A DIY dry erase menu board is super helpful, no matter what kind of mealtimes your family enjoys.
Some families like to post their weekly menu, so that everyone knows what to expect, which day they’re going out to eat, and what to whine about on which day. I’m forgetful and not much of a cook, so our dry-erase menu is a little different–I like to post all possible meal options, based on the groceries that we have in the house. If I suddenly come out of my daze at 5-ish pm, then I know what I can pull together for dinner. If I’m busy, however, it’s also easy to ask one of the kids or my partner to make dinner instead without having to have the tiresome conversation of what there is to make, during which time I am not getting my work done!
We’re also a homeschooling family, and I do usually expect my children to handle their own breakfasts and lunches (unless I have leftovers that I’m trying to get rid of!), so adding breakfast and lunch options to the menu staves off yet more tiresome conversations about what there is to eat for these meals, most of which seem to happen when I’m trying to discuss the London Blitz, or get someone to review their Mandarin vocabulary.
DIY Dry Erase Menu Board
Whatever type of menu you prefer, it’s easy to make it! Here’s what you’ll need:
an old picture frame. Picture frames are one of my most favorite things to thrift, behind vintage T-shirts and vintage toys. There are SO many ugly picture frames out there, priced cheaply because they’re so ugly, but the trick with ugly picture frames is that a completely different color of paint often makes them actually look really awesome. Those weirdo curlicues and fiddly bits that look terrible in wood grain tend to be pretty awesome in hot pink or navy.
wood putty, primer, and paint. You’ll need these to mend any dings in your frame and paint it in a better color.
fabric. Find both a fabric that you hate but that has a great loft–fleece and felt work well for this–and a fabric that you love.
hot glue. You ALWAYS need hot glue!
chalk markers or dry-erase markers. I use these chalk ink markers (that I was given for free from a PR firm) for the headings that I don’t want to erase every week, and a dry-erase marker for the menu items themselves, so that I can wipe the item away with the corner of a dishcloth once we’ve eaten it up.
1. Follow the first three steps from this upcycled picture frame tutorial. Whether you’re using your upcycled picture frame for fabric art or this dry-erase menu, the steps for refinishing the frame and wrapping the backing in fabric are identical–and easy!
Protip: Even though it’s super easy to just paint a picture frame and move on with your life, definitely take the time to mend any dings and scratches with wood putty, wipe the frame down with a damp cloth (and let dry), and put a coat of primer on first. This thing is going to be hanging on a wall of your home, so you want your job to look nice.
2. Clean the glass front squeaky clean. My go-to glass cleaner is simply straight vinegar in a spray bottle, wiped off with crumpled newspaper. I don’t know what it is about the newspaper that works so well, but I assure you, it’s magic!
3. Make a template (optional): Using simply Microsoft Word or your favorite graphic design program, you can print templates of whatever you’d like to draw or write on your dry-erase menu.
4. Trace your template using chalk markers. Put the template behind the glass, so that tracing the lettering is as simple as following the lines.
5. Reassemble the picture frame. The back will fit more snugly with all that extra padding, but it WILL fit.
I like our dry-erase menu with its many options, because I think it looks like a menu in a diner. And when we get home from grocery shopping, the dry-erase meals are simple to erase and rewrite.
I was given a free set of Chalk Ink markers from a PR firm, because I can’t write about something if I haven’t lovingly written the phrase “Have you considered our lovely leftovers?” with it.