The 11 Best Meal Planning Apps to Help You Lose Weight – Healthline
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Meal planning is one of the best ways to kickstart and stay on top of your weight loss goals.
However, finding the time and energy to plan healthy meals tailored to your tastes and nutritional needs can be a daunting task.
Fortunately, a multitude of apps can make meal planning — and maybe weight loss — a lot more attainable.
Here are 11 of the best meal planning apps available today.
We’ve chosen meal planning apps for every budget. The following guide is used for providing a quick look at cost:
Mealime offers user-friendly, customizable meal plans that you can tailor to your diet while excluding specific foods you don’t like. This app is the best budget planning app because of the comprehensive features offered for free when using the app.
The app builds your meal plan by taking your diet preferences and food allergies into account during set-up making it easier to follow if you have dietary restrictions.
After you’ve entered your preferences, you’re presented with a variety of recipe choices, complete with full-color photos, simple instructions, and an organized grocery list. An additional bonus is that the recipes all take under 40 minutes to prepare.
The app also features the option to use the ingredients you have on hand by filtering recipes based on ingredients you enter into the app. Additionally, you can use the meal prepping feature to prep meals ahead of time by adjusting the number of portions in the recipe.
Some recipes aren’t available in the free version of the app. Additionally, you cannot add your own recipes, set calorie preferences, view nutrition information, or save previously used meal plans unless you upgrade to the pro version.
The basic version is free while the pro version is $2.99/month and it’s available on both iOS and Android platforms.
Paprika is marketed primarily as a recipe manager, but it also includes menu planning features. This app is considered the best for organizing recipes because it offers functionality like a browser extension that makes tracking your favorite recipes simple.
With Paprika, you’re in charge of saving and entering recipes to build meal plans. It does not have its own preset recipes and menus. Therefore, it’s probably best for people who can structure a meal plan with minimal support.
This app provides customized grocery lists and allows you to save recipes directly from the web. Additionally, Paprika detects when more than one recipe needs the same ingredient and consolidates the relevant grocery lists for you.
The app will keep your screen turned on while you’re working from a recipe. It can also detect timer directions within a recipe so that you can set cooking timers directly from the app.
One drawback to this app is the user interface may not be as easy to navigate as some of the other meal planning apps on this list. With browser integrations and a somewhat complicated online user guide, getting started with this app may be a challenge for some.
Additionally, Paprika doesn’t always include nutrition information. It will only draw nutrition data from the original recipe webpage or information you enter manually.
If you know what types of food meet your calorie goals, this deficiency may not be problematic. However, if you need the extra support, a different app may be more appropriate.
Unique to the meal planning apps listed, Paprika offers a free trial with no time limit. The trial version only allows you to save 50 recipes and doesn’t sync to the cloud, but the rest of the features are available. Or you can buy the app for $4.99.
It’s available on desktop and mobile applications for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
PlateJoy, which is owned by the same parent company as Healthline, creates customized meal plans for you and your household according to your dietary preferences and weight loss goals.
PlateJoy is a user-friendly app with beautiful, full-color photos and a high level of customization. Full nutrition information is available for each recipe, and you can sync it with your Fitbit or Apple Health to better track your health goals.
The app offers a Balanced plate badge that highlights options PlateJoy has deemed nutritious, however nutrition criteria for how a recipe qualifies for a Balanced plate badge is not readily available.
Still, this feature makes it easy to choose healthy meals which is why we consider it the best for guiding healthy meal choices.
PlateJoy creates customized grocery lists and helps prevent food waste by allowing you to log the food already in your fridge or pantry. That way, you don’t repurchase items you already have.
Another feature lets you send your grocery list to Instacart for grocery delivery depending on where you live.
The biggest drawback to PlateJoy is that it’s somewhat costly compared to other meal planning apps. It’ll set you back $12.99 per month, $69 for six months, or $99 for a 12-month subscription. It’s available on both Android and iOS platforms.
Plan to Eat lets you organize all of your favorite recipes and create meal plans in one easy-to-use app.
It’s available on both iOS and Android platforms and can be used in a browser of your choice on a desktop or tablet.
