The best meal-planning apps for 2020

One of the best solutions for busy people to eat better at home is to plan and prep ahead. Preparing nutritious and delicious meals at home is especially critical these days when eating out and food shopping are more challenging. For many people, it can be hard to get started. Instead of letting that hold you back, try one of the apps on this list to give you a shove in the right direction. From organizing menus to creating shopping lists, these meal-planning apps help take the stress off your plate, swapping it for delicious homemade meals.

Big Oven (free)

BigOven makes it easy to gather all your favorite recipes in one central place and offers many ways to incorporate them into the app. It not only helps with mealtime inspiration, but it also assists in meal-prep, grocery shopping, and incorporating leftovers into new meals. Clip recipes from your favorite sites or upload recipes by snapping a photo, or mark existing recipes as a favorite to save for later. Organize and filter recipes by category to find any recipe with seasonal collections or suggested dishes, or tap to save and share meal ideas. Add recipes to your planner, create a grocery list, and discover recipes with ingredients you already have to reduce food waste. The app sponsors a home cooking community for additional ideas and feedback.

iOS  Android

Forks Over Knives ($5)

Are you vegetarian, vegan, or aspiring to a plant-based diet? If so, Forks Over Knives is the ultimate recipe app from the makers of the film of the same name. It features over 400 meals from some 50 chefs, with new recipes added for free every week. Every recipe exemplifies the plant-based lifestyle that is increasingly recognized for its health benefits and humane treatment of animals. The app also features gorgeous high-resolution meal photos, instructions on how to prep featured dishes, ingredients, prep steps, a shopping list for each meal, and other tips for maintaining a meat-free diet.

iOS  Android

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner (free)

If you need some help and some company in the kitchen, Allrecipes Dinner Spinner’s food-centric social app, with its community of more than 30 million home cooks, can help you put some variety in your dietary life. This personalized app gets smarter as you follow, save, or prepare various dishes. Tailor your selections by searching by keyword or ingredients to focus on dietary needs and time restrictions and then use the app to save, create, organize, and share recipe collections. You can also economize by cooking what’s on sale near you, and the app can suggest recipes when you walk to certain stores. Tap to add full recipes or ingredients to your shopping list, which you can cook with the help of some 1,000 step-by-step cooking videos, complete with cooking instructions.

iOS  Android

Veganized (free)

Veganized is a plant-based diet meal planner that lets you search, create, and share your favorite vegan products and recipes and track your nutrition. It helps you plan meals and create shopping and grocery lists to gather all the items you need to prepare vegan recipes. It’s a recipe app with a social networking platform, so you can find new recipes and create and share your own recipes with the community. A nutrients function lets you check all energy, macronutrient distribution, fiber, vitamin, and mineral information for each dish. Veganized helps you plan your meals every day and personalizes nutrient intake according to your age, gender, weight, and level of physical activity. And it generally helps to promote a vegan diet and lifestyle.


Mealime (free)

Mealime (no, not a typo) is designed around planning family or guest meals the easy way. You can create profiles of everyone you are cooking for, which can list likes, dislikes, general eating habits, allergies, and so on. You can also create profiles for couples or whole families to make planning a little easier. You can then look for recipes that match all those requirements. Pick one, and it gives you full instructions and can automatically add the necessary ingredients to your grocery list. Most recipes are focused on fast prep times around 30 minutes, so you may be able to save even more time in the kitchen. Recent updates to the app include new recipes, retooled older recipes, six-person servings and custom serving sizes, improvements to delivery integration with Instacart, revamped recipe descriptions and history, and the ability to share your list with other apps, print from your phone, or share with your family members inside the app.

iOS  Android

FoodPlanner (free)

FoodPlanner is based around recipes. It allows you to browse the web for healthy recipes and download them onto the app. It gives you the nutritional data for the meals and allows you to automatically generate a shopping list. An extra inventory-management system for the truly serious foodie allows you to keep track of your current ingredients, and you can also make recipes from scratch if you wish. There are sharing features as well that can help you figure out how to meal prep.


