Imagine knowing exactly what you are going to cook for dinner tonight and actually having everything you need in your kitchen to prepare and enjoy that meal. That is what Meal Planning Software can do for you.
Creating meal plans no longer has to involve searching through cookbooks, hand-written lists or unproductive trips to your pantry in an attempt to figure out what you have on hand. With good meal planning software you can stay organized down to your last grain of salt. Some applications are even capable of helping professional chefs and caterers scale recipes and manage inventories.
Here are a few things meal planning software can do:
Create Menu Plans
These applications are designed to help you create meal plans for a day or even for an entire month. Most also have calendar views and menu plans that can be printed for sharing.
Manage Nutrition and Caloric Intake
Menu planning software can calculate nutritional values of your menus per serving. It can also calculate information on fat, protein and carbohydrates so you can manage specific diet plans, such as for weight loss, diabetes or cholesterol management.
Create Shopping Lists
All the menu planner software we looked at can create shopping lists based on your meal plans. Some can even organize lists based on which store you prefer to shop at for certain items. For example, it can put produce on a list for your favorite produce store, and it can create another list for your preferred butcher. A few meal planning programs will also calculate estimated costs.
Manage Your Pantry
The best meal planning software can manage the items you have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Once you enter the items into your inventory it will decrease amounts based on what you use in your meal plans.
We looked at the best meal planning software available; to discover more about what this software can do for you, see our top picks, Living Cookbook, Cook’nRecipe Organizer and Shop'NCook Menu. To learn more about how you can most efficiently utilize your menu planning software, visit our learning center.
We primarily focused on meal planning software that can quickly create simple and complex meal plans and accurate, organized shopping lists. Another important aspect is that the software must be easy to use.
Top Ten Reviews used the following criteria to evaluate meal planning software:
Meal Planning Features
Meal planning software should easily create menu plans by the day, week and month. They also ought to create meal plans that include things like nutritional values and the ability to support images or other media attachments. Additionally, the best software has ways for sharing menus and recipes, such as by printing or email.
Good shopping tools, such as the ability of the software to create organized shopping lists and manage food items, can save significant time. The best meal planning software can even organize your shopping list by aisle.
A few functional extras like cell phone features are nice. We looked to see what kind of extra features the software has, including the ability to easily share and print recipes and kitchen calculators for converting units.
Ease of Use
The software must be easier to use than pen and paper or it just simply will not be used. We tested each application to see how easy it is to create menus, import media and recipes, and create shopping lists.
Help & Support
We like to reward software providers that care about their customers and offer good post-sales support. At the minimum we like to see email support and a helpful, comprehensive user manual. It is also nice to see telephone support and useful support information posted online.
With well-organized and easy-to-use meal planning software you can easily organize your kitchen, create healthy and varied meal plans and take the hassle out of your grocery shopping. Additionally, professional chefs, restaurants and caterers can use the powerful database-type meal planning applications to manage their inventory, scale recipes and provide nutritional information to their customers.