How to Turn a Rolodex Into a Weekly Meal Planner

Ah, the Rolodex. Once a must-have, now a relic. If you don't have the heart to throw away an item that was once so valuable, good news: You can give it a just-as-practical second life as a meal planner with this clever, one-hour DIY, because once just isn't enough. Just like with the .

How to Turn a Rolodex Into a Weekly Meal Planner
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 1 Purchase and Clean Up an Old Rolodex

Find your vintage Rolodex (or scout your local antiques shops and secondhand stores, or online shops like eBay and, for one). Make sure you use one with removable index cards and tabbed dividers still inside. When you have your Rolodex in hand, clean the surface liberally with a microfiber cloth and an alcoholic cleaning solution that's safe for metal or plastic, depending on the finish of the Rolodex.

Clean up an old retro Rolodex card holder.
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 2 Measure and Mark a Sheet of Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

Measure the topmost surface of the Rolodex box as well as any other area of the box that you plan to decorate. Then, mark the measurements on the back of a sheet of pretty peel-and-stick wallpaper or contact paper using a pen or pencil.

Measure and mark a sheet of peel-and-stick wallpaper
credit: Carrie Waller

Choose a pattern of wallpaper that coordinates with your particular Rolodex box. In this case, a floral pattern was chosen because the dark charcoal background of the design matched the gray finish of the vintage Rolodex box used as a base. By carefully coordinating the pattern of your paper with your Rolodex's finish, the completed project will look cohesive and intentional.

Step 3 Cut the Wallpaper to Size

Use a pair of sharp, heavy-duty scissors to cut the measured and marked sheet of peel-and-stick contact paper or wallpaper to size.

Cut the measured and marked sheet of peel-and-stick wallpaper.
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 4 Stick the Cut Wallpaper to the Rolodex

Remove the paper backing on the peel-and-stick wallpaper and discard. Then, slowly and gently lay the paper in place on the surfaces of the Rolodex that you had previously measured and marked for. In this case, just the top was embellished, but you may choose to decorate the sides as well depending on the design of your box. Once in place, press firmly with your fingertips or a plastic card to remove bubbles. If needed, trim away excess paper with a razor blade.

Adhere paper to Rolodex
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 5 Download the Free Printable Cookbook Organizer Labels Art

Download the we've designed for the cookbook organizer labels. These small labels—just 1 1/2 by 3 inches in size—were chosen specifically to fit the small Rolodex index cards that came in our box. The document size and settings are already pre-formatted for printing on Avery 5440 labels.

The printable artwork for the labels comes complete with blank lines where you can write in your recipe title for the cookbook the recipe is found in, as well as the page number for the recipe. This abbreviated system allows you to quickly find your favorite recipes in your collection of cookbooks without having to rewrite the entire recipe on a separate card.

Step 6 Print the Cookbook Organizer Art Onto Labels

Print the cookbook organizer art onto peel-and-stick labels by taping the blank store-bought labels onto standard-sized computer paper with double-sided tape, and then run them through the printer after confirming the orientation of the printing process.

Print the cookbook organizer art onto peel-and-stick labels.
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 7 Stick the Labels to the Rolodex Index Cards

Peel the printed labels off of their paper backing one by one, and then stick them onto the Rolodex index cards. Do your best to center the labels on the cards, and don't overlap the precut openings for the Rolodex rail system along the bottom edge.

Peel printed labels and stick onto Rolodex index cards.
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 8 Fill Out Labeled Cards

Use a pen or erasable pencil to write out the information for your favorite recipes on the blank lines on the cards, making sure to note the cookbook title and page number so that you can easily find the full recipe later on.

Fill out labels for your favorite recipes.
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 9 Organize Cards Inside the Rolodex Box

Place the recipe cards back inside the Rolodex by gently pushing the cards one by one onto the rail system inside the box. You may choose to organize the cards one of two ways. First, you can alphabetize them by type (ex. soups go behind the "S" tabbed divider, breads go behind the "B" tabbed divider, and so on). Or second, you could consider rewriting the tab dividers themselves with the days of the week so that you have a weekly organizational system for your recipes.

Rolodex recipe cards
credit: Carrie Waller

Step 10 Style the Organizer in Your Kitchen

Once the cards are organized, shut the Rolodex so that the patterned top is visible, and style it on the kitchen counter for pretty, concealed recipe organization.

Rolodex recipe organizer
credit: Carrie Waller
Organize recipe cards inside the Rolodex box.
credit: Carrie Waller
Make your own recipe organizer from an old Rolodex.
credit: Carrie Waller