This is for all of you wanna-be meal planners who lurk in the shadows of the #mealprep tag on Instagram. But meal prepping doesn't have to be complicated and overwhelming for it to work. Even if you're a college student like me, meal prepping is 100% doable. And these apps (all compatible with iOS and Android), make it 200% doable.
When you first sign up with Mealtime, you have a chance to input your type of diet, allergies, food restrictions, and dislikes. It even asks you how many meals you'd like to get out of each recipe (because leftovers are life).
Mealime suggests meals and plans for you or you can choose to go the more advanced route and build your own plan. Grocery lists are automatically categorized, and any meal can be tagged as a favorite to save for later.
The best part? Cooking mode. The app displays recipe instructions without letting your phone lock. When you want to go to the next step, just hover your hand over the screen and release. This worked for me, so it must be fool proof.
This app is my personal favorite of the five. It's a perfect combination of independence and suggestions. Plus, the user interface and design is top notch. Your profile includes likes/dislikes, allergies, diet, cuisines, and even your skill level. You can search for recipes based on course, prep time or what's trending, or you can use the sliders to narrow down the results by calorie, carb, fat, or cholesterol levels.
While there's no calendar for meal planning, you can make collections of recipes. I tested it out, making a collection for one week, and saved all of my meals right there. It actually gave me a bit of freedom to mix it up if I needed to. All the snaps for Yummly.
With Nutrino's meal planning app, eating healthy is a lot less daunting. Nutrition is integrated into every part of the app from scanning bar codes to inputting your meals to tracking the health content of your own recipes.
Not only are there recipe suggestions, but you can also find recommendations for what to eat at restaurants to stick to your FoodPrint plan. You can even connect the app to another health app or even your Fitbit to make sure all aspects of your health are being accounted for.
If you choose to use this app, you will be using the website quite a bit, too. That being said, the two sync automatically for a smooth and easy user experience. Search for recipes within the app or add your own to the site. From there, you can put together as many dishes as you like (we're talking feasts) to develop cohesive menus. Import them into the app, and you're all set.
Add the ingredients in your menus to your shopping list, and then add the entire menu to a certain day in your meal planner. The "cook now" mode features a hands-free interface as well as a built-in timer. Now that's what I'm talking about.
Not that I'm biased by the name, but this app is definitely used by yours truly. The "recipe of the day" feature is just too thrilling to pass up. My fellow planners will appreciate the app's ability to sync your menus with a Google Calendar. This way, you can send out the dinner party menu to all your friends ahead of time so they can get pumped.
The layout is straightforward and lets you drag dishes to change the order around within each day. You can search for recipes within your already saved favorites or look for new ones in their database.
Meal Planning Tips
If you're not tech savvy, don't sweat it. A simple piece of paper will also work just fine to plan out your meals for the week. Don't make it more overwhelming than it needs to be for yourself.
Roasting is your best friend and so is foil. Preheat the oven to 400ºF, cover a pan in tin foil, drop some veggies, and your dinners are one step closer to being ready. Cut up fresh vegetables over the weekend and put them in a container in the fridge. This way, they'll be ready for snacking or salad-topping whenever your tummy rumbles.