Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Monthly Menu Planner Randomized Spreadsheet
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook earlier today. A bunch of us chimed in with ideas and suggestions, and in the course of the conversation, I had the thought that you could probably build a spreadsheet in Excel that would handle most of that. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it could be really useful. I try to menu plan so that I can plan my grocery lists, but I always run into problems deciding what to make. So I thought I'd try building the spreadsheet.
Since a couple of people asked me to share it when it was done, I thought this was probably the easiest way to pass it along.
The first time you use it, you'll definitely need to spend some time on the back end to set it up. If you just want a simple randomizer that will assign each of your main dishes to the days of the month, you can probably set it up in 5-10 minutes. If you want the more elaborate version that includes all your recipes, it will take a couple of hours. To use the menu planner, you'll have to have a computer and Excel (it might work with the Open Doc version of Excel). If you're not very familiar with Excel, I'll try to walk you through how to use it for this.
This is what you'll get for your monthly meal plan. The Date column lists the days of the month 1-31 (if there are 28, 29, or 30 days in a month, just ignore those days on the planner). For each date, a main dish is listed along with the type of food and how it's prepared. That way, if the random sort has ended up giving you chicken 5 days in a row, it's easy to see that and you can do a re-sort.
To sort your monthly list, you click at the bottom of the Excel screen to go to the Randomizer sheet.
Click the column header for column A.
Then click the Sort and Filter button. You can sort smallest to largest or largest to smallest - it works either way.
When the Sort Warning pops up, choose to Expand the Selection. Then click Sort. Excel will randomize the numbers in the first column and then sort them.
If you go back to the Monthly Planner sheet at this point, you will see that it updated to show the new order of all your dishes. That's all you have to do on a monthly basis to re-order the dishes for your menu. You have a month of dinners planned out and if someone complains, you can tell them to blame the computer, after all, you didn't choose what to fix that night! ;)
If you want to use the menu planner, just leave a comment with your email address or shoot me a message on Facebook. I'll send you the files for the Simple Menu Planner, the Menu Planner With Recipes, and Instruction sheets for setting up both files. Let me know if you have any problems downloading or using the files and I'll try to troubleshoot. :)