Meal planning is becoming increasingly important with the persistent availability of unhealthy and expensive food options. Making a plan doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, you can download our meal planning spreadsheet template for Google Sheets and simply fill it out.
This article includes the templates, tips on using them, and a guide to making a cracking meal plan. Read on to learn more.
How to Effectively Use a Meal Planning Template in Google Sheets
Although it can seem simple to create a meal plan, there are a few steps you need to follow to ensure the meal planner you’re creating fulfills your needs. Here are things you should do when creating a meal plan.
The Plan Before the Plan
You’ll need to consider a few things before you start your meal plan:
- What you want to get out of the meal plan (lose weight, gain muscle, make life easier, save money)
- Your schedule, will you have time to make the meals, and when you will prepare them. You can use our schedule planner to help with that
You should decide when you will cook before deciding which meals to prepare. This will help you select the recipes you want to include in your meal plan. For example, you may not be able to make elaborate breakfasts during the week, so you should plan to have something simple. You may also want to pre-prepare lunches for the entire week so make sure you have time to cook them.
Before putting them into a plan, make a list of all the things you want to eat for the period. You must ensure you eat a balanced diet throughout the day or week. Your meals should consist of protein, fiber, vitamins, and other regular dietary needs. You should also aim for either a calorie surplus or deficit, depending on whether you plan to gain or lose weight.
You will lose weight if you take fewer calories than your body needs. But, if you aren’t getting enough calories, you can’t sustain even the most basic bodily functions that keep you alive, so don’t be restrictive to the point where you will fall ill.
With all this in mind, you should research some recipes that suit your lifestyle, available prep time, and dietary needs so you can move on to building the plan.
Add the Recipes to the Spreadsheet
After deciding on all the meals you want to eat, you need to add them to the spreadsheet. Each day will consist of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Add all the meals under the days and the ingredients in the notes section on your spreadsheet. From Monday till Sunday, follow the same pattern. This will make it easier for you to manage your meal plan.
While writing the meals, make sure you keep track of the calories or other dietary needs, such as the protein intake you require each day for your goals.
Hot Tip: If your goal is to save money with a meal, check the weekly sales circulars from your local grocery stores to see what’s on sale or in season. Once you find out what’s on sale, you can adjust your meal plan accordingly.
Check to See If You Have the Ingredients
It sounds obvious but it’s often overlooked when starting a new meal plan, you must see if you have the ingredients. There’s nothing worse than spending money on ingredients when you already have them in the fridge.
Review all the meals you plan to eat and write down the needed ingredients. After making a list, check your fridge, freezer, and pantry.
Create a Grocery List
Now that you’ve checked what you have at home already, it’s shopping time! In your plan, write down each ingredient and the necessary quantity for each recipe.
By double-checking your ingredients list, there is nothing more frustrating than beginning a dish only to discover you are missing an ingredient.
We’ve included a grocery list template for Google Sheets that allows you to type in what you need as well as a checkbox to tick if you already have it at home or to check off while you shop.
Buy the Ingredients and Make Your Meal
Now that you are done making your meal plan and creating a grocery list of everything you need, it’s time to go to the grocery store. The list you made will allow you to make the trip shorter, and more importantly, you will not get anything that is unnecessary. This is the time we often buy unhealthy or expensive food, so be strict with yourself. Only get what’s on the list.
Having a concrete plan allows you to make your grocery shopping easy. When you have all the ingredients needed from the grocery store, it’s time to go home and make your meals.
Stick with your meal plan for each week; it will get easier to grocery shop and decide which meals you should eat every day.
Benefits of Meal Planning
Here are some of the benefits of planning your meals:
Saves Your Money
When you make a weekly meal plan, your grocery shopping becomes more concentrated, and the items in your cart are things you intended to buy rather than things you just happened to pick up. Meal preparation at home is typically less expensive than ordering takeout or dining out, so meal planning may also help you cut back on those expenses. You could also use an expense tracker to help with that.
Meal planning may seem time-consuming initially, but it will go quickly and easily if you get into the habit. Planning your meals in advance can also help you spend less time pondering meals during the week. Also, this may save you a tonne of time by reducing the number of times you visit the grocery shop.
