A free digital file with monthly and weekly Google Sheets Meal Planning Templates (updated for 2024!)
Meal planning can take precious time away from doing other homemaking tasks, but it doesn’t have to! To make it easier, I created a Google Sheets Meal Planning Template that you can fill in easily and quickly at home. You can create the full meal plan on your desktop computer, and then open the shopping list on your mobile device while you are at the grocery store. There is no need to print or waste paper!
This downloadable template is a simple-to-use monthly meal planning template to help you on your journey to create a simpler, more intentional life. If you are interested in a Homestead Life, meal planning is one of the first things I suggest as a great way to move toward intentionality. You must bring awareness to the food items you bring into your home. You may not even realize how much food you are buying and how much goes to waste.
This meal planning tool is for anyone who is looking to save time and money, eat healthier, and reduce food waste. This template can help you streamline your grocery shopping process so you can cut trips down to just once or twice a month!
Why don’t most people meal plan?
- It takes time. While I understand this argument, I will argue that it saves time in the long run.
- We don’t want to know how much we spend on groceries. This can be scary! When I started budgeting and seeing how much I actually spent on groceries each month, my jaw dropped. Meal planning is my favorite way to save money on groceries. I do not love clipping coupons or sacrificing quality in order to save money. Planning allows me to eat the kind of foods that I prefer while keeping the budget in check.
- We might want something else to eat on any given day. This one is the hardest for me to get over. On any given day, you might have a craving. There is not a great way to get through this other than pushing through. You can always swap what you plan to eat on different days. But, come the end of the week, you MUST cook whatever else you planned for that week in order to be successful.
Why should I meal plan?
- Save time: Meal planning takes getting used to. The first time you plan out an entire month of meals, it might actually take you longer. Once you practice, you can save serious time by not having to meal plan each week, not having to waste time thinking about what to cook each evening, and not wasting time with as many trips to the grocery store.
- Save Money on your grocery budget: Meal planning is the best way to save money on groceries, no matter the items you buy. Sticking to a plan will have you cutting out the extras, eating out less, and buying in bulk to save some serious cash.
- Create habits for a healthy lifestyle: When you plan what you are eating (and actually stick to it), you tend to purchase healthier options, and more importantly, cook at home more often instead of eating out. I don’t even plan particularly healthy meals, but cooking from scratch at home is always healthier than eating out or ordering in.
- Reduce food waste: Another bonus to meal planning is that you end up with less food waste. You can think in advance about creative uses for your leftovers, or how you might use one item in several ways throughout the week. For example: I will cook an entire chicken, plan to use it specifically for two to three meals, then make chicken bone broth with the leftovers. Before thinking things through in advance, that extra leftover chicken may have remained in the back of my fridge for a few weeks until I begrudgingly threw it away (for shame!).
Why you should meal plan for the whole month
The first step to meal planning is deciding whether to plan weekly or for the whole month. I definitely think one way is best.
I think it is best to meal plan for the entire month instead of a weekly meal plan. This is mainly so you can buy in bulk and (attempt) to go to the grocery store less (unless your children are like mine and need fresh bushels of fruit each week). You can plan similar meals for the month using a few key ingredients that you buy in bulk to use throughout the whole month.
Is a monthly meal plan boring?
Looking at it from afar, monthly meal planning does seem boring. Especially when you plan similar meals each week. But if you really think about it, you probably always use the same key meals week after week anyway. I don’t know about you, but I suffer from major decision fatigue by the end of each day. By dinner time, I am okay with having a boring plan in place to get dinner on the table.
Do you meal plan Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner?
I choose to only plan dinner in my monthly meal plan. This is because we literally eat the same thing every single day for breakfast (homemade sourdough English muffins, sausage, eggs, and bananas). We also try to eat leftovers for lunches to reduce food waste. My children prefer a classic PB&J or Mac&Cheese for lunch, so I don’t need to plan much there. If you think planning all three meals will help you, please do! Planning all three meals may be your best option if you need extra help coming up with breakfast or lunch on a regular basis.
