Meal planning apps are applications that incorporate various practices aimed at helping individuals achieve a greater awareness of their nutrition and their diets. Meal planning apps have proven to be effective in supporting healthy food purchases, improving dietary quality, increasing adherence to nutritional guidelines, promoting food variety, and reducing the odds of obesity.
Additionally, they address barriers such as time scarcity or food provision, assisting individuals in developing better habits in their relationship with food.
In this article, we have selected the best meal planning apps, accompanied by comprehensive information to help you choose the most suitable one based on your specific needs.
Best meal planning apps: a shortlist
- Noom — best meal planning app for weight loss
- Lasta — best meal planning app for implementing lifestyle habits
- Perfect Body — best meal planning app for plant-based enthusiasts
- Prep Dish — best family meal planning app
- Portions Master — best meal planning app for adequate meal portions
How we compiled our list of the best meal planning apps
|Improvement of quality of life and introduction of healthy habits
|Flexibility on meal options and ingredients
|Cost of subscription (from free to $70/month)
|Tools, resources, and integrations
|Includes nutritious meals by health professionals
- Utility. Success in addressing barriers towards healthy habits like food supply, time constraints, or meal planning and preparation.
- Customization. Flexibility in food preferences and dietary requirements like gluten-free or veganism. Ability to personalize recipes and shopping lists.
- Price. Comparison of different subscription fees based on app features. Review premium services and additional tools.
- Features. Review of key features of the apps and their accessibility for users. Determine the best characteristics of the services and explore user feedback.
- Wellness. Focus on the nutritional value of recipes and meal recommendations. Evaluate the involvement of registered nutritionists and other health professionals.
Best meal planning apps: an overview
We have reviewed different apps to provide you with a clear understanding of the key features of each one, including pricing, flexibility, variety, promotion of healthy habits, and usability.
Our goal is to equip you with all the necessary information to choose the app that best suits your nutritional needs, allowing you complete freedom to download and adapt to the plan that you believe is the best fit for you.
Within this comprehensive guide, you will find an overview of the most relevant meal planning apps in the market and a detailed breakdown of what each one offers in 2024.
1. Noom — best meal and diet planning app for weight loss
Noom prioritizes psychological and behavioral aspects to promote habits for a healthier lifestyle and a more nutritious diet.
It stands out as the best meal planning app for weight loss addressing factors associated with weight gain and obesity. By combining nutrition guidance with behavior change courses and coaching, the app aims to support users' progress.
Noom offers a range of features, including specialized programs for specific health conditions such as diabetes. The effectiveness of their type 2 diabetes prevention programs has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In addition to nutrition guides and coaching the app provides the following features:
- Weekly challenges and educational content
- Progress tracking
- Group and individual coaching
- Biometric tracking
Noom is available on both iOS and Android platforms, and their monthly auto-renewing subscription plan costs $70, while the annual plan is priced at $209.
2. Lasta — best meal planning app for lifestyle changes
For those seeking to implement healthier lifestyle practices, Lasta may be a good choice. With various tracking features and personalized guidance, the app is tailored to achieve and maintain wellness over time.
The app approaches meal planning holistically — including fitness practices, weight tracking, and psychological support for its users, emphasizing Cognitive Behavioral therapy. This type of psychological therapy is suggested to contribute to lifestyle changes, encompassing diet, physical activity, and smoking cessation.
Moreover, customization is a key feature of the app, allowing users to build their meal plans based on their diet preferences. According to Lasta, their meal selection is developed by registered dietitians, with an extensive library of meals and nutritional information.
To start using the app, users need to complete a 30-question quiz that will provide a personalized plan for their goals. The app is available on both IOS and Android with a monthly subscription fee of $39.99. Users can also choose the 3-month subscription for $59,99 or the 6-month subscription for $77.99.
3. Perfect Body — best meal planning app for a plant-based diet
With a strong focus on nutrition, Perfect Body is a meal planning app created to support the weight loss journey, embracing more conscious eating habits.
The app starts with a questionnaire based on food preferences, habits, and overall expectations of the app. Once the test is completed, it will generate a meal plan tailored to achieve the user's goals, with 5 meals flexibly fitting with various dietary preferences. After 28 days, the app will review the progress of the user and reevaluate the meal plan to match its new goals.
Other features include a calorie tracker and an embedded shopping list with all the items needed to meal prep for the week. The list does not only streamline the meal preparation process but also provides extensive information on the cooking instructions as well as the overall nutritional value of the meals.
