How to Turn a Rolodex Into a Weekly Meal Planner

Carrie Waller

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 Citi® Double Cash card, you can earn cash back not once, but twice for every purchase. Earn 1% when you buy and another 1% when you make a payment towards your purchases—big or small. Read on for the step-by-step process of the Rolodex DIY, including free printable label artwork.

Things You'll Need

  • Vintage Rolodex with removable cards and dividers
  • Alcohol cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Peel-and-stick wallpaper or contact paper in pattern of choice
  • Ruler or straightedge
  • Pen or pencil
  • Sharp, heavy-duty scissors
  • [Printable cookbook organizer labels](
  • Peel-and-stick 1 1/2 by 3 inch labels
  • Double-sided tape
  • Printer

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

Carrie Waller

Download the Free Printable Cookbook Organizer Labels Art

Download the free printable artwork 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.

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.

Carrie Waller


  • Run a test printing of the labels on a blank sheet of paper using the quick draft setting in case you need to confirm the correct printing orientation before moving on to the final printed drafts of the labels. This will save you from wasting too much ink or labels.

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.

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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.

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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.

Carrie Waller

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.

Carrie Waller
Carrie Waller
Carrie Waller