You can enter recipes manually or input a URL from any recipe online. The recipes that are available in the app are limited in number and only available as part of the Cooking Challenges which you can access for free.
Otherwise, the app doesn’t come with a preset recipe database making it a better choice for those who have a good recipe collection already or who enjoy searching the web for new recipes.
If the recipes entered provide nutrition information, Plan to Eat will input the data into the app. Nutrition information can also be manually entered for recipes. The app will tally daily nutrients in the weekly calendar-style planner in the app.
Adding recipes will also automatically create an organized grocery list based on the recipes you’ve saved. The app merges similar ingredients and provides the option to create categories within the grocery list to make shopping easier.
A unique feature of this app is that you can share your recipes or meal plans with friends and family which may make it easier to stay on top of your health goals as a team. It also offers cooking challenges which are helpful for recipe inspiration.
Though Plan to Eat requires a $4.95/month or $39/year fee, you can try it out for free for 30 days.
The virtual pantry feature makes it easy to avoid buying duplicate items and helps you track the food you’ve already purchased making it the top choice for avoiding food waste.
The paid version of the app allows you to filter recipes based on video availability in the recipe. This feature is helpful for those looking to develop their cooking skills or learn new techniques.
Also in the paid version, full nutrition information for each recipe is available and is calculated by Yummly using the USDA nutrient database. Meal planning functionality such as a calendar to organize recipes is also available when you upgrade.
When you save recipes, you can organize them into separate meal categories, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You can also enter and save your own recipes manually.
One of the major drawbacks of Yummly is its overall usability. While it’s visually appealing, it’s complicated and more difficult to use compared to similar apps. If you’re not technologically savvy, it may not be the best choice.
Yummly is available for $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year with a free, 30-day trial. It’s available on iOS, Android and is accessible via the Yummly website.
MealPrepPro is a meal planning and meal prepping app that’s available on iOS and is currently being tested for Android users.
To start, you choose from one of multiple meal plans including High Protein, Flexible, Pantry Staples, Mediterranean, Low-Carb, Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian, or Pescatarian.
From there, you enter your details to set a calorie range based on your health goals and activity level. The app also offers the ability to customize your dietary preferences including allergies and dislikes.
The meal planning feature includes the option to choose your preferred prep level and number of meals per week. You also have the option to add a partner to your plan with customized calorie needs.
MealPrepPro provides original recipes with complete nutrition information that’s also tallied in the app to display daily nutrient intake.
The meal prep feature shows you what to prep and on which day based on your meal plan for the week. There’s also an integrated grocery list functionality.
One drawback to the app is that there isn’t a free version outside of the 7-day free trial. After that, the app is $8.99 per month or $47.99 per year.
Pepperplate is a meal planning app and website that requires manual additions of your favorite recipes. It functions like a virtual recipe box to consolidate your favorite recipes into categories that work for you.
You start by importing recipes manually or by copying recipe URLs from supported websites. You are then able to organize your recipes into customizable categories.
After you’ve added your recipes, you can incorporate personalized menus and meal plans into a calendar-style planner complete with grocery lists.
However, grocery lists cannot differentiate between a sub-recipe (a recipe within a recipe such as a seasoning blend) and single ingredients, so you may need to do some extra work to add the sub-recipe ingredients to your grocery list.
Pepperplate is ideal for the experienced cook who has a solid recipe collection and knows their nutritional needs — especially if that person is trying to lose weight.
Keep in mind that this app doesn’t have a calorie tracking component and doesn’t draw from its own database of foods. Another drawback is that you have to enter recipes and menus via the web, not directly through the app.
The website isn’t as user-friendly as others on this list and may be cumbersome to use. Additionally, the app offers a 14-day free trial after which you must pay a subscription fee of $2.99 per month or $32.99 per year.
Prepear offers the convenience of a pre-set recipe database alongside manual or online input options.
Once you’ve created an account, you can get started by browsing recipes in the Prepear database. Recipes display ingredients, but preparation instructions must be viewed on the original recipe website, not in the app which may make it cumbersome to use.
Otherwise, the app is user-friendly and allows you to filter recipes based on taste preferences, allergies, cook time, and global cuisine options. You can build your own meal plan or you can purchase a plan for one of the many food blogger plans sold on the website.
