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Free Meal Planning Apps Are Superb DIY Healthcare Tools

Diet is indisputably the single greatest factor influencing overall health that is entirely (or nearly entirely) within our control. As the adage goes, “you are what you eat.” The totality of the available medical literature emphasizes that a whole foods-based diet is an indispensable component of a healthy lifestyle. 

In our modern time-strapped environments, we often find ourselves without the time or motivation to expend the energy required to plan and execute nutritious meals. Unfortunately, we often opt for corner store junk or processed fast food for the sake of convenience. 
Enter DIY meal planning apps to the rescue. Researchers recently looked into the utility of meal planning apps for potentially improving dietary habits. The findings showed that the apps under study “provided behavioral support for the use of healthy food coping strategies” among participants.
The web is chock full of relevant resources that individuals can utilize. Google Play and the Apple Store offer a multitude of app choices that help users plan and track their dietary habits through sophisticated data storage, processing, and analysis. 
In this article, we’ll dive into the features of the best free meal planning apps, which ones rank highest among users in terms of accessibility and effectiveness, and how to use these free resources to your maximum advantage.
What Features Do the Best Free Meal Planning Apps Have?Deciding which free app to download and use may be more challenging than it sounds. Each app developer includes their own features in their products. To make matters more complicated, there are literally thousands of meal planning apps floating around on the web. 

To select the most useful and comprehensive meal planning app that you can use daily, look for the following components:

  • Overall calorie counts.
  • Macronutrient breakdowns (proteins, fats, carbohydrates). In addition to controlling raw calories, modern science now understands much more about the critical importance of balancing macronutrients for achieving health goals.
  • Recipe ideas and suggestions. Our favorite recipes are often the ones we haven’t discovered yet. Based on what they know about your tastes, the best apps connect you to recipes of interest that you may not have even considered.
  • Automated grocery lists. Shopping is a breeze when all the necessary ingredients are automatically compiled in one list.
  • Recipe sharing and recommendations between users. An often-overlooked feature of high-quality meal-planning apps is function as a platform to connect like-minded users with similar culinary interests.  
  • Allergy alerts. Users can enter their personal allergens and those of family members to automatically filter out recipes that contain offending substances. No more squinting at the fine print to check for unwanted ingredients. 

The Benefits of Meal-Planning AppsThe primary and most obvious benefit of meal-planning apps is that they save us the time and effort of planning our home meals. Meal-planning, as anyone who has run a kitchen knows, is much involved than what a surface-level analysis might suggest.
Meal-planning apps save the hassle of compiling grocery lists, scheduling weekly meals, filtering through ingredients, and counting calories. In short, all of the tedious calculations necessary for precision eating are taken care of.

A 2017 study found a correlation between meal planning app use and lower rates of obesity in the French adults it studied. Several other studies on the same phenomenon have produced similar promising conclusions. In the United States — where public health experts consider obesity to be an epidemic — meal planning apps could represent a small but important component of an overall strategy to fight obesity.  
Meal planning is particularly promising for impoverished communities where disease induced by poor diet is most prevalent.
The researchers of the French study on lowered obesity rates and meal planning found no definite causal links between the two, but they speculated that using an app to plan meals created more awareness and intentionality among the subjects they studied. This increased level of awareness, they theorize, leads to healthier food choices in turn.
The Best Free Meal Planning AppsThe following free apps rank highest among users:

*Note that some of these apps offer both free and paid versions.
If you’re looking for the single most powerful tool you can utilize to substantially improve your eating habits while making meal planning fun again, consider downloading one of the apps we linked to above.
Happy dining!