At the beginning of most weeks – I count Sundays at the start of my week – you can find me with some coffee and my laptop in front of me while I plan out our meal plan for the next seven days.
I’ve tried doing this the pen and paper method for a long time and I just never stuck to a consistent practice with it. That’s how I ended up making my own version of a meal plan, complete with grocery lists and recipes! My overall goal was simple – I wanted to have a single location for all of my meal needs. What we are eating, what the week’s schedule was like, what groceries do we need to buy, what are some of our favorite recipes?
It’s cool how many apps are out there to try and fill this need, but I found that they were either too bloated with so many different features, or they didn’t have enough. So that’s where I just made a simple spreadsheet.
The basic layout for the main page is:
Events – Meal Plan – To Do/Make Ahead – Links – Notes/More Links
I wanted to have an idea of what was going on during the week for me and Evan. Who has a networking event, when is Hannah gone for volleyball games, etc. So now I can just go through our schedule, add our events and then plan around that. Since I use a lot of online resources for recipe inspiration I have a few columns for just adding links. Google Sheets won’t allow you to add more than (1) link to a cell (unless I’m missing something?) so when I wanted to put a link for a side dish AND a main dish, I have to add them to separate columns. This isn’t a huge deal most of the time so I haven’t bothered to find a different method.
The To Do/Make Ahead is something I added because I found myself forgetting to do some prep work for some of the meals. Since we have a busy schedule, we like to do a lot of meal prep so we aren’t scrambling and eating at 8:00 pm (though that still happens from time to time…) and I found myself forgetting to do some of the more mundane parts of cooking. Yay chopping onions! Now, I can just write myself reminders – Family dinner on Thursday? Cut up veggies on Wednesday night and then dump them in the crockpot Thursday morning! Boom! Now you can arrive home at 6:00 and greet the in-laws instead of flying around the kitchen in a panic.
There are also different sheets attached for Groceries, Costco (woop woop!) and Recipes. This is nice because then I can figure out any grocery items that we need to buy while I’m going through different recipes. Since I share this meal plan with Evan, he can easily glance at this on his phone when he happens to be grocery shopping rather than me! The only thing that would be great is if I could get Zapier to add Google Keep to their integrations. If I could just have a grocery list when you can easily check off when you complete it, that would be just awesome!
As it is, this is the most consistent I’ve ever been with figuring out what the hell we are eating during the week. It cuts down on food waste, prevents us from eating takeout when we are hangry, and we both are on the same page when it comes to what we are eating for dinner every night.
If you’d like to try this method, you can snag a copy of the meal plan here – Meal Plan Spreadsheet
Make a copy for yourself and start plugging away! I left a few of our favorite recipes on there in case some of you wanted to try them out.