Perfect Body offers three subscription options — 1 month, 3 months, or 6 months. However, the overall fee depends on the quiz results and personalized meal plans.
4. Prep Dish — best meal planning app for families
Prep Dish is a family-oriented meal planning app founded by registered dietitian Allison Shaaf. Its focus is to help families adopt healthier habits and overcome time constraints when it comes to nutrition.
Prep Dish capitalizes on the benefits of meal preparation by providing weekly recipes directly to users via email, accompanied by a comprehensive shopping list.
Users have the flexibility to choose from four different menu options, including Paleo Diet, Gluten-Free, Low Carb, and Super Fast. These menus can be prepared within a few hours, ensuring convenience and efficiency.
Additionally, users have the option to explore different diets each week, and with an additional cost, they can access a premium database of past meals.
It is important to note that Prep Dish is not available as a standalone app; it can only be purchased through the website.
Pricing options include a weekly fee of $7 for a month’s subscription, a weekly fee of $3.10 for a year’s subscription, or a fee of $3.75 for a week, which provides access to extras, free bonuses, and challenges.
5. Portions Masters — best meal planning app to track food portions
Portions Master may be the perfect match for those individuals seeking to engage in a healthy and less restrictive diet. The app diverts the focus from calorie counting to more conscious eating, emphasizing the importance of portion size and nutrients in each meal.
The app claims to be partnered with several nutritionists and other healthcare providers to deliver personalized meal plans to assist with each user's wellness journey, regardless of their weight goals. It includes a virtual plate that can be filled with individual's preferred foods and use three times a day.
Other goals can also be tracked Portions Master, including weight and waist measurements, water consumption goals, and supplement intake. However, the standout feature of the app is its searchable food list and scanning — a great tool for discovering information about the nutrients present in each meal.
The app is priced at $149.99 per year but users can also choose a semiannual subscription for $79.99. Additionally, the app also offers a premium monthly subscription for $17.49.
Comparison of the best meal planning apps
|Price per month
|Behavioral courses, support and coaching
|Calorie deficit, not budget friendly
|Highly customizable, integration of Cognitive Behavioral therapy
|Requires commitment to attain goals
|5 highly flexible meals and embedded shopping list
|Does not have the option to add calories outside of pre-made meals
|Diet variety, pre-made and ready to go plans
|Lack of flexibility, costly groceries
|Flexibility and great portion sizes
|Does not provide education or resources, lack of overall guidance
Choosing the right meal planning app for you: what to look for?
When selecting the best recipe and meal planning app, it’s essential to evaluate its features to ensure they align with your routine. For example, certain apps may prioritize family meal planning, while others are focused on fitness enthusiasts. The following factors can help you determine which app best suits your needs:
Before subscribing to any apps, it's important to understand how flexible they are concerning ingredients, dietary preferences, and meal variety.
For instance, apps like Prep Dish focus on food planning and streamlining food preparation. As a result, they do not allow ingredient swaps or the selection of alternative meal options. On the other hand, apps like Paprika are completely open to user input and offer ingredient and even pantry management. Therefore, those who prefer variety should lean towards apps that allow more personalization in planning and shopping.
An app should integrate into your lifestyle without requiring radical modifications to your routine and habits. As such, meal plans, shopping lists, and other features should be easily accessible, minimizing the time and effort needed to use the app. Moreover, selecting an app that aligns with your budget is crucial for ensuring its compatibility with you.
Additionally, a user-friendly support system that addresses any doubts or inquiries plays a pivotal role in enhancing your overall experience.
Support from specialists
Another crucial factor in choosing an app is the support from researchers and nutrition experts. Variety in ingredients, inclusivity of all types of foods, and personalized metrics like weight, height, or physical activity should be key considerations when selecting the best fit.
Furthermore, particularly in the case of dietary requirements or health conditions, it’s important to have access to coaching services or easy access to specialists.
Tools and resources
Features are a critical consideration when choosing the right meal-planning app. Depending on your needs, tools like shopping lists, recipe databases, or pantry management can contribute to easing up your routine and enhancing healthy habits. The possibility of connecting the app to other devices like Apple Watch can also facilitate more effective use of the apps.
Furthermore, additional resources like coaching or educational courses can also make a difference when selecting the best healthy meal planning app for you.
