Many people wing it when it comes to planning out a week’s worth of meals, hoping that a grocery haul full of healthy products will be enough to get by. But if you’ve ever found yourself throwing out expired produce or meats (and then promptly ordering takeout for dinner), it’s time to relook at those grocery shopping habits. Eating only from your well-intentioned shop is harder than it may seem.
All it really takes, though, is a bit of thoughtful meal planning. By merely outlining your meal strategy, healthy choices — and thus, healthy weeks — become no-brainers. Bonus? Knowing what and when you’re going to eat will streamline your grocery shopping and save you money. (Cha-ching!)
To get started on your clean-eating adventure, try one of these five apps, which make meal planning a total cinch. Whether you need help actually creating a well-rounded grocery list or are looking to expand your recipe repertoire, read on for the best meal planning apps around. Success is officially in sight — after a few taps and swipes on your smartphone, of course.
5 Meal Planning Apps to Save You Time and Money
1. MealPlan Meal and Grocery Planner
Best for: First-time planners
Thanks to an easy-to-navigate interface where you drag and drop recipes (or keywords like “burgers” and “salad”) into a home screen organized by meal, this app is great for disorganized dieters who need a simple way to map out their weekly diet, sans all the crazy bells and whistles. Once completed, you can email or print out the generated grocery list (sorted by aisle — so helpful). ($4; iOS)
Best for: Recipe finders
With over one million drool-worthy recipes in its database, Yummly is the ultimate resource for casual chefs looking to whip up some fresh ideas. Filter app searches by prep time, nutrition or type of cuisine, then save favorites to your “Yums,” a virtual recipe box. After you choose the meals you’ll be making, the app curates all the ingredients to a grocery list, which can be exported to Instacart, a smartphone-based, grocery-delivery service. (Free, iOS, Android)
Best for: Busy families
Need to pull the groceries together, but don’t have the time — or everyone in the same place at the same time to figure out wants and needs? Meet AnyList, which allows multiple users to add items to a singular shopping list, either manually or with the help of our girl Siri. (After all, your wish is her command.) Any changes made will sync to everyone’s devices, so the entire brood is on the same page when it comes to how many zucchinis you’ll need to make zoodles. Splurge for a premium account and you’ll be able to assign shopping list items to different stores, plus create location-based reminders so you’ll never forget to pick up more chia seeds next time you pass by Trader Joe’s. (Free or $8 for Premium; iOS)
4. Pepper Plate
Best for: Multi-course masters
Hosts with the most, this one’s for you. This course-minded app has a built-in timer on iPad, which can help you make multiple dishes at once. (So you won’t have to slave in the kitchen for the entirety of an afternoon!) Input recipes you’ve curated from the web or manually enter your own creations and Pepper Plate will generate a grocery list to make shopping a breeze, too. (Free; iOS, Android)
Best for: Budget-Minded Foodies
Want to spend less money every month on your grocery bill? We feel that — and now know that it is possible to eat clean on a small budget. With Mealboard, you can whip your diet and your finances into shape together. (And what’s better than a bit of multi-tasking?) Tap to add recipes from your favorite blogs and sites (Life by DailyBurn, anyone?) into the weekly calendar and then literally drag and drop specific recipes to the days that you’ll be eating ‘em. The app will aggregate a grocery list that also shows you the price of ingredients if you shop at one of the stores utilized in the app. ($4; iOS)
Originally posted September 2015. Updated April 2016.