Welcome to the world of meal planning in 2024! Get ready to go pro in the kitchen with the best meal planning app of the year (+ 5 more!) to take your meal prep to the next level. Join us on this culinary adventure to discover the apps that will simplify your meal planning and elevate your dining experience.
Mastering Mealtime: The 6 Top Choices for 2024
We’re all too familiar with that feeling of returning home after a lengthy day, eagerly anticipating a comforting and nourishing meal, only to swing open the fridge door and confront the limited options – perhaps a lone jar of olives tucked away in the corner or a lingering pot of rice from a couple of nights ago.
Admittedly, even as a personal chef, I’ve been there too. It’s a bummer.
After talking with several friends about this, it became clear to me that we all needed something to make this disheartening experience one of the past: A little support.
I did feel like a bit of a genius when I realized that the support was already at hand, right on our phones. Enter meal-planning apps! Then came the question, which one is the absolute best? And which are the runner-ups?
To curate this list of the best meal-planning apps of 2024, I embarked on a thorough journey by personally testing them to see how they seamlessly integrated into my culinary routines.
Before the hands-on experience, I scrutinized user reviews, read expert opinions, and examined the features that truly matter to home cooks and food enthusiasts alike.
If you’re eager to part ways with lackluster dinners and embrace the realm of meal prep expertise, I invite you to immerse yourself in this thoughtfully curated selection. Within, you will uncover not only the premier meal planning app of 2024 but also five additional gems that may perfectly align with your culinary needs.
What Is A Meal Planning App?
Remember when I said all we need is some support with meal prep? Well, a meal-planning app is like your digital kitchen buddy.
It’s an app that helps you:
Make shopping lists
Keep track of your cooking routine.
These apps are all about making your meal planning easier, more efficient, and suited to your tastes and lifestyle, taking all the guesswork out of mealtime.
What To Look For In A Meal Planning App
User Friendliness: First and foremost, the app is supposed to make your life easier, so you want to look for one that is user-friendly and intuitive. Prioritize apps that feature a well-organized menu structure, a straightforward user interface, and efficient, streamlined operations.
Recipe Variety: Meal planning apps truly shine when they offer more recipe choices and meal ideas. This helps you meet the needs of your family while enjoying a healthy diet. Some apps even enable you to effortlessly upload your cherished recipes directly, whether they are handwritten notes or digital discoveries from the web.
Customization Options: Your meals should be thoughtfully tailored to your preferences, making customization options an essential feature.
Grocery List Integration: Let the app make your shopping process more efficient by gathering the required ingredients in one place, (and better yet, sending your grocery list straight to participating delivery services!)
Calendar: The capacity to seamlessly slot your meals into a well-structured calendar is nothing short of transformative and, without a doubt, an indispensable necessity.
Cross-Platform Availability: It’s always nice to have an app that is compatible with all of your devices, and with meal planning apps it’s great when you can sync meal plans and all your recipes across devices.
What Is the Best Meal Planning App?
Here’s my top pick for the best meal-planning app.
Exceptionally easy to use, featuring a straightforward and instinctive interface.
Streamlined grocery shopping support- you can send your grocery list directly from the app to participating grocery stores for swift and easy pickup or delivery.
Great variety and flexibility for customized recipes that fit your needs.
Emeals is the leading meal plan app for a reason. First of all, the customization is superb. Users have the freedom to select from an extensive array of specialty meal plans. The app then seamlessly generates recipes based on your chosen categories, efficiently compiles a customizable grocery list, and offers the convenience of sending that list directly to participating grocery retailers, which include prominent names such as Walmart, Safeway, and Whole Foods. The icing on the cake? You can opt to go to the store for an easy pickup or have them conveniently delivered to your doorstep. When you’re ready to get cooking, you can open the app for step-by-step instructions on how to bring that delicious meal together.
Before committing to a subscription you can enjoy a free 14-day trial, giving you plenty of time to see if it’s the right fit.
Varied and accommodating meal plan selections covering a wide spectrum of categories such as family-friendly, gluten-free, budget-conscious, and diabetic options.
Each recipe automatically includes side dishes and desserts that will bring the meal to the next level.
While some meal-planning apps offer a month-long meal plan, this one focuses on planning your meals for just a week ahead. However, having a week’s worth of personally curated meal plans is still quite appealing in my opinion.
Who It’s For:
I found Emeals super easy to use and especially enjoyed that they offer breakfast and lunch plans. You’ll enjoy this app too if you’re looking for easy, efficient, and streamlined meal-planning support. The variety, the customization, and the time-saving partnership they have with leading grocery stores make this app essential for your meal planning journey in 2024.
Reduces food waste
Millions of in-app recipes available
Automatic pantry inventory feature
Cooklist left me genuinely impressed. The digital pantry feature is my favorite. This is how it works: users can streamline their kitchen ingredient management by supplying details about the items in their fridge and pantry. The app then leverages these ingredients to craft personalized recipes based on what’s already available. Additionally, Cooklist offers the convenience of linking grocery store loyalty cards, ensuring that your digital pantry and fridge stay up-to-date effortlessly. Users have the option to select from a variety of in-app recipes as well.
Easy to use, and additional tools like the barcode scanner and pantry history add a layer to the app’s usefulness.
Free version of the app is available, making it flexible to those on a budget.
The app suggests recipes that incorporate ingredients from your pantry or fridge that are nearing their expiration date, offering an effective solution to reduce food waste.
Recipes are easily customizable.
To get started, you’ll need to manually add the items you already have in your pantry and fridge, which could be time-consuming. But it will get you started on the path of reducing food waste and moving forward you can upload your grocery store loyalty card so that this process is automated.
