It’s no secret that meal planning is a great way to save money on your food shopping. These days thanks to the help of technology meal planning just got a whole lot easier.
There are a countless number of websites and applications all designed to help you plan your daily and weekly meals.
Catering to a variety of different budgets and dietary requirements. Today, however, I’m looking at meal planning apps.
Yummly is without a doubt my favourite meal planning app available for both Android and iOS. American based it’s without a doubt the leader of the pack.
If you’re based in America you can integrate the app with Instacart. Elsewhere you’ll just get a manual shopping list I’m afraid.
What really sets this meal planning app apart from the rest is the fantastic range of customisable features available once you create a Yummly account.
These customisable features allow you to never see recipes with ingredients or containing things that are unsuitable for your diet, you’re allergic to or simply foods that you don’t like.
You’re also able to pick your favourite kind of cuisines, dislikes and how decent your cooking skills are so you can get shown the most relevant dishes to add to your meal plan.
Once you’ve gone through the variety of recipes and decided what you want to eat for the week ahead. You can head to the shopping list.
As you’ll see in the photo above it’s organised based on the aisles in the supermarket (genius!).
Mealime is perhaps one of the runners-up after Yummly for best Meal Planning App. Once again it’s available for both iOS and Android.
While it does have some customisation options it’s missing out key markets such as vegans making it not suitable for everyone.
Aside from this, you can cut out any allergies or any foods you dislike, before going onto deciding on the recipes you’d like to try for the week.
While we’re on the subject of customisation, something I wasn’t so much a fan of was the limited number of serving options. In this case, you had a choice of serving 2 people or 4.
I understand the justification under each of the servings, however, having that extra customisation and flexibility makes all the difference.
Aside from that the structure of turning meals into a shopping list which is stored on your phone is very similar to that of Yummly.
However, at least in my opinion, it’s not as functional or as aesthetically pleasing as it’s meal planning app competitors.
Big Oven is an American based meal planning app with much more of a social element than you’ll find on any of the other meal planning apps.
Inside the app, you’ll find a ‘news feed’ style home section, as well as dedication sections for homemade/independent recipes. It comes with all the ‘other stuff too’ the meal plan and the shopping list.
Being American it does have some drawbacks for a UK based customer.
These include particular meals, ingredients and measurements that you might not be familiar with. It does, however, have the largest database of recipes at 300,000.
Recipes can be independently submitted by a user and reviewed by those who make the meal.
The set up of this meal planning app then allows you to save the meal, like the meal or add the ingredients to your shopping list.
However, one benefit to Big Oven that I’ve not managed to find the alternative meal planning apps is the ability to only add items that you actually need.
For example, if you’ve already got a large egg then you can uncheck this box.
Big Oven isn’t for everyone, and while it might have a lot going for it I understand that for many it could all be a bit more than you want from just a meal planning app.
Smart Recipes is a meal planning app from the guys at NHS’s Change4Life. If you’re looking for something simple, something basic, something straight to the point then this is the meal planning app for you.
Each of the meal plan ideas is broken down into meal sections; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This makes the process of planning your meals for the week ahead even easier.
As this application is by the NHS not only can you be assured the recipes are affordable (most of the recipes will serve a family of 4 for less than £5) and easy to follow, you’ll also find that they are healthy too!
If you don’t have your phone handy then check out the Change4Life Smart Recipes website instead!
Vegan Recipes – Meal Planner
As Mealime forgot about vegans earlier, those of you who opt for this diet will be glad to know you have a fantastic dedicated meal planning app available for iOS.
This app is pretty basic but it covers recipes includes a shopping list and has some basic hints and tips for those looking to start a vegan diet.
One major drawback, at least in my opinion has to be the sheer number of ads run on the meal planning app.
They’re everywhere, there’s sidebar apps located at the bottom, full-screen ads and half screen ads and it can easily become very frustrating and really negatively impact the usage of the application.
While I understand like all the meal planning apps featured in this article, Vegan Diet is free.
I think a reduction in the number of ads within the application, or alternative income sources from the application could help to positively impact the user experience.
Meal Plan Recipes
One of the latest meal plan apps to hit the market is Meal Plan Recipes. Currently only available for iOS I love its bold statements and simplistic features.
A structured weekly meal plan is put together for you depending on the ‘meal plan’ selection you make. In my case, I’m all about the budget meals.
Once you’ve selected your meal plan type, you’ll be shown your meals for the week.
The downside here is that this particular meal planning app only shows dinner plans instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Which won’t make the app suitable for everyone, however as it’s rather new to the market I’m hoping other meals will be added in an update.
Of course, you might not like what the computer has selected for you in advance, and that’s completely fine. Simply press the ‘shuffle’ button to alter your selection.
As technology continues to progress there’s always a new meal planning app. So, if there’s one you think I’ve missed that you think should be included in this list then please leave me a comment.
I’d also love to know if you use – or go to use, any of these meal planning apps to help you with your meal planning on a day-to-day basis.