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11 Best Meal Planning Services & Apps

Christen Russo
ByChristen RussoApr 28, 2020 | 4 comments

The 13 Best Meal Planning Services and Apps

Many of us are finding ourselves cooking a lot more meals at home these days, and if you’re looking for inspiration, the right meal planning app can give you a tremendous set of resources. Apps offer everything from recipes and grocery shopping lists to nutritional tracking; some even offer grocery delivery, which can save you time.

Of course, to find the best meal planning app, you’ll need to consider your needs. Are you doing meal prep for just yourself, or do you have a large family to feed? Do you or your family have dietary restrictions? Are you trying to set nutritional goals? 

With this list, we’ve tried to take those questions into consideration. We researched a wide variety of meal planning app options, and we’ve ranked them accordingly; you’ll also find information about what each app offers and the type of home cook who might want to use it. If we’ve missed one, be sure to let us know in the comments — and with that said, let’s dig in.

 

1. Platejoy – Best Meal Planning App for Personalization

Pumpkin black bean tacos, a meal idea from the Platejoy blog.

Image via Platejoy Blog.

The Cost: Platejoy starts with a 10-day free trial, after which you can pay $69 for a 6-month subscription or $99 for a 12-month subscription. The billing is done in a lump sum, but ends up averaging between $8 and $12 per month depending on the length of your subscription. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Custom meal plans, smart grocery lists, recipe ideas and organization, menu calendars, nutritional tracking, and optional grocery delivery via Instacart (though the cost of the groceries isn’t included in the cost of the meal planning app).

About the service: Platejoy is a meal planning app that’s all about personalization.

When you sign up, you’ll fill out a detailed survey charting over 50 data points. This survey will help the meal planning app outline your meal plan. The form gathers information on food preferences and restrictions, available appliances, the amount of time you have to spend on meal prep, and other key information. 

Using all this data, the meal planning app sorts through a vast library of recipes to find selections that work for you. With nutritionist-designed menus, grocery lists, and price estimates, the app gives you everything you need to get cooking. You can update your profile at any time, so you’re not stuck with a single menu.

Platejoy is fairly expensive compared with some of the other options, but it offers comprehensive resources for better home cooking. Over time, you can save money — and improve your skills — by following the service’s suggestions, so Platejoy offers tremendous value overall.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

2. eMeals – Best Meal Planning App for Budget-Friendly Cooking

Tomato avocado chicken and rice meal idea from eMeals.com.

Image via eMeals.

The Cost: eMeals starts you off with a 14-day free trial. After the free trial ends, membership costs range from $9.99 per month (for a 3-month subscription) to $4.99 per month (for a 12-month subscription). You’ll pay additional charges if you order your groceries through one of the app’s partnered pickup or delivery services. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, grocery lists, and the option for grocery delivery via Walmart, Kroger, Amazon, Instacart, or Shipt.

About the service: In contrast to other apps, eMeals has a quick onboarding process. You won’t fill out extensive surveys — simply input your household size and your basic dietary preferences.

There are over 15 options to choose from including vegetarian, vegan, keto, paleo, gluten-free, diabetic, 30-minute meals, and slow cooker meals. Perhaps most importantly, eMeals also includes a budget-friendly meal plan option, so if you’re cooking at home to save money, that’s the place to start.

Membership includes access to a wide range of recipes, which you’ll sort through to plan your meals for the week. The app automatically provides you with a grocery list — you can shop for yourself or use the in-app shopping feature to arrange a pickup or delivery.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

3. Eat This Much – Best Meal Planning App for Weight Management

Meal planner from Eat This Much.

Image via Eat This Much.

The Cost: Eat This Much offers a free Basic Membership. If you decide you’re interested in their Premium Membership, you start with a 14-day free trial. After your free trial ends, Premium membership costs $9 per month, or you can save by committing to a full year of membership at $5 per month. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: With this meal plan’s free Basic Membership, you’ll have access to personalized meal plans and a calorie calculator. If you upgrade to the Premium Membership, you’ll also have access to a weekly menu planner along with automated grocery shopping lists.

About the service: Eat This Much helps you determine how much and what, exactly, to eat to achieve your health goals. You’ll start by selecting your preferred diet — whether that’s paleo, vegetarian, vegan, keto, Mediterranean, or one of their other offerings.

