How to meal plan with Google calendar - This tutorial is great for beginners because it shows you step by step how to meal plan for a week or for a month using online shareable tools. Good for a family or just one or two people. Includes healthy budget friendly recipes.
For months and months, Joe and I argued about what to have for dinner almost every night.
The conversation would go something like this:
Joe: What should we have for dinner?
Me: I don't know. What do you want to have?
Joe: I asked you first! Why do I always have to make all of the decisions?!?
Me: Are you serious? You don't make all of the decisions! I make all of the decisions, and I'm tired of it. Why can't you choose something once in a while?
No kidding. Isn't that absurd?
I was determined to end the madness by planning out a menu in advance. I had tried to start (and failed) many times before, but I was determined this time to figure it out and make it work.
Here's what I came up with -
How to Make a Meal Plan with Google Calendar
1. Create a Calendar
I started small, creating a new Google calendar for our menus, calling it Meal Plan and sharing it with Joe (in the Calendar Settings page). I wanted him to be able to view and make changes to the calendar, so I told Google Calendar to give him permission to make changes to the menu and added his email address.
2. Add in Recipes
A year or two ago, Joe and I made a binder cookbook of our favorite recipes (you can grab our binder system here). I found that book and flipped through it, finding a recipe for each day. I planned out only our dinners, and I skipped days when we already had dinner plans.
I typed the ingredients for each recipe (or copy/pasted if the recipe was online) into the event details.
For the recipes that are online, I also included the URL (so that whoever was making it could grab the recipe from there rather than digging through cookbooks).
For recipes that are not on my blog, I included the name of the cookbook.
When I was finished, we had a few weeks' worth of meals, all planned out.
There are some blank spots in the menu because we changed our plans. It's really simple and easy to change a meal to another day, in the event that we decide to go out to eat or have lots of leftovers or whatever. We just click on it and drag to a new day.
Repeating meals is easy. If you want to repeat a meal on the same day, at regular intervals, you can add that in the Repeats section. (See the green photo above for the location of the Repeats info.)
If you want to repeat a meal, but not on the same day of the week, you can use the copy function. After clicking on "copy to my calendar," the meal will pop up again on the same day.
Drag that new event to the new date you've chosen, click on it, and change it to your Meal Plan calendar. It is that easy.
Make Meal Planning a Family Event
Joe's even gotten involved. When he has some extra time, he logs on to the calendar and adds recipes. That's how corned beef and cabbage (a meal I detest) snuck in there on St. Patrick's Day.
I can see us continuing to plan our menus this way for a long time because it's easy, and we can cooperate.
More Meal Planning Resources
2020 update - I know some people prefer to meal plan on paper, and for those people, I created the Meal Planning Made Easy system. We moved from Google calendar to the paper system a couple years ago and like it a lot. Joe is not a high tech guy, and so doing the plan on the online calendar didn't work very well for him in the long term. He used it when it was new and novel, but after that, he fizzled out. Here's the link to our paper system:
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