We admit it: Planning meals is SO hard! But it’s hands down the best way to keep your grocery budget in check. And it can be surprisingly fun, especially if you rely on technology to get the job done. There are dozens of meal planning apps to make this process a breeze, and we’d like to share our favorites with you!
Meal planning can be a time consuming task, especially if you have a big family. (Take it from someone who knows!) It’s tough to find meals everyone loves, and sometimes you just want to throw in the towel and eat out! We’ve definitely done that!
It’s probably okay (if your budget allows) to eat out a night or two each week, but if you want to keep your budget where it needs to be, get meal planning down to a science. Using a good meal planning app will be so incredibly helpful!
WHY YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD A MEAL PLANNING APP TODAY!
Technology will be your best friend during the meal planning process. Think of it this way:
How many times have you gotten to the grocery store and realized you forgot your grocery list written on a scrap piece of paper? Probably a lot.
And how many times have you forgotten your phone when going to the store? Probably never.
You might as well use it to your phone to organize your meal plan, grocery list, and budget, since you always have it with you anyways. It’ll save both time and money for your meal prep.
Having a meal planning app or two will make this huge weekly task seem so simple! There are thousands of apps out there, and you can’t always trust them to deliver what you need. Every family has different needs, but we wanted to share our favorite meal planning apps with you.
BEST FREE MEAL PLANNING APPS
We love anything free around here! But free doesn’t always mean quality, am I right? So we’re going to help you choose a high-quality free meal planning app that you can trust. Here are our suggestions:
- Mealime: You can select recipes throughout the week according to your budgetary needs or family’s tastes. Best of all, the app curates a grocery list and sends it right to affiliated grocery stores like Walmart pickup (we LOVE Walmart pickup for busy moms!), so you can set it and forget it!
- BigOven: You can gather your favorite recipes in one place by searching them in a database of over half a million recipes. Or take photographs of recipes you have on hand, so you’ll have your great aunt’s famous casserole in your database alongside new recipes you want to try. You can also add recipes to your weekly planner, create grocery lists, and incorporate leftovers into future meals.
- FoodPlanner: This fantastic meal planning app is free if you don’t mind a few ads, and it has everything you need for searching recipes, learning about their nutritional value, adding them to your calendar, and syncing with other devices.
BEST MEAL PLANNING APPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS
It gets harder and harder every year to keep the weight off! Especially for those who keep having babies. We know a little something about that. But it’s still a priority to try to lose weight and stay in shape. If you’re the same, you might be interested in a few apps that make conscious healthy eating a little easier.
Here are some dynamite meal planning apps perfect for those trying to maintain weight, lose a few pounds, or even those trying to seriously overhaul their diets.
- MyFitnessPal: Stay on top of your calories and macronutrients with this app. The best part? You can use your own tried and true recipes to see if they fit into your diet rather than relying on recipes that you’ve never tried before. It’s an awesome tool for helping you learn just how nutrient-rich or nutrient-lacking your great aunt’s famous casserole really is.
- Eat This Much: Here’s a great calorie tracker and a meal planner in one. There are meal plans to match any diet–keto, paleo, vegan, Mediterranean, etc. It makes it so easy to watch what you eat while feeding yourself and family!
- PlateJoy: You can choose from suggested healthy recipes or add your own to stay on track with healthy eating. Best of all, it comes with a pantry and fridge inventory tool, so you can use up all that fresh produce you’re buying before it goes bad. So helpful!
BEST MEAL PLANNING APPS FOR SHELF COOKING
If you haven’t tried shelf cooking yet, you need to! It’s so amazing for helping you use up what’s in your pantry to stop waste and over spending. It takes a little creativity, but pretty much anyone can do.
We’ve come up with some seriously delicious meals through shelf-cooking, and they’ve become a part of our regular meal plans now. Who would have thought?
Shelf cooking is much easier if you have the right apps on hand! Here are a few of our favorites:
- FridgePal: We have lots of great ideas on inventorying the food you have, but there’s also an app for it! You’ll know what food you have at all times with this handy meal planning app that keeps inventory of the food you have. No more digging around for ingredients to make a great meal without running to the grocery store.
- PantryCheck: This app is similar to fridge pal, but the barcode scanner that helps you inventory is excellent! It also has alerts for when food is about to expire, and it suggests shopping lists based on your history as well. How cool is that?!
- Epicurious: Take all the guesswork out of shelf cooking. Search for recipes using keyword ingredients that you need to use up. There’s also a huge database of recipes to try and a built-in shopping list feature.
- Allrecipes Dinner Spinner: Search recipes that use up the ingredients you have on hand. You might be surprised at what comes up when you punch in peaches, chicken, and spinach! Trust me: These ingredients might not sound appetizing at first glance, but this app brings up some pretty tasty recipes you’ll want to try!
BEST MEAL PLANNING APPS FOR BUSY FAMILIES
We’ve all been there! We get sucked into a busy week and end up eating out five of the seven nights of the week. That’s not only unhealthy but it’s also so hard on your budget!
So much of meal planning is organization and getting on the same page as your other family members. When you feel like you’re too busy to plan meals, try these apps:
- Cozi: Sync your calendars, grocery lists, meal plans, and more to multiple devices with this app. It also sends you alerts for calendar items so that you can plan meals ahead of time.
- Favoreats: Oh no! It’s Monday afternoon and you’ve forgotten to plan meals for the week! (It happens to the best of us!) Favoreats is a social sharing app for food lovers to share recipes and meal inspiration. Just hop on here when you need a quick meal plan! It’s free to download, but you can use code JORDAN15 for 15% off a premium package.
- AnyList: This meal prep app is rated almost five stars on the App Store. It’s that good. You can use it to share grocery lists and meal plans on multiple devices. It edits in real time, so when someone crosses off an item they bought at the grocery store or changes the Friday night dinner plan, everyone can see it.
- Trello: I know what you’re thinking–why are we suggesting a business-based productivity app for meal planning? It’s simple. Trello lets you create tasks, share with others, and check things off when they’re completed. You can assign different meal planning tasks to your kids or significant other throughout the week. It’s a slam dunk for busy meal planners!
Okay, folks. We’ve done our part in sharing our favorite meal planning apps. Now, it’s your turn to research the best apps, download them, and improve your meal planning sessions significantly.
These are just a few of our favorite apps, but we’d love to hear about any other apps that you come across for meal planning and how they’ve helped you. Share in the comments!
Want to learn more about how we meal plan productively and on a budget?