Simplify Dinner-Making With These 5 Meal-Planning Apps
Need help organizing your meal planning? Try one of these apps.
Meal time is one of those relentless aspects of parenting: it happens three times a day, seven days a week. For breakfast, there’s cereal, and for lunch, there’s sandwiches. But dinner requires a bit more effort, and that means planning. Here are five great meal-planning apps to make dinner time less daunting — and make the chef and the family happier and more relaxed.
Paprika has plenty of functionality that make it worth the $4.99 to download, but it’s the clean and intuitive interface that put Paprika at the top of many parents’ lists. Import recipes from anywhere, then plan your weekly or monthly meals, and the app will update the shopping list and automatically sort it by aisle. One tap helps users keep track of where they are in the recipe, and pins allow them to can easily switch back and forth between recipes as they prepare their entree and sides. And if you use multiple devices for planning, shopping and cooking, Paprika syncs across all of them.
This is a staff favorite. It takes some time to set it up, but like so many things in life, the time you put in at the beginning will be amply rewarded later. Once set up, MealBoard can streamline meal planning and shopping by assisting planning menus, creating your shopping list, and tracking the items in your pantry. With Mealboard, simply import recipes from my your favorite sites, like Eating Well, Epicurious, Food Network, and The Kitchn then add them to your weekly calendar. The app syncs the ingredients to your shopping list — which is organized by aisle, of course. There aren’t many things that make life this much easier for just $3.99.
With BigOven, users choose from 350,000 favorite recipes in the database, follow their favorite food bloggers, or even import their favorite home recipes with a snap of their phone’s camera. Big Oven divides recipes into groups like Quick & Healthy, 20 Minute Meals, and Make Ahead, so it’s easy to find a recipe. When you have found a recipe you like, a couple of clicks adds it to one folders like “Try” and “Favorite” and the shopping list. BigOven is free to download, but if you want to plan menus for the week, you need BigOven Pro which costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.
If staying on budget and/or dietary restrictions are priorities for meal planning, check out Treehouse Table. For this app, users first create a profile by answering questions about price per meal, meal prep time, allergies, ingredient preferences, cuisines, special diets, food dislikes, and local grocery stores. Then the app creates a custom weekly menu based on your profile. Entrees are paired with sides: for example, Super Juicy Steak goes with Simple Roasted Asparagus and Corn on the Cob. At the bottom of the day’s menu is the total prep and cooking time, the calories per serving, and the cost.
For those with picky eaters, favoriting the recipes they will eat saves time because “favorites” can be added to any menu in just two clicks. Treehouse Table creates shopping lists based on the day you’ll shop and upcoming recipes so no matter when you shop, on your list will be exactly what you need. Treehouse Table is free to download and has ads at the bottom of some pages.
Healthy meal planning starts here. Begin by choosing a diet type — classic, flexitarian (easy on the meat), low carb, paleo, pescetarian, or vegetarian — and Mealime chooses as many recipes as you wish for your week and puts all of the ingredients on a shopping list. If you don’t like one recipe, swipe left for a new selection. Don’t like any of them? Swipe down to change them all. This is a straightforward, easy to use recipe and weekly meal planner, but it lacks the flexibility that MealBoard or Treehouse Table have, such as creating favorites, in the free version. It’s free to download, and $5.99 per month or $49.99 per year for Mealime Pro, which includes exclusive recipes, favorites, nutritional information, and more customization.
Photograph via Canva.