Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Need a Weekly Meal Planner, a Grocery List, or Price Books? We Have 36 of ‘em.

As with war, politics, and solving a Scooby Doo mystery, when it comes to saving cash and eating well, nothing is more important than having a plan. Grocery lists keep you from blowing dough on extraneous stuff. Price books give you the best possible food costs. Menu planners ensure you’re not scrambling to put dinner on the table, thus preventing dangerous bouts of crazy.

My own time-tested system combines a half-baked price book, hastily scrawled grocery lists, and yelling, “HON?! What are you in the mood for?” It works for now, but I’m thinking of going the pen-and-paper route. It’s working for Leigh, after all.

Fortunately, there are gazillions of downloadable menu planners, grocery lists, and price books all over the web. Unfortunately, many aren’t free, and involve some kind of weird sign-up or registration. Unless it’s for health insurance or Idol voting (Bowersox 4-evs), I hate doing that.

So, for your organizing pleasure, here are 36 free templates that’ll get you cooking. To know:
  • There are no memberships or sign-ups required.
  • All files are printable images, PDFs, or Excel spreadsheets.
  • To make sure the sites were kosher, I downloaded/opened at least one form from each page. My computer has not virusized yet. (KNOCK ON WOOD.) Still, use at your own risk.
  • Again: free.
If you’re craving more than a basic Word document, starred (*) entries go beyond the usual cells and tables. Their artsy graphic designs are Etsy worthy, and will look particularly cute hanging on your fridge.

Readers, if you know of any good templates/spreadsheets/whatever I missed, add ‘em in the comment section. Prettified ones will receive extra bonus points. (Meaning: a quiet “yay” in my small Brooklyn apartment.)

These websites include many different kinds of templates.

Better Budgeting
Basic weekly menu planner and weekly dinner planner, along with a grocery list organized by aisle.

Free Printable Grocery List
Dozens of grocery lists and menu planners, both blank and with pre-formatted checklists. Some have cute (but minimal) designs. Click on the sidebar and start printin’.

I’m an Organizing Junkie
Grocery list and weekly menu planner/grocery list combo. Formatted in boxes. A twist!

Keep and Share
Nice compilation of grocery lists for diet restrictions, including gluten-free, kosher, diabetic, lactose-free. Includes a pair of massive two-pagers, as well.

Mom’s Budget
Weekly and monthly meal planners, price logs, pantry inventories, and grocery lists in blue, green, orange, pink, and purple.

Money Saving Mom
Fourteen free downloads, including weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly menu planners as well as a master prep, ingredient, and shopping lists.

Each of these single documents will do double-duty as say, a menu planner AND grocery list.

*A Feathered Nest
Menu planner/grocery list combo that’s super cute without being twee.
Weekly menu planner and shopping list.

*Carina Gardner
Anthropologie-esque weekly menu planner with a grocery list on the bottom. Nice! (It's the one pictured at the top.)

*Design Sponge
A weekly menu planner/grocery list combo, as well as blank and checklist-style grocery lists. Cute!

Organized Home
Weekly menu planner and shopping list

*The Project Girl
Menu planner and shopping list, with the best design out of everything here. Very pretty!

Saving Your Cents
Weekly menu planner and shopping list. Simple and clean. Use #1. (The others are already on this list.)

Excel documents unless otherwise noted.

Cheap Cooking
You have to do a little deleting here, but it should work otherwise.

It’s Your Money
A larger file requiring unzipping.

No Credit Needed
Uncomplicated and easy to figure out. My favorite of these options.

Organized Home
This one’s not an Excel spreadsheet. It’s a fill-in-the-blank-with-your-own-pen-style price book.


Busy Bee Lifestyle
Weekly planner with separate columns for kids and adults. With a picture of a bee! (Note: I like bees.)

*Disney Family Fun
Dinner planner only, but with a cute, kid-oriented design.

*From the Kitchen of…
Super fun weekly planner. Be aware that it’s a big file, and has to be unzipped. I don’t know why, but it reminds me a little of a Lynda Barry cartoon.

Home Life Weekly
Rainbow colored weekly planner.

The Home School Mom
Has one with a weekly activity planner on the side, and one without. Pretty basic.

Main Street Mom
Super, super basic design. But effective.

Meal Planning Mommies
Weekly plan with “I’m a meal planning mommy!” written across the top. Helpful if you forget who you are, not helpful if you're male.

Organized Home
Weekly menu planner made especially for notebooks.

*Petit Elefant
This one involves some re-sizing, but has a totally cute format and design.

Available in spreadsheet or PDF form. Clean and efficient.

Vertex 42
Basic weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly menu planners in both portrait and landscape print styles.


Excel Template
Three printable spreadsheets of varying sizes, for general-to-specific shopping.

