FOOD  |  11.15.18  |  by Julie Rhodins

At SMG, we’re big into cooking at home.  But we also realize that finding the time to do it can be daunting … or so it seems.  The key we’ve determined is in planning ahead.  But it can take a lot of work — figuring out recipes, the ingredients, the grocery list, how long to expect it will take to cook.  Thankfully, meal apps have come along to lift a lot of this time-taking, planning burden.  We like how so many of them also have settings where you add in dietary restrictions or preferences and then calculate recipes for you — hurray!!  Here are our current meal apps for home cooking that we love.

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This is our current go-to meal app.  It is super flexible with the dietary preferences and restrictions, including vegetarian and vegan.  And it has the most settings that we’ve tried.  We also love how affordable it is.

We can set the number of meals and types of meals that we’re planning for the following week, since we like to do our meal planning on Saturday.  We choose from the available weekly menu options or search through the recipe database.

Then, the app automatically generates a grocery list.  From there, you can add additional pantry items to your grocery list — it’s a little quirky, so you have to get used to it.  But once we figured out how the additional list items feature worked, we love it because it saves all our previous additional items so that we can add them in just seconds for a shopping trip.

The app is also available on your computer, in case you want to plan there.  And when you do your planning, it asks you if you already have items in your pantry or want recipes with certain things you have on hand already — more money savings!!

We take our phone with us to shop — no more paper lists.  And we check off as we go.  It has actually kept us more in budget because we’re strictly using the list.  And you do finish shopping faster, because the list is grouped by grocery store department — and you just want to get to the end of the list which is fueled by seeing less and less items you need as you go.

The recipes have a listing of ‘number of minutes’ you can expect to put aside to make the food.  There are also servings suggestions broken out on a pie graph, but we haven’t used that feature.  We feel that the app is moving people to cook seasonally, with seasonal foods — which is great for the environment and helps to change up your diet and tastes.

You can print out or screencap recipes to give to family members to do, if you want to encourage older kids to cook on their own when you’re not home.  Or you can leave your iPad on while your gone for them to look up the meal there.

Overall, this app has really saved us time, and it encourages us to more carefully avoid food waste and cook at home.  You can also connect with Instacart through the app, if you need that extra time saver.

Forks Over Knives

We’ve used the desktop version of this app more than the phone version.  But what we really love about Forks Over Knives is its dedication to healthy meals with super high-quality recipes.

This is definitely for the vegan and vegetarian minded.  And if you’ve ever wanted to have a more plant-based diet, this is the app for you to get.

We were so educated by this app!!  We learned how to meal prep on the weekends so the rest of the week was a quick throw together.  We learned about healthy substitutes for sugar.  We learned more effective ways to cook.  Each week there are these little tips and helps so that your week goes smoothly.

The meals have large portions, and so we found that even if there were 5 people to feed it ended up being easier to tell the app that we had 3 or 4 people.  But please test it for yourself to get the right amount of portions and servings when you set up the preferences.

Be prepared to load up on produce!!!  We already are pretty plant based, but this took us to a higher level.