megnetic primer?? So theoretically you could have a magnetic chalkboard painted onto any surface!! This truly inspires me to want to paint–and have too much fun–with every wall of my house! The cute trim/molding is also an excellent idea. Thanks for the added inspiration!

  37. September 21, 2010 7:28 am

    I love the chalkboard! I have a whiteboard in my kitchen, but I rely on my kikki.K meal planner for planning meals.
    It does seem much more fun on a chalkboard!

    Those recipes also look delish! I’ll have to give them a go. Nice blog! 🙂

  38. September 21, 2010 7:30 am

    Great idea. We’re just about to move into our new place and this handy project is definitely on my To Do list (right after the drapes go up, of course)

  39. September 21, 2010 7:49 am

    Love the chalkboard in the kitchen! I have been meaning to plan out our weekly menu for some time now, and feel that a chalkboard may help give me the motivation to do so… will also help keep my husband on board, as we share the cooking.

  40. September 21, 2010 10:04 am

    LOVE this post! I stumbled upon your blog while logging into mine! Can’t wait to read more. I am going to share your post with my readers too! Us mom’s gotta share how to do to this mom thing together:)) My twins are now 11 and the days flash before my eyes as they grow and grow! Enjoy every moment.

  41. September 22, 2010 8:20 am

    Great Post! Love the idea of having one at home. I already have some great ideas on what to do with it if I had one.

  42. Megan permalink
    September 22, 2010 10:14 pm

    Glad I got the last of the Green Soup – Thanks!

  43. got2havefaith permalink
    September 23, 2010 8:26 pm

    This is really cute. I love the hooks. You could even use chalk to write the name of each member of our family above the hook. Then maybe they would put things away….hahahha! Very clever.

  44. September 27, 2010 4:26 pm

    Great article – love it. I have a similar chalkboard and it has done wonders for my meal planning and organization.

  45. September 29, 2010 7:25 pm

    On my recent kitchen renovation, I add a chalkboard wall and it’s great to have. I jot down notes and ingredients as I’m cooking.



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