All About Meal Planning – The Best Meal Planning Apps, Services & Books
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It may have been around so long that many overlook it as an overused cliché, but the old adage, a little planning goes a long way, truly rings true for setting up superb meals without arduous effort or waste. Whether you’re planning meals to lose weight, keep to a specific diet or make the most of your time, effort, and ingredients, there are tons of resources available to help make planning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks a pleasure. Here is a breakdown of the best meal planning apps, services, and books so that you know which your household should be using.
The best meal planning app depends on your exact needs, shopping habits, and diet, but a few notable tools arise as overwhelming favorites. Paprika is the best recipe manager with menu planning capabilities. It also keeps track of the stock in your pantry, but Chefling’s inventory management with the automatic adding of ingredients and subtraction from stores trumps the popular favorite in this regard. Free users will also find Chefling to be packed with features, but at the same time one should not overlook Yummy and the surprising capabilities that call for no subscription or payment at all.
The best meal planning service depends on your budget, diet, and whether or not you want to cook the food yourself or simply reheat precooked chef-prepared meals. For fresh ingredients and healthy meal planning, you can’t go wrong with HelloFresh, Blue Apron or Gobble for general variety and unbelievable results. Purple Carrot is excellent for vegan meal planning, and if you want certified organics, GreenChef or SunBasket is probably your top choice. Sunbasket also carries some of the best heat-and-eat meals. Shoppers will find a great variety of delicious instant food from Freshly, but if your diet is specific or you’re looking for a focus on plant-based eating and/or nutrition, Splendid Spoon or Factor 75 has you covered.
The best meal planning book for your household depends on whether you are looking for a dedicated guide to meal planning or a cookbook (with recipes) that details the basics of planning, prepping, shopping, and cooking effectively. The Lazy Genius Kitchen is a must read for cooks who want to grasp the mindset of frugal but deliciously effective meal planning. Salt Fat Acid Heat is another book that, while a long read for meal planning alone, will instill wisdom in cooks of any skill level. For a cookbook and thorough discourse on meal planning, The Ultimate Meal_Prep Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen is a great buy, but if this doesn’t suit your style, give Meal Planning from Taste of Home a Try. With over five hundred recipes, it’s outstanding.
Table of Contents
- Best Meal Planning Apps
- Best Meal Planning Apps Comparison
- Top 10 Best Meal Planning Apps Review
- Best Meal Planning Services
- Meal Planning Tips
- Best Meal Planning Books
Best Meal Planning Apps
Satisfying meal plans and simplistic grocery lists that don’t fill your pantry with ingredients you’ll only ever use once or twice are what the best meal planning apps are about. There’s everything from basic apps that’ll let you voice note or type ingredients to handy lists shared between family and/or colleagues to fitness and health goal-oriented tools, as well as frugal apps that make the most of every last leftover. Here are the very best cross-platform meal planning apps available.
Best Meal Planning Apps Comparison
|Best For||Recipe Collectors||Smart Cooking Enthusiasts||Free Users||Frugal Cooks Using Up All Ingredients|
|Free Premium Trial||No – All Paid Features Available But 50 Recipe Limit & No Sharing||Yes – 14 Days||Yes – 30 Days||Yes – 30 Days|
|Cost||$4.99 Monthly / $14.99 Half-Yearly / $29.999 Annually||$4.99 Monthly / $20.99 Annually||$4.99 / Monthly||$2.99 / Monthly|
|Cross-Device Sync||Paid Only||Yes, Free||Yes, Free||Yes, Free|
|Pantry Management||Yes, Manual Entry||Yes, Automatic, Manual & Barcode Scanner||Yes, Virtual Connected Pantry (Auto & Manual)||No|
|Recipe Database||No||185,000+||2 Million+||1 Million+|
Top 10 Best Meal Planning Apps Review
There are several contenders for the top spot, but the ultimate meal planning app hinges upon the expectations and both the shopping and cooking habits of the user. Here are the ten best meal planning apps available, each with cross-platform support.
|What We Like||Supremely Flexible Recipe Creation, Effective Pantry Management|
|Device Support||iOS, Mac, Android, Windows|
|Versions||Free, One Time Purchase Premium|
|Cost||iOS/Android: $4.99 | MacOS: $14.99 | Windows: $29.99|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes|
|Pantry Management||Yes, Manual Capturing Of Items|
As a forerunning favorite meal planning app, the oh-so-easy-to-use Paprika is packed with features for both free and paid users alike. Instead of supplying preset menus and recipe suggestions, users browse the web to find their favorite meals using a Google-powered in-app browser. Within seconds of finding a recipe, Paprika pulls an image, rating, the instructions, serving size, and the base classification of the meal. Users can customize the recipe once it’s a part of their personal collection. Paprika boasts a great pantry system, but all ingredients in storage need to be entered one by one manually. It supplies crystal clear guidance and cooking instructions for recipes that are both a pleasure to eat and cook.
Free users are limited to saving fifty recipes from external sources, but there’s no sharing of the profile with other devices without paying. The only downside to this otherwise excellent app with a one-time purchase instead of a subscription is that you’ll need to buy the desktop and mobile versions separately, and the desktop app is significantly more expensive than the mobile versions. With this being said, Paprika is a wonderful app filled with useful extras like in-recipe timers, links between components of recipes that require specific groceries and preparation beforehand, conversion between imperial and metric, and much more. It’s an awesome recipe database management tool and invaluable to meal planning once properly integrated into the user’s habits.
|What We Like||Supremely Quick No-Fuss Meal Planning|
|Device Support||iOS, Android|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes – Account Sharing|
|Recipe Database||Yes, “Hundreds” (No Quantity Stated)|
Mealime boasts personalized meal planning with over 200 personalization options. The app starts off by asking you to pick your diet from a selection of ‘Classic’ offering zero restrictions, and ‘Low Carb,’ ‘Keto,’ ‘Flexitarian,’ Paleo,’ ‘Vegetarian, ‘Pescatarian,’ and ‘Vegan.’ After picking out any applicable allergies and dislikes from Mealime’s list, the shopper sets the number of servings and the day and time to be reminded to make a meal plan via an in-app alert. From there on out, it is either a matter of propagating a grocery list or selecting recipes and having the application make a list for you with the help of meal plans.
One builds a meal plan by either selecting from a list of free or paid pre-created meals or by creating a recipe by means of inputting the ingredients or with the help of the web. Creating a recipe from scratch is quick and easy, with a learning curve that’s straightforward enough for anyone. To import a recipe, simply paste the URL from your web browser into the app and hit ‘Import’ to have all the ingredients added to an easy-access list. In addition to a massive range of exclusive recipes, Pro membership also grants access to precise nutrition filters, such as displaying recipes based on the exact amount of protein or carbohydrates.
BigOven Meal Planner
|What We Like||Unbeatable Meal Planning From Leftovers|
|Device Support||Web Browser, Android, Apple|
|Versions||Limited Free Version, Paid Subscription Unlocks Menu Editing|
|Cost||Free, $2.99 Monthly|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes|
|Recipe Database||1,000,000+ Recipes|
With the free version of Big Oven, meal planning is locked, but users can save up to two-hundred recipes to their collection. Grocery lists are also accessible, as is list sharing between multiple devices, which makes this app a worthy consideration for households where partners or housemates are sharing shopping duties. There are countless recipes built into the database, but in order to generate and edit meal plans, a subscription is needed. Fortunately, a free trial lets you try everything out for a full month instead of the measly week offered by so many other apps.
