One of the best ways for you and your family to eat healthier, lose weight, cut calories and get the whole family fed fast is to plan out your meals.
It can be pretty difficult to do, but the right app or website can help make your meals a lot easier to shop for, prepare, and create.
With that in mind, here are the best websites and apps to make your life a whole lot easier and save you a lot of time.
Cozi Recipe Box & Dinner Planner
The Cozi Recipe Box & Dinner Planner (an offshoot of the Cozi Family Organizer) is available both as an app and online.
Either way, there is an import feature that lets you search the internet for recipes, and then directly connect them to your profile.
It also helps you create shopping lists for the recipes on your profile and put them on your weekly calendar. This makes it the perfect app for meal planning.
The app itself has a feature called “Cooking Mode,” which keeps your screen lit so that you can prepare dinner without touching the screen.
You can download Cozi on multiple devices, including Android, IOS and Windows desktop or phone.
Free to try for 14 days, then a monthly fee
eMeals is a meal planning service that works through subscription. Unlike other services like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron or Plated, there is no food being delivered.
Only the recipes. However, groceries can be delivered through eMeals’ partnerships with local grocers and Amazon Fresh, but it may not be available where you live.
On the bright side, sometimes there will be curbside pickup available where you live. There is a choice of at least fifteen different food types, which include budget friendly, clean eating, kid friendly, quick and healthy, slow cooker, paleo, vegan, diabetic, vegetarian, and gluten-free just to name a few.
There are different options for families of all sizes. The weekly plan gives you seven new ideas for meals, and lets you switch between food styles as much as you want. Then a “smart shopping” list is created and fills out as you pick your meals every week.
If you decide you like eMeals, here is how much it will cost after the trial period:
- 3 month Dinner Plan recurring subscription: $29.99
- 3 month All-Day Bundle recurring subscription: $39.99
- 12 month Dinner Plan recurring subscription: $59.99
You can find the app on iTunes and Google Play, but only after you have subscribed.
$5 Meal Plans
Free recipes, additional meal planning service after a free trial
To begin, you can choose to solely view the recipes, print them out and then shop. However, another thing you can do is to sign up for their $5 meal plan.
For a mere five dollars a month, the company sends you a meal plan where each meal costs around two dollars a person–but often much less.
This plan includes recipes and organized grocery lists. It even has free coupons. They offer gluten-free and classic meal plan options.
Along with their standard meal plans, they also offer you six-week specialty plans that are at a notable discount to their regular price.
Each specialty plan follows a theme, and they send the recipes to you altogether rather than over six weeks.
As of now they are offering four specialty plans: 30-minute meals, vegetarian meals, slow cooker meals and paleo meals.
You can only find this service online.
Mealime was created for planning family meals or meals with guests in the simplest way possible.
It is truly personalized, meaning you can create profiles for each person you cook for. You can list everyone’s likes and dislikes, allergies and general eating habits.
You can also personalize a profile for whole families and couples to make things a little easier. Then you can search for recipes that meet all of your requirements. After you select one, not only does it give you the full instructions for the recipe, it automatically adds all the ingredients to your grocery list.
This app focuses on fast meal prep time, so you can expect to only have to spend thirty minutes or less preparing dinner.
You can also tell the app which kinds of recipes you are interested in, which include classic, soy free, flexitarian, keto, pescetarian, paleo, vegetarian, low carb, vegan and gluten-free.
You can find Mealime on iTunes and Google Play.
Yummly is a recipe finding and food sharing app that has many photos and a rating system that helps you find the most talked about and popular recipes online.
When you are ready to make the recipe, Yummly supplies video guides as well as recommending foods for your mealtimes.
It has one of the most extensive recipe collections available and will match your food preferences and dietary restrictions.
What you will find most unique though, is Yummly’s partnership with Instacart. Instacart is grocery delivery service that works with local stores and delivers in one day.
All you have to do is put your zip code into their database, and the ingredients you need are automatically put into a grocery list that is placed in your selected store.
You can also choose to have your items delivered. There is also a link for coupons that are applied directly to the stores you have chosen so you can apply them to your order.
Yummly also has an algorithm that will generate recipes depending on your likes just by tapping their “yum” button. All nutritional information is included in your recipe.
You can find Yummly on iTunes and Google Play.
Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
This awesome app connects social media to the kitchen by showcasing its collection of recipes (over 50,000) created by home cooks. Being social media, you can follow your favorites!
You have a personalized feed that gets smarter with every dish you make and recipe you save, as well as the cooks you follow.
You can even rate dishes. You can search by cuisine, dietary restrictions and keywords. Another great feature is that you can enter your zip code and find on sale items at your local grocery stores that are relevant to the recipe you are looking at.
You can download this app on Google Play, Kindle, iTunes and Windows.
Pepper Plate allows you to login using social media and email, and even share recipes that way. You can sort and import all sorts of recipes by pasting in a URL.
What is truly unique is that you are able to cook using multiple timers–nothing will be overdone ever again!
Also, Pepper Plate’s cook mode prevents your device’s screen from dimming. It also allows you to scale your recipe, so you make the right amount.
You can also add your menus and recipes to your shopping lists, and even arrange it the way you usually shop in the grocery store.
Pepper Plate can be downloaded on Google Play, the Amazon App Store, iTunes, Windows Store, and Nook.
Meal Planner Pro
Save Time. Save Money. Eat Healthy. This is the tagline of Meal Planner Pro. This app encourages healthy eating and helps you incorporate it into meal planning routine by having you set up a profile for each member of your family.
Their database isn’t limited to just dinner. It also includes healthy breakfast and lunch options. You don’t get that with most meal delivery services.
It has a ProScore System is like having your own personal nutritionist. It highlights both the bad and good nutritional aspects of each item, and then assigns the recipe a score between 1-100.
There are also support and personalized meal planning for important things such as diabetes, weight management or loss, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, anemia, digestive health, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Save your most favorite recipes and put them on your calendar for not just a week, but even months! It even gives you nutritional information, images and warning labels for all ingredients.
Plan to Eat
Free for 30 days, and then $4.95 a month or $39 a year
Great for the health conscious, this webpage has some great assets. For instance, once you bookmark the Plan to Eat webpage you can then search sites like Pinterest or Delish.
Once you find a recipe you like, click on it, and it will be added to your meal plan automatically.
The user interface is easy to use in order to drag and drop items into the meal planner for the week.
It is also helpful if there are differing diets in the family. It also lets you add leftover days on the planner.
Also helpful is the staples list, which is a place to add common items that are often forgotten to your grocery list without having to re-enter it repeatedly. Plan to Eat also has awesome customer service.
Plan to Eat is available on Google Play, iTunes and online.
Free, with pro membership available for $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year
This app has over 350,000 recipes to offer you. Even better, it has a “snapshot” feature where you take pictures of your family’s recipes and the app will upload them into your personal recipe collection.
You can comment on any recipe and get notified that your feedback has been received. The grocery list you create can be shared among members of your family.
However, the best feature has to be cooking with leftovers. Choose three leftover ingredients and it will tell you what you can make.
2 weeks free, and then $4.95 a month
Deals to Meals seems to be one of a kind. It claims to be the only meal planning service online that creates its weekly meal plans based on the best grocery deals in the stores in your area.
Every meal will be planned around what is on sale, which will save you hundreds each month.
Each weekly meal planner will give you a week’s worth of main dishes, desserts, side dishes, and food storage recipes. You can make your own grocery list, or have one created for you.
A separate service gives you options to save up to seventy percent on your groceries, all without having to use coupons.
Every week you are given comparison breakdowns of each major grocery stores’ deals. This includes Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco.
Deals to Meals then tells you where the best deals are locally which will save you the most money. They promise you will save at least a hundred dollars a month for a one-dollar fee.
If you don’t save more than your membership fee, the company will refund you.
FoodPlanner is focused on recipes, and gives you the opportunity to browse the web for many healthy recipes and then download them on the app.
It also gives you the nutritional data for each meal and allows you to instantly generate your shopping list.
There is also an inventory management system that helps you keep track of the ingredients you have.
You can also make any recipe from scratch. FoodPlanner provides sharing features, but they are limited to Android.
If you are the type of person who loves to customize everything, then this may be the right app for you.
It performs like many of the other apps on the list, including having a search function for meals you have found on the internet, the ability to use a calendar to plan out meals, and of course the ability to create a grocery list. However, there are some very unique features.
The interface is easy to use and pleasant to look at and customize, and there is a built-in pantry that you can move ingredients in and out of when you buy them and when you run out.
