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In the old days, there used to only really be one way to make menu plans — on paper! Well, now with computers and mobile devices, you can now go mobile by setting up your meal plans digitally!
But before we get into some options that are out there, let me give you a few tips…
Decide First What Method Works Best For You
Before we dig into some of the digital options, stop to consider how you want to set up this “system” in your home. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Where do I like to keep my recipes?
- Do I like to have printed copies of my recipes in the kitchen or just on my mobile device?
- How do I like to have my shopping list — on paper or on my mobile device?
- Where do I go to find new recipes to try?
- What do I do with new recipes that I find and want to try out?
These are all questions you will want to consider as you look at these different options and decide what is best for you. Some digital menu planners have options to print and some don’t. Some allow you to input your own recipes and some don’t. Some allow you to have easy access to the recipes online and some don’t.
Now you may find yourself trying a certain system of doing your menus and realizing that it just doesn’t work. That’s ok! Just adjust until you find a system that works.
What I don’t want you to do, though, is to download all these program and apps and try them all out at once.
First get a vision for how you think you want to set this system up, go to the sites linked below and check out the features each of them has, then decide on one to try. If that doesn’t work, then delete it and try another one.
Setting Up Your Meal Plans Digitally
I scoured the internet to find the best free options out there for you to consider. Now there are lots of paid menu planning apps you can download on your phone, but I was trying to find free options that were as compatible as possible with many different devices. Personally, I like to use a program or app that gives me a desktop version and one that I can have on my phone. I can type, copy and paste, etc., much easier on my desktop, but like the ability to access things on my phone as well.
Below you will find links to some digital options to consider. Some are easier to use than others, and some have more options than others. Just take some time to look through each of them and keeping in mind the answers to the questions above, choose one to try.
Google Calendar – I shared in a previous post how I use Google Calendar to set up my menu plans. What I like about this option is that I have everything in one place. I don’t have to open up another app to see my menu. However, this option does not store recipes for you or create grocery lists like some of the other options do.
Pepperplate – This is a free online planner that allows you to add recipes (either your own or from sites online), categorize them, and then create menu plans and grocery lists! This app is available for desktop and all mobile devices.
Evernote – You may not think about using Evernote, but this is another free option to consider. Evernote even wrote a post about using it to do meal planning! This is also available on desktop and all mobile devices.
Food Planner – This app is available for desktop and all mobile devices. It allows you to add your own recipes or import from many of the huge online recipe sites. You can create menu plans and grocery lists easily! The free version is only what you need, but they do offer a “Pro” version you can purchase with a few more features (but I don’t think they are really necessary).
All Recipes Dinner Spinner – This app is available for Android, iPhone, and Kindle. While not really a menu planner, it does allow you to select favorites to save and then add ingredients to your grocery list.
Cozi Recipe Box and Dinner Planner – Cozi is a neat free online calendar that also has a recipe and menu planning feature! This may be another option if you don’t want to use Google Calendar. You could keep your calendar here as well as your menu plans! Cozi is available on desktop and all mobile devices.
Big Oven – Another great free app you can use on desktop and all mobile devices. Use Big Oven to save recipes from sites online or add your own (free version limits you to 50 recipes of your own that you can add). Create menu plans and grocery lists easily!
Do you know of any other digital options for meal planning or have one that is your favorite? If so, please share in the comments below!