Paid subscribers will be happy to know that they’ve opted into one of the very best meal planning features around, second only to Paprika, and even then, some would argue. All recipes can be edited, and recipes can be scanned using your phone’s camera or imported from a website. Unfortunately, BigOven doesn’t have a pantry feature which means that you’ll have to manage stock levels yourself. What will grab most users is the way that you can enter three ingredients, and the database of over a million recipes tells you what recipes are possible – the perfect feature for making the most of leftovers.
|What We Like||Automatic Pantry Management With Barcode Scanning, Near Effortless Meal Planning, Support For 30+ Special Diets|
|Device Support||iOS, Android, Windows Desktop|
|Cost||$4.99 Monthly, $29.99 Annually|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes|
|Pantry Management||Yes, Automatic & Manual Entry With Barcode Scanning|
|SMART Integration||Alexa, Bosch Home Connect, Google Home, Siri|
Free users, in particular, should take notice of Chefling, a smart kitchen assistant that plans meals, manages grocery lists, and balances a pantry. It is also one of the few apps that allow users a seven-day premium subscription trial without providing card details. Yet, as a free app alone, Chefling enables meal planning, recipes, grocery list creation, and pantry management. A subscription unlocks recipe importing from any source, including YouTube, pantry category customization, and family sharing for Apple devices. Unfortunately, video importing requires the user to detail the ingredients themselves and rather adds the video as a cooking aid.
Chefling pantry management is comprehensive and simple to work with. You’ll find expiry date sorting, fridge or freezer storage location, and categorization for the ingredient, just like the sorting within the base pantry itself. Items from grocery lists can be transferred to the pantry component as they are purchased, which is a great help. Barcode scanning from Chefling is a great feature that allows users to scan groceries from their pantry directly into the app. While buggy in terms of recognition with some products, it is a wonderful time saver.
|What We Like||Outstanding Free Features, Recipes From Ingredients, Pantry, Intuitive Interface|
|Device Support||iOS, Android, Web Browser|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes|
|Pantry Management||Yes, Virtual Pantry System|
|Recipe Database||Yes, 2 Million+|
|SMART Integration||Alexa, Siri, Yummly Smart Thermometer|
Yummly is one of the very best meal planning apps with excellent recipes for breakfasts, desserts, dinners, sides, and drinks with the broadest range of tools for free users available at the time of writing. The app and site are filled with meal planning guides and tips to save customers time and money. It’s one of the easiest meal planners to use and customize with a fantastic pantry management component. There are tons of bells and whistles like ingredient recognition that lets you snap a photo from your fridge or the store to add the item to a shopping list or recipe, as well as support for connected appliances such as ovens with a smart thermometer.
Without paying for a subscription, users are locked out of the guided recipes, which show you every last step in a detailed video. Most other features work, though, at least to some degree. It is, without a doubt, one of the best free apps available. Few recipe databases can compare to the over two-million meals retained by Yummly. Eager cooks will never have leftovers go to waste again after inputting up to ten on-hand ingredients that sync with the virtual pantry and then having Yummly suggest the best meals possible. One could easily lose a few hours inputting ingredients and sifting through literally hundreds of ready-to-make recipes.
|What We Like||Lightweight Simplistic Interface|
|Device Support||iOS 11, Watch OS 4, Android, Web Browser|
|Versions||Versions: Free, Monthly, Yearly, Lifetime|
|Cost||Free | $1 Monthly | $10 Yearly ||
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes – Single Email Address Sharing|
|SMART Integration||Alexa, Google Assistant|
OurGroceries has to be one of the simplest grocery list apps around that sports rudimentary but effective meal planning. The basic free version allows each item within a list to be assigned a quantity, a category, and notes. Shoppers can also take or select a photo to convey the correct brand when families and groups are sharing a list, and one can even record a quick video if detailed instructions are needed. Preset recipes make adding multiple lesser-used ingredients easy. All you need to do is create a recipe and specify the ingredients, then, at a later stage, simply touch the recipe from the quick-list to add all the required components in one go.
If you’re the type of person who wants the most straightforward way of manually inputting shopping list items or recipes one by one, which can then be added to a grocery list, OurGroceries is for you. There’s no pantry, no recipes, and none of the extras like daily or weekly automatic meal planning but with its list system, basic shopping and setting out meals manually from a pre-devised plan is made supremely easy. List sharing works across all devices, and the Google Assistant & Alexa integration combined with photo tagging means you can narrate your shopping out loud as the ideas come to you while snapping images for sharing with family or housemates, or even as a personal reminder too.
Eat This Much
|What We Like||Automatic Pantry Tracking, Detailed Nutritional Food Plans, Regenerating Meals (Recycling Leftover Ingredients)|
|Device Support||iOS, Android, Web Browser|
|Cost||$9 Monthly, $60 Annually|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes|
|Pantry Management||Yes, Automatic & Manual|
|Recipe Database||Yes, 50,000+|
Generating daily or weekly healthy eating plans with Eat This Much is easy. The app delivers recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks tailored to the user’s nutrition targets which are set when signing up. There’s detailed nutritional info, adjustable servings, prep times, and among the clearest step-by-step instructions for each meal out of any recipe app tested. Listing alternatives to any menu item you’d prefer to skip is as simple as a touch. The sheer diversity of global cuisine will leave shoppers pleasantly surprised time and time again.
The only thing that free users can do is generate and customize meal plans on a daily basis while tracking the user’s diet. Unfortunately, many complain about certain meals being recycled too often. As a free meal planner, Eat This Much is pretty limited. It requires a paid purchase to leverage automatic meal planning for a week at a time with the planning of meals from leftovers. Subscribers also have over one-thousand recipes at their disposal with better diet management and more complex personalization of meal plans. Paid users can even connect to AmazonFresh or Instacart for same-day delivery. Eat This Much provides healthy eating plans that are sure to keep diligent users on track towards their targets while at the same time supplying such a diverse range of features that just about everyone could benefit from using it to help manage their kitchen.
|What We Like||Support For A Broad Range of Diets/Lifestyles|
|Device Support||iOS, Android|
|Cost||$12.99 Monthly | $69 Half Yearly | $99 Annually|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes, Account Sharing|
|Pantry Management||Yes, Management Of Recipe/Menu Items Only (No Custom Entries)|
|Recipe Database||Yes, 50+ Weekly (No Total Database Size Stipulated)|
PlateJoy is a meal planning app that carries meal plans developed by dieticians and nutritionists. It’s the ideal meal planning solution for anyone on a specific diet with exact nutritional goals. Those with a big appetite will love PlateJoy’s range of four portions spanning small, medium, large and extra large. The smallest portions start at around one-thousand-and-fifty calories daily, while the largest can reach two-thousand seven-hundred. Anyone fond of flashy food with an upbeat modern feel will love PlateJoy menu planning, and the recipes are as tasty as they look. Free users can do everything premium users can, but there’s no cloud-based syncing of the account details, and only fifty custom recipes are capable of being saved.
Interconnectivity is great. Those who end up subscribing after a ten-day free trial can sync their shopping list with AmazonFresh or Instacart, and there’s networking with Fitbit and Apple Watches. There’s automatic pantry management that ticks down your ingredients as they’re used, but the pantry is only populated through in-app recipes making up the menus. You can’t add pantry stock manually. Overall, PlateJoy is a good option for anyone who follows a specific diet or lifestyle that has fixed nutritional markers. It’s a little expensive, but for users who value time-saving control over their diet, this app is great.
