Using Google Keep & Drive to Organize Recipes, Menus, and Shopping Lists

I’ve found that using Google Keep, synced with Google Drive and Calendar, allows me to easily sort and organize my recipes, menu planning, and shopping lists. Let me tell you how.

Using Google Keep, Calendar, and Drive to Organize Recipes, Menus, and Shopping Lists

The Basics of Google Keep and Google Drive Recipe Archiving

I already use Pinterest to pin recipes I want to try. I think most of us do, right? Well, I use Google Keep (with Google Drive) to store the ones that are big hits in our family, usually with my own notes on modifications.

Notes in Evernote are stored in notebook stacks. In Google Keep, it’s more like post-it notes that can be color-coded with keyword tags added to them. In Google Keep, after creating a note (such as a recipe), you can then import the note into a Google Drive Word-compatible document. This makes it nice if you also like if you also like to print off your recipes into your very own physical cookbook. After I move them into Drive, I also make them look nicer (there’s limited formatting in Keep, unlike Evernote), and I also sort them into subfolders of my Recipes folder.

Since I mostly follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating for health and weight loss (90 pounds so far you guys! woot-woot!), I sort my recipes by E meals, S meals, and Fuel pulls, and I also sort them by Breakfast, Snacks, Lunches, and Dinners.

Whatever you do, just make it work you.

Having my recipes handy like this in a cloud-based app on my phone makes it easier to do several things I frequently do:

  • Share recipes with others who ask
  • Remember what ingredients I need at the store on the fly
  • Decide what I can make when I get home if I haven’t planned yet

As the Infomercial salespeople say, BUT WAIT, there’s More! 

I also am able to create my menu plan each month in Google Drive’s Spreadsheets. Each meal is a link to the recipe. So as I look at my menu online, I can click, and get the recipe in Google Drive instantly. More on how to do that later.

How to Add Recipes to Google Drive and Google Keep

So, how am I getting all of those recipes into my Google Keep and Drive in the first place? Here are a few suggestions.

Using the “Save to Keep” Web Clipper

In most cases, if it is a recipe from off the internet, I use Google’s “Save to Keep” add-on for Google Chrome to “clip” a simplified version of the recipe post into Keep.

This doesn’t work as well as Evernote’s web clipper and makes it harder to import it into Google Drive, as it only gives you the link. But it is better than trying to figure out where you saw that recipe in the first place.

Thankfully if needed, I can then copy and paste the recipe from the link into Keep after I’ve decided it’s a “keeper”. 🙂 Works for me.

Using a Phone Camera and OCR to Scan

This is where Keep is superior to Evernote (at least Evernote for Android, as I do not have an iPhone).  You can scan in Text with a cell phone camera and it will import it as text instead of just images. Evernote for iOS will do this too. For some reason, Evernote does not do this for Android or Windows Phones.

So, again, because I use Trim Healthy Mama, I have imported my favorite THM recipes from their cookbook using my cell phone. This way, I keep them handy, and I can add my own modifications to suit our tastes and preferences.

The OCR functionality is not perfect by any means, and sometimes I have to fix some of what I have imported if there are minor spelling errors. This does require a little work, but far less work than typing them all out.

An added bonus is being able to scan in recipes with your phone while thumbing through women’s magazines at the doctor’s office. Ever see a recipe you want to try but you don’t want to tear the magazine? Scan it in. With these kinds of recipes, I usually pin the recipe to the top of the board to remind myself to try it later.

Manually Typing Recipes into Google Keep

This is not so fun, and rather time-consuming. I think I have typed in less than ten of my hundred or so recipes I have in Keep. Most of the time, I try to use Web Clipper (or even just copy and paste) or OCR to store my recipes. No one has time to type all that out. 🙂

However, if this is your only option, it goes much faster on the computer with a keyboard than on the phone, unless you’re really bored.

Planning Your Menu with Google

When it comes to actually using Google apps to plan out my menu from my recipe collection, there are two basic options I’ve been using.

I started out using option 1, which involves using a spreadsheet for my menu plan. This works nicely, and I like printing out my menu using the spreadsheet

However, I’ve since discovered option 2 (using Google Calendar) works better with the level of crazy schedules in our family life at the moment. It’s easier to access on the go, and just flows better with my life.

With both of these options, the real benefit is in having a direct link to the recipe right there in the menu plan. This way, I don’t have to go searching for a recipe or instructions. And, if I’ve asked someone else to help with dinner, they also have access to the instructions.

