In June 2017 I wrote an article on how to produce a priced packing slip for Foodstuffs, and it remains the post that gathers the most traffic on this website. Since then, I’ve done the necessary work for a bunch of companies to get them started up and trading with Foodstuffs.

In 2018 I found a new challenge. Our client was a small operator who had always worked with paper, hand written invoices. This worked well for them and they didn’t want to change, but it didn’t really fit into the Foodstuffs scheme too well. They had no interest is purchasing a monthly subscription to Xero, so we needed to get creative with a solution.

Not only did this customer have no accounting software, they didn’t even have Microsoft Excel. This was really turning into a show stopper for them and they didn’t want it to make them look bad in front of the buyer.

To cut a long story short, I used Google Sheets to set up a system for them. Google Sheets are a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Excel. Although Sheets and Excel are similar, they aren’t the same, and learning this new system was quite a challenge. I didn’t have the time to become an expert on Google Sheets, so I used a shortcut.

Firstly, I modelled the Foodstuffs requirements in Excel. This isn’t as easy as I first expected it to be. I ended up with a tab for Instructions, then a tab with all the Store Data, and all the company Product Data. After that an Invoice tab with lookup tables to these Store Data and Product Data tabs was required. Lastly, and we figured this out a couple of months later, you need another tab for credit notes.

This system is a really good template for someone who doesn’t have MYOB or Xero, but does have Excel. But my client didn’t even have Excel which was why the conversion to Google Sheets was required.

Here was the bit of inspiration that we’d learnt from another particularly challenging project where the client was operating Mac’s rather than PC’s. We converted the Excel model into Google Sheets automatically. This meant that we were able to develop the model in Excel, which we are advanced users of, and automatically convert it into Google Sheets, which we have very basic skills at.

It worked beautifully. Any modifications we needed to make to the system were easily made in Excel, and we converted the file each time into a new version of Sheets. The client only needed an internet connection, Google Drive and browser to access the whole system – and it was free to use.

Its been over 6 months now, and other than the request for the addition of the credit note tab, they haven’t needed any more help with it. It is simple, which is not something that can always be said about accounting packages.

The client has everything they need to supply Foodstuffs, without the cost of a software package. For the rest of their business they are still using paper invoices. We also set them up with a system for producing Statements which is also very tricky with Foodstuffs if you are using Xero.

If you need help with setting up your accounting package for the specific requirements of Foodstuffs, then we can probably help you at a fraction of the cost it will be if you go to your accountant to figure it all out. Contact us on for more info. While we’re at it, we might be able to help you out with a whole lot more. We are more than just food technology consultants, we can help with almost all aspects of food businesses because we also run one ourselves.

Check out the Google Sheet version by clicking here