Forks Meal Planner
|What We Like||Plant-Based Meal Planning, Larger Than Normal Portions, Free Trial Without Card Required, Prep Planner|
|Device Support||iOS, Android|
|Versions||Free, Premium Subscription|
|Cost||Subscription – $19.99 Monthly | $44.99 Quarterly ($14.99/Month)| $119.99 Annually ($9.99/Month)|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||Yes, Account Sharing|
|Recipe Database||Yes, 1300+|
Forks Meal Planner from Forks Over Knives is an automatic meal planner that’s packed with vegan recipes and tips to make making food and stocking a pantry quick and easy. . At the time of writing, there were, however, over one-thousand four hundred different plant-based recipes available to paid subscribers and every week a new recipe is added. Instructions are well laid out, and the tips accompanying each instill invaluable cooking wisdom. The app also sets out weekend prep to make cooking each week’s menu as effortless as possible.
When creating an account, users select whether they want to improve their health, save time and money or manage their weight, or any combination thereof. Forks can schedule breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but on the free plan, recipes are recycled frequently and can often feature more than once a week. A grocery list is generated, which can even take advantage of ordering via Amazon Fresh in-app, but there’s no pantry management. If you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian family who wants to save time and eat well, Forks Meal Planner is great.
Prepear – Meal Planner, Grocery List & Recipes
|What We Like||Frugal Meal Planning With a Vibrant Community & Social Feel|
|Device Support||iOS, Android, Web Browser|
|Cost||7 Day Trial, $9.99 Monthly Thereafter|
|Free Grocery List Sharing||No|
As a Prepear user, all meal plans, recipes, and cookbooks bookmarked are added to your public profile. Just like on other social networks like Twitter, one amasses followers by putting together popular meal plans while following other in-app bloggers that you like. There’s a bustling community backing Prepear which means tons of recipes to choose from. The interface and database of recipes and cookbooks work intuitively. Even the free selection awards a massive range of recipes to pick from, but meal plans devised by other users are sold at a premium. Unfortunately, frequent app crashes are experienced by the vast majority of users, even those with a paid subscription.
Once one starts using Prepear regularly, several thoughtful additions come up, such as cooking reminders well ahead of meal times, as well as timers within recipes. Measurements are automatically adjusted according to the serving size, and building a personalized cookbook to share with friends, family, and community members is truly fun. This is a meal planner with a distinctly social feel. It works okay as a free app. However, we urge anyone with a liking for the concept to connect their card and try out the premium features for a week. Just the recipe database and endless selection of weekly meal plans alone make it worth a try.
Best Meal Planning Apps Notable Mentions
Here are several other outstanding meal planning apps that just didn’t make the top list. Each is worthy of consideration and offers reliable meal prep and planning guidance that will, at times, be preferred to our aforementioned ranking contenders.
FAQ – Meal Planning Apps
If you’ve been left wondering anything about meal planning apps, this selection of frequently asked questions will cover what you need to know.
What Is The Best Free Meal Planning App?
There are several good meal planning apps with valuable features to free users, but the best free meal planning app is normally a battle between Yummly, PlateJoy, and Chefling. Opt for Yummy for the most control over the types of food you’ll be eating. Pick PlateJoy if you’re a health-conscious individual with exact nutritional goals. Chefling is awesome for anyone who enjoys integrated technology and automatic everything, even with free limitations.
What Is The Best Free Meal Planning App For Weight Loss?
Several apps facilitate weight loss when properly followed, and diligence in other lifestyle aspects are adhered to, but PlateJoy, Mealime, and EatThisMuch generally offer the best meal planning for health and weight loss.
What Is The Best Meal Planning App For Families?
The best meal planning app for families depends on the level of proficiency of the family on average. With this in mind, OurGroceries is one of the easiest at no cost, but Paprika’s superior recipe management backed by tons of time savings and cloud-syncing features make it the best for families and groups, if not the very best overall.
Best Meal Planning Services
The number one rule for all shoppers to keep in mind when testing out meal planning services is that a subscription isn’t fixed. Meal delivery services and kits are extremely flexible. We recommend that you try out one or two boxes from any supplier that looks appealing before switching to a new meal planner to try their goods. Within time, a natural rotation of your favorite meals will arise.
Switching things up every week or two ensures steady variety while letting you test out a variety of networks. After all, several of the meal planning services listed supply excellent quality food that’s well worth a taste while being backed by stellar service that could turn anyone loyal. Here are the top twenty-five meal planning services available with a brief overview of what can be expected from each.
Best Meal Planning Services Offering Meal Kits – Fresh, Cook At-Home Food
Here are the ten best meal planning services that provide fresh ingredients specifically formulated to match the diet and preferences of the user. Each meal kit comes with everything that eager cooks need to make a tasty, filling meal within no more than thirty to forty minutes or less while offering national delivery throughout the US. As the best of the best, subscribers can expect to receive food boxes packed with exciting new types of cuisine that help to expand their likes as they reap the savings and convenience as well.
|Best For||Fresh Meals – Mid Range Value With Balanced Diversity|
|Price Per Serving||2 Servings: $12.99 – $9.49 4 Servings: $10.49 – $8.69|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 2 To 6 Days: $61.95 – $123.87 4 Servings – 2 to 6 Days: $93.91 – $218.55|
|Popular Recipes||Tuscan Sheet Pan Chicken, Baked Crispy Chicken & Pepper Taquitos, Fontina Biscuits With Bacon, Egg & Arugula|
- As Simple As 6 Steps A Meal
- Easy To Pause/Skip/Change Delivery Days
- Good Diversity Of Cuisine
- Only Dinner, No Breakfast, Lunch, Dessert, Or Snacks
Martha Steward’s very own meal delivery company, Marley Spoon, is the ideal solution for those looking for a midway between quality, variety, and affordability. It’s hard to fault this fine meal planner who literally does every then sends your ingredients on anything. From the quality of meat, seafood, and produce to the diversity of meals and flavor, they’re great. Each week on a specific day, a cold-packed box of pre-portioned items arrives, enabling the home cook to whip up forty or more recipes. A good spread of easy to complex meals await, each taking minimal skill thanks to the foolproof instructions.
Marley Spoon is also one of those extra accommodating providers who are kind enough to supply you with the whole ingredient instead of a sliver. For example, users will find themselves receiving a whole bulb of garlic when the recipe calls for just one or two cloves. Pick Marley Spoon if you’re a beginner to intermediate cook with little more than thirty minutes a night on your hands. Sign-up and general usability are superb. Even picking out dietary/preferential restrictions and skipping weeks is made simple.
|Best For||Supremely Quick High-End Fresh Meals|
|Price Per Serving||2 Servings: $16.99 – $11.99 4 Servings: $12.99 – $11.99|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 2 to 5 Days: $67.96 – $119.90 4 Servings – 2 to 5 Days: $103.92 – $239.80|
|Shipping||First Week Free, $6.99 Weekly|
|Popular Recipes||Seared Sirloin Steak with Cauliflower & Broccoli Gratin, Spicy Kung Pao Tofu Stir-Fry with Vegetables & Brown Rice, Pan-Seared King Salmon With Sautéed Leeks & Mushrooms|
- 15 Minute Recipes
- Breakfasts, Desserts & Dinners
- Excellent Protein/Produce Quality
- High-End Pricing
Gobble offers some of the easiest, fastest meal kits to prepare using fresh ingredients and the first six meals come at a considerable discount. Shoppers will find that prep is done as far as possible, which also means no whole vegetables. There’s no having to dice your own veggies when using Gobble, and the company offers a great balance of varied proteins and produce. Shoppers will actually find more seafood and a better selection of meals for hard-to-please eaters and kids.