What is a meal planning app?
Meal planning apps play a vital role in cultivating healthy relationships with food and adopting beneficial behaviors, such as home cooking and reducing food waste.
These apps have proven to be highly valuable in terms of organization and time-saving, benefiting both individuals and families. They provide excellent support in day-to-day life, motivating individuals to make healthier choices even when facing tight schedules.
The wide range of dietary practices, such as keto or paleo, is another significant advantage of meal planning apps. They cater to a diverse spectrum of dietary preferences, making it easier to align plans with different lifestyle choices.
In addition, the availability of meal planning apps on various devices enables users to track their daily habits and develop self-awareness regarding essential vitamins, nutrients, and other practices crucial for maintaining a healthy body and mind.
Benefits of meal planning apps
Meal planning apps offer numerous advantages, addressing issues such as food waste, weight gain, budget constraints, and time limitations. By utilizing these apps, users can establish healthier habits, such as mindful eating and involving children in meal preparation.
Here are five key benefits that make subscribing to a meal planning app a worthwhile decision:
1. Avoid food waste
Meal planning encourages reducing food waste as users plan their meals based on portion sizes and tend to finish all the food. By calculating portions and specific ingredients, meal planning apps help minimize overconsumption by calculating the exact ingredients needed for each recipe. Many apps also incorporate shopping list features, providing users with precise portions for daily or weekly intake.
2. Promote healthier habits
Meal planning apps raise awareness of unhealthy eating patterns and assist users in making better choices through pre-established meal options and coaching tools. They also foster healthier relationships with food and family by involving children in the meal planning process, educating them about the importance of a nutritious diet, and equipping them with the necessary tools to grow up as healthy adults.
3. Reduce weight gain
Meal planning plays a crucial role in weight management and controlling health risks. Those who engage in meal planning tend to cook more often and benefit from fresh ingredients, as opposed to relying on fast food options. Meal planning is associated with lower odds of being overweight or obese due to its emphasis on nutritional variety and increased awareness of nutrition.
4. Enhance cuisine enjoyment
Meal planning apps eliminate time constraints associated with meal preparation, allowing individuals to have a more enjoyable experience in the kitchen. By easing up the planning and shopping list aspects, users can fully engage in the preparation and savoring of food. Home cooking with fresh ingredients becomes an entertaining activity that improves cooking skills and introduces new flavors and culinary techniques.
Meal planning apps improve efficiency in meal preparation, promote budget-friendly options, and reduce mealtime stress. By planning meals in advance, time constraints are resolved, and the likelihood of missing items is minimized. Additionally, purchasing only what is needed in advance helps avoid overpriced meals resulting from an unplanned diet and lack of time. Many apps offer budget-friendly menus and quick meal plans, allowing users to enjoy a healthy and nutritious diet.
Our conclusion about meal planning apps
Based on our evaluation, we have concluded that all the apps included in the list have unique features that can help individuals achieve their goals and foster healthier practices in their everyday lives.
Whether they are centered on weight loss, like Noom, or meal planning and preparation for families, like PrepDish, each app provides valuable resources to overcome time constraints and other barriers associated with unplanned eating habits. Moreover, these apps offer flexibility to accommodate various dietary requirements, enabling users to track their habits and input their meal preferences.
In summary, meal planning is an excellent method to establish healthy habits and promote overall well-being for individuals. However, the choice is yours to select the best healthy meal planning app or just one that adjusts to your needs.
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What is the best meal planning app?
We have ranked Noom as the best meal planning app according to our criteria. If you're a parent juggling schedules, Prep Dish may be the right option. Choosing the right app depends on your specific needs, thus it is important to evaluate different options and select the one that best suits your lifestyle.
Are meal planning apps worth it?
Yes, meal planning apps are definitely worth it. They offer numerous benefits that contribute to improving health and well-being. These apps help users make better diet choices, increase self-awareness about overconsumption, and develop better management and time skills.
Is there a free meal planner app?
Yes. Paprika offers a free version that includes almost all the features of the premium version. Other meal planning apps also offer trials, such as PrepDish (1-week trial), eMeals (14-day trial), and Noom Weight (14-day trial).
How much does a meal planning app cost?
The cost depends on the specific plan, subscription, and device. Some apps, like Paprika, require a one-time payment to access premium features. Other apps, such as Noom and eMeals, operate on a subscription model with monthly or annual fees.
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