Menu Planning Resource

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I plan my menu plan each week. I find it saves me money, time, and headaches after a long day! I will be sharing my own style of menu planning in a future snack, but I wanted to share this Menu Planning Resource with you because I think it has helped me immensely as I sit down to menu plan.

To menu plan before, I would sort through my past menus or bookmark recipes for inspiration. But, I realized there had to be a more efficient way to create my menu plan. I mean, I use and love all the great recipe sites: Allrecipes.com, RecipeZaar.com, Sparkpeople.com (yes, the weight-loss site has a great recipe catalog), etc. Each site allows you to create your own recipe box. But, since I’ve been blogging I have found so many great blogs that share personal recipes that cannot be added to any of those virtual recipes boxes.

So, the need arose to make my own recipe box for menu planning ideas. I wanted and needed something that I could enter each recipe (with a link) in a format that I could sort and catalog. I went to excel to find the solution that will work for me, and it’s working out pretty great so far.

Menu Planning Recipe Box

This file includes all of the meals I plan each week with a direct link to it’s original source. If it’s something on my own site (like my yummy Homemade Noodles), I even include the link to it so I don’t have to search for it. But, the best part is that I can include all of the recipes I’ve found along blog-hopping with a link right to it so I can quickly build my menu plan and print off recipes!

The file is very straight forward, but I’ll explain the column headers.

Weekly Menu Y/N
If I am including the recipe, I put a Y in this column. Then, when I am done looking for ideas, I can sort this column and all the recipes I am making are sorted together. It’s just more efficient this way to know what to print off or pull out of my recipe binder each week.

Meal Idea
The recipe name – short and sweet.

Category
Just whatever the recipe is: main entree, side, dessert, beverage, etc.

Protein
I added this column so I could sort quickly to find the protein source since most recipes don’t start with the protein name. This week, I have a plentiful supply of pork tenderloin I got on sale a few weeks ago. I just sorted by protein for pork and it brought up several recipe suggestions lumped together (and gave me incentive to go find some more recipes to add to my personal list).

Likes/Dislikes
And, since my kids sometimes don’t like foods but I love them, I included the likes/dislikes column for my own comments. If I dislike it, it won’t stay on my list. But, if my kids dislike it and I happen to enjoy the dish, then they will still have the dish but I’ll remember that they weren’t fans (and I can alter up sides or something else for them).

Comments
I use this for labeling the recipes as crock-pot friendly, low-fat, quick, etc.

Feel free to use the file, I already have some of our favorites included for your to start your catalog (or delete them too – whatever works for your family)! Since this is a google doc, be sure to follow the post I wrote on Using Google Docs. It walks you through the steps for saving and printing the file. It is “view only” file so edits cannot be made to the online version BUT you can definitely save it to your personal system in excel to begin your own Menu Planning Recipe Box!

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Hopefully you will find this helps you each week to scan your recipes/meals. You can quickly figure out what you will be eating for your menu by planning based on what you already have in the pantry and freezer!

*Photo Credit autumlovr

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on January 20, 2009

21 Comments

  • Carly - January 20, 2009 @ 1:45 pm
    1

    Very nice! I will have to take a look at some of the recipes. I have been thinking I need to add to our list of favorites and it looks like there are some good ones. I make a lot of spreadsheets, too, but I never would have thought to make one for recipes. Great idea!

  • danaetc - January 20, 2009 @ 2:32 pm
    2

    That is a great idea! I tend to organize things in Excel and this looks like a great way to use it to organize my household.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • OHVA Mom - January 20, 2009 @ 3:57 pm
    3

    Wonderful! I love it! What a way to put all the recipes off the blogs, recipe sites into one place!

    Great Job!
    Thanks!

  • Brooke - January 20, 2009 @ 4:32 pm
    4

    Another great download. THanks for helping me streamline my menu planning. With you in my pocket, I don’t have to think…I just have to follow your great ideas. Yay!

  • shortstack411 - January 20, 2009 @ 5:10 pm
    5

    This is exactly what I needed! I love how you organized, thanks so much (and I learned something new with excel!)