The meal planning app also has a feature for calorie counters and macro dieters: You can enter the number of calories you’d like to consume per meal, and the app has a built-in calculator to help you generate a goal. Indicate how many meals you’d like to cook per recipe, and you’re ready to go. Eat This Much finds options that fit your lifestyle and health goals, and you can take your shopping list to the grocery store.

With the free Basic Membership, you can only do day-to-day planning. The Premium Membership allows you to plan further ahead, access automatically generated grocery lists, print and email your plans, and coordinate grocery delivery.

As mentioned earlier, there’s also a 14-day trial for new Premium members. While this meal planning app is focused around calorie counting, it’s great for anyone looking to avoid take-out.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

4. Prepear – Best Meal Planning App for Social Media Fanatics

Features of the meal planning app Prepear.

Image via Prepear.

The Cost: You can sign up and use Prepear for free, though you’ll have to deal with ads and limited access to some features. They also offer a 7-day free trial of Prepear Gold, which allows full access to all of the meal planning app’s features. After the free trial ends, your Prepear Gold membership costs $9.99 per month, billed annually. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, fully customizable meal plans , automated grocery shopping lists, notification reminders, measurement adjustments, and recipe sharing.

About the service: Prepear is both a digital meal planning app and cooking-centric social media platform. With its social element, you can build your own cookbook by saving recipes and adding your own. You can also connect with friends to share recipes or ask questions. It’s a great way to find clarifications on techniques, learn about ingredient substitutions, and share ideas with a community of like-minded cooks.

With a free membership, you can also create your own meal plan. The Gold membership enhances the community aspect by allowing you to share meal plans. Select the recipes you’d like to cook, and you’ll receive an complete shopping list, and you can easily update serving info to adjust the recipes.

Prepear is worthwhile if you use the social features, so it’s an appealing option for a certain type of cook. If you’re not planning on getting social, however, other apps on this list offer similar functionality — we’d start with the free subscription to determine whether to pay for the premium features.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

5. Yummly – Best Meal Planning App for Recipe Options

Plan meals using your phone with Yummly.

Image via Yummly.

The Cost: Yummly offers a free basic membership. The Premium membership has a 90-day free trial, and membership costs $4.99 per month after that. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, food-related articles and videos, meal planner, and automated grocery shopping lists.

About the service: Yummly’s selling point is its expansive recipe library. You can choose from more than 2 million meals, and if you find something you like on another site, you can add the recipe to the service’s database.

Search using their extensive filters, save what you find to your recipe box, and select which recipes you’d like to cook. The necessary ingredients will be automatically uploaded to your digital grocery list. Each recipe page shows you the number of ingredients used, total cook time, caloric content, and basic nutrition facts. You can also see the approximate cost of each item, though the prices are estimates — depending on where you live, some of the numbers may be slightly inaccurate.

With a Premium membership, you can access step-by-step video cooking lessons, celebrity chef instructions, exclusive recipes, and more. We love Yummly’s low price point and their extensive free trial; you’ll have 3 months to decide whether the service works for you.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

6. Paprika – Best Meal Planning App for Recipe Organization

Recipe management via the Paprika App.

Image via Paprika.

The Cost: Paprika is a $4.99 one-time purchase from the App Store or Google Play or a $29.99 one-time purchase for Windows or Mac desktop systems. The app is sold separately for each platform, so you won’t automatically have access across all your devices. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe organization, automated grocery shopping lists, meal planning, menus, timers, and cloud syncing. 

About the service: Paprika is a meal planning app that syncs your saved recipes, menus, and preferences with all your devices. However, each version of the app is sold separately, so to get the full experience, you may need to purchase Paprika for several platforms. The good news: This isn’t a subscription service, so once you’ve paid, you’re good to go. 

Paprika is designed with a built-in browser so you can search recipes from anywhere on the internet and save them to your recipe box. The app lets you plan meals on a weekly or monthly basis. It also generates grocery lists, which can be sorted by aisle. Smart recipes and built-in timers help to make cooking easier.

While Paprika’s recipe selection isn’t quite as expansive as some of the other options, it’s still formidable. While we don’t mind subscriptions, we also appreciate this app’s one-time-purchase model. If you’ve already got recipes you love, you can easily add them, and this meal planning app’s organizational tools should help you run your kitchen more efficiently.

