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:
Get a whole month's worth of meal plans - free!
Head over here to sign up to receive a menu plan with 30 dinners, 30 desserts, and 30 breakfasts.
Great post! I am a big believer in meal planning and love to hear how others do it.
This is fantastic! I never knew you could do this. I am going to have to try it out since I think I can access google calendar with my itouch (?), if so that would be really handy! Thank you for sharing. 🙂
Tales from the Sippy Cup says
This is great! I almost (the hubs will say I totally) lost it yesterday on this very topic. I swore if one more person asked me what was for dinner I was going to scream (well, maybe I did). I have never been the domestic goddess with all the answers. I have never been able to open the cupboard and wave my arms and viola! a meal. You would think that after 8 months I would have figured this stuff out!! Everyone tells me that meal planning is the answer - this looks very helpful. Thanks!!
After 8 months?!? Oh my goodness. I've lived on my own for almost 10 years. When it was just me, I often did throw open the pantry and whip something up... but I could also spend an hour or two in the kitchen, and it was no big deal.
Now, time is premium. Grace is hungry, we only have two hours together as a family before she goes to bed. That method just doesn't work for us.
You can! I have my iPod set to sync with google calendar, so I bet you can do the same with an iTouch.
And then I'd have to make it my home page so I wouldn't forget to look at it. LOL! That is a fabulous idea!
I LOVE Google Calendar! I use it for everything!!
I LOVE this idea!!! I use google calendar and never thought of doing it this way!
Honestly, this is the best way to save money! We have been following a meal plan for the past year and I have cut our grocery costs in half! We now spend $50 a week on groceries in most cases.
That is great! We do this but on paper with a pencil. Otherwise we never have the food in the house for the things we want/need. Menu planning and cooking are my biggest tackles on a weekly basis. I hate it!
What a great idea!
I have been thinking about doing one on my calendar for awhile and haven't done it. I love the idea to link to my honey so he can change it if he wants to also, and he knows what the plans are. I am going to start (right after Spring Break!)
Great idea! I use Google calander too keep up with all our many dr appts. Didn't think about using it to keep up with the menu!
Making it your homepage is a great idea! Or you could print it out by week or by month and hang it on the fridge.
Really?!? That's awesome! How has it helped you to cut expenses? Do you plan your meals around what's on sale?
It is a lot of work. I think using the Google calendar will make it a little easier since I can copy and paste meals we've already made. The ingredients for those things are already typed in.
what a great idea!
Debra Legg says
Oooh! I love this! I've been doing something similar for about a year, but I've used a spreadsheet. There's no room on it to include recipes - I'd already been linking to the ones online - without making it too unwieldy. I'm going to try it this way. Thanks, Tara!
Robyn's Online World says
Awesome post on using Google Calendar for Meal Plans!!!
A great idea. Thanks!
My pleasure 🙂
It just helps me organize... so I plan my meals around what I have on hand.
For instance, if I have an over abundance of carrots then I will make sure
to find a few recipes that will help me make the most of them. I just go to
the store with a plan and stick to it. I found that before I was planning I
would make a random list of things and come home and find that I already had
a few of the items and that we may have bought things that really made no
sense. I definitely try to buy all organic meat and then fill in with non
organic items here and there. I stick to the dirty dozen list when it comes
I love google calendar, I have like 14 different calendars to organize my life, I am so adding the Meal Plan!!
Me, too 🙂
I love my google calendar meal plan! It works for me too! Great tutorial!
I discovered this same thing about a month ago. It has removed stress and take out from our meal times. The one tip I would add is that you can open a google task window in your calendar, and past the ingredient list from each meal into the task list. This can then be printed as a shopping list. I actually access it from my blakberry when at the grocery store. No printing necessary.
Thank you for this fantastic idea. I'm so going to do this!
Rachel - A Southern Fairytale says
thank you. i LOVE it. i just set it up.
Thanks Rachel 🙂