When I stay on top of meal planning, it significantly reduces stress and my mental load. So with that being said, I’ve compiled a list of Meal Planning Apps and websites that will hopefully ease some of your mental load. But first, a couple of things to note when choosing the right meal planning tool for you:
Make sure they cater to the right diet (quick and healthy, kid-friendly, vegan, gluten free etc.)
Some apps and websites are free, or offer a free trial
Solid menu and recipe variety (my kids definitely protest repeated meals so I’m all for the quick and easy solutions)
Automatically generated shopping lists
Without further ado:
Our Favorite Meal Planning Tools For Your Busy Family
An add-on to the Cozi Family Organizer, we like this app for the ability to import recipes from the web. If you already use the family planner, you can easily add recipes, make a shopping list and add everything to your weekly calendar. Another wonderful feature is “cooking mode” which will keep your phone or tablet awake so you don’t have to track down your recipe with raw chicken on your hands!
We like Mealime for the ability to personalize your meal plans. They can accommodate tons of different dietary preferences and even note allergies. Even better, you can tell the app which foods you don’t like. An unpopular opinion, I can’t stand bananas and any recipe that features bananas immediately gets chucked. It’s nice that the app does the pre-screen so you don’t have to. You can also choose serving size and how many meals you intend on cooking each week.
This free service has an extensive recipe collection and caters to many different dietary restrictions and food preferences. Yummly has partnered with Instacart so when you plug in your zip code, they autogenerate a shopping list broken down by store isle. Even if you’re not using Instacart to deliver your groceries, your shopping trip is insanely efficient. No more doubling back because you forgot to pick up that one item from the other side of the produce section!
Like others, Pepper Plate allows you to import and sort recipes and auto generates your grocery list. What’s special about this app is their “Cook Now” feature. This tool lets you set up multiple timers to keep track of everything you're making. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find your head spinning from the 4 different timers, not remembering why Alexa is yelling at you.
This free service focuses on healthy eating and unlike other apps, also offers breakfast and lunch options. What sets this tool aside is the focus not just on dietary preferences, but customizing meals for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive health and more.
With both free and paid options, there are two features I love about Big Oven. First, you can take a pic of your family recipes and can upload it into your recipe collection. Second, leftovers! Big Oven has a feature in which you select up to three leftover ingredients and they will make recipe suggestions based on what’s hanging out unused in your fridge. So cool.