Categories: health

9 Best Apps for Meal Prepping – Everyday Health

Whether you want to save recipes, build grocery lists, or need help budgeting, there is an app that can help you meal prep like a pro.
Meal prepping, or planning ahead for several days or even a week’s worth of meals, has plenty of benefits. But if you’re new to it, it can feel overwhelming at first. Luckily, help is as close as your smartphone. Downloadable apps can take the guesswork and hassle out of grocery shopping, recipe hunting, accommodating special dietary needs, and more.
“Apps can be helpful because of the features they provide that help streamline and simplify the meal prepping process,” says Mia Syn, RD, owner of Nutrition by Mia in Charleston, South Carolina. “For example, many apps allow users to choose specific recipes, create shopping lists, and track nutritional information.” She adds that some even help save money and offer educational components, like cooking tips.
Although research on the impacts of meal prep apps is limited, a study published in December 2018 in JMIR Mhealth Uhealth found that they can be used to aid healthy food making decisions not just for individuals, but for entire families. And that alone is enough reason to try one (especially since many are free!).
To identify the app that will serve you best, Syn says to start by outlining the goals it should help you meet. Do you want to focus on losing weight? Saving money or time? Learning new recipes and skills? Choose the app best suited for your priorities.
Some apps might offer all of the above, while others may be more focused on a select few functions. “Ideally, an app should allow you to customize it to meet your dietary needs and restrictions,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, the New Jersey–based author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies
Here’s a comprehensive list of traits to consider while you’re browsing:
It’s not lost on Palinski-Wade that this selection process, initially, can feel just as daunting as the prep work itself. But the search will pay off in the long run — and there’s no harm in downloading a few to see what works best. “Take it one step at a time,” she says. “Maybe at first you want to use the app to help you add variety to your meals. Then you can slowly work at saving time with meal prep and then focus on saving on grocery costs. Slowly over time, meal prep gets easier and using an app can streamline the process.”
A good meal prep app will easily serve your lifestyle and improve your menu planning flow. Whether you’re looking for a new arsenal of recipes or grocery list optimization, one of these will do the trick.
App Store rating: 4.7
Google Play rating: 4.4
$12.99 per month
Palinski-Wade says PlateJoy is “a great resource for meal prep with nutritious recipe recommendations, shopping lists, and even optional grocery delivery.” She adds that its personalization allows you to easily customize recipes to dietary needs. Plus, its digital pantry feature takes into account the ingredients you already have on hand, helping you save money and minimize food waste. The app itself is free, but a monthly subscription is required to reap the benefits. You can save money by signing up for six months ($69) or a whole year ($99) at a time.
App Store rating: 4.7
Google Play rating: 4.4
Free, with in-app purchases
Enter your food preferences, budget, and schedule and get personalized meal plans and grocery lists presto, just like that. Syn adds that Eat This Much also features a calorie calculator and food barcode scanner that breaks down a product’s nutritional information and can help you meet your dietary goals, making it ideal for those looking to lose or maintain weight.
App Store rating: 4.9
Google Play rating: 4.9
$4.99
Paprika allows you to save recipes from anywhere on the internet, and then helps you transform those recipes into a meal plan and organized shopping list. Also called a “recipe manager,” it even sorts grocery items into categories based on the aisle of the supermarket you’ll find them in. Paprika also makes the cooking process easier with interactive recipes that track your cooking progress, allowing you to check off ingredients and set timers in-app as you go.
App Store rating: 4.7
Google Play rating: 4.5
Free, with in-app purchases
Not only is MyFitnessPal the number one nutrition and food tracker, Palinski-Wade says it’s a great meal-planning tool. “The app provides nutrition plans, recipe ideas, and inspiration, and makes it incredibly easy to track the food you eat throughout the day so you can see how what you eat impacts everything, from your mood to your energy, focus, and even sleep,” she explains.
App Store rating: 4.7
$8.99 per month
Although it’s only available in the App Store, Palinski-Wade says MealPrepPro is great because it helps you meet your nutritional goals — enter them in the app (choose from “lose weight,” “gain weight,” or simply, “eat healthy”) and it will suggest a daily calorie count. It also allows you to track macronutrients, and new, original recipes are added every week. If you don’t like putting a ton of thought into meals and want a foolproof way to eat right, this app is for you. week.
App Store rating: 4.8
Google Play rating: 4.7
Free, with in-app purchases
Mealime promises that all of its recipes can be cooked within 30 minutes, which is ideal if you’re chronically time-crunched. All you have to do is enter your food preferences, and the app will curate a personal menu and generate a shopping list that can be imported into InstaCart or Amazon Fresh for delivery. The basic version is free, but an upgraded, paid version offers more perks, like calorie counting and access to additional recipes.
App Store rating: 4.6
Free, with in-app purchases
Ideal for budgeting, MealBoard allows you to collect recipes from around the web or upload your own and then input prices for each ingredient to ensure you’re spending what you want. It then builds a digital shopping list and even edits your list of pantry items as you use them. A calendar function allows you to easily drag and drop meals into the week, making menu planning a breeze.
App Store rating: 4.8
Google Play rating: 4.5
$4.95 per month
Organize all of your go-to recipes and grocery lists in one place with Plan to Eat. It doesn’t offer its own arsenal of meals, but does allow you to import any recipe URL and calculates nutrition information for each one. A bonus feature that other meal prep apps don’t have: You can share your meal plans with friends and family directly from it, ideal for groups who are working together to stay on track. Although the app itself is free, a $4.95 monthly or $39 yearly fee is required for full access.
App Store rating: 4.7
Google Play rating: 4.5
$4.99 per month
Yummly offers a gallery of recipes to browse and filter by preferences, allergies, and skill level. It also allows you to manually upload your own. Upon saving recipes, you have the ability to organize them by meal category, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Full nutrition information is available for each. There’s no calendar function to aid in actual menu planning, so this one’s better fit for those who are simply looking for new entrees, and a place to house them all.
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