Best Meal Planning Apps

How to find the best meal planning app to fit your lifestyle and goals

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Best Meal Planning Apps

In a world focused on to-do lists and productivity, finding the time and energy to plan healthy meals tailored to your tastes and nutritional needs can be a daunting task. Fortunately, a multitude of apps can make meal planning—and maybe even weight loss—a lot more attainable. 

Meal planning is a great way to save money and eat healthier as it encourages you to make more meals at home, buy only the groceries you need, and provides you with a structured, easy-to-follow plan each week. Meal planning apps not only save time but can help you get creative and find new recipes to support your diet. 

Many meal planning apps have a free version or trial period and some offer upgraded plans with useful features like a calendar or grocery list. Read on to select the right meal planning app for your lifestyle and health goals, keeping cost and usability in mind.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: PlateJoy

PlateJoy

PlateJoy

Why We Chose It: We chose PlateJoy for best overall due to its individualized approach, ability to compile grocery lists, integration with grocery delivery services, and extensive recipe database.

What We Like
  • Offers meals based on your dietary preferences

  • Compiles grocery lists

  • Available on Apple and Android

  • Includes a digital pantry

  • Integrates with grocery delivery like Amazon Prime or Instacart

What We Don't Like
  • Monthly subscription is over $10/month

  • Only offers a 10-day free trial

  • Difficult to contact customer service

  • Some complex recipes

PlateJoy is easy to use, highly customizable meal planning app that allows you to choose from various meal plans such as clean eating, diabetic-friendly, kid-friendly, paleo, vegan or low FODMAP. Upon signing up, you fill out an intake form that includes health goals, taste preferences, and preferred ingredients. You can also set a calorie goal and stipulate the number of meals desired each week. 

PlateJoy includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and gives you the option to receive a weekly meal plan or design your own. PlateJoy has one of the more extensive recipe collections and combines all the ingredients into one grocery list for the week. You can set dietary preferences for each family member and upload your favorite recipes. PlateJoy can save hours a week on meal planning and includes the option to order groceries through Instacart or Amazon Fresh. 

PlateJoy is a more expensive option as their basic plan costs $69 for six months or $99/year. Cost aside, PlateJoy will help eliminate waste and save money on groceries since you are only buying what you need. Their 10-day free trial will help you decide if it’s for you. We also liked that you can view nutritional information for each meal, and meals range from simple recipes that can be prepared quickly to those requiring a bit more work.

Best for Families: Emeals

Emeals

Emeals

Why We Chose It: We picked emails for its kid-friendly recipes, a large variety of meal plans catering to families and the ability to order groceries through popular grocery delivery services. Emeals is great for busy parents or those cooking for large families.

What We Like
  • Allows you to choose a plan for your dietary preferences

  • 14-day free trial

  • Multiple plans to choose from

  • Integrates with grocery delivery services

  • Has a family-friendly meal option

  • Available on Apple and Android

What We Don't Like
  • Can require a lot of cooking

  • Expensive

  • Difficult to cancel

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dessert are an additional cost

  • Cannot eliminate specific ingredients

Emeals is a great choice for those who have large families and limited time to meal plan. Like other similarly priced apps, you can set your dietary preferences and choose meal plans based on nutrition goals. Their large database of recipes is interesting enough for foodies but easy enough to follow for the at-home cook. It offers options such as clean eating, paleo, kid-friendly, slow cooker, or vegan. The basic plan only includes dinner, but you can add breakfast, lunch, and dessert for an additional cost. You can also choose special occasions to plan if you are prepping for the holidays or hosting family. 

Emeals integrates with most grocery delivery services so you can order groceries ahead of time to be delivered at your door. Although it is more expensive than other plans, it will help you eat at home more often and avoid expensive meals out. Each week you get a grocery list with food quantities, and if you like a particular website such as allrecipes.com, you can choose to have recipes only from that site.

Emeals is available on Apple and Android. The basic plan costs $59.99/year, but each add-on increases the price. Reviews state that it is difficult to cancel as you need to contact them directly, and the app cannot eliminate certain ingredients. Meal plans can be set for one to two people or three to six, but any other changes need to be calculated yourself. Overall, Emeals is a great choice for busy families who want to take the guesswork out of meal planning with an easy-to-follow menu each week.

Best for Weight Loss: Eat This Much

Eat This Much

Eat This Much

Why We Chose It: If you’re looking to lose weight, Eat This Much is a good choice for those interested in how many calories or macronutrients they consume each day.