Who It’s For:
Perfect for those committed to reducing food waste and tightening their budget, this app’s inventory management is a game changer. It’s a must-have tool to revolutionize your kitchen, making it both efficient and a source of eco-friendly and yummy meals!
Low one-time fee, no subscription
All-in-one grocery list generator and meal plan support
Ability to create your own recipe database
MealBoard is one of the best meal-planning apps with a comprehensive and user-friendly approach. It allows users to create personalized meal plans, store their recipes, generate shopping lists, and even track their pantry inventory, all within a single platform. A feature that stood out to me was the ability to manually enter prices of grocery items, allowing budget-wise users to keep track of their food costs.
The option to input individual grocery prices for cost-conscious planning
Ability to track your pantry inventory
The app can easily sync across devices
Only available on iPhone
No in-app recipes must upload your own
Who It’s For:
MealBoard is an excellent choice for individuals and families seeking a meal planning and grocery shopping solution. With the added feature of pantry management and adding prices to grocery items, it helps users stay organized, minimize food waste, and keep on track with their budget. MealBoard is a valuable app to consider adding to your toolkit. It’s an investment in convenience and efficiency that can lead to more enjoyable and stress-free meal preparation.
All-in-one meal plan, grocery, and delivery service
Chef-crafted recipes, with options for quick 10-minute meals
Large in-app recipe catalog
Hungryroot makes the meal planning process seamless for busy families. Users start by taking a quiz to determine how the app curates meals for them and their families based on dietary preferences/restrictions and lifestyle. A grocery list is then generated based on recipes that the app knows you will love (the grocery list is customizable.) After the grocery list is all set Hungryroot gets your order ready to ship straight to your doorstep. There is an option to include “heat and eat” ready-made items, snacks, fruit, and sweet treats as well. Tough to beat, right? I was also impressed with their eco-friendly packaging, which is 100% curbside recyclable packaging!
Accommodating to all dietary needs, goals, and lifestyles
Groceries delivered to your door to save you time
This app is a bit expensive, with plans starting at $65. Compared to free meal planning apps, this might be a drawback for some users, but if you’re willing to stretch a little financially, you won’t be disappointed by this app.
Who It’s For:
Hungryroot is designed for families looking to save time while enjoying nutritious and delicious meals. One noteworthy feature I appreciate about this app is its meal rating system, which helps the app understand your preferences and consistently suggest meals you and your family will enjoy. If you’re ready to treat yourself to convenient, great-tasting meals delivered to your doorstep every week, consider giving Hungryroot a try.
Many quick options for meals ready in 30 minutes
Integrated shopping and delivery options for participating stores
Easily customizable meal plan
Mealime stands out as a beloved meal-planning app for its exceptional versatility. With a wide range of customizable options, including diet types, allergies, dislikes, and serving sizes, users can tailor their meal plans to perfection. The app boasts thousands of healthy recipes, provides an organized shopping list based on selected recipes, and offers the convenience of grocery delivery.
Free download available, with the option to upgrade for just $2.99/month
Integrated grocery delivery
Categorized and customizable grocery list
Does not currently offer dessert or snack options, but the developers say it may come in the future
Who It’s For:
Overall, we love Mealime. It’s so easy to use, so customizable, and the recipes really can get cooked and on the table quickly, making it one of the best meal planning apps for anyone, or any family on a time-crunch.
Users can set portion sizes for each household member
Focus on nutrition and custom meal plans
Tons of in-app recipes
PlateJoy is a nutrition-focused meal planner designed to simplify your meal preparation and grocery shopping while helping users with weight management at the same time. It offers a personalized weekly menu based on your dietary preferences, portion sizes, and dietary restrictions. The app offers over a dozen dietary styles, from keto to gluten-free and even vegan. Users start by answering questions about preferences, and the app then generates a customized meal plan. The plan can be tweaked if needed, and when ready, a grocery list gets generated. Users can choose to either shop themselves or use one of the app’s integrated third-party delivery options.
Users can sign up through Healthline for a discounted rate, and enjoy a free trial
Easy to use, intuitive interface
Plenty of dietary styles to choose from
A more expensive option than some meal planner apps, at a $12.99/1 month subscription, but sign up for the year and get a discount.
Who It’s For:
In summary, PlateJoy offers a comprehensive meal-planning solution that caters to various dietary preferences, promotes healthier eating habits, and simplifies the grocery shopping process. I found the customization ability a step above the rest. It’s a valuable tool for those seeking personalized meal plans and improved nutrition without the hassle.
Why You Need A Meal Planning App In Your Life
If you’re ready to get mealtime down like a pro…
It’s A Wrap
In conclusion, the world of meal planning in 2024 offers a range of innovative apps to simplify your culinary journey. From the top pick, Emeals, with its user-friendliness and grocery shopping support, to Cooklist’s focus on reducing food waste, these apps cater to diverse needs. Meal Board provides comprehensive meal planning and budget tracking, while Hungryroot offers a family-friendly, all-in-one solution. For time-saving options, Mealime delivers quick meals, and Plate Joy focuses on nutrition and weight loss. Choose the app that aligns with your goals, and embark on a culinary adventure that combines convenience with sustainability in the kitchen.
What is the best free meal-planning app?
Paprika is popularly considered the best free meal-planning app featuring unlimited recipe uploads, customizable grocery lists, and a meal-planning calendar.
Are meal plans really worth it?
Absolutely! Meal plans help singles and families take the stress out of mealtime, save money, and eat better. It’s a win-win.
What are 2 factors to consider when meal planning?
I believe 2 of the most important factors when meal planning are dietary restrictions/preferences and the cost of ingredients. You want to be both happy with your meals and reduce stress by saving money. Taking those two things into account will help you down the line.