One of the joys of summer vacation for me is having a break from packing lunches and cooking every single night. Meals just seem easier in the summer with the days not being as rushed and dinners taking a backseat to outside play time. With back-to-school looming, I’m already thinking about the 5:00 dread oh man, what are we going to eat?

How to Cool Everything app

Rather than scrambling for ideas each night (or relying on the good-ol breakfast-for-dinner standby–more than a few times) meal planning is a much better way to go. These 5 terrific food-focused apps can help you do just that:



How to Cook Everything

Recipes from the How to Cook Everything app
Mark Bittman is a culinary god and his How to Cook Everything iPad app is an all-encompassing resource for more than just menu planning. There are 400 how-to illustrations, tips, techniques, ingredients and more that will inspire you to go way beyond chicken nuggets. In fact, there re 2000 recipes here making it well worth the price. There’s a reason Bittman is every food blogger’s go-to resource and it all comes to life beautifully in this must-own app. (iOS, $4.99)

Grocery IQ

Grocery IQ app

Meals start with a trip to the grocery store, so if you’re on this planning kick, why not get organized with groceries too? Grocery IQ helps you figure out exactly what you need, create lists for your essentials and favorites, and keep track of what you’ve recently purchased. It also lets you store coupons and store loyalty cards so you don’t have to dig around your purse for them. (iOS and Android, Free) 

Menu Planner

Menu Planner meal planning app
If you’re going to plan menus, an app called the Menu Planner app sounds on the money, right? You can either enter in recipes yourself or import them from popular sites like Epicurious, Food Network and more so you can plan the week’s meals like a pro. The app creates grocery lists for you based on the meals you’ve created and you can also access all your data through the Menu Planner website while you’re taking inventory of your kitchen pantry. (iOS, $2.99) 
Decide what's for dinner with the Epicurious app
Ever found yourself fridge-surfing to find enough ingredients to cobble together a meal? If so, you’ll appreciate the feature in the Epicurious app that lets you identify certain ingredients you have, then be presented with a slew of recipes. Genius. You can even share recipes with your friends and show them that you can indeed make a meal out of chicken, olives and one green pepper. (iOS and Android, Free) 

Appetites recipe app

For those times you wish there were a real chef around to show you the culinary ways, check out the Appetites app. This app offers video instruction and tons of fabulous recipes. The app is free to download and comes with starter pack that consists of 30 video recipes. There are additional packs available for $1.99 each, but the 30 it comes with are a solid start to a delicious couple weeks worth of meals. (iOS, Free) -Jeana