Pausing and skipping weeks is easy. Customers are also eligible to swap out seafood and vegetarian/vegan options in place of meat-based protein sources. The flexibility and the low fixed price per serving, regardless of portion quantity should draw many customers in, and rightfully so. As long as you’re looking for a meal that’s above the low-budget category, Gobble is well worth a try.
|Best For||Cheap No-Fuss Comfort Food|
|Price Per Serving||2 Servings: $6.49 – $5.79 4 Servings: $5.49 – $4.99|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 3 To 5 Days: $38.94 – $57.90 4 Servings – 3 To 5 Days: $65.88 – $99.80|
|Popular Recipes||Greek Pork Meatball Bowl, Sweet Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry Bowl, Arroz Con Camarones|
- Extreme Affordability
- Easy To Pause/Skip Weeks
- Mediocre Vegetable Quality
- Smaller Vegetables Than Market Standard
- Individually Plastic Wrapped Vegetables
- High Shipping Charge
EveryPlate is a company that is currently the affordability-focused brand of the HelloFresh umbrella. As a meal delivery service aiming to be the cheapest, the only drawback is that unlike high-end providers like MarleySpoon and Gobble that offer a choice of up to forty or more meals every week, EveryPlate subscribers only get to pick from a maximum of around sixteen. Picking up a subscription is easy, and pausing and skipping is just as straightforward.
Despite the meal cost being ultra-low, EveryPlate boasts that it’s their low-cost, eco-friendly packaging that brings the cost of each meal down to as low as $5 without sacrificing quality. Sure, you’re not getting the biggest cuts of meat, seafood, and produce, but the quality is consistently good. Some of the brand’s forerunning favorites, like its barbecue sauce, are so popular that the community is found reaching out for similar store-bought options. For Frugal households who don’t mind up to twenty minutes or so of cooking, EveryPlate is almost a must-try.
Home Chef Meal Kits
|Best For||Precise Diets & Difficult Eaters|
|Price Per Serving||$9.99|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 2 To 6 Days: $39.96 – $119.88 4 Servings – 2 To 6 Days: $79.92 – $239.76 6 People – 2 To 6 Days: $119.88 – $359.64|
|Shipping||$9.99 – $13.99|
|Popular Recipes||Cilantro & Lime Brisket Fajitas, Creamy Pork and Mushroom Ragout Rigatoni, Italian Sausage and Roasted Tomato Cream Cavatappi with Peas|
- First Purchase Discount For Military, First Responders, Health Care Workers & Teachers
- Meal Plans For 2, 4 & 6 People
- Frequent Unannounced Free Gifts In Meal Boxes
- No Scaling Meal Price For Large Orders
- High Shipping Charge
HomeChef is a meal kit delivery company that offers a fantastic range of kit customization, making it perfect for those with exact preferences and people with food allergies. It is also one of the few meal planners that offer a choice between fresh, pre-portioned ingredients for planned meals and no-prep recipes – those making a part of the company’s fresh and easy collection. Setting up each box allows the shopper to either let HomeChef shop, plan, and portion for you, or the recipe options can be customized from a choice of over twenty-five different meals.
Even though the quality of the meals is very high, shoppers do infrequently complain over less-than-standard produce. This is, however, scarce enough to be negated by the many opportunities HomeChef offers for loyal users to earn discounts and even free promotional boxes to send to friends and family. This is one cheap brand that’ll blow you away with its broad selection of recipes and superb ingredients. The recipes are diverse enough to introduce almost anyone to new foods and flavors without breaking the bank.
|Best For||Broad Variety Of Safe Food For Kids & Picky Eaters|
|Price Per Serving||2 Servings: $11.99 – $8.49 4 Servings: $9.49 – $7.99|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 2 To 6 Days: $47.96 – $101.88 4 Servings – 2 To 6 Days: $75.92 – $191.76|
|Popular Recipes||Hoisin Honey Shrimp/Chicken, Chimichurri Barramundi With Lemony Carrots & Garlic Couscous, Zesty Shrimp & Slaw Tacos With Creamy Guacamole & Salsa|
- Change, Swap Or Upgrade Sides & Proteins
- 30+ Weekly Recipes To Choose From
- High Shipping
- No Specific Meal Plans For Keto, Paleo Or Vegan
HelloFresh is a meal planning service that is the combined work of Chef David Burtka and his husband, the acclaimed Emmy Award Winning actor Neil Patrick Harris. Subscribers can expect option-packed weeks with a few gourmet meals every here and there, most of which are super simple to prepare. There are six meal plans to choose from: meat & veggies, veggie, family-friendly, fit & wholesome, quick and easy, and pescatarian. There’s also further customization, such as being allowed to swap out sides and proteins.
The recipes are basic but perhaps a little too basic at times. Detailed instructions on cookware preferences, like the best pot or pan for the job, would be handy to many users. Some also find that the classics stick to tried-and-true too much, with very little flavor/ingredient elevation on dishes like meatloaf and other comfort food. Ultimately, HelloFresh should be a consideration for shopping in a mid-range price bracket, especially those who want to introduce more plant-based meals into their diet.
|Best For||Families Who Value Quality & Discovering New Food|
|Price Per Serving||2 Servings: $11.99 – $9.49 4 Servings: $9.49 – $7.99|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 2 To 4 Days: $47.96 – $75.92 4 Servings – 2 To 2 Days: $75.92 – $127.84|
|Popular Recipes||Steelhead Trout Rice Bowl, Oven Baked Cheesy Tomato Gnocchi, Chipotle Chicken & Pinto Bean Tostadas With Tomato Salsa|
- Meal Kits & Pre-Prepared Food
- Lots Of Low Calorie Meals
- 50+ Weekly Meal Options
- Easy To Pause/Skip
- Seasonal Menus & Promotions
- Relatively Small Protein Portions
Blue Apron delivers boxes filled with pre-portioned ingredients paired with simple instructions for what many would imagine being complex recipes. As a result, some meals can take up to fifty minutes to prepare if opting for premium offerings like duck & thyme-butter pan sauce with caramelized onion potato cakes & arugula. Those who prefer not to cook have the heat-and-eat range sporting dishes like soy-miso chicken & udon noodles or a meal from the ready-to-cook selection with bakes, roasts, and more waiting.
Meal kits from Blue Apron aren’t built around nutritional goals or diets but rather simply your preferences. Some would argue that this makes it a meal kit company instead of a meal planner, but the company sure takes the effort out of shopping and cooking either way. Preferences are divided into chef favorites, wellness-focused meals, family-friendly, fast & easy, and veggies serving on plant-based cooking. The selection of meals is massive. If you choose all recipes, there are just over fifty different dishes to pick from each week. This encompasses a fantastic balance of familiar meals and world cuisine, which also means that this isn’t the meal plan for traditionalists who dislike trying new things. For everyone else, it’s well worth a shot.
|Best For||Families Who Want High Quality Fresh & Frozen Options|
|Price Per Serving||2 To 4 Servings: $16.59 – $11.49|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 2 To 5 Days: $45.96 – $165.90 4 Servings – 2 To 5 Days: $91.92 – $331.80|
|Popular Recipes||Mediterranean Sausage And Lentil Stew With Squash & Wilted Kale, Korean Rice Bowls With Sticky-Sweet BBQ Chicken Skewers & Kimchi, Orzo Bowls With Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Pistou|
- Meal Kits & Pre-prepared Food
Tons Of Gourmet Options
- USDA Certified Organic Ingredients
- View Menus 4 Weeks In Advance
- Fairly High Price Per Portion On Certain Meals
- More Plastic Packaging Than Most
Almost everyone who’s tried SunBasket becomes a loyal customer who raves over the food. Shoppers simply select their favorites Paleo, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Mediterranean, Diabetes-Friendly, Carb-Conscious, Keto-Friendly and can also can set a full range of additional preferences like ingredients to avoid, low sugar, low salt, and the like. Appropriate recipes are offered from a selection spanning around seventeen meal kits divided into standard meal kits, pre-prepped, and ‘Chef’s Table,’ including the gourmet options. There are also around fifteen fresh & ready meals that come pre-prepared and require nothing more than six minutes or less of baking/reheating.
