Make Meal Planning Easy
Tired of getting stumped by the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” Try these services that streamline the meal-planning process.
Cooksmarts shares a new meal plan every Friday that includes recipes and a shopping list for four simple, balanced meals. Each meal comes with a gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian option, and the site hosts a wealth of cooking tips to help novices feel like master chefs. A three-month subscription costs $21.
Emeals sends a seven-meal plan to your inbox every week that includes an entrée and side dishes. They include a shopping list, and you can upgrade to a store-based plan that coordinates the list with deals at your store of choice. Choose one of their 24 plan types based on your family size and eating style (e.g., clean, paleo, low carb, diabetic) and follow the simple recipes for a healthy, home-cooked meal every night. They offer a free 14-day trial, and plans start at $39 for three months.
The Fresh20 provides weekly meal plans and a shopping list for 20 fresh, seasonal ingredients that you purchase at your favorite store. You receive a detailed meal-prep guide with five original recipes for balanced meals. Options include vegetarian, gluten free, kosher, meals for one, classic and lunch. Plans cost $10/month with discounts for 3- and 12-month subscriptions.
Mealime touts its simplicity, personalization, flexibility and support as key features of its service. Users can set specific attributes that define their eating habits (e.g., three gluten-free, nut-allergic meals for one) so mealime can choose just the right recipes. Meal preparation takes 30 minutes at most, and the grocery lists they generate organize items by grocery department so you can save on shopping time, too. They offer a free two-week trial, with monthly plans starting at $12.
Paprika Recipe Manager is available only as an app. Access your recipes, grocery lists and meal plans seamlessly from multiple devices via its free Cloud Sync feature. Paprika’s cooking tools allow you to switch easily between recipes that you’re cooking simultaneously, and you can automatically scale a recipe for the desired number of servings. The smart grocery list feature will synchronize all the recipes in your weekly or monthly meal plan so you don’t have multiple entries for the same ingredient. You’ll spend $2.99 to $4.99 on handheld devices and $19.99 for a Mac or PC.
Pepper Plate is a free mobile app that’s available for iOS, Android, Windows, Nook and Kindle devices. The app helps you manage recipes, menus and shopping lists and allows you to share recipes via email, Facebook and Twitter. When you’re in the kitchen, use the COOK NOW feature to set multiple timers so you can keep track of all the recipes on your menu. Offline at the store? No problem. You can still access your recipe collection without an Internet connection.
Plan to Eat helps you organize your own recipes into a meal plan. You collect recipes in an online cookbook and drop them onto specific days in a calendar feature. The service generates your grocery list. Plan to Eat offers a free, no-strings 30-day trial after which you can opt for a monthly ($4.95) or annual ($39) subscription.