  • Mariah - January 20, 2009 @ 5:43 pm
    6

    I love this idea!! I love excel and use it for organizing many things, but using it for recipes with links is a great idea. I also want to thank you for your blog – it is wonderful and has given me the inspiration to try couponing ONE more time…so far with good results. I never fully understood ‘the game’ before and how so many people could save so much with coupons – but now thanks to you and a few other bloggers I am finally seeing some results myself! So thank you!

  • Jen - January 20, 2009 @ 6:13 pm
    7

    I use a link-saving site like delicious.com to save recipes. This way it’s accessible from anywhere I have an internet connection, which is handy since we have two computers at home and I have one at work. You can tag your links with words to describe your recipes, and you can enter a description. Then if I want to find a chicken recipe for my menu this week, I just go to delicious.com, search the word “chicken” and see the things I’ve marked with the tag chicken. Very handy!

  • nogalsbutme - January 21, 2009 @ 3:20 am
    8

    re: Kroger card giveaway….

    Really nice. When I diet I try to always keep protien bars and meal replacements (slimfast) in my purse, I am on the road 2 hours day, and as you know they are expensive.

    …hint for dieters, add Fibersure to all food and drink, yes even drinks, you will fill up faster and it has virtually no taste.

  • Serving up life, Family Style - January 21, 2009 @ 3:53 am
    9

    I love the recipe file, it’s a great idea. I too, print all sort of recipes off the internet. However, I keep my printed copies in a binder that is categorized by types of recipes (quick breads, casserole, etc.) That way I don’t have to print them off each time. Now that you’ve created this nifty file I am going to enter all my recipes into that and use it for an index! Thanks!

  • Jennifer Y. - January 22, 2009 @ 6:42 pm
    10

    This is wonderful–thank you! I have been using your grocery tracking spreadsheet to track every penny I spend since Jan. 1. Definitely an eyeopener and a blessing! This looks great too. I was just wondering what to do with chicken tonight…

  • Beth - January 24, 2009 @ 2:00 pm
    11

    I LOVE this…I was just thinking how my recipe book was overstuffed and unorganized…this is an awesome resource! Thank you SOOO much for sharing.

  • Bonnie - April 26, 2009 @ 11:41 pm
    12

    New to your blog but I’m lovin it… for some reason when I try to click on your recipe organizer it tells me “page not found” and I can’t open it. I got everything else (not the grocery spending list… is that still around)…. can you help?

    • mommysnacks - April 27, 2009 @ 4:07 pm
      12.1

      Bonnie, I updated this post with the live link again (above). It must have fallen off when I transferred all my posts over to the new site. Sorry!

      All the other files are still available under the Files tab above too. HTH!

  • Jane - January 06, 2010 @ 9:34 am
    13

    Great idea!! I’ve mostly just been keeping track of my recipes on my blog, and “to try” recipes on del.icio.us, but this is a great way to keep things in one spot!

    • Andrea Deckard - January 06, 2010 @ 11:43 am
      13.1

      Jane, I have never gotten into delicious or stumbling. I know that makes complete sense too. I may try it this year. I might possibly be the only one on the planet that still uses *bookmarks* on my browser!

  • Sarah @ Mum In Bloom - April 25, 2010 @ 7:52 am
    14

    Wow, this is such a neat idea. I’m a chart girl too and this would make planning so easy. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  • Kayla - September 03, 2013 @ 6:17 pm
    15

    I would really like to use this list. I can’t find anything else set up like it, but I’m not able to export it the same way because I have a mac. I cannot get this to export as an excel file to my computer at all. Only as a web page!

    • Savings Lifestyle: Andrea - September 04, 2013 @ 9:54 am
      15.1

      Kayla, you could also just save it to your hard drive and upload to google drive (free also). That’s actually where I have it stored permanently.

  • Ann Bartholomew - December 24, 2013 @ 8:44 pm
    16

    In trying to download the spreadsheet, it takes me to the spreadsheet, but there’s no GoogleDocs link to download or save it.

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