When building a professional menu for your restaurant, you might want to hire a designer to make the menu striking and to give it a logical flow. But there are definitely upsides to mocking up your own—cost and control being the big ones. Free online design tools can help you create your own menu 1.0, at least until you're ready to invest in some graphic design.
Here are three ways to go about it, starting with the hardest and working up to the easiest.
1. Google Docs
Google Docs doesn't make the process simple, to be honest, but if you're already comfortable using Google products, you can do an internet search to find "free Word or Google Doc restaurant templates," like these. Once you find one you like, you can choose "Create New," then select "From Template."
The biggest problem with Google Docs is that it’s hard to search for free templates on the internet, and the options aren’t that great—they often aren't truly editable or are just painfully tacky. Still, if you're in a rush, they might just do the trick.
The design platform Flipsnack has multiple menu template options. It's free to set up your account and to customize your menu, but to actually download the menu you create, you have to pony up for a subscription. Their starter plan is $14/month, so it's still definitely cheaper than hiring a designer.
If you’re looking to create a templated menu for free with multiple options and design features, Canva is pretty intuitive, and allows you to download your finished menu for free. Like Flipsnack, Canva allows you to choose from a variety of restaurant menu templates within their platform, edit those templates by selecting different areas to edit font styling, sizing, etc., and upload your own images or also select among free images or video.
You can browse through multiple menu template options, and “like” the options you like best. When you click on “Likes” in the left menu, you can compare your favorite options and choose your favorite. When you decide on a template, click the green “Use this template” button to begin customizing your menu. After you click on “Use,” you’re taken to the part of the Canva platform that allows you to edit different elements of your design.
You can select individual menu elements to adjust the colors and background textures, and you can also delete any elements that don't work for you. Once you’re finished customizing your menu, downloading takes one click.
Upgrading to the paid Canva Pro gives you access to more Canva images to use in your design, as well as additional design features. But even the free version should give you a good chance at coming out with a solid-looking menu.