How a Meal Planning Spreadsheet Can Help You Plan Your Weekly Menu in Minutes
A Google Sheets meal planner, plus editable grocery list template! How to use a meal planning spreadsheet to plan your weekly menu in minutes.
It’s incredible how spending 10-15 minutes a week meal planning can save SO much time and money in the long run.
The simple act of knowing what you’re going to eat each week means that you buy the exact right groceries for those dishes.
No last minute pizza-ordering because you have nothing to make!
One of my favorite ways to meal plan is with a simple Google Sheets spreadsheet.
If the word ‘spreadsheet’ sounds intimidating, don’t worry – this one is REALLY easy to use!
Note: You can also use this spreadsheet in Excel, if you prefer!
Why Meal Plan with Google Sheets?
1. Google Drive is totally free! Anyone can sign up for an account, and it’s a fantastic way to store all your documents and pictures together.
2. It saves automatically, so you never have to worry about losing your work.
3. Having a meal planning spreadsheet just simplifies the entire process. You’ll have your menu, grocery shopping list, pantry and freezer inventory, and recipes all in one place!
4. You can easily share your meal planning spreadsheet with other members of your household. They can add items to the grocery list, see what the menu is, and maybe even help you with some of the responsibilities!
5. Access your Google Sheets meal planner from any device. It’ll be available on your computer, tablet, and phone (with the free app.)
That way you don’t have to worry about remembering to take your list to the store anymore.
And when you remember you need to buy more paper towels (while you’re relaxing on the couch), just reach for your phone and add it to the list.
How to Use a Meal Planning Spreadsheet
You can create your own template from scratch, or make it easier on yourself and use the meal planning and grocery list spreadsheet I made for you.
Here’s what is included:
1. Weekly Meal Planner
Decide what you’re eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the week on the Weekly Meal Planner template.
Fill in the shopping list section with the ingredients you’ll need to create those meals. You can use the checkboxes to check off what you’ve added to the cart as you shop.
Fill in any applicable meal prep for the week in the bottom section.
Related: 10 Super Easy (and healthy!) Meal Prep Ideas
2. Monthly Meal Plan
If you prefer to plan your menu ahead for the entire month (or just want to brainstorm some ideas), use the Monthly Meal Plan sheet.
As the weeks go by, you can fill in your ideas for each week.
3. Editable Grocery List Templates
In order to really streamline the grocery shopping process, it helps to organize your list by category or aisle of the store. That way you’re not backtracking.
Both the blank AND master grocery lists included are organized by category.
The master list is already filled out with commonly bought items. It’s just easier than coming up with your grocery list from scratch!
Of course, you can easily edit it to make your own custom master list.
Related post: How to Use a Master Grocery List (to save your time and sanity!)
4. Favorite Meals Sheet
A smart and easy tip for meal planning is to keep a list of your favorite meals.
That way, when you’re planning your weekly menu, you can simply choose some ideas from the list.
The Meal Ideas sheet is an easy way to keep track of family favorites (arranged by category, of course) all in one place.
Pro-tip: Ask the other members of your household what their favorite meals are. That way you’re not cooking things they won’t eat. Plus they’ll be more involved in the process, which always helps!
5. Recipe Tracker
You may have the instructions memorized for some of your favorite meals. But for the dishes you need the recipe for, use the Recipe Tracker page to keep them organized.
Use the Source column to include the name (and page #) of the cookbook, or a link to the recipe online.
It makes it so much easier to pull up the recipe quickly when it’s time to cook.
6. Pantry and Freezer Inventory
One of the secrets to staying within your grocery budget is to start your meal plan with what you already have.
Use the Pantry and Freezer Inventory pages to keep track of the food you have on hand.
Then, when you’re at the store and wondering if you have sugar, just check the spreadsheet on your phone!
7. Pantry Challenge
Some weeks you have to tighten your belt, and eat for cheap. That’s where a pantry challenge comes in! Try to plan all your meals for the week (or month) based on what’s in your pantry.
The Pantry and Freezer Challenge sheet helps you plan what items to use up, what meals to make, and the ingredients you’ll need to buy to complete the meal plan.
8. Grocery Budget Tracker
Are you trying to live within a budget?
Keep an eye on your grocery spending with the Grocery Budget Tracker sheet.
After each grocery trip (no matter how small) you can add what you spent, and calculate how much is left in that month’s grocery budget.
Related: 3 Simple Ways to Create a Grocery Budget
Meal Planning Tips
1. Get your family involved
If you prepare meals for other people, it is important to get their input on what meals to make. Let them know that you plan to get started meal planning, and you’d like to hear some meal ideas they have.
2. Only prepare one dinner per night
If you have picky eaters in your home, don’t feel like you need to cook a separate meal for them.
That is just too much to expect of you! Aim for the ‘lowest common denominator’ and cook meals that the majority of your household likes. Everyone else can have a PB&J sandwich.
3. Incorporate some really basic meals
Don’t be overly tempted by Pinterest or fancy cookbooks. You definitely don’t have to make a complicated, glamorous meal every night.
If you have the time or desire to do that, feel free. But for the rest of us, be sure to include some very easy meals into your menu plan.
That can be the difference between actually following your menu, and hitting the drive-thru because you’re tired.
A leftovers night, or breakfast for dinner, can mean dinner is on the table in minutes.
If you do like to try new recipes, aim to try only 1 or 2 new recipes a week.
4. Keep REALISTIC expectations
Be practical in your meal plan – if you know you’ll be gone for the evening, don’t plan a home-cooked meal.
If you want to take Saturday nights off from cooking, write ‘dinner out’ on your menu for that night.
It doesn’t have to be a home-cooked meal to be on the meal plan!
5. Prep ahead
Prep as much food as possible in advance. It saves SO much time when you are ready to cook.
Wash and chop your veggies on your day off. Or brown several pounds of ground beef at once, and store it in 1 lb. portions in the freezer.
6. Incorporate theme nights
One of the quickest ways to meal plan is to use themes.
You could do Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Breakfast Wednesdays, and so on.
Or just incorporate one Tex-Mex meal a week, an Italian dinner once a week, etc.
It makes planning your weekly menu so much easier!
Ready to try using a meal planning spreadsheet?
As you can see, this Google Sheets meal planner is actually very easy to use!
You really don’t need any fancy tech skills, or have even ever used a spreadsheet before.
Grab the Meal Planning Spreadsheet HERE
👉 You’ll have a ready made system to simplify and organize all your food shopping and making, all in one place!
P.S. Wish someone else would plan your meals FOR YOU? Check out our done-for-you 6 Week Meal Plan! It’s 6 weeks of dinners, and includes the corresponding shopping lists. It’s a great companion to the Meal Planning Spreadsheet!
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