Mom Ready
Simple and straightforward checklist for your weekly trip.

Painted Gold
Simple blank list organized by department.

Pike’s Pickles
PDF files with both a blank list and formatted checklist.

Split Coast Stampers
Another checklist-style Excel spreadsheet. Also in PDF format if you scroll down a little further

Landscape-style one-page checklist with many attractive boxes. Pretty thorough.

The Ultimatest Grocery List
Huge single-page checklist, with a massive bonus list for vegetarians! Maybe the best option if you’re looking for this kind of thing.

Vertex 42
Blank template organized by category. Handy.

Readers, whatchoo got? The comments are open!

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Jewels said...

Thank you for posting this list. :)

Melissa said...

First let me say I love your blog! I do what I can to recommend it to others, too!

Question: Do any of these generate grocery lists automatically? Say, I enter in on Monday night that we're having meatloaf with mashed potatoes, and then ground beef, breadcrumbs, potatoes and butter automatically pop up on the grocery list. If not do you know of a planner that does that?

Carrie said...

i do love the easy and variety of printables but even more i love magnetic notepads that i can stick to my fridge and not have to reprint each week. i use real simple's grocery lists and just ordered knock knock's what to eat meal planner

Kris said...

Melissa, all of these are pen-and-paper lists, but I think Scott Company has a pretty good computer-generated one. There's a website called Dinner Tool that I kept running into during research, and they seem to have a decent system, as well.

If all else fails, Real Simple might have a list of good sites somewhere. They're excellent for stuff like that.

kittiesx3 said...

You can also try Springpad for the grocery list ( )

I use it for my recipes and it will create a shopping list from them. And it's free.

Elizabeth said...

I found you through Penniless Parenting. I will be back, I love your blog!

PikaPikaChick said...

Here's the big, nerdy one that I made. If you're interested.

uncanny said...

I love lists! My Once-a-Month Cooking list isn't pretty, but it's very functional. And free. :)

GrowingRaw said...

I love lists and make them regularly, but don't use them very well. I've been thinking about meal planning more formally, so this might give me the push :)

I've been loving money saving mom and Crystal recently did an entry on planning your freezer cooking day. I liked this one because it explained to me how to make the list and then how to use it efficiently. Plus having a dedicated freezer stocking day is something I wouldn't have thought of, I usually just add to the freezer ad-hoc. It makes a lot of sense though, would save money and time.

MJ said...

You are so awesome. Thank you for slogging through the tons of Google results to find the good stuff. Every time I go looking for these things I just get tired. :-)

ponyknit said...

Thank you for posting this! VERY helpful! Lots of choices ;)

Ellen said...

Hey, just found your blog since you linked to my old price book that is quite a bit out of date. But I'm glad you found it worthy. This is a fantastic list of resources. About to go add a post to my blog to point folks over here!

Katherine said...

I found your blog through Lifehacker a couple of weeks ago and started following your rss in my reader. I think I've saved every post since then, which kind of renders the whole reader thing useless. What I'm trying to say is that I really, really like what you're writing. Keep up the good work!

Julie said...

One more resource to add: offers a two-week meal plan with recipes and a shopping list.

wosnes said...

I'm so low tech when it comes to this. Notebook paper and a pencil are my tools. I've tried various forms and online tools and nothing works as well for me as the pencil and paper.

I write down menu ideas as I think of them. I add what I'll need to make them to the grocery list at the same time. Pantry staples are added to the list as I realize I need them.

I used to keep a master pantry list which included refrigerator and freezer items. I've not done that for years -- maybe because after 30+ years (gulp!) it's committed to memory. There's also less that I keep around now.

I liked the menu plan at One thing I frequently think about doing is making a 4-6 week repeatable menu for each season. My own, not what someone else has created.

wosnes said...


As I think about it, the same menu plan works for about 3/4 of the year. It's summer when it doesn't work well. Not only is there an abundance of fresh, tasty vegetables and fruits, it's often too hot to cook. I usually want simpler food in the summer.

MS said...

This is awesome and so useful! Thanks for doing the legwork and posting all these great options!

I've been using a shared Google calendar with my hubs to plan our dinners on a weekly basis, but I haven't yet figured out a sleek online shared method for the grocery list, though a couple of iPhone apps have been recommended to me. Sometimes it's nice to get back to basics with pen and paper!

I feel very behind on your blog. I love all the regular posting, so it's a good problem for me to have. :-)

NCN said...

Thanks so much for the link-back. I have found that prices have increased, in some cases significantly, over the past couple of years. Hopefully, prices are leveling off. It's good to have a tool to help keep up!

Sandiegh said...

I am only just learning that when you're out of work you need to plan EVERYTHING. I haven't chosen my grocery/menu plan yet but I'm a bit excited someone else has had the good sense to do it for me. Great Blog, Thank you so much