11 Best Meal Planning Apps and Websites to Save You Time, Money, and Effort
Meal planning is all the rage these days.
Whether you subscribe to a meal delivery service like Blue Apron… or are just trying to plan out meals and shopping trips for the week… it’s safe to assume you’re game for anything that will make your life just a wee bit easier.
Don’t apps and websites typically make your life easier?
I mean, they must… given our phones and tablets are riddled with them.
So what if someone were to list their favorite meal planning apps and websites, so all you had to do was give them a whirl?
Lucky for you, I’ve done that here.
But before you get too excited, here's a quick look at my top picks:
Save time and money with these 11 meal planning apps:
So if you are familiar with the Cozi Family Organizer, this is a nice little add on feature. And if you haven’t tried it, I highly suggest giving it a whirl.
The Cozi Recipe Box & Dinner Planner is available online and as an app. Both offer an import feature that allows you to surf the web for recipes and connect them directly to your profile.
You also have the ability to create shopping lists from your recipes, as well as add them to your weekly calendar… perfect for meal planning!
Specific to the app is a Cooking Mode feature, allowing your screen to remain lit so there are no interruptions (well, except for maybe your kids) when you’re making dinner… and no greasy fingers on the phone.
Cozi allows you to link to multiple devices for extra convenience.
You can download it for IOS, Android, Windows phone or desktop.
Touted as having one of the most extensive recipe collections, Yummly prides itself on providing you with delicious recipes that match your dietary restrictions and food preferences.
It offers everything from appetizers to smoothies... main courses to desserts. And the sort feature makes it easy to filter through whatever you have a hankering for that day.
Most unique, however, is Yummly’s relationship with Instacart. Instacart is a same day grocery delivery service that partners with local stores.
So when you put your zip code into Yummly’s database, the ingredients in the recipes you choose are automatically generated into a grocery list that is sorted by aisle for the store of your choosing. This speeds things up, should you choose not to have the items delivered.
There is also a coupon link that will pull up offers specific to the grocery store you’ve selected… and apply those savings directly to the order.
Pretty amazing, right?
Yummly also uses an algorithm to generate recipes based on your likes and dislikes, with the simple tap of a “yum" button.
And if you’re diet conscious, the nutritional information for all recipes is included (calories, carbs, fat and cholesterol).
If you’re using an app like My Fitness Pal, iTrackBites or Weight Watchers… this is a primo feature!
Pepper Plate allows you to login using your Facebook account, and even share recipes that way… not to mention Twitter and email as well.
Like its competitors, Pepper Plate allows you to import and sort recipes, as well as automatically generate grocery lists.
However, a “COOK NOW" feature is where Pepper Plate stands out. This tool allows use of multiple timers (on your smartphone or tablet) for all of the recipes on your menu. So there is no need to worry about overcooking the pasta while sauteing the chicken.
Pepper Plate is available for download on Google Play, iTunes, Amazon App Store, Windows Store, and Nook.
And when you’re creating your grocery list, you’ll be given images and nutrition information for all ingredients… even the warning labels, so you will know if it contains something you or a loved one can’t have.
Free to try for 30 days, $4.95/month or $39/year after that
Perhaps the most basic app at first glance, Plan to Eat has a few surprises for health conscious meal planners.
First and foremost, by simply bookmarking the Plan to Eat webpage, you are able to scour the likes of Pinterest or Delish... and simply click the recipes you like to automatically add them to your meal plan.
Additionally, the user interface is extremely intuitive, making it a cinch to drag and drop items to populate your meal planner for the week. This is also super helpful if one person is trying to eat gluten-free, while also planning regular meals for kids at the same time.
Speaking of kids... if you bookmark the site on their personal devices as well, they are able to login and see what’s planned for dinner. Older kids may even be able to get the meal started with the recipe right in front of them.
Do I hear allowance money?
You can also add notes to the planner if leftovers are on the agenda, which cuts back on doubling the ingredients in the shopping list.
And the “Staples List" is a great place to add common, and often forgotten, items to your shopping list. Just click to add the staple to your weekly shopping list, without having to re-enter it time and again.
Got questions? No worries… Plan to Eat has top-notch customer service agents willing and eager to help.
Plan to Eat is available online, as well as via Google Play and iTunes.
Deals to Meals claims to be a one of a kind service! Touting itself as the only meal planning service online that bases its weekly meal plans around the best grocery deals in your area.
Basically, all of your meals will be planned around sale items, which will save you hundreds of dollars each month. The weekly meal planner provides you with one week’s worth of:
Food storage recipes
The food storage specific recipes are perfect for those nights when you are short on time!
Meal planning doesn’t get much simpler.
As for the shopping, you can elect to create your own grocery list... or have one generated for you.
Separate from the meal planning service, Deals to Meals offers an option to save up to 70% on groceries… without using coupons.
Every week, you will be given a comparison breakdown of the major grocery stores’ deals to Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart. Then, Deals to Meals will tell you where the best deals are in your area to save you the most money… promising savings upwards of $100’s a month, all for just over $1 a week.
In fact, the company guarantees you save more than your membership rate, or they will refund you.
Refund sounds like no-risk.
And I like the sound of that!
WARNING: If you live outside the USA… this is not the app for you.
And now to sum it up…
Meal planning sites and apps are pretty much all over the place these days. And, quite honestly, they all offer many of the same features.
So it’s really a bit of trial and error when it comes to finding the one that best suits you.
I’ve tried my best to wrangle up some of the better ones…
Regardless of which you choose, you should be on the lookout for these things:
Free, or free trial
Automatically generated grocery list
Available as an app
Most of the ones I suggested are free… so I implore you to check them all out, if your data plan allows.
And if you haven’t got the time, or desire, let these sites and apps do it for you! Especially when so many of them are FREE!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicole Krause has been writing both personally and professionally for over 20 years. She holds a dual B.A. in English and Film Studies. Her work has appeared in some of the country’s top publications, major news outlets, online publications and blogs. As a happily married (and extremely busy) mother of four… her articles primarily focus on parenting, marriage, family, finance, organization and product reviews.