Mealboard is available on iOS.
Eat This Much
This app has an entirely different approach. If your current goal is to lose some weight, then Eat This Much has you enter your food preferences, your schedule, your budget, and the amount of calories the meal will contain.
It then creates meal plans and gives you a grocery list for all of the ingredients. If you want to have healthier eating habits and like cooking, this app will prove to be very helpful.
Eat This Much is available on iOS and Android.
Lose It! is also an app that helps you with weight loss, but with its own spin. Instead on having to input the number of calories you desire for every meal, you just give it a body weight target and general goals that you want to attain.
Then as long as you are accurately tracking what you are eating and what sort of exercise you are doing it will help with your progress.
Lose It! includes a food database that has millions of options, the ability to scan purchased foods, and photo recognition of basic foods. It’s great for combining planning with tracking.
Lose It! is available on iOS and Android.
Paprika Recipe Manager 3
Paprika is an interactive type of meal planner. You will find the essential features such as finding recipes online, planning your family’s meals for the week and building your grocery list, but they have great tools for doing even more.
You can scale ingredients, cross items off as they are added, add photos to the recipes, and customize the grocery categories according to how you shop. There are many ways to ensure everything is just how you want it.
Paprika Recipe Manager 3 is available on iOS and Android.
$69 for 6 months, $99 for 12 months, $20 for the weight loss plan
PlateJoy provides an unlimited amount of meal plans for any course you like–not just dinner. You can also personalize your meals based on food allergies and dietary restrictions, as well as being able to change your preferences at any given time for free.
All recipes are tailored to what you prefer. They have also paired with Instacart, allowing you to automatically upload your grocery lists and giving you a $20 credit if you are using Instacart for the first time.
At the beginning of your subscription, PlateJoy will ask you to fill out a questionnaire. In it, you will give them information such as your dietary preferences, information about family members, and your time constraints.
You will also tell them how many meals you want to make each week, including snacks. All the input helps to customize your menus.
For each meal you will also receive nutritional information as well as contact with a personal nutrition coach. You can also easily sync the nutritional information to your Fitbit if you choose.
The Fresh 20
$14 per month, $74 per year
The Fresh 20 promotes twenty minutes and twenty ingredients to complete your shopping. That’s twenty fresh, unfrozen, unprocessed ingredients to keep your family away from preservatives, and keeping your family’s meals that much healthier.
Not only that, the website provides a one-hour prep session in the beginning of your week to save you time during the busy weeknights, making it much easier on you when you have to cook.
The meal plans are given on Fridays, giving you plenty of time to prepare for the following week. The Fresh 20 offers many different meal plans including meals for one, gluten free, paleo, classic, and many more.
The site says that all recipes are great for families of four, and there may be enough for lunch the following day if you have small children.
You will probably find the five meals offered in their weekly plan enough if you don’t like to cook every single day.
The Dinner Daily
2 week free trial, $18 for 3 months, $30 for 6 months, $48 a year
This planner is unique because it says that it creates meals by following your store’s sales. The Dinner Daily follows 11,000 stores in forty-eight states and checks their sales flyers, but they also have an “any store” selection if your store of choice is not listed.
This just means your menu selection will not be based on sales. You can also look at and pick menus from two stores.
There are two meal plans you can select from. There is family, which will server four to six, or meals, which serves two to three. The menu is posted online and emailed based on a schedule on the flyers of your chosen grocery store.
You can set your dietary and meal preferences on the account settings page. The Dinner Daily also gives you links to coupons to help you save more.
There are even more benefits to this service, including make ahead menus and party planning. They also won’t repeat the same recipe any earlier than two months after you first saw it.
You will have many choices and won’t get exhausted of the same meals that repeat themselves. You can also use the “favorites” feature in conjunction with the “switch it” feature just in case you don’t want to make one of the meals that were selected or want something to appear sooner.
The Dinner Daily is available on iOS and Android.
There are many great meal planning apps out there, and it will take some trial and error to find one that best suits your needs. Regardless of the one you select, look out for these features:
- Free trial or free
- Available as an app
- Recipe/menu variety
- Calendar sync
- A grocery list that generates automatically
Meal planning is great for both your health and wallet, and many of the apps and websites listed are free, so check them out until you find one that works best for you.
They are made to make your life easier and healthier, and in some cases even teach you or coach you. Your family will thank you for it!