After a long day, who has the energy to plan a healthy meal? That’s probably why we catch ourselves running through the drive-thru or dialing the local pizzeria way more often than we plan. If you want to eat healthy, planning ahead is a must. But who wants to spend their weekend planning meals? And how in the world can you prevent “taste bud boredom” from eating the same meals over and over again?
5 Meal-Planning Apps to Try
Well, the good news is that in our high-tech world, we can let someone else do the planning. Meal-planning apps can help you find new recipes, stick to specific eating plans, plan your weekly meals and even write your grocery lists for you. Why not give one a try?
Free (optional upgrade $5.99 a month)
Mealime plans your meals for the week, creates an organized grocery list and gives you step-by-step instructions for preparing each meal. Most meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare — faster than running out for fast food!
This app focuses on helping you prepare healthy meals, in less time, with less food waste. Grocery lists are automatically generated and organized by ingredient category. It also factors in which ingredients you’re buying and tries to plan meals that allow you to use them up that week.
One of its most amazing features is that it allows you to enter in food preferences and non-preferred ingredients — and even create and save profiles for different people. So, let’s say you need to plan dinner for your family. Your husband hates broccoli, your son is allergic to peanuts, and you’re following the Mediterranean diet. You enter these preferences and restrictions when you set up the app, and — voila! — Mealime pops out a week’s worth of meals that meet everyone’s needs!
$3.99 a month
MealBoard is a highly customizable app that lets you manage your recipes, pantry, grocery lists and more. You can add your own recipes or import them from the web. Recipes can be organized by category, and you can search for them using the recipe name or ingredients. You can even scale your recipe to the number of people you’re serving. An in-app calendar is available for you to create your meal plan. You can save and reuse weekly plans — saving you time and stress.
The app creates a grocery list for you based on your meal plan. You can check off items as you buy them, and they will be added to your “pantry” list. The pantry feature lets you keep track of what ingredients you have and when they expire. You can scan barcodes to enter items and you can move “out-of-stock” items to your grocery list.
3. Eat This Much
Free (premium $8.99 a month)
If you’re looking to lose weight, Eat This Much might make it easier. Put in your food preferences, how much money you want to spend, your schedule and how many calories you want the meals to contain. Premium users get automatically generated weekly meal plans and a grocery list emailed to them. With a two-week free trial, premium might be the way to go.
It takes all the thinking out of healthy eating. All you have to do is follow the plan. However, it does allow for flexibility. If you deviate from your suggested eating plan, you can readjust your targets for the next week.
$4.99 a month
Paprika has all the basics like downloading recipes online, building automatic grocery lists and creating meal plans. The difference with this app is that it’s fully customizable, so you have lots of options to make it work best for you. Do you want to add pictures to your recipes? Do you want to organize your grocery list according to the layout of your store? You got it!
Meal plans can be added to daily, weekly or monthly calendars, and you can save and reuse plans. You can keep track of ingredients in your pantry and when they expire. Recipes can be scaled to the number of servings you choose. Keep your screen on while cooking so you can highlight the step you’re on and even set a timer with one tap.
Yummly is a well-loved app, but it’s much different from all the others we’ve talked about so far. This app is great for people who are looking for new dishes. It’s not so much a meal planning app as it is a top-notch recipe finder. You enter your likes/ dislikes, allergies and eating preferences, and Yummly filters through over a million recipes and suggests ones that match your criteria. With one click, you can add an entire meal’s ingredients to your grocery list.
Looking for more apps to make life a little easier? Check out our “What’s Appening” series!