Tuesday, May 20, 2014

DIY Menu Board: A Tutorial.

[Originally posted here on January 19, 2014.]

Time for my first tutorial!

DIY Menu Board.

I have my hands full with a two-and-a-half-year-old and a six-month-old, so menu planning is a necessity if we're going to eat anything that isn't microwaveable.  Otherwise, I forget to make dinner until it's time to eat dinner....

I've seen a number of creative menu boards on Pinterest (who hasn't?), so I decided to try my hand at making one myself.  I wanted to be able to plan a full week at a time, I wanted to be able to plan multiple dishes for a single meal, and I wanted nothing hand-written (I'm a perfectionist, and my handwriting isn't perfect enough for me).  So here is the board that I made to work for me.

Here's what you need:


  • A large frame (mine was a float frame from Target)
  • Scrapbook paper (from Joann Fabric & Crafts)
  • Clips (seven--one for each day) (two four-packs from Walmart)
  • Letter stickers (to spell the days and "menu") (from Joann's)
  • Organizer bin (for entree/dish cards) (from Target)
  • Not pictured: entree/dish cards (made from index cards and scrapbook paper)
  • Not pictured: washers (if your clips are magnetic like mine, you will need washers if the magnets are set back into the bottom of the clip...I'll explain when I get there) (from Walmart)


  • Mod Podge glue
  • Foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Super glue (suitable for glass)
  • Uber helpful: paper cutter thingy, for straighter lines!
Let's get started!

Step One: Measuring

Step one: Measuring.
Lay out everything in your frame approximately where you will want it to go on the final product.  (If you only divide up your frame into seven sections for days--no bin at the bottom--you will need to be very precise in your measurements and in cutting so that your final strip is not fatter or skinnier than the rest!  Adding one unique element--like my bin, or a header or space for a quote or grocery list--is helpful in giving you a little wiggle room.)

Step Two: Cutting

Step two: Cutting.
Once you know how wide each section needs to be, begin cutting strips of scrapbook paper to go between the glass.  I chose two different patterns of scrapbook paper that complemented each other; you could use as many colors and patterns as you like.  But it is always a good idea to buy more paper than you expect you will need!  I managed to mutilate almost an entire sheet before I realized I was using the wrong blade to cut it; fortunately, I waaay overbought since JoAnn's was having a sale on scrapbook paper the day I went shopping.

Since I had a little wiggle room, I cut my strips slightly wider than I needed them, so that I could overlap them just a hair.  That prevented gaps between the strips from imperfect cutting.  I would especially recommend overlapping like this if you are cutting by hand with scissors.

Check to make sure everything fits before gluing!
Before you begin gluing, double-check how everything fits together.  Re-cutting paper is far less work than removing glued paper from the glass if your measurements are incorrect!

Step Three: Gluing

Step three: Gluing.
Remove the backing from the frame.  If you are using a float frame like I did, you will glue your scrapbook paper to the back piece of glass; if you are using a standard frame, you will glue your paper to the backing or a piece of cardboard cut to fit, or you could glue the front of the paper to the back of the glass.  I suppose you could even glue it on top of the front piece of glass, but I like the multi-dimensional depth of having a layer of glass between the paper and the stickers and clips.

(I'm not a Mod Podge expert.  I had some leftover glue from a project a few years ago, but I am not the person to ask about which type of glue is best for a project like this.)

View from the underside.
I cut my scrapbook paper the appropriate height top-to-bottom, but I didn't trim the sides until after gluing.  I found it worked well to line up one side of the paper with the edge of the glass, and then I went back and cut the extra paper from the other side with scissors after the glue had dried a bit.

Glue, glue, glue.
Next, I coated the entire thing with a layer of Mod Podge.  I did not take great care to be sure that every edge and corner laid perfectly flat, since the front piece of glass would go over the glued paper.

Step Four: Framing

Step four: Framing.
Once the scrapbook paper is completely dry, reassemble the frame.

Step Five: Stickering

Step five: Stickering.
I used letter stickers on top of the glass to label each day.  Other options would be to sticker the scrapbook paper before reassembling the frame, hand-writing the days onto the paper or the glass, or using dry-erase markers to label days (a good idea if you often meal-plan mid-week or your schedule fluctuates).

I laid out the clips, with cut index cards, on the board before stickering, so I knew how much room I had to work with.  Originally I had planned to spell out entire days, but "Wednesday" was just not going to fit!

Step Six: Adding clips

Step six: Adding clips.
First, I measured how far from the left side I wanted my clips; then, I lined up my metal 18-inch ruler along this proposed line and held it absolutely still while I worked.  I very precisely measured the height of each section and marked the exact middle with a permanent maker, right up against the ruler.

Plotting dots.
Dots in a straight line!

Gluing clips.
I used super glue to adhere the clips to the glass, centering each circle on my dots.  Since the clips were magnetic, and rather cheaply made, the magnet part was set back into the metal circle, leaving a gap between the magnet and the glass while the circle's metal edge is against the glass.  The clips began pulling off with some use, so I went back and glued metal washers, slightly smaller than the circle, between the magnets and the glass.

Step Seven: Adding the bin

Step seven: Adding bin.
This was the one thing I didn't measure to death.  I centered it by sight and super-glued that puppy on.

Step Eight: Finishing touches

Step eight: Finishing touches.
I bought raised metallic stickers at JoAnn's for the "Menu" at the top.

Dry faster, dang it!
I let everything dry much longer than I probably needed to.  Being by nature both extra careful and extra impatient can be frustrating sometimes....

Finished menu board!
My menu board is done!

Now for the final step:

Step Nine: Entree/dish cards

Step nine: Entree/dish cards.
This is obviously a very customizable step.  I wanted to be able to display up to three different dishes--one entree and two sides--for each meal.  I also wanted to color-code dishes to easily plan out having an entree, a carb side, and a veggie side, so I could tell at a glance if a week was two carb-heavy or too low on veggies.

Finished entree/dish cards!
I used blank unlined 3x5 index cards.  I cut them in half lengthwise.  For veggie dishes, I used the full length; for carb dishes, I cut off a quarter of the strip and used three-quarters; for meat entrees, I used half of the half.  I measured how much space was viewable on each piece when they were overlapped, taking into account that I would need some room to color-code, and typed up the names of my favorite and most-used dishes in a Word document, using columns and setting the column width to what I needed.  I printed them off, cut them out, cut color strips (of scrapbook paper), and taped it all together with clear packing tape.  Laminating them would have been preferable, but, alas, I don't have the tools for that.

My menu board!
Here it is!  My finished menu board, with a week's worth of meals planned.  I hope you are inspired to plan your own menu board--I'd love to hear about it!

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