What We Like
  • Can choose plans to suit specific dietary preferences

  • Can set desired macros and calories

  • Can filter recipes by foods preferences

  • Basic plan is free

What We Don't Like
  • Only exports grocery list to Instacart

  • Meals are basic and often repetitive

  • Can’t switch between meal plans easily

  • Difficult to cancel

Eat This Much is a meal planning app that makes your weight loss and fitness goals a priority. Designed for those who follow a specific dietary plan such as keto, carb cycling, or vegan, Eat This Much creates meal plans to suit your lifestyle. It allows you to set daily carb, protein, and fat targets or set a calorie goal for the day. 

In the upgraded version, you can have the app create a weekly plan for you or schedule meals in your calendar each week. It is easy to filter recipes by foods you like, and you can upload personal recipes as well. Like many other apps, grocery lists are created for you each week, and you can export lists to Instacart for grocery delivery to save time. 

Unfortunately, it is challenging to switch between meal plans and cancel if you decide it isn’t for you. Eat This Much offers a free version that may work for some people but the paid version offers the option to plan meals for the entire week, track pantry items, and create grocery lists. The paid version is $5/month with an annual membership or $9/month with no yearly commitment. 

Eat This Much has limited meal choices, and reviews state that meals can be fairly basic or contain obscure food pairings so that you can hit your macros for the day. It is available on Apple and Android and can be great for those following a specific meal plan to support fitness goals such as weight loss or muscle gain.

Best For Quick And Easy Meals: Mealime

Mealime

Mealime

Why We Chose It: Mealime was selected as best for quick and easy meals due to its tasty recipes, ability to tailor your plan to suit your food preferences, ease of use, and great app interface.

What We Like
  • Basic plan is free

  • Can input food restrictions and preferences

  • Exports to Amazon fresh or Instacart

  • Creates weekly grocery lists

  • Available on Apple and Android

  • Most recipes take 30 minutes

What We Don't Like
  • Can only choose 2 or 4 servings

  • Basic plan does not include nutritional information

  • Meals can be simple and bland

  • Only includes 2–6 meals/week with the basic plan

Mealime is a well-designed app that makes meal planning quick and easy each week. Like other meal planning apps, your journey begins with an intake form where you can set your food preferences, select your diet preference such as keto, pescatarian, vegan, state allergies, and the number of servings each meal. It can connect to Instacart or Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery. The upgraded version gives you access to additional recipes, nutritional information, and the ability to upload your favorite recipes. 

The free version of Mealime is one of the best free meal planning apps we’ve reviewed with useful features like a calendar, grocery list, and library of recipes. The upgraded version is $5.99/month or $49.99/year and is a great choice for those who want to view nutritional information or plan additional meals to help reach diet goals. Most meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare and are simple enough for the average cook. 

The grocery list is sorted by aisle and gives you exact measurements needed for all your recipes for the week. Their app also includes a ‘hands-free’ feature that makes it easy to follow recipes while cooking without touching your phone with sticky fingers. 

Overall, Mealime is an excellent option for those who want to try meal planning, have limited time, and only need to plan dinners for two to four people. Their healthy, family-friendly options will save time and money and keep your fridge stocked with the right foods so you can avoid last-minute fast food stops.

Best for Batch Cooking: Prep Dish

Prep Dish

Prep Dish

Why We Chose It: If you’re short on time and prefer to meal prep for multiple days at a time, Prep Dish was selected by us as the best app for batch cooking.

What We Like
  • Healthy recipes

  • Created by a dietician

  • Email you a new meal plan each week

  • Don’t have to choose recipes

  • Can prepare all your meals at once

What We Don't Like
  • Prep day is time-consuming

  • Unable to swap out recipes

  • Ingredients can be pricey

  • Recipes serve 4; no option to customize

  • Doesn’t integrate with grocery delivery apps

If you are a busy professional or parent who doesn’t have time to cook every night, Prep Dish can help you prepare healthy meals ahead of time, saving time and money. We liked this service because it was created by dietician Allison Schaaf and includes healthy and wholesome recipes each week. You will get an email each week with a regular, paleo, or gluten-free menu to choose from. Prep Dish is the only one we reviewed that does not currently have an app but can be easily accessed on its website. 

