Why are there no shareable meal planning apps?
A quick search on google for ‘meal planning app’ and the same 5 apps appear everywhere, most probably curtesy of SEO tricks or lazy reviewing. Why am I so critical? Because all of them miss a key ingredient (ops, feature) that denotes modern households: equality. Are we seriously still suggesting in 2017 that cooking and meal prep is one single person’s task?!
I live in a shared house with 4 other people, one of whom is my partner. We share the kitchen, the living room, cleaning products for the house, and up until recently, we also shared house chores. After several weeks of generally business or ‘let’s enjoy the world outdoors instead of cleaning’, where the cleaning rota stuck to the fridge had been neglected, we decided to get a cleaner. That way there were no arguments and everyone instantly gained more free time. Had we not agreed on a cleaner, I was already looking for one of the many apps to manage house chores. Because they exist exactly for scenarios like this.
I’ve been on a long quest for healthy eating and living, interrupted by excuses, deadlines and general PhD life. But this doesn’t stop me from trying on a regular basis, and this blog is just another way of doing so (among other things). I’ve recently realised that planning my meals ahead of time, then doing grocery shopping accordingly helped me immensely in
- sticking to healthy meals,
- resisting a cheeky take away or eating out,
- avoiding having food get out of date (a massive waste that annoys me!), and
- ensured that Danny and I could enjoy eating together, despite occasionally having separate meals (he’s vegetarian).
But meal planning takes time. And when I did do it, it was always by my initiative, my list making, and my cooking. Don’t get me wrong people, Danny is great at home, but he’s just not a confident cook and if you ask him to take charge of dinner he’ll propose beans on toast. And I really don’t like baked beans.
What if there was an app that lets you:
- Create a grocery list,
- Collect a list of favourite meals, along with step by step instructions (I’m happy to input the procedure),
- Arrange the aforementioned meals in a weekly/fortnight/monthly plan,
- Track what I have in my pantry and its expiry date,
- Work on both iOS and Android (and why not, a browser too),
- And share all of the above with family members (or whoever),
- Oh, and is free?
My scenario is just one of many. I’m sure there are plenty others who would like to have a similar app. Something that is not a piece of paper stuck on the fridge. Yes, I could do print out a lovely planner like this one. But my fridge, like most of the things in my house, is communal and covered in other stuff. And I don’t have cupboards inside which I could hang the meal plan, because it’s just so happens that it’s trendy to have open shelves, so that’s what my landlord installed.
While I wait for someone to make this app (*hint hint*, I’ve created a handy list of user requirements up there, for anyone up to the job), I’ll share the ones I did find neatly organised into a spreadsheet. I discarded any that offered just a collection of recipes. I guess an alternative, that still wouldn’t meet all criteria, could be to use Evernote, or, even better, Trello (although you then enter issues of work and personal life apps being mixed together, and that’s a whole other problem you can read about here).
Let me know if there are any apps like this that I just didn’t manage to find,
what your solution is, or what features you’d like to see.