For a long time now I've noticed that when I take the time to plan meals for the week and create a shopping list from my plan, mealtimes become much less stressful.
Instead of the daily "what are we going to have for supper tonight?" I know what we will have, and I've picked foods that can be done around our plans each night. Sometimes I use my slow cooker, sometimes I use my electric pressure cooker, and sometimes I cook a meal the old fashioned way on the stove or in the oven.
I thought that I would share my process with you! I use Google Apps because I can share all of my recipes and shopping lists with family members near and far, and I can access the information on my smartphone at the store, from my work computer, or anywhere I may be. It has been a saving grace on vacation!
I primarily use Google docs and Google Calendar for menu planning. If you already use google docs, then you are ready to start! I opened my google drive and clicked on the blue NEW button. I selected +folder at the top created a file named "Recipes."
I then clicked on the new file and added a new google doc for each recipe I had. Yes, I did spend two afternoons typing in handwritten recipes that were family favorites. After the hand written recipes were done, whenever I found a website with a recipe I liked, I just copied it and pasted it in a new document. Very quickly I had over 200 recipes in my folder.
Here is a link for creating a Google Account, if this is new to you.
I then shared the recipe folder with everyone in my family using their email address.
For google drive, click on the drop down menu from your folder name and click on share. You can then add email addresses and decide if each person can edit or only view your folder. I suggest that no one be allowed to edit them, or your recipes could accidentally change over time.
Now my adult children who moved away have instant access to my grandma's famous dumpling recipe and they don't have to call me or hope that I'm at home and can give it to them. When I travel, I can make oriental coleslaw, pressure cooker seafood boil, or give my cousin our grandma's Christmas cookie recipe. Everything is with me, all of the time.
Next I opened my google calendar and created a new calendar named "menu." I clicked on the drop down menu to the right of the heading "My Calendars" and it prompted me to create a new calendar. I have a "Family Calendar" that is yellow and a "Menu" calendar that is red. Both calendars are shared with every family member who wants access. My teenage daughters would check the calendar if they came home and we weren't there to find out if someone had an appointment, and my husband checks the menu calendar almost every day to see answer that question, "What's for supper tonight?"
Once I have the menu calendar established, I simply click on the date to create an event. I type in the name of the meal I'm scheduling for that day and make sure that it is saved to my menu calendar.
When you click on "create" the item is saved. It should save as an all day event and appear at the top of the calendar. Here is what it looks like with the yellow family calendar items and my red menu calendar items for a week back in 2014.
Yes, I even put in "leftover" or "Grab nights!" I can also go back to my google calendar from last year of the same month to get ideas of things I made then!
I share the calendar in a similar way that I shared the google drive folder. By clicking on the drop down menu to the right of my menu calendar (listed on the left column under "My Calendars" I can choose the color, and share this calendar easily.
So, now you have the recipe files saved in a folder, created a calendar, and shared everything with family members. It's time to make the shopping list. It couldn't be easier!
In my drive, I open a new google document named "Shopping List."
You can see that I've already copied and pasted items from my recipes onto this document. If' I'm making cabbage casserole, I open the google file for that recipe and copy all of the ingredients. I don't worry if I already have some of the ingredients, I copy and paste the ENTIRE ingredient list. Once I have done this for all of my recipes for the week, I scroll down the list, combining like items. For example, I might need 1 can of diced tomatoes for the casserole and 1 can for another recipe later in the week. I just change one item to buy 2 cans and delete the other time it appears on the list.
Before I leave, I use the list to shop from my pantry, checking to see if I already have salt, spices, soup mixes, or canned mushrooms for example. If I have them, I take it off of the list.
I never have to worry about forgetting my list at home on the kitchen table, or worrying that I have a pen in my purse to cross off items. I simply open the shopping list document on my smartphone and delete the items as I put them into the cart. The document is empty again at the end of the trip, ready for a new week!
Let me know if you use google apps for your meal planning! It sure has made my life easier! Post a comment, please!