A few years ago I was home with my son several days a week, and I was in charge of most of our family’s meals. I had developed a library of recipes that I turned to again and again–nothing fancy, but meals that I could make and our family enjoyed.

The only tedious part for me was coming up with a plan each week of what we were going to eat. I knew it was worth it to avoid the pain of asking “what’s for dinner?” each night, but I couldn’t bring myself to do the work.

The solution that I came up with is a combination of a Google Docs Spreadsheet and a script written in Google Apps Script to generate a random meal plan.

I entered in all of the meals that I liked to cook, how many times in a single month I was willing to eat that meal, how “hard” it was to cook, and the “category” of the meal so I avoided having pasta 2 nights in a row, for example. Going to a menu in the spreadsheet then picks from the meals that I have listed and creates a new sheet in the workbook, listing a month’s worth of meals at a time.

The advantage of using Sheets and Google Apps Script is that it is easy to update all of the meals that I wanted randomized. The disadvantage is that Google seems to have abandoned Apps Script. It is not usable on mobile devices, for example. Some day I may move this concept to a mobile app, since nowadays I tend to do meal planning on my Android phone or on the iPad much more than on a laptop.

If you want to use this for your own meal planning, just click on the link to the meal planner document and save a copy of it to your Google Drive account.  There are instructions in the workbook itself.


15 Comments

Kyle Malone · November 9, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Quinten,
I am trying to utilize the spreadsheet for my own use, and am having trouble. I looked at the documentation tab, but the scripts menu is not popping up for me. Any suggestions?

Anette · January 6, 2020 at 5:22 am

When the new spreadsheet “copy of meal planner” opens after you click on the link above, be sure to click Archive –> copy the spreadsheet. Choose to copy comments to keep the instructions. Then it should work.

Amy Rose · March 14, 2021 at 1:18 pm

My code knowledge is quite limited, but is there a way to encorporate a breakfast and lunch options sheet and subsequent column on the generated sheet? I’ve been looking for randomised meal planners with all 2 and so far this is the closest Sheets template which works best.

brian · March 31, 2021 at 8:35 am

Hi..

Are you still working on this ?
Because there are a few things i would love to have added if possible.

Thanks.

    Quinten Steenhuis · March 31, 2021 at 9:09 am

    Hi Brian,

    I probably won’t improve it in Google Sheets any further, but I’ve been thinking about making a standalone webapp version of it

Lucas · April 4, 2021 at 2:20 pm

Hi !

I think that your project is really interesting and should be tried as an app or a software. I would try to use Easy Menu 3 as well which give good solutions as well.

Please let us now here what’s going on with your project.
I’m French, and as a good food lover, I would love to optimise my meal planning for my Family !

Thanks,
Lucas

Pearse Anderson · December 26, 2021 at 3:31 pm

Hello Quinten, I’d be so excited to use this in 2022, but I’m running into the script asking for permission to use my account. When I allow it, I get a “Google hasn’t verified this app. The app is requesting access to sensitive info in your Google Account.” error saying I need to give it permissions. But I don’t think that should be necessary for a menu script.

Do you know how I would fix or alter this? Thanks!

    Pearse C Anderson · December 26, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    I think I fixed it with adding “//@OnlyCurrentDoc” into the scripts.google.com code. Thanks!

      Sandy · September 22, 2022 at 8:21 am

      Pearse (or Quinten),

      Where in the script did you add that blurb to get the spreadsheet to work once moved to your own Drive? Thank you!

JJ Adams · August 26, 2023 at 5:22 pm

Is it possible to have each category only be used once a week?

Joey · September 19, 2023 at 1:52 pm

Did you ever make an app for this?

Gen · September 26, 2023 at 7:05 pm

I have just discovered your Meal Planner Google spreadsheet, but it’s not working when I attempt to generate the meal plan 🙁 I know this is a super old post, but is there any chance of a revamp, or maybe an app?

    Quinten Steenhuis · September 26, 2023 at 7:08 pm

    I do mostly document automation now. But maybe I need to build this app. Stay tuned!

      Erin · October 1, 2023 at 11:51 am

      Another vote to build the app! Stumbled across this in a search to try to build this myself in Sheets, but if an app existed, I’d be all over it. 👍

      Allison · December 17, 2023 at 12:27 pm

      I absolutely think you should, and that there would be a lot of interest in it! If I had any idea at all about coding, I would try to use an AI chatbot to help me build an app/program myself. If you ever develop it, please shoot me an email!

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