Available on: iOs, Android, Mac, and Windows.

7. Mealime – Best Planning App for Quick Cooking

Roasted Cauliflower & Black Bean Burrito Bowl with Cilantro Lime Rice from meal planning app Mealime.

Image via Mealime.

The Cost: Mealime’s basic membership is available for free. A Mealime Meal Planner Pro membership costs $5.99 per month, or you can commit to a year of membership for $49.99. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, personalized meal plans, automated grocery shopping lists. The Mealime Meal Planner Pro subscription includes nutritional information, a calorie counter, the ability to add notes to recipes, and more.

About the service: Mealime specializes in easy meals. Each recipe takes about 30 minutes, so if you’re hoping to save time with a meal planning app, this is a great place to start.

Mealime supports classic, flexitarian, low carb, pescatarian, vegetarian, paleo, keto, and vegan diets. Your diet plan can be updated at any time, and you can add allergies, dietary restrictions, and food preferences to further refine the recipes.

You can also easily adjust the number of servings (up to 6), share recipes, and change measurement units. If several people cook in your household, Mealime has an ample set of sharing features, so you can coordinate trips to the grocery store — and other family members can add recipes with a few taps.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

8. Once a Month Meals – Best Meal Planning App to Stock Up Your Freezer

The Cost: Once a Month Meals offers a free mini meal plan, which includes 3 recipes, and all of the peripherals you’d normally get. That includes a grocery shopping list, prep instructions, recipe cards, and labels. After your free meal plan ends, membership costs $74.97 prepaid per quarter, or $249.99 prepaid per year. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas, meal planning centered on make-ahead and freezer-friendly meals, community support, and video guides.

About the service: Once a Month Meals is a little different from other meal planning services in that it focuses on long-term planning. The meals can be made up to a month in advance, then stored in the freezer. That’s an excellent approach if you have a hectic schedule — you’ll be much less tempted to order that late-night pizza if you’ve got some home-cooked burritos defrosting.

Members get access to extensive meal plans, which include options for Instant Pots, slow cookers, and traditional cooking techniques. The app also accommodates special dietary considerations, choose the diabetes-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, vegetarian, or another option, and the app will adjust its selections. With grocery lists, cooking instructions, printable labels, thawing guides, and much more, Once a Month Meals is a fantastic resource for long-term meal prep.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

9. Forks Over Knives – Best Meal Planning App for a Plant-Based Diet

Forks Over Knives

The Cost: Forks Over Knives offers a free 2-week trial, after which you can pay either $19.99 per month or or $119.99 per year to continue using the meal planning app. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, meal planning, automated grocery lists, and easy allergen avoidance.

About the service: You may recognize the name Forks Over Knives from the documentary of the same title. This meal planning app is built around the ideals of that film — the focus here is on healthy, ethical eating. It’s a vegan meal planning app, and while it’s one of the more expensive monthly subscriptions on this list, it has some high-end features that justify its cost.

The Forks Over Knives meal planning app currently has over 400 meals from dozens of chefs in their library, and they continue to add new recipes on a weekly basis. You can instantly adjust the recipe selection to avoid common food allergens (for instance, nuts, gluten, and soy). There’s also an active online community that acts as a great source of support — head online, and you’ll get additional recommendations for recipes, ingredient substitution ideas, and ideas to make meals more kid-friendly.

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

10. Meal Prep Pro – Best Meal Planning App to Accompany Your Workouts

Meal Prep Pro

The Cost: Meal Prep Pro offers a free 7-day trial, after which you’ll have the option to subscribe for $5.99 per month or $47.99 per year. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, automated grocery list, detailed nutritional information, integration with fitness apps, step-by-step video recipes, and a filter for allergies.

About the service: Meal Prep Pro is a fitness-oriented meal planning app that lets you choose your own plan. Dietary options include keto, vegan, Mediterranean, low-carb, and many others. Unlike many other apps, Meal Prep Pro also gives you the option to set your own macros — if you’re trying to eat a certain amount of protein, limit fats, or manage your carbs, Meal Prep Pro will take all of the work (and math) out of your meal planning.