Their menu includes four dinners, a side salad, a snack, and a dessert. Instructions are broken down into prep day and dish day. During prep day, you prepare all your food for multiple days and pack it up to reheat later in the week. Dish day gives you directions on how to reheat your meals or quickly put them together at dinnertime. Prep day can be time-consuming and take over 2 hours but saves time during the week.

Prep Dish is more expensive than some of the apps reviewed at $14.99/month or $99/year. Since recipes source high-quality ingredients, grocery trips can be expensive, but you are given exact quantities of everything you need for the week, so there is little waste. Prep dish recipes only serve four people, and their service does not integrate with a grocery delivery app. Overall, if you’re looking to try batch cooking, this is an easy place to start.

Best for Importing Your Own Recipes: Mealboard

Mealboard

Mealboard

Why We Chose It: Mealboard was selected by us as best for importing your own recipes due to its no-frill app interface, ability to schedule multiple meals for each day, and helpful grocery list feature.

What We Like
  • Can input your own recipes

  • Can adjust the number of servings

  • Can schedule multiple meals per day

  • Grocery lists can be sorted by store

  • Can save meal plans as templates

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Only available on iOS

  • No meal plans for dietary restrictions

  • No ability to filter out ingredients or set preferences

  • Limited preloaded recipe library

  • Does not integrate with grocery delivery apps

Mealboard is an excellent app for storing your own recipes as it makes it easy to add recipes or upload from your favorite websites manually. You can adjust for serving size and can schedule as many meals as you’d like on your calendar. We love that you can save meal plans as templates to reuse later and view an easy-to-follow grocery list when you go shopping. The app also includes a pantry feature where you can keep track of what you have at home and add or remove items. 

Unlike the other apps reviewed, Mealboard does not provide you with a plan each week. It is up to you to schedule your meals on the calendar and choose what recipes are best for you. It does not give you the ability to eliminate ingredients or set dietary restrictions, but you can adjust for the number of servings, which helps families. 

Mealboard is one of the least expensive apps we reviewed and does not have a monthly service charge. It is $3.99 to download and is available on the Apple app store. Although its standard recipe library is limited, you can upload as many recipes as you’d like and organize them, so they are easy to find. Mealboard is a great app for those who are cooking for picky eaters, have their own favorite recipes, and just want a quick way to create grocery lists and plan for the week.

Final Verdict

Of the various meal planning apps available, one of them is sure to fit your budget, household needs, and food preferences. Ranging from free to paid versions, most of the apps reviewed will provide you with a meal plan for the week, a library of recipes to choose from, and a grocery list to make it easy to figure out what you need to buy. Meal planning apps will help you save time and money, can decrease food waste, and limit unnecessary packaging. 

When deciding what meal planning app to choose, it’s best to pick one that suits your lifestyle and dietary goals. Meal planning apps are a great way to try new recipes or stick to a diet that will support your health goals. Busy parents and professionals alike can benefit from meal planning, and the cost of the app will be well worth it if you follow the program each week.

FAQs

What Is a Meal Planning App? 

A meal planning app helps you plan your meals for the week, provides you with a grocery list with quantities needed for the whole week of food, and can help you follow specific meal plans or adhere to dietary restrictions with ease. 

Is a Meal Planning App Easy to Use?

Yes! Meal planning apps are designed to save you time, help you stay organized, and view your meals for the week all in one place. 

Can I Import my Own Recipes? 

Some meal planning apps allow you to upload your own recipes from a website or enter them yourself. Other meal planning apps simply provide you with a menu for the week with no ability to upload your own recipes. 

How Much Does a Meal Planning App Cost? 

Most meal planning apps range from free for the basic version to $16/month. 

Can a Meal Planning App Help me Lose Weight? 

Yes! Most meal planning apps include healthy, unprocessed foods and help you limit the number of times you eat out each week. If followed correctly, meal planning apps can help you reach your nutrition and weight loss goals. 

How We Chose the Best Meal Planning Apps

To compile our list of best meal planning apps we researched meal planning apps, consulted various blogs and reviews, and searched the app store for highly-rated options. We only considered apps with multiple positive reviews, a grocery list feature, and the option to choose different meal plans or customize the menu in some way. Factors such as cost, accessibility, how they cater to specific diets or food sensitivities, ease of use, and app features were also assessed.

Lastly, we gave preference to apps that had extensive recipe libraries and the feature to exclude certain foods or set dietary preferences. This is important, especially for people with food sensitivities, as a meal plan full of foods you cannot eat is not very helpful.  All companies researched are available in the U.S. and have pricing information listed online.

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