A Meal Plan Spreadsheet Diversifies Options
It will be easier to alter the cuisine, tastes, and recipes when you sit down and plan what you want to buy or make in advance. It’s wonderful to not have to think about what you will eat for lunch, dinner, and every meal of the day. Meal planning eliminates guessing and provides a menu for the entire week.
Promotes Healthier Eating
You have more control over the nutrients you put in your body when preparing meals. Though meal planning is a terrific incentive to return to the kitchen, cooking every meal is unnecessary for a healthy lifestyle. You can instead meal prep at the start of the week or choose ready-to-eat meals. Still, healthy eating is one of the finest ways to take charge of your health.
Meal planning encourages thoughtful grocery shopping and enables you to focus more intently on the expiration date of foods. You are less inclined to purchase extra meals that can spoil when you prepare ahead of time and stick to a list.
Why Should You Use Google Sheets for Creating Meal Plans?
Although countless applications allow you to create a meal planner on both PC and smartphones, they often fall short in terms of features. Here are some of the reasons why you should choose Google Sheets for creating a meal planning spreadsheet:
- As the spreadsheet meal planner is online, you can view your meal plan from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection.
- Sharing a meal plan from Google Sheets is simple.
- If you want a hard copy, you can always print it out.
- You can include a grocery list in the design to ensure you don’t forget anything at the shop.
- Before shopping, you can easily compare what you have in your pantry and your refrigerator.
- It’s simple to change things up. You don’t have to start over if you need to adjust your weekly meal plan.
- You can keep track of macros and calories.
- Google Sheets is free to use.
How to Create a Meal Plan Template for Google Sheets
Creating a Google Sheets meal planner is simple as it does not require you to use a lot of formulas, especially if you’re looking to create a simple meal tracker spreadsheet. The meal planning template for Google Sheets we are creating here has two parts. The first one is the weekly meal tracker, while the second part is the grocery list. Both of these are created as separate sheets in the same spreadsheet.
Creating the Spreadsheet for Meal Planning
To create this Google Sheets meal planner template, we will add the weekdays in a single row and the meals in a day in the leftmost column. Once you add these, you can also add a border and colors to the specific meals to ensure they are easy to see.
We added a different fill color to Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and snacks. To do this, select the cells you want to apply the color to and then click on Fill color in the main toolbar. There, select the color you wish to apply.
You can also add borders around the cells to ensure better division among the individual cells. To do this, select the cells and then click on the Borders icon in the main toolbar. There, select the type of border you wish to apply to your cells.
Note that there are two cells under each meal for each day. This is so you can include the other information you wish to track for each meal. It could be macros, protein, calories, approximate cost, a link to the recipe, etc. We left it blank so you can decide which is most important to you. Just write the title for whichever you decide on next to the day’s name.
We also added a notes section below the main meal planner that will allow users to write additional information regarding their weekly meal planner.
How Do I Make a Grocery List Spreadsheet?
To create the Google Sheets grocery list template, we added another sheet in the same spreadsheet.
You can resize the cells by clicking on the column header and selecting it. Then, right-click and click on Resize column. There, you can enter the desired column width.
To make sure you know which items you are done with, we need to add a checkbox. To do this:
- Select the cells and then click on Insert in the top bar.
- Click on Checkbox in the dropdown menu that shows up.
Similar to the meal prep spreadsheet, you can also add borders and fill colors to the spreadsheet if you wanted to. We decided to go for a simple black, white, and gray color scheme.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Basic Steps of Meal Planning?
To create a meal plan:
- You first have to plan out what you want to eat.
- Add the recipes to the spreadsheet one by one.
- Write down their ingredients and check to see if you have the ingredients in your house.
- Start creating a grocery list and go out shopping.
- Simply stick to the plan and enjoy a healthy diet.
How Do I Create a Weekly Meal Plan?
To create a Google Sheets meal planner template, you can add the weekdays in a single row and the meals in a day in the leftmost column. Once you add these, you can also add a border and colors to the specific meals to make sure they are easy to see. Add meal times like Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and snacks to the spreadsheet. Then fill them in with your desired recipes.
Keep Using the Meal Planning Spreadsheet
To get the most out of your meal planning spreadsheet, you have to use it continue to use. That’s true whether it’s for money saving or dietary needs. Consistency is key to making changes in your life.
If you wanted to track your progress visually, you could also create a dashboard.