Meal Prep Pro also integrates with fitness apps like Apple Fitness. After you’ve finished a meal, open the app and click the button labeled “Eaten.” Meal Prep Pro will automatically log your calories and macros in your fitness app of choice.

This meal planner app simplifies intake tracking, which makes it an excellent option for meeting serious long-term fitness goals. 

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

 

11. Cooklist – Best Meal Planning App for Minimizing Food Waste

Cooklist

The Cost: Cooklist’s basic features are free to use, Cooklist Pro will cost you $5.99 per month, or $47.99 per year. Click here to sign up!

Features offered: Recipe ideas and organization, meal planning, free grocery delivery, automated shopping lists, expiration notifications, and grocery price comparisons.

About the service: Cooklist is the perfect meal planning app for reducing your footprint. In addition to the standard features you’d expect from a cooking subscription, Cooklist keeps track of what’s in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.

To get started, you’ll import your purchases from grocery stores or add them manually. Cooklist will send you a notification when something in your kitchen is nearing its expiration date, so you can prioritize your ingredients and avoid wasting your groceries.

Cooklist also allows you to make in-app price comparisons on ingredients, so you’ll know which local grocer offers the best price. To use this app effectively, you’ll need to spend some time inputting data, but it can save you a tremendous amount of money in the long run. The service has excellent recipes, and the built-in grocery delivery services don’t cost extra (you’ll still pay delivery fees and surcharges, but Cooklist doesn’t tack on a premium).

Available on: iOS, Android, and desktop

The Best Meal Planning Apps: Factors We Considered

We’ve written extensively about food subscription boxes, but we understand the appeal of cooking from scratch. Our editors were excited to dig into the latest meal planning apps, and they considered a number of factors when creating this list. Some of those factors included:

  • Ease of Use – We looked for meal planning apps with simple, intuitive functionality — if we had to tap back and forth to try to figure out how to change a serving size or view cooking instructions, we didn’t include the service on this list. Some apps require some data input from the user (for instance, Cooklist, featured at the end of our list), but we made sure that those features were implemented in a straightforward way.
  • Overall Cost – This list includes apps with one-time fees and subscription services. We included options with a range of pricing, but tried to make sure that each app’s features justified its cost. 
  • Recipe Saving and Sharing – Many households share the cooking duties, so we looked for apps with sharing features. We also prioritized apps that allow users to add their own recipes; if you make a great lasagna that you make every Sunday, we think that your meal planner should be flexible enough to allow for menu adjustments.
  • Dietary Considerations – Sticking to a strict plan can be difficult, so we chose apps that accommodate different allergies, diets, and lifestyles. Whether you’re eating paleo, vegetarian, or you’re simply cutting down on red meat, you’ll find an app on this list that helps.
  • Other Features – Some services focus on cutting food waste; others help meal preppers plan months in advance. We included apps geared towards different types of audiences, paying close attention to the features they use to make meal planning easier.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you find a meal planner that meets your goals. If we’ve missed a great app, let us know — and happy cooking.


Looking for more food subscriptions?

Here are some helpful articles and lists featuring grocery delivery, meal kits, and prepared meal services:


Which of these meal planning services do you think you’ll try? Let us know in the comments!


The Best Meal Planning Apps and Services

Christen Russo
Christen Russo
Christen is a smile collector, outdoors enthusiast, and appreciator of soggy French fries. Her favorite subscriptions involve eco-friendly products and clothes, nature supplies, stationery, and coffee. She can be easily won over with a good sheet of stickers.

Christen Russo
Christen Russo
Christen is a smile collector, outdoors enthusiast, and appreciator of soggy French fries. Her favorite subscriptions involve eco-friendly products and clothes, nature supplies, stationery, and coffee. She can be easily won over with a good sheet of stickers.
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4 comments

Suzanne

Cooksmarts is also great, love it!

Mary

I agree, Suzanne! Cooksmarts is my favorite.

Enid

I’m still happy with home chef. I signed up right before the stay at home situation. It’s so helpful. I also send one to my mom and she loves it!

Christen Russo

Awesome, Enid, we love Home Chef! So happy it’s working out well for you & yours during this time.

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Our reviewers research, test, and recommend the best subscriptions and products independently; click to learn more about our editorial guidelines. We may receive commissions on purchases made through links on our site.