One of my biggest new year’s resolutions is to stay organized, and getting my meals planned is key. Because the hardest part of cooking for me — other than the kids pulling on my shirt or asking me to help them put together their 1,487-piece LEGO set right now — is not knowing what I’m going to cook.
Like GI Joe, knowing is half the battle, when it comes to dinner time.
Cool Mom Eats’s new Facebook group Recipe Rescue has been a really helpful resource for me, because the parents on there have smart real-life tips and recipe ideas. Join us, if you haven’t already. Then, add your favorite recipes to these meal planning apps. Getting organized this way is making my life so much easier.
Eat This Much: For the person on a diet
On the Eat This Much app, you can enter your diet goals alongside your favorite foods (and even your food budget, whoa) and the app will generate meal plans and shopping lists for you. If you’re willing to give up a lot of control and just let the app do the work for you, this is a great way to stay on target for your weight loss goals. That said, if you don’t like any of their suggestions week-to-week, you can just swipe to replace with a different meal. The best part — as long as you eat what they suggest and don’t cheat — is that you don’t have to track any calories, because it’s all done for you.
Paprika: For the family who already has favorite recipes
Meal planning apps often have limited recipes to choose from, so my favorite feature about Paprika is that it lets you search all the web — including your favorite food bloggers — for recipes. Since I can include the recipes I already know my family will eat, this makes it the most realistic choice for me. Plus, it’s super handy that it uploads the ingredients from your chosen recipes into a shopping list for you. Now, if it could just do the cooking too.
Yummly: For the home cook who wants to hone her (or his) skills
If you need some help in the kitchen beyond planning your meals, then Yummly is your app. You can choose from more than one million recipes, but the app uses a smart algorithm to identify which recipes you “yum” so it can recommend others you’ll like. Because one million is a lot to scroll through. But, Yummly does way more than just add recipes to a calendar. It includes video tutorials for the cooking techniques in the recipes you choose each week, as well as links to buy any equipment you may need. If your goal is to actually improve your cooking as you go, this is a great place to start.
MealBoard: For the type-A kind of parent
If you’re obsessed with organization, you’re going to love MealBoard. This app not only lets you search for recipes and add them to your calendar, but it keeps track of what ingredients you have on hand at home. Let’s be honest, you’ll need to get a sitter and set aside some serious time to set this app up properly, but once you do it is a really powerful tool. The app lets you know you don’t need to buy onions for that recipe, because you already have them. Brilliant! And by entering the price for the ingredients too, it will let you know just how much you’re spending on a meal. No longer buying duplicates when you shop — hello, expensive spices — and avoiding pricey recipes in the first place makes this a great app for people on a budget who are willing to keep up with what’s on hand by updating the app as you cook.