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Busy Moms’ Grocery Apps for Meal-Planning Success

In preparing our tax return, my husband and I gave our finances a very thorough audit. We had some big expenses at the end of 2017 — we purchased our forever home and had our third daughter within the same month. We also have some big ticket items we’re interested in purchasing in the near future.

As we looked through our monthly expenses, I was extremely surprised that our family of four goes through about $1,000 a month on groceries. Perhaps for some of you, that number is reasonable (or even low!), but for our family right now it seems exorbitantly high.  

My fellow BMB contributor Jacquelyn recently shared her strategies for meal planning. Unfortunately, bulk purchasing won’t work for me right now. So I decided to investigate meal planning and grocery apps. I found a few really great apps for my purposes, and I anticipate I will find some real savings with long-term use! Please share your experience with your favorite apps!

Instacart

The gist: Instacart partners with local stores to deliver groceries to your doorstep. If you upgrade to their “Instacart Express” for a $149 yearly fee, you can order as often as you want ($35 minimum for free delivery). My thought was that having a strict list and online ordering would tamp down impulse purchasing.
Pros: Delivery within two hours! Scratching off a weekly errand was nice. Having dinner ingredients delivered within a couple of hours was nice too. There were also more stores to choose from than just the local store known for its delivery service. I could have items from CVS or Petco delivered too!
Cons: The participating stores aren’t my usual destinations, so I had a harder time deciding what was a good price for items. Also, I couldn’t rely on a few of my “go-to” store-brand items.

Yummly

The gist: Yummly celebrates itself as the app that knows how you eat. You build your own cookbook, and Yummly will suggest other recipes based on your likes. Sort of like a Pinterest for meals. Once you have at least ten recipes saved, you can create a shopping list on your smartphone with ingredients in the recipe you want to make.
Pros: Yummly has over two million recipes to search and save. Once there are recipes in your recipe box, the ingredients can be pulled up in the smartphone app and added to a shopping list. Once I got the hang of the app, I found it pretty easy to choose recipes and create a shopping list from it. This will definitely help me meal plan! And bonus — the app connects to Instacart!
Cons: I had to refer to the FAQ page to learn how to save recipes.

Grocery IQ

The gist: Grocery IQ is a true grocery planning app with barcode-scanning capabilities.
Pros: Lists are easy to create and organize. I was also able to “clip” coupons directly in the app, saving me even more money!
Cons: There isn’t a meal-planning component to the app, and I really wanted that feature.

Paprika

The gist: This all-you-can-eat app allows you to organize recipes, meal plan, and create shopping lists. You are also able to save recipes anywhere from the internet. One nifty feature is that you can sync your lists, recipes, and meal plans across all of your devices. Another is that it organizes ingredients automatically for you by aisles.
Pros: Making my grocery list was very intuitive and easy to do. It was also very easy to browse and save new recipes!
Cons: When I was browsing recipes, the app had trouble loading the content. Also, the app has a one-time cost of $4.99. 

The Verdict:

The Paprika app definitely had everything I was looking to accomplish. I could search for meals, add ingredients to my grocery list, and schedule the selected meal for a specific date. While the app wasn’t free, its comprehensive features and simplicity to use will definitely save me money in the long run. I’ll check back in a few months to keep you posted on how much money I’m averaging in savings!

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