In addition, each recipe has a full nutrition breakdown. Customizable shopping lists are also available upon completion of your meal plan.
The social media component of this app allows you to post photos of your culinary successes (and failures) to friends and family.
Many of the available recipes in the app’s database are kid-friendly, which is ideal if you’re planning meals for your family.
The main drawback of Prepear is the monotony of meal choices within its recipe database — if you add more than one or two filters, you end up with very few menu options. However, this downside is offset if you add your own recipes.
Prepear has a free option with limited features or you can pay $119 for an annual Prepear Gold membership which allows for unlimited access to meal plans, cook mode, and offers an ad-free experience.
Eat This Much is the perfect marriage between a calorie counter and a meal planner.
After you sign up, you enter personal data including your height, weight and health goals. The app then calculates a macronutrient range that you are free to adjust as you desire. You can also choose your preferred diet and list any food allergies.
It includes a database of recipes, basic foods and popular restaurant menu items, complete with full nutrition information. You have the added option of entering your own recipes and foods manually if you can’t find them in the preset index.
You can create a meal plan yourself or let the app generate one for you based on your previously entered meal preferences. The option to generate a meal plan, even in the free version, makes this app our top choice for easy meal planning.
A unique feature of this app is its barcode scanner, which scans food items directly into your account.
However, you have to purchase the premium option to generate a meal plan beyond just a single day. You’re also unable to access grocery lists and grocery delivery on the free plan.
Eat This Much is available for iOS and Android. The premium option is $4.99 per month if billed annually and $8.99 per month if paying as you go.
Lose It! is really more of a calorie and macronutrient tracker than a meal planner, though the premium version includes meal planning features.
You begin by entering your personal anthropometric data and activity level to calculate a target calorie range, after which the app estimates the time it’ll take to reach your weight goal based on the calorie level you choose.
The timeline feature may be helpful for those who are motivated by seeing progress over time as you can check in on the timeline regularly.
The free version allows you to input your own recipes to create meal plans. You can also scan barcodes of foods to have them added to the database. However, if you want more meal planning features, you have to upgrade to premium.
While this app excels at monitoring your eating behaviors and weight loss, its main focus is on tracking. One of its major downsides is the lack of automatic, customizable grocery lists to pair with your meal plan.
It’s available for both iOS and Android devices and free to start using. For maximum features, the premium version is $39.99 per year.
Start Simple with MyPlate is a free app from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This app is aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and uses the visual MyPlate to provide guidance for foods to add to your daily diet.
To get started, download the app and either register or continue as a guest. The app gives you the option to take a short quiz about your current dietary habits. From there, recommendations for what to eat are added to your daily plan.
You can easily track your goal progress by checking off the goal you’ve met each day.
The app is simple to use and offers visuals, which may be appealing to those looking for basic guidance on improving their overall diet pattern. However, the lack of recipes may make it challenging for some to follow.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the app is the lack of a calendar-style meal plan and grocery shopping integration.
This app is free and is available for both iOS and Android users.
Choosing a meal planning app can be overwhelming since there are so many options. However, with free trials and versions available, you can test multiple apps to find what works best for you.
Consider these features when making your decision:
Yes, multiple meal planning apps offer free access. Some have unlimited free access whereas others offer a limited time free trial.
Meal planning apps with free access have varying functionality with some offering more features than others.
Meal planning apps are beneficial for planning meals throughout the week which can help you save time in the kitchen. They’re also beneficial for staying organized to prevent food waste which may help you save money.
Meal planning apps can also offer the benefit of tracking nutrient intake which may be beneficial if you need to meet specific nutrient targets or are looking to lose weight.
Most meal planning apps range in cost from free to up to $120 for an annual membership. The average cost of most meal planning apps is between $35 and $45 per year.
Sticking to your diet and achieving your weight loss goal can be a difficult task, but it can be made much easier with a little technological help.
There are numerous options for meal planning apps to support you in your weight loss journey — all of which have different features and options.
Choosing the one that best fits your personality and specific health goals is your best bet for success.
When all is said and done, the best meal planning app — or weight loss strategy in general — is the one you can actually stick to.
Last medically reviewed on June 23, 2022