Do you dread meal planning? Do you avoid it because of the time it takes to decide what meals to make and to come up with a grocery shopping list? Would you like to save time when grocery shopping? Are you looking for low prep meals for your busy schedule?
If your answer is yes to any or all of these questions, I have the solution for you!
A spreadsheet. A Menu Planning Meal List spreadsheet, to be exact.
For those of you who are less familiar with using spreadsheets, please don’t let that word scare you off! You don’t have to create one from scratch; I am making my Menu Planning Meal List spreadsheet available as a free download! I am also including instructions on how to use it and modify it with your own recipes. Easy peasy. 🙂
The Menu Planning Meal List Spreadsheet
I created this meal planning spreadsheet four years ago, and it has made meal planning so much easier! I started by listing in the spreadsheet every meal that I could think of that I had made and liked. Over the years, each time I tried out a new recipe that got the thumbs up from the hubs, I added it to the list. As most of the recipes were found online through Pinterest or AllRecipes, I was able to add a link to the recipe in the spreadsheet and have all of the recipes accessible in one place! At this point, the list contains around 90 meals!
Menu Planning Meal List Spreadsheet
(Click on the picture for a better view.)
To make the process easier when deciding on what meals to make, I categorized them by main ingredient (beef, poultry, fish, etc.) and type of food (Mexican, Italian, American, etc). I included notes for any changes to the recipe that I made, and also noted whether the meal is a crockpot recipe. (I do a lot of crockpot cooking. Evenings are pretty busy between sports, music lessons, and church activities, so being able to prep a meal in the morning and have it ready to eat in the evening is a lifesaver on most weekdays!)
If you are looking for a new slow cooker, I love my Cook-n-Carry Crockpot! The lid locks and seals, so I can easily transport food without spilling it! It also comes in a programmable version. Hamilton Beach has a similar version with 6 qt and 7 qt capacities.
How to use the Menu Planning Meal List Spreadsheet
When I meal plan, I do so in front of the computer. I pull up my spreadsheet, jot down which meals sound good, click on the link to each recipe, and write down all of the ingredients needed. I am also organizing the grocery list as I jot down each ingredient. I write each ingredient under a specific category, such as dairy, canned goods, baking goods, etc. <<Click here for a free printable of the categorized grocery shopping list.>> I then compare my list with what I have in my kitchen, and cross out anything that I do not need to buy. (I’m doing it this way because I would think I had an ingredient when I actually did not, and then have to make an extra trip to the grocery store…with three young children in tow…) I then recopy the list so it is nice and neat, adding any additional breakfast foods, snacks, household goods, etc.
When I make my grocery shopping trip, having my categorized grocery list in hand is a great time saver. It keeps me from bouncing from one aisle to the next, then back again, because I forgot to pick something up on the previous aisle!
Download the Menu Planning Meal List Spreadsheet for Free!
Utilizing the meal list spreadsheet along with a categorized shopping list has made it much faster and easier to plan meals and grocery shop, and you can download this tool for free! Containing many low prep and crockpot meals, the Menu Planning Meal List spreadsheet is great for busy families. For those of you who are less familiar with using spreadsheets, I have included instructions on how to filter the recipes to quickly find what you are looking for, as well as how to add and remove recipes so you can customize the spreadsheet with your own food preferences!
Sign up below to receive your free download! I hope it will be as helpful to you as it has been for me!