The company’s outstanding cuisine is backed by a “mouthwatering guarantee,” which means that if customers don’t like their meal, they get their money back. Combine all of this with free delivery on your first order, and there’s every reason for almost any household to try SunBasket. If you do decide to try SunBasket, be on the lookout for their breakfast options, bites, homemade snack packs, desserts, and even cuts of meat – you won’t be disappointed by the meals or the extras.
|Best For||Vegans & Anyone Who Wants To Eat More Plants|
|Price Per Serving||2 Servings: $13.25 4 Servings: $11.00|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 3 To 4 Days: $79.50 – $106 4 Servings – 3 To 4 Days:$88 – $132|
|Shipping||$8 Shipping, Free Shipping On Orders Over $85|
|Popular Recipes||Nashville Hot Fried Tofu Sandwiches With Creamy Cabbage & Pear Slaw, Panko-Crusted Tempeh With Lemon Zucchini Soba & Avocado, Cacio e Pepe With Roasted Broccolini & Crispy Chickpeas|
- Some Of The Best Plant-Based Meals Around
- Fresh Meal Kits & pre-prepared Food
- Excellent Portion Size
- Free Shipping On Most Boxes
- Intelligent Packaging Of Ingredients
- Easy Skip/Pause/Cancel
- Extra Pantry Items Available For Each Box
- Limited Meal Options
- Limited Vegetarian Options (Vegan Focus)
- No Mix/Matching With pre-prepared (Frozen) Food
- Mediocre Frozen Meals
Purple Carrot is a meal planning service that focuses on plant-based eating. Meals from Purple Carrot are divided into high-protein, gluten-free, quick & easy, or chef’s choice meals, and the quality of the meal kits is among the best you’ll find. The selection of recipes is limited compared to some providers, but there’s still enough flexibility for most households of two, four, or six to discover new flavors. With this being said, ordering for four produces fewer weekly menu options, which will be a deterrent to some. It takes a little more work to pull off the delicacies planned by Purple Carrot, but most experienced home cooks will have no hassles.
The one thing that elevates Purple Carrot above most plant-based competitors is the size and satisfying nature of the portions. Meals are fulfilling, serving up enough food to satiate even those with large appetites. If you’re one of those people who just can’t seem to find a meal kit that fills you up but are determined to introduce more plants into your diet, Purple Carrot is probably your best bet. There’s not the greatest variety of recipes to pick from, but each and every one is a winner.
|Best For||Families Who Demand Certified Organics|
|Price Per Serving||2 People: $13.49 – $12.99 4 People: $12.99 – $11.99 6 People: $11.99 – $11.99|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings – 3 To 4 Days : $79.50 – $106 4 Servings – 2 To 4 Days:$88 – $132 6 Servings – 3 To 4 Days: $215.82 – $287.76|
|Popular Recipes||Cheesy Artichoke Beef Patties With Sunflower Basil Sauce & Ricotta, Steak & Shrimp With Creamy Truffle Sauce, Green Beans Amandine & Tomato, Creamy Corn Risotto With Shrimp & Bacon|
- Superior All-Around Ingredient Quality
- Certified Organic Produce
- Smaller Quantity Of Produce (Halved Vegetables Possible)
- Limited Day Coverage, Maximum of 4
- High Portion Cost
Meals from the healthy meal planning service, Green Chef, come chopped and ready to be prepared fresh. Quality standards are high, but portions aren’t as large as some would hope. The best feature of Green Chef is how all the ingredients are certified to be organic. Yet, it’s not just high-quality meal components that draws customers in and retains them. Green Chef supplies thoughtful service like premixed sauces, minimal prep time, and some of the best plant-based meals around.
GreenChef recently allowed the mixing and matching of recipes from its six food categories, namely Keto + Paleo, vegetarian, Mediterranean, fast & fit, vegan, and gluten-free. Each week customers have up to forty-five different meals to pick from. Subscribers can expect restaurant-quality meals at home in a little over half an hour for most of the meals, which starts to make the high price rather attractive for those who like to eat well but don’t have time for shopping.
|Best For||Affordable Total Week Meal For All Meals|
|Price Per Serving||2 People: $11.39 – $9.69 4 People: $10.29 – $9.69|
|Weekly Cost||2 Servings (Dinner) – 3 Days: $61.35 Maximum 16 Dinner Servings: $211.50 Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert & Snacks Available|
|Popular Recipes||Sweet Kale Salad with Crispy “Chicken” + Brie, Creamy Shrimp + Asparagus Mushroom Risotto, Garlic Chicken Sausage + Broccoli Protein Bowl|
- All Meals & Snacks Available Including Desserts
- Free Sign-Up Gift
- Free Shipping + 30% Discount On First Order
- At Times Substitute Without Warning (When Out Of Stock)
Hungry Root’s grocery and meal kits are truly amazing, but they’re not what many have come to expect from a conventional meal planning/meal delivery service. Instead, HungryRoot quizzes shoppers on their preferences spanning breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. With Hungry Root’s help, cooking quality fresh ingredients is made easy, and the results are fantastic. With the help of your ingredient box that has everything prepped and ready, you’ll be able to whip up most meals in ten to fifteen minutes. The quality, flavor, and basic cookery, such as marinades and preseasoning, are all very good. Most meals taste perfect using the ingredients as-is.
Most meals are under five hundred calories, but the portions are reasonable, and hundreds of recipes make up the available menu. Picking preferences revolve around determining your favorite categories from mains & sides, grain bowls, pasta, tacos, stir-fries, salads, wraps, sandwiches, and burgers. Those who are opposed to certain ingredients should make certain that each item is marked ‘Ship: Never’ within the user control panel, or HungryRoot will sometimes substitute unwanted substitutions. Besides this nuance, the overall service is very good, and the value for money is astounding.