Option 1: Using Google Drive to Menu Plan

I have a basic Google Drive Spreadsheet (grab a basic formatted google drive spreadsheet menu planner here if you’d like — just click “file” then “make a copy” to save it to your own Google Drive. You do not have to ask permission, as you are not editing my original), which I use for menu planning. To use this, you’ll first need to save it to your own google drive, by making a copy of it. Click “File…” then “Make a copy…” That way you’re not editing my template for all the world to see. 🙂

Some meals don’t need a recipe, right? I mean, I don’t need a recipe for things like Chicken Soft Tacos or Hamburgers.

Some meals do, especially if I’m working and I need my now-grown kids who still live at home to help out a bit.

When you open a menu on my Google Drive, you can click on any of the meals (or most of them), and the recipe in Google Drive documents will open up for you. So handy.

Even if I’ve printed off my menu for the month, as I often do, the kids and husband can see at a glance that the green-link looking words are links, and thus the recipe is on my Drive. Sometimes this requires me reminding them of the fact but most of the time it’s working splendidly.

How do you add links to the spreadsheet? Easy-peasy.

To add a link to a Google spreadsheet, right mouse click inside of the cell you’re going to be typing in, and select “insert link”.  Start typing the name of the recipe in the link box, and the spreadsheet will give you some options. The Google Drive documents always have a blue document icon next to them.

You can also edit the text you have on the spread sheet’s link if the name of the recipe can be shortened for space.

Option 2: Using Google Calendar to Menu Plan

There is another option that a reader pointed out to me for menu planning with recipes stored in Google Drive (or other places), and I love it. I actually use this method now, but I’m leaving the “old way” in this post still.

The method? Use Google Calendar.

As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of Google Calendar for organizing my family’s lives.

I think I’d be in serious trouble without it.

When you have seven adults living in one house with crazy schedules, it’s important to know where everyone will be at any given time.

Well, Google Calendar can further consolidate my life by storing my menu plan in the calendar itself.


Create a new Calendar on your Google Calendar page by clicking the small triangle next to “My Calendars” on the left side. I named mine “Menu Plan.”

On each day, create an “event” in the calendar (selecting that calendar when creating the event in the pop-up window). After you create the event, you can edit it and add an “attachment”. This makes it a little easier than Google Drive in that Google Calendar allows you browse all of your Google Drive Recipes.

Alternately, Google Keep will import it into your Calendar directly if you browse your recipes in Google Keep and add a reminder to the recipe for a certain day. This will make a link for it show up in your calendar.

I think I prefer the idea of directly making these in Google Calendar, as then I am also looking at the schedules of family members while planning a menu, which I have to do anyway.

Using Google Keep for Shopping Lists

After I create my monthly menu plan (or weekly if you’d prefer), I am able to see at a glance what ingredients I’ll likely need in the coming weeks. I make a shopping list for each week of the month. I could just do this one week at a time, but I like to do it this way, that way if something is on sale that I will need by the end of the month (though not this week), I can stock up knowing I’ll use it up.

I have my Google Keep shopping lists not only pinned near the top, but I also have them marked with a GPS reminder. Whenever I enter a designated store, my shopping list automatically pops up. Super handy. You can set up the reminders by day if that works better for you. It will also then show up on the Google Calendar.

I have other shopping lists such as items I need for home repair (linked to a home repair store), and items I need at the bulk food store (linked to that store). Since I don’t go to either place frequently, I keep adding to this list until I need to go there.

My Google Keep Shopping lists are also “shared” with my family members, such as the kids and husband. I have to admit: hubby still isn’t on board with it and finds the whole system confusing. However, the kids use it as evidenced by things like “pop tarts” finding their way on the shopping list.

Nice try kids, but no.

Using Your Digital Recipe Archive

So, how do I use my recipe archive in Google Keep and Drive?

First of all, I am able to see, at a glance, while out shopping, if there is some ingredient I might be forgetting in some dish I am planning to make.

I can prop up my tablet in the kitchen and use that as a cookbook, with the recipe right there.

Having so many different recipes that I know our family loves means I can select from these recipes as I plan meals, instead of wading through a bunch of recipes that we either haven’t tried or don’t really love.

All in all, this method has saved me a bunch of time now that it is set up.

To Learn More About Using Google’s Apps for Organization

Obviously, when learning to use any app or program, you may find it easier to watch some videos to really grasp it. Although neither of these video courses shows how to use these programs exactly as I do, they do offer a great overview of using Google to get more done and get organized in all areas.

So if you want to dive a little deeper with Google Drive, here’s a great place to start.

Introduction to Google Calendar for beginners

Google Cloud Productivity – Drive and Google’s Office Suite

Using Google Keep, Calendar, and Drive to Organize Recipes, Menus, and Shopping Lists