What’s one thing most busy parents have in common? Trying to get through their day while mulling over the question, “What’s for dinner?”
We could all use a little help to ensure that healthy and affordable meals make it to the table every evening, and mobile meal planning apps make that possible. It’s easier than ever to take a moment at lunch or during your child’s soccer practice to thumb through your phone and put together that night’s dinner, or even be proactive and plan the entire week’s meal plan.
Check out some of the best meal planning apps available.
Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
The highly popular food writer and author has made cooking and meal planning that much easier with an app version of the bestselling cookbook How to Cook Everything.
This feature-packed app with access to thousands of recipes and variations costs only $4.99. The best meal planning feature is the shopping list. One click adds all the ingredients for the chosen recipes to the list. Bittman also provides the same features for vegetarians with his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian app (also $4.99).
Food on the Table (Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
Having easy access to recipes and grocery lists is great, but what about managing the family food budget? Enter Food on the Table, a free app that allows users to create a weekly meal plan based on what’s on sale at their local grocery stores. The printable grocery list is organized by department for quicker shopping.
AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner (Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
Leading recipe site Allrecipes.com boasts over 40,000 recipes and many advanced search features. So when late meetings mean no time for a stop at the grocery store, the AllRecipes Dinner Spinner allows for a quick pick of recipes based on ingredients you have in the pantry. The free app’s most fun feature delivers a randomly selected meal plan with a quick shake of the phone.
Epicurious (Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Nook, Windows phone)
With over 30,000 professionally created and tested recipes from leading magazines like (the now defunct) Gourmet and Bon Appetit, this free app also offers interactive shopping lists and step-by-step instructions. For $1.99, users can sync recipes to their online Recipe Box.
Fooducate (Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
Shopping and meal planning become that much trickier when allergies are a concern. Thankfully Fooducate’s free app provides allergen information with a quick scan of the food item’s bar code.
Allergy-safe and favorite items can then be saved. The scan also produces a letter grade, reflecting the item’s overall healthiness. If an item ranks low, a quick peek at the “Alternatives” tab reveals healthier choices.
Now you can be an effective meal planner untethered from your kitchen, handwritten grocery lists and cookbooks. Mobile meal planning apps are enabling the busiest of parents to put delicious, healthy and affordable dinners on the table with ease.