5 apps for easy, breezy meal planning + shopping


Image borrowed (not mine!) from here.

I am not the most technologically invested person.

Sure, I can hold my own in the realm of Photoshop, InDesign and the like (though I’m a bit rusty—got that design degree nearly two years ago now!), and I can even build a basic website flyin’ solo. But when it comes to really getting shit done, I resort to analog mode.

Good ol’ pen and paper, y’all. That’s how I make my to-do lists, conduct brainstorm sessions, flesh out book ideas and the like. It’s just what works for me. I like being able to physically cross an item off a list. So satisfying.

In the supermarket, though, when you’re lugging around a basket of produce that’s about to break one arm (damn those squashes and root vegetables), and a million bodies are trying to squeeze their way around you and around each other, and someone’s kid is throwing a temper tantrum in the next aisle, and you’re fumbling through your too-full purse with the other arm to find that crumpled-up grocery list, which is hiding somewhere at the bottom, jammed inexplicably into a baggie of almonds or underneath all of the material you had to bring home for work, and of course you forgot a pen so you can’t cross anything off anyway?

That’s a good time to consider upgrading your shopping list creation technique.

These apps make meal-planning easier, they make grocery shopping easier, and they make eating well in general easier. Check ‘em out. Take a breath. Life just got a little simpler.

1. Vegan Delish

The brainchild of Carrie Forrest over at Carrie On Vegan, Vegan Delish is divided into four sections: Categories, Recipes, Favorites and Shopping List. When scrolling through any of the first three, simply tap “Add All to Shopping List,” and everything you’ve selected moves automatically to the fourth section. So easy! The best part, though, is that your Shopping List is automatically sorted into Grocery, Herbs & Spices, Produce, etc. No more running circles around the market—first to produce for broccoli, then over to the spice section for cumin, then, crap, back to produce for spinach and apples, etc. 

2. Fooducate

Like “having a dietitian on speed dial,” Fooducate grades foods based on their health level to assist you in choosing the most nutrient-dense products possible. The reason I actually have some trust in Fooducate? Because “Fooducate recommends minimally processed, real foods, that are naturally rich in nutrients and antioxidants.” Woo hoo! No worries about the app mistakenly informing you that Froot Loops are healthy just because they’re “fortified” with vitamins and minerals. Cheers to real food!

3. Locavore

Wanna get out of the big-name grocery store, or at least focus on what’s in season? (Hint: strawberries in December =/= in season). Locavore locates farmers’ markets and farms in your area, and includes a selection of seasonal recipes! Though the app appears to have received some negative reviews recently about its transition to “yet another social network” (this was a comment left by “Mr_Furious,” so take that as you will), I think the “In Season” function looks pretty cool—Locavore actually lists how much longer the seasons of produce items on your list last, so you know when to stock up and start freezing things.

4. Whole Foods Market Recipes

While those on a plant-based diet will likely appreciate the simplicity of Vegan Delish, the Whole Foods Market Recipes app boasts over 3000 (!!) recipes, which can be categorized by course, cuisine, special diet, etc. The instant shopping list feature also exists here (just like Vegan Delish), and frequenters of actual Whole Foods stores will enjoy the app’s alerts about store specials, sales and events. You can also sync your shopping lists and recipe box between the app and wholefoodsmarket.com, if that’s your thing.

5. GroceryIQ

Wanna remember the quantity of certain items you always buy? Categorize items to lists for specific stores and to a catch-all “Any Store” list? Email your grocery lists to your roommate, or brother, or anyone else on their way to the store, or sync your list across multiple devices? GroceryIQ does all that and more, making them essentially the king of shopping list apps.

Do you use apps or other fancy thangs to get your meal-planning and shopping done? Or are you a pen-and-paper kinda person?