Share By Giovanna Fabiano
Too fried to whip up a meal? Avoid the nightly rush to put food on the table by planning in advance.
After a long day at work, the last thing you want to do when you get home is scramble to whip up a meal for the family.
While an increasing number of companies are offering telecommuting and flexible work hours, most Americans spend an average of 1,700 hours per year or 32 hours in the office per week. Tack on your commute, and that leaves little time for a traditional family dinner.
But you don’t have to burn your salary on takeout every night. Carving out some time on the weekend to map out a meal plan will make your weeknights a lot easier, and there are a number of mobile apps to help you do it.
We rounded up six apps that can get you on the right track to a healthier and less stressful mealtime. Your family will thank you for it.
Available for $2.99 on the iPhone and iPad, MealBoard helps you plan your meals for the week using recipes included in the app, or download recipes from other sites. The app will scale ingredients based on the number of servings and lets you record a price to help you stay on budget.
Pay $2.99 for this iPhone app, which helps you plan meals, track nutritional information, manage your own recipes, and import new ones from other sites. While it doesn’t have many pre-loaded recipes, the app does allow you to input what’s in your pantry or customize grocery lists for certain stores.
Lack confidence in your cooking ability? Cooking Planit will practically hold your hand through the process — providing recipes, a list of cooking tools and step-by-step verbal instructions so you don’t have to touch the screen while cooking. Feeling ambitious? The app lets you add side dishes to the meal, and organizes the steps so you can finish everything around the same time. Available for $2.99 on iPhone.
While this app isn’t specifically for meal planning, it can easily be adopted for that purpose. Evernote is a bookmarking app that lets you save all your notes and favorite websites, as well as manage to-do lists, recipes and grocery lists. Whether you find a recipe online or snap a picture of one in a magazine, Evernote helps you keep everything in one place. A free version is available on both iTunes and Android, and you can upgrade to the paid version for special features.
If you want someone — or something — to do the work for you, check out this app. Available on iPhone and Android for $4.99, My Family Meal Planner Light provides you with four dinners a week for an entire year. All the recipes were developed with help from a registered dietician. At less than 500 calories, they meet the American Heart Association standards for healthy meals. Each recipe also has a full nutritional breakdown.
This free app, available on iPhone and Android, is a budget meal-planning service that matches sales from your local grocery store with your food preferences. Complete a quick survey that includes your cooking style, favorite ingredients and dietary restrictions, and it will provide five dinner suggestions each week. Select your local grocery store, and the app tells you what’s on sale in your ingredient list, so you can quickly get in and out to start cooking.