MealPlan+ ($4)


MealPlan presents you with meal tags that you can drag and drop into a weekly schedule to quickly plan your meals (and even email them to other people). The tags make it easy to search for specific meals, and can automatically generate grocery lists for you. You can also tweak meals to add snacks, put in links to specific recipes, or remove certain meals entirely. You can search for new meals and generate a tag for them, too. There’s a learning curve, but it’s a fun system, particularly if you have an iPad or an Apple Watch.


MealBoard ($4)


Do you love to customize every little detail? Then MealBoard may be the app for you. It acts like many of the other apps on our list, with a search function for meals pulled from the internet, the ability to plan out meals on a calendar, and the option to generate a grocery list. But a couple of features make it unique: The interface is particularly pleasant to use and easy to customize, and there’s a pantry mode that allows you to move ingredients to your pantry when you buy them and remove them when you run out.


Eat This Much (free)

Here’s a different approach: If your primary goal is to lose weight, then Eat This Much encourages you to enter your food preferences, how much money you want to spend, your schedule, and how many calories the meals will contain. It will then generate meal plans for you and provide grocery lists for the ingredients. If you like cooking (as opposed to meal delivery) but want to develop healthier eating habits, this app could help you do just that. Recent versions add the option to count and generate food based on net carbs. Subscribers can now order groceries online through AmazonFresh. Food Search has been overhauled, allowing you to browse multiple categories of foods at once, with your favorites easier to find, while clarifying the distinction between different food genres.

iOS  Android

Lose It! (free)

Lose It! is a weight-loss app, but instead of recording the number of calories you want per meal, you just set general goals and a bodyweight target that you want to reach. Then you accurately track what you are eating and what sort of exercise you are getting. The app includes a food database with millions of options to choose from, a scanning function so you can instantly add purchased foods, and even some photo recognition for basic foods. Lose It! is ideal if you like to combine meal planning with tracking both your food intake and exercise levels. It’s especially handy if you’re running Apple devices already; it’s compatible with Apple Health and the Apple Watch. In recent updates, the app now sends recipe ingredients as separate food items to the Apple Health App. The newest versions update the recipe feature to let you copy a recipe and add additional serving units. There are also updates to the Apple Watch and Steps connection and enhanced status screens. The app now supports viewing your grocery lists on your Apple Watch.

iOS  Android

Paprika ($5)

Paprika Recipe Manager 3 is an interactive meal planner. In addition to the usual features like finding recipes online, building automatic grocery lists, and planning meals for the week or month, it provides tools that you can use to go deeper. You can automatically scale ingredients, cross them off as you add them to your dish, and post photos to your recipes. You can even customize your grocery categories based on how you like to shop — there are tons of ways to make sure everything is just the way you like it. The versatility and scalability make this a handy app for planning meals for a crowd. Newer versions add the ability to search recipe descriptions, making it easier to find your favorite dishes. Recent updates offer better sync performance, too.

iOS  Android

Yummly (free)

Yummly is a food-sharing and recipe-finding app that features plenty of vivid photos and a rating system to help you find the most popular (or at least the most talked-about) recipes online. When it comes time to actually make the dish, Yummly can also supply video guides. The app even recommends foods you might like. If you have your meal routine worked out but need some help finding the right recipes, Yummly is a great, albeit more casual, app. Recent updates include Ingredient Recognition wherein Yummly uses real-time image recognition to detect the ingredients you have on hand and recommends the best recipes to make with them. This way, you don’t need to venture outside the app to see what you can make out of your pantry. A new Pro version is now available for $5 per month that features hands-on cooking shows from famous chefs from around the world. New versions launch My Connected Kitchen, the command center for the Yummly Smart Thermometer, that’s designed to take the guesswork out of cooking.

iOS  Android

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