The Best Pre-prepared Meal Planning Services (Instant Food)
Some of the meals from these five fine purveyors of tasty instant food will come frozen. Others will arrive freshly prepared by a chef with just enough cooking time left for heating to bring the dish to the point of perfection. Here are the best meal planning services for pre-prepared meals.
|Best For||Health Conscious Busy Individuals|
|Price Per Serving||$11.79 – $9.58|
|Weekly Cost||4 Meals:$12.50 / Meal 5 Meals: $12.40 / Meal 6 Meals: $11.33 / Meal 7 Meals: $10.71 / Meal 8 Meals: $10.37 / Meal 9 Meals: $10.22 / Meal 10 Meals: $10 / Meal 11 Meals: $9.81 / Meal 12 Meals: $9.58 / Meal|
|Shipping||Standard Shipping, Varied Based On Location|
|Popular Recipes||Savory-Sweet Chicken Teriyaki Bowl, Golden Oven-Fried Chicken & Mash, BBQ Bison Burger|
- Freshly Prepared Not Frozen
- All Meals Are Gluten Free
- Ample Vegetarian Options
- Among The Tastiest Heat-And-Eat Cuisine
- Small Single-Serve Portions
- High Meal Cost
- 4-12 Recipes On The Weekly Menu
Freshly’s ready to heat-and-eat meals aren’t frozen and have been specifically formulated to form a balanced, healthy diet. There are gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, carb-conscious, and low-calorie breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on offer. Portions are light, and every meal has protein, seasonal vegetables, and whole grain starches. Natural products are used over synthetics in almost all cases. It is a meal plan designed for health-conscious individuals who follow strict diets. Full ingredient lists with nutritional information are available for everything
Weekly menus are segmented into the signature collection, purely plant and FreshlyFit, and there’s a category for extra proteins and sides which vary each week. This is great for those who enjoy an extra helping of meat like meatballs or grilled chicken breasts. Freshly sustains a very high-quality standard, but every portion covers one person without leftovers. It’s ample food and filling enough for most, but those who could easily eat multiple helpings should think twice or factor in the cost of extras. Fortunately, Freshly’s food is tasty enough to turn many die-hard takeout fans into order-in stay-home types instead.
|Best For||Vegan Families, On-Demand Meal Plans|
|Price Per Serving||$14 – $9.33|
|Weekly Cost||Breakfast (5 Days) – $70 Breakfast + Lunch (5 Days) – $65 Breakfast + Lunch + Reset (5 Days) – $140 Breakfast + Lunch + Reset New (5 Days) – $198 On Demand Boxes – $65 – $145|
|Popular Recipes||Vegan Meatballs & Marinara Noodles, Raspberry Cacao Smoothie With Coconut & Rose Water, Vegetable Bolognese Grain Bowl With Mushrooms & Wild Rice Risotto|
- 50+ Menu Options
- Plant-Based Meals Only
- Subscription and On-Demand Boxes Available
- Skip Weeks Whenever
- Mediocre Wellness Shots
- Pricy Smoothies
- Low Calorie Meals Only
Splendid Spoon delivers delicious instant vegan non-GMO, gluten- and soy-free meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with delivery according to any schedule preferred. Heat and eat plant-based meals don’t get much better than Splendid Spoon, which makes the service quite affordable in comparison to competitors. There are four basic subscriptions and a range of affordable on-demand boxes as well. Each encompasses a variety of smoothies, soup and grain bowls, noodle bowls, and what is called a full-day reset. The rest is made up of five light soups that help the body unwind and rebalance before starting a healthy meal plan.
To sample the noodle bowls, shoppers will have to opt for the highest-end subscription or one of the on-demand boxes containing multipacks of all the company’s meals and smoothies. Anyone who likes the idea of weekly meal plans without being tied to a contract should definitely give Splendid Spoon’s range a look.
|Best For||No-Fuss Weight Loss|
|Price Per Serving||Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner – $10.99 – $12.49 Lunch & Dinner – $13.49 – $14.99|
|Weekly Cost||Full Program – 7 Days – $164.85 Promol / $219.80 Dinner & Lunch – 5 Days – $187.354 Promo / $140.51|
|Popular Recipes||Meatloaf with Honey Bourbon Glaze, Manicotti with Vodka Marinara Sauce, Lasagna With Garden Marinara|
- Proven Diet For Steady, Healthy Weight Loss
- Flavorful Meals
- 150+ Recipes To Choose
- Free Shipping + 25% Discount On First Order
- Expensive Meals
- Expensive Delivery
- Designed For Single Individual
- No Mobile App
BistroMD is a doctor-designed frozen meal delivery plan that aims to facilitate weight loss by means of delivering a full-week program consisting of seven breakfasts, lunches, and six dinners. There’s also a five-day program and customized meal plans delivering the number of dinners needed. The total menu spans over one hundred and fifty mains, and the entire diet offers one-to-one support from a team of dietitians. The overwhelming majority of users report healthy weight loss of around two pounds per week thanks to the 400-calorie or fewer recipes making up the diet.
Meal plans are categorized into Women’s, Men’s, Heart Healthy, Gluten-Free, Keto Flex, Diabetic-Friendly, and a Menopause program. Unfortunately, even though the diet is scientifically designed, most of the ingredients aren’t local or organic. There are also not enough calories in the pre-prepared meals to fill the caloric requirements of all individuals, which means you’ll most likely need to supplement with appropriate snacks. While effective and tasty, BistroMD meals cost significantly more than other frozen counterparts, but for many, the diversity of eating and control makes the meal plan worth it.
|Best For||Shoppers Who Want To Try Out New Cuisine|
|Price Per Serving||$12.69 – $10.39|
|Weekly Cost||4 – 16 Meals Weekly: $50.76 – $166.24|
|Popular Recipes||Beyond Meat Tacos With Lime Crema Sauce & Pico de Gallo, Seared Steak With Brussels Sprouts & Horseradish Cream Sauce, Pesto Roasted Salmon With Ratatouille|
- Restaurant Quality Instant Meals
- Pre-prepared Not Frozen
- Reasonable Cost
- Free Shipping
- Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana Not Covered
CookUnity markets itself based on the fact that its prepared meal subscription boxes have been put together by James Beard Award-winning chefs, and the difference sure shows in the taste. Expect forty to sixty menu options even if you’ve specified food restrictions. There are fewer vegetarian meals than strict plant-based eating families would like, but the flavor of each meal is so good that the service keeps impressing over and over again. There are very few instant meals that can compare, and you’ll find meals suited to even the most specific of diets like Whole 30 and Keto.
All meals arrive fresh, not frozen, and the entire rotating menu includes over one-hundred-and-fifty menu options. As one of the only criticisms, certain portions are a bit small, but each meal comes together well, creating a satisfying serving in the majority.
|Best For||Healthy Ethnically Diverse Food With Tons Of Options|
|Price Per Serving||4 To 18 Servings: $15 – $11|
|Weekly Cost||4 To 18 Servings: $60 – $198|
|Popular Recipes||Sage-Braised Pork Shoulder With Maple-Roasted Carrots And Garlicky Green Beans, Red-Lentil Fusilli & Ground Pork Tomato Ragu, Chicken Breast Baked In Garlicky Parmesan Crust|
- Freshly Prepared Not Frozen
- Non-GMO Ingredients
- Generous Portions
- Zero Preservatives
- Free Nutrition Coaching
- Pause/Cancel At Any Time
- Keto Meals Without Gluten Are Not Available
- Expensive When Ordering Low Quantity Of Servings
Factor75 users can either select their favorites or pick out their taste preferences and let the meal planner do all the work for them. Like many of the other fine instant meal providers, the healthy menu serves up freshly prepared food, not frozen meals, and the portion size is much larger than most competitors. Many shoppers will be particularly drawn to the complimentary twenty minutes of nutrition coaching from a registered dietitian that comes with every subscription.
Weekly recipes are selected from the basic menu categories, namely Calorie Smart, Keto, Vegan + Veggie, Chef’s Choice, Desserts, Shakes & Smoothies, and Extra Protein. Cooking time is two minutes or less in the microwave for all meals, and everything comes out as good as a pre-prepared meal can get with even the seasoning on point. For the price, serving sizes, and superb cookery put into every plate, we’d say that Factor75 is as near to a must-try as there is for anyone who wants to eat healthy without having to cook.
