Picture this:  You’re roaming around the grocery store looking for a snack.  You find something that looks promising, but it’s full of fat and sugar and devoid of any nutritional value. Sure, you could buy it, because sometimes empty calories are just what we’re craving. However, if you’re looking for an easy way to find nutritious alternatives to your favorite foods, then Fooducate can help.

We all know that it’s important to stock up on fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, but healthy shopping can be challenging when it comes to packaged foods. Fooducate is a free app for the iPhone and Android that helps decode food packaging into letter grades from A to D.

Fooducate a very user-friendly app: just scan the barcode of the food you want to buy and the app will tell you its grade. Grades are based on a fancy algorithm that factors in ingredients, fat, sugar, fiber and vitamin content. I’m no math major, so that’s pretty much all I can reasonably tell you about how Fooducate works.

Ratings also include other app users’ reviews of the product. The reviews aren’t great and sometimes aren’t grammatically correct, ranging from “Great product!” to “I like it.” Fooducate definitely isn’t Yelp for the supermarket.

Besides providing nutrition information and a letter grade, the app also recommends more nutritious substitutes for the food you’ve scanned. For example, when you scan a package of Goldfish crackers, Fooducate might suggest an organic or whole-grain brand of snack crackers as a healthier alternative.

I dislike when websites or apps recommend “healthier” alternatives that are full of artificial ingredients, so a feature of Fooducate that I particularly appreciate is that organic foods and foods without preservatives or artificial sweeteners receive higher scores.

Not all apps are perfect, however, and sometimes Fooducate will make impractical recommendations. It often recommends fruit as a suggestion for packaged crackers or cookies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who goes grocery shopping for cookies and then purchases apples instead. When this happens, it’s helpful to reload the page or scan a similar item to get better suggestions.

Fooducate saves you time by doing the homework of healthy grocery shopping for you. It has a colorful, easy-to-use format. While it does have some flaws, Fooducate is a useful app if you’re clueless when deciphering nutrition labels, or if you simply want help making healthier choices at the grocery store.

Read more about Fooducate here.