Last updated: January 6, 2023

Overview: The best free meal planning app

Number 1: Paprika


Paprika gives you tons of flexibility and customization with the free app option. However, you have to build up your own recipe collection first because there’s no database of recipes or pre-set meal plans. It’s easy to create a weekly or monthly meal plan using the recipes you’ve saved.

The free app version allows you to download up to 50 recipes (you can upgrade to get more for a fee). Thankfully, Paprika’s recipe clipper makes it easy to save recipes directly from the web. And you can manually type in your own recipes or cookbook favorites too. 

Seamless cloud sync across devicesNo recipe database
Creates grocery listsNo in-built nutritional info
Offers a free versionExtensive user’s guide can seem overwhelming

Number 2: Mealime


Mealime is the app for you, if you want to eat healthier but don’t have time to search the web for recipes or spend an hour cooking. Create a profile, add your food preferences, then choose your week’s meals from recipes the app curates just for you.

The company guarantees they can be cooked in 30 minutes or less, and it’ll even generate a shopping list that can be imported into Amazon Fresh or Instacart for delivery.

The recipes all have a healthful bent and can accommodate many dietary restrictions, such as vegan, paleo and keto. You can also import favorite recipes from the web, though adding recipes manually from the web isn’t an option. 

Easy to useAddition of recipes manually is not allowed
Free basic versionThe upgraded version requires a monthly payment
Curates recipes based on user inputs

Number 3: PlateJoy


PlateJoy provides highly personalized meal plans to those with specific dietary restrictions. The app uses 50 data points to create a unique meal plan after users take a lifestyle survey, which includes things like food preferences, fitness and calorie goals, allergies, and schedules. It also accommodates those who are diabetic or on a low FODMAP plan.

The meal plans are designed by nutritionists, who are available by phone or chat too, and recipes include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The meal plan automatically generates a shopping list, which can be integrated with Instacart or other grocery delivery services.

Free with some health-insurance providersMore expensive than competitors
Seamless cloud sync across devices
Generates shopping lists

Number 4: EatThisMuch


The app uses the user’s preferences and calorie goals to generate custom meal plans from its database. It also allows users to import recipes from the web or manually add them. It has a calorie tracker with a database of popular restaurant dishes and packaged foods, which you can add to manually or with a barcode scanner.

However, the app only allows daily meal plans unless you upgrade to the Premium account for a monthly or annual payment. Premium allows for weekly plans with nutrition targets for each day, automatic shopping lists, and grocery delivery. 

Easy to useNo shopping lists or grocery deliveries in free version
Barcode scanner for nutritional infoShopping list cost estimates aren’t always accurate
Calorie-goal orientedNot ideal for families with varying nutritional needs

Number 5: PrePear


PrePear offers recipes and meal plans to users from many of the web’s most popular food bloggers. You could have a month’s worth of recipes from one of your favorite bloggers added to your calendar alongside a complete shopping list with one click.

The limitation is you’ll have to upgrade to Gold to access those plans. You’ll still have thousands of recipes to choose from in the app’s database even if you’re using the free version.

The recipes have been uploaded by the community of users and often have reviews or star rankings. You can easily add more recipes from the web or manually add your family favorites. 

Easy to add recipesLengthy process to add ingredients to recipes
Generates smart shopping listsBetter features require the purchase of the Prepear Gold upgrade
Thousands of free, personalized recipes

Number 6: BigOven


BigOven offers more than 1,000,000 recipes from home cooks, food bloggers and cooking sites all over the web, and you can easily upload your own using the Recipe Clipper tool. You can easily add ingredients from each recipe to a grocery list, share the list and cross off what you buy with the click of a button.

Users can add clipped recipes and take snapshots of handwritten family favorites instead of having to type it in manually. The app will translate the photo into the app’s recipe format in 2-5 days. You can only scan your recipe format once, after that you have to pay. 

Add non-recipe ingredients to grocery shopping listsLimited features for organizing your recipes
Free recipes that cater to your likes and dislikesMost features require paying the annual fee
Use what’s in your pantry with the leftover featureYou have to pay to upload more than one paper recipe

Number 7: Forks Over Knives

ProductForks Over Knives

The app focuses on a whole-food, plant-based diet that features hundreds of plant-based recipes designed by professional chefs that are meant to be prepared in 35 minutes or less.

A plant-based diet is the goal, but it recommends minimizing rather than altogether forbidding meat, poultry, and seafood, along with eggs, dairy, and other more processed foods like white rice, pasta, and bread.

Every week, the app sends you a customized meal plan and recipes, all you have to do is shop, prep, cook, and eat. If you have an Amazon Fresh account, you can buy groceries directly within the app.

“Weekend Prep” streamlines cooking and prep workOnly connects to one grocery shopping service
Flexible enough for curious omnivoresMore expensive than competitors

Number 8: Yummly


With Yummly, users can personalize their recipes based on cooking goals, skill range, or dietary preferences. The step-by-step guided video instructions with some of the recipes are a nice touch. Yummly also enables you to schedule meals and sync directly onto your personal calendar instead of the app.

The shopping feature is set up so you can order ingredients instantly via grocery delivery services such as Instacart. One of the biggest standout features in the premium version is Yummly’s diverse collection of recipes and instructional videos from featured celebrity chefs.

Diverse chef voicesOccasionally clunky shopping interface
Huge selection of recipes
Step-by-step video instructions for some recipes

Number 9: Cozi


Cozi was started by former employees of Microsoft and Amazon, and they have over 20 million users. It is a suitable family organizing app, it also includes recipe planner and grocery list features. The basic version of the app is free.

A premium version, Cozi Gold, is $29.99 per year and is ad-free, offers a calendar search and birthday tracker, and more. The app is available on Android, iOS, Mac, and PC. The app helps you organize more than your cooking schedule and makes it feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

It’s easy enough to add recipes from websites and also upload your own to the recipe box, but recipe-wise, the app is a bit basic.

The app’s “keep screen on” featureTransferring ingredients to grocery lists is cumbersome
Helpful family organizing featuresLimited number of recipes within the app

Number 10: Platejoy


Unlike some of the other diet-focused meal planning apps, this one doesn’t feel like you’re getting stuck with a limited variety of diet food.

The recipes are fresh and modern, and the photos of each dish are so attractive that it feels like you’re scrolling through Instagram. With optional grocery delivery, you can easily connect your shopping list directly to Amazon Fresh or Instacart.

The app itself is user-friendly and intuitive. Available as a one-month, six-month, or annual subscription, PlateJoy is an expensive meal-planning app which you can test out first with a 10-day free trial.

Instagram-worthy recipe photosExpensive
Nutritionist-designed menus
User-friendly and intuitive


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