Special Mention, Featured Packed Dedicated Meal Planning Service
While it doesn’t include ingredients or meal delivery, the Workweek Lunch Meal Prep Program is one of the world’s most popular meal planning communities.
Workweek Lunch Meal Prep Program
Unlike every other meal planning service reviewed, the Workweek Lunch Meal Prep Program doesn’t actually deliver any kits or pre-prepared meals at all. It is strictly a meal planning community that delivers weekly recipe suggestions, shopping lists, and preparation tips that enables a busy household to whip up amazing, healthy food within forty-five minutes or less. Among a sea of weight loss meal plans, WWL stands apart as one of the few that handles meal planning in its entirety.
From helping you handle leftovers to maximizing the nutrition and affordability of each shopping trip, WWL has it all, and the weight loss promise has been proven by countless diligent users over the years. If your household needs shopping and cooking guidance to maximize all the ingredients purchased frugally while discovering new tastes along the way, then the minimal cost of the WWL Meal Prep Program will pay for itself in both budget discounts and culinary experience many times over.
Best Meal Planning Services – Notable Mentions
Here are a few of the high quality meal planning services that just didn’t make the list. Each can be relied on for quality and service.
FAQ – Meal Planning Services
Here are all the answers to the frequently asked questions commonly asked concerning meal planning services.
What Is The Best Meal Planning Service?
The best meal planning service is a very personal decision that depends on your diet and eating aspirations. Marley Spoon, SunBasket, and Blue Apron are largely considered to be the industry leaders, but one cannot discount our other contenders reviewed without first comparing your lifestyle and needs to the apps on offer.
What Is The Cheapest Meal Delivery Service?
Out of the top meal delivery services reviewed, EveryPlate is the cheapest meal delivery service. At between $4.99 and $6.49, you won’t find a cheaper plate of quality food that tastes great by any standards, even when factoring in the slightly undersized veggies. Portion size and flavor are surprisingly good.
What Is The Healthiest Meal Delivery Service?
Just about all of the top ten meal planning services reviewed deliver healthy meals, but the healthiest meal delivery services have to be Factor 75 and Bistro MD when shopping for fresh ingredients for meals prepared at home. The healthiest meals in terms of instant heat-and-eat food are from Splendid Spoon and Freshly.
Meal Planning Tips
Here are some of the best meal planning tips to keep in mind for busy shoppers.
Hunt Down Referral Bonuses & Coupons
Be on the lookout for referral bonuses and coupon codes before using any of the aforementioned meal planning services for the first time. There are tons of sign-up bonuses to be found on Reddit and other community forums and message boards. For example, just a quick look at /r/mealkits/ reveals tons of user-generated referral bonuses to be claimed by eager new users.
Shop For Discounts
Another tip to keep in mind for frugal shoppers is that most meal planning services that deliver kits run frequent discounts. There are typically ongoing promotions somewhere each and every week. Some even go as far as only ordering the meal kits that are on special, thereby seizing an opportunity to save cash and try new things. The same principle applies to shopping for fresh ingredients. Always weigh your options carefully or stick to one supplier whose quality and price point match your budget and expectations.
Keep Produce Fresh For As Long As Possible
There are several ways to prolong the storage life of fresh produce. Excess moisture is the worst enemy of refrigerated produce to store things like peppers, chilis, mushrooms, carrots, and anything leftovers that are likely to shed water upon paper towels within an airtight bag. This is the key to reaping the benefits of bulk purchases and prepping ahead without letting spoilage occur. For detailed information concerning shelf lives of commonly used ingredients, check our breakdown of whether bacon goes bad, whether corn syrup goes bad, and even how long cooked and smoked salmon lasts. A little insight goes a long way when planning meals.
Divide Preparation Over Multiple Days
At first, meal preparation for an entire week may seem daunting, especially if you’re used to facing each meal one day at a time. However, preparation for several meals, including shopping, is much simpler if you segment the task. Barely any busy family has the time to plan, shop, and prep all in one day, so split up tasks instead into comfortable periods of time suited to your schedule.
Get Into A Good Meal Prep Routine
A little practice will turn a time and money-saving routine into a habit that’ll simplify any family’s life while enhancing the way that they eat. Find the motivation that will make you stick to your plan for long enough to reap the benefits that familiarity will quickly build. Focus on one or two meals at a time until they’re second nature to prep and cook while working through a rough plan that expands the cuisine you eat. Containers are invaluable to meal planning, so stock up. Never be afraid to cook – there are ample resources to assist you online, but first-hand experience expands your borders.
Find A Menu That Suits Your Family & Style
Refining weekly menus is the fun part of meal planning but until you find a groove that tailors to everyone’s taste and the available time each week, it’ll take practice and experimentation with new techniques, tools and both shopping and cooking styles. Keep fine-tuning until tailor-made healthy meals are no effort at all, until the menu planning rather saves you time, money and effort while making you excited to cook and prep at the same time.
Try A Meal Planning Aggregator/Search Engine
Meal planning aggregators like the three search engines below catalog meal kits across the country so that eager eaters like you can determine the perfect ordering schedule from the exact right supplier each and every week.
- PickAKit – Meal And Price Comparison
- Meal Finds – Online Food Comparison
- FoodBoxHQ – Food Box Search Engine
Best Meal Planning Books
We’ve picked out ten of the best meal planning books in print. Some detail the processes, techniques, and mindset needed for effective meal planning in elaborate detail. Others spread the author’s guidance across recipes, sample menus, weekly eating plans, and methodology. There’s a meal preparation style suited to everyone across these insightful books.
The Workweek Lunch Cookbook: Easy, Delicious Meals to Meal Prep, Pack and Take On the Go
- Author: Talia Koren
- Total Recipes: 60
- Total Pages: 176
- Recipes Preview: Italian Turkey Meatball Orzo Bowl, Kimchi Veggie Fried Rice, Rice Three Ways (Green Rice, Salsa Rice, Coconut Rice)
- Pricing: Average
The Workweek Lunch is a meal planning service, blog, book, and community that’s been around since 2016. With WWL, planning lunch without food waste or fuss is made easy, and this book is the ideal introduction, guide book and/or companion to the meal preparation system. Each of the sixty recipes is backed by full-color photos. The reader is taken through everything from time-saving and reheating tips to sample five-day workweek meal plans for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, flexitarians, and pescatarians with suitable meals for any kitchen environment, no matter how limited.
The Busy Person’s Meal Planner: A Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Meal Planning and Meal Prep including 50+ Recipes and a Weekly Meal Plan/Grocery List Notepad
- Author: Laura Ligos
- Total Recipes: 50+
- Total Pages: 224
- Recipes Preview: Overnight Oats Five Ways, Protein Pancakes, Breakfast Taco Egg Cups
- Pricing: High
The Busy Person’s meal planner is a great book for anyone new to meal planning in just five simple steps. It takes the reader through a concise guide to pre-meal planning, effective shopping, including leveraging quality & seasonal produce, meal-planning itself, and even building a balanced plate for each time of the day. Finally, the recipes are inspired and clearly detailed to divulge insight while being backed by brilliant cheat sheets. This is a great buy, even without the added grocery list notepad.