For my plan, I usually plan the main dish and 1-2 sides. I don’t always include staples we have on hand such as fruit, rice, or pasta.
Why Google Sheets?
I chose to make this meal planning template on Google Sheets instead of Microsoft Excel because it is free for you to use as long as you have a Google account. Honestly, doesn’t everyone have a Google Account?
Pro Tips for Meal Planning
- Think about what days you are busiest, or just totally burnt out. Cook an easy “dump” meal those days so you can throw something together in the morning and it will be ready for you by dinnertime
- Buy certain items each month in bulk, prep once and freeze. I do this with green bell peppers. I cook with them a lot, so I buy about 6 at the beginning of the month, dice and freeze them.
If you really want to plan weekly meals instead of monthly, I’ve got you covered! Check out the second sheet of the planner for a weekly Google Sheets meal planner template. The weekly meal plan template is great for those months when you didn’t buy in bulk or simply cannot plan ahead. Use whatever suits your unique needs!
Here is your free digital Google Sheets Meal Planning Template:
How to download: Enter your email below and confirm your subscription to The Homestead Challenge. The template will be sent straight to your email. Don’t forget to check your spam!
This download includes a sample meal plan as well as meal planner templates for each month in 2024.
*This meal plan is for personal use only
How to Use This Digital Meal Planner
The sheet in the workbook is a sample meal plan that I have used in my own home. Use it as inspiration, or copy it completely!
Click through the rest of the sheets (bottom tabs) to view each month in 2024. I left these blank for you to fill in with your own plans.
Once you create the meal plan, fill out the digital shopping list at the bottom.
Once complete, sort by store location so you can shop easily by section and not have to backtrack, spending less time in the store (or do you can send someone else in your place!).
FAQs About This Meal Planning Template
Can I save this to Google Drive? Can I save it as a PDF?
Yes! You can save this template directly to your Google Drive or choose to save it as a PDF (an easy way to make it a printable meal plan).
Can I customize this template?
Yes! Changing colors or fonts to match your personal style will not change the functionality of this template.
Can I use this template after 2024?
Absolutely! Simple change the dates to the correct day of the week for the next year and you are good to go! You have access to this template for life. That’s a long time!
Do I have to use the Google Sheets App?
No! You should be able to open this on any mobile device, regardless of whether or not you have the app. It is best to create the full plan and shopping list on your desktop, then use the shopping list portion at the store.
Embrace the transformative power of our free 2024 Google Sheets meal plan templates. Effortlessly navigate your busy schedule, cut grocery costs, and reclaim precious time. Simplify your life with intentional meal planning, and let 2024 be the year you take control. Download your free template now – a simple solution for a more organized, healthier, and cost-effective lifestyle.
Is a meal plan the same thing as meal prep?
Not quite. After much trial and error, I decided that I prefer to menu plan in advance, but cook most nights (except for leftover night!). I actually really enjoy cooking. I love how the aroma fills the house. I love pouring a glass of wine and putting on a favorite podcast to tune out the cacophony surrounding me.
However, if cooking is not your thing, you can use this plan for your meal prep! Meal prepping is cooking foods in large batches.
There are two ways to meal prep successfully:
1) Cook one day of the week and eat the leftovers all week long.
2) Cook double (or triple, or more) when making certain meals, then freeze the rest for future use.
Other ways to save money on groceries
- Source Local
- Buy in Bulk
- Grow your own food
Pin It for Later!
I would LOVE to see your own meal plans! Please share in the comments or send me your plan via Instagram.
Keep up to date with The Homestead Challenge for new meal ideas and other from-scratch living advice.
About the Author:
I’m Brittany, totally modern and mainstream turned crunchy mama!
Read more here about how I went from a totally incompetent cook and hyper-consumer to striving to live a more meaningful life from scratch.
I can’t wait to share my modern homesteading journey with you and I hope I inspire you to join along!