The Lazy Genius Kitchen: Have What You Need, Use What You Have, and Enjoy It Like Never Before
- Author: Kendra Adachi
- Total Recipes: No Recipes – Guidebook To Meal Planning
- Total Pages: 208
- Chapter Preview: Your Lazy Genius Kitchen, Have What You Need, Use What You Have
- Pricing: Average
The Lazy Kitchen Genius could very well be the best dedicated guide to meal planning that there is, but it’s not a cookbook at all. Prioritize. Essentialize. Organize. Personalize. Systemize. Using the principles taught in this book, anyone will be able to devise meaningful, balanced meal plans and shopping lists, including personalization steps for making sure you’ve bought all the food types that are enjoyed. There may not be any recipes per se, but there are basic processes for roasting meat, seafood, and vegetables, making soup and salad, grilling, marinating, seasoning, judging the quality of recipes, and much much more. There are also key ingredient combinations that every chef should know.
Taste of Home Meal Planning: The 500+ Recipes, Secrets & Tips that Busy Meal Planners Rely on Most
- Author: Taste of Home
- Total Recipes: 500+
- Total Pages: 448
- Recipes Preview: Gnocchi With White Beans, Double-Duty Chicken With Olives & Artichoke, Reheat Frozen Pizza Pasta Casserole
- Pricing: Cheap
There are few meal planning compilations that can compare to the half a thousand or so recipes offered by Taste of Home’s Meal Planning. Readers will learn essential ingredients to keep on hand, how to plan, and how to best handle freezing and pre-preparation. From on-the-go breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to an eating plan for a full month to inspire and emulate, this book has it all. You’ll learn the best food to make ahead of time and how to make the most of leftovers. Sweets, sides, and all types of extras, there’s no more complete recipe-based guidebook to effective meal planning around..
Meal Prep for Weight Loss: Weekly Plans and Recipes to Lose Weight the Healthy Way
- Author: RD Kelli Shallal
- Total Recipes: 75
- Total Pages: 194
- Recipes Preview: Crunchy Rainbow Salad With Thai Peanut Dressing,
- Pricing: Cheap
Meal Prep for Weight details how to lose weight using effective meal planning as well as how to prepare meals for a diet that promotes weight loss in its first section. In parts two, three, four, five, and six, recipe meal preparation plans are detailed, giving guidance and a model to follow for weight loss meal planning. Finally, batch-friendly carb, veggie, and protein recipes are detailed, and a range of snacks. It’s an awesome collection of recipes that conveys the essence of meal planning well to beginners to both cooking and preparing ahead.
Meal Prep on a Budget: How to Prep Healthy Meals on $40 a Week Paperback
- Author: Matt Kearns
- Total Recipes: Unstated
- Total Pages: 122
- Recipes Preview: Herbed Pork Chops With Brussels Sprouts And Zucchini, Roasted Cauliflower And Broccoli Egg Bites, Deconstructed Beef And Mushroom Burger
- Pricing: Very Cheap
Living on just $40 a week while eating meals like are detailed in Meal Prep on a Budget may very well be impossible for some prior to reading this excellent book. That’s right – all it’ll cost you is $3 to $4 per plate when following this meal planning guide. The shopping lists and preparation steps leave no room for doubt, while the recipes are simple enough to pull off in under twenty minutes without once being bland. There are four weeks of meal plans with shopping lists and extra recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks waiting. Shopping tips and the reusing of ingredients are wonderfully detailed and will all make sense to even the most frugal households. It’s a fairly short read filled with gorgeous pictures that you’ll keep coming back to time and time again.
Skinnytaste Meal Prep: Healthy Make-Ahead Meals and Freezer Recipes to Simplify Your Life: A Cookbook
- Author: Gina Homolka
- Total Recipes: 120+
- Total Pages: 304
- Recipes Preview: Lemon, Blueberry Buttermilk Sheet Pancakes, Souvlaki Pitas, Green Chicken Pilaf Bowls
- Pricing: High
The Skinnytaste weight loss meal plan is built around a framework of concepts divulged in The Skinnytaste Meal Prep Cookbook that is capable of turning almost anyone into a proficient meal planner for their family. You’ll struggle to find any other meal planning cookbook that has as many recipes. By the time the reader is done, they’ll know everything from batch-cooking to partial cooking ahead of time. All mealtimes are covered and accompanied by vivid imagery. As a resource that the author realized would be revisited frequently, all the recipes are color-coded according to their dietary suitability. It’s a great book that anyone serious about meal planning would do well to own – easily one of the best.
Salt Fat Acid Heat
- Author: Samin Nosrat
- Total Recipes: 107+
- Total Pages: 480
- Recipes Preview: Stracciatella Roman Egg Drop Soup, Roast Butternut Squash And Brussel Sprouts In Agrodolce, Muhammara Lebanese Pepper And Walnut Spread
- Pricing: Average
If there is one book that every cook should read, regardless of whether they’re looking for techniques, tips, or meal planning advice, it’s Salt, Fat, Acid Heat. Every last basic cooking fundamental and the full effect and cumulative effect of salt, fat, acid, and heat are detailed with charming accompanying illustrations in the exact places where readers need them. Reading this book from beginning to end will make a better cook out of individuals of all skill levels, from novice to expert chefs. There’ll be no need for menus to model your own cooking on once you understand all that is offered by this brilliant must-have book but fret not, there are sample menus too. This is one book that is missing nothing.
The Ultimate Meal-Prep Cookbook: One Grocery List. A Week of Meals. No Waste. by America’s Test Kitchen
- Author: America’s Test Kitchen
- Total Recipes: 50+
- Total Pages: 336
- Recipes Preview: Meatballs And Lemon Orzo With Mint And Dill, Maple Pork Chops With Sweet Potato-Bacon Hash, Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts With Chickpea Salad
- Pricing: Average
The Ultimate Meal-Prep Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen delivers actionable meal planning strategies involving prep, bulk purchases, cross-utilization of ingredients, and effective storage. Follow the guidance set out by ATK, and you’ll have grocery lists of no more than twelve items, with cooking time on the most elaborate meals maxing out at forty-five minutes tops. On top of it all, there are also twenty-five different meal plans ready to make. It’s one of the best books around for minimizing food waste while learning tons of substitutions and pantry management tips along the way. Anyone who follows the steps and guidance given in this great meal planning discourse is sure to become an expert at no-fuss shopping and cooking in no time.
The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go
- Author: Toby Amidor
- Total Recipes: 100+
- Total Pages: 234
- Recipes Preview: Avo-Egg Scramble Wrap, Mini Vegetable Quiches, Poached Salmon With Chimichurri
- Pricing: Cheap
The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook does a fantastic job of teaching readers meal planning, focusing on three distinctly different meal planning styles: clean eating, weight loss, and muscle building. Readers will love the detailed but straightforward shopping for two-week meal plans. It sure saves a lot of time and effort while opening up an ongoing opportunity for a massive selection of tasty dishes. Potential buyers should note that there aren’t as many vegetarian and vegan options provided as many similar books, but for omnivores, the recipes are a step above the rest and wonderfully diverse. Also, the nutritional information isn’t that comprehensive, but the sheer selection of countless practical, easy-to-apply meal planning tips and general guidance overcompensates.
Best Meal Planning Books – Notable Mentions
There are several outstanding meal planning books available. While these did not make the top ten, they should not be discounted as each is a rich source of insight, pre-preparation tips, and in most cases, simple recipes to prepare for hours to a day or two ahead of time. The rest of the best meal planning and meal preparation cookbooks other than those on our top list include:
- The Skinnytaste Ultimate Meal Planner: 52-Week Meal Planner with 35+ Recipes, a 12-Week Meal Plan, Tear-Out Grocery Lists, and Tools for Healthy Habits Diary by Gina Homolka
- The Meal Prep King Plan: Save time. Lose weight. Eat the meals you love by John Clark
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