Meal Planning doesn’t have to be hard.  Have you heard the question what’s for dinner and had not clue what you could make?  Or if you just got back from the grocery store only to find you now had two apple juices, but forgot milk?  I was a fly by the seat of my pants shopper which worked fine when I was living alone.

 Fast forward and add in two little ones in the mix and a variety of grocery needs my “strategy” if you can call it that was not working and turning into going to the grocery store three or more times a week (who has time for that)?

Grocery store
This was too frequent of a view 

Enter one of the best ways I’ve found to solve problems – crowdsourcing.  I polled my friends and fellow Mom’s on how they tackle the meal planning / shopping beast.  I then went through all the options and found the best solution that worked.  Have you ever adopted something and then thought how did I live without this?  That’s how I feel about this app.  So what is this magical app that’s made my (and apparently 21K other people’s) life on iOS easier?  

It’s called AnyList.   Note I am not affiliated with them in any way, I’m just a huge fan and love how this app has beautifully solved a major pain point.

Why is the app better than others?  It is a one-stop place that has recipes, meal planning and shared shopping lists.  I’ll highlight how each works.

Finding and Storing Recipies

  • Recipes:  Within AnyList you can search for recipes to download.  Even better you can integrate into IOS so if you are outside of the app and find a recipe you can import to AnyList directly.  Almost any recipe can then be imported and organized.  The best part is once imported it gives you a drop down list of all the ingredients required to make that recipe.  You can select individually or import all.  Either way what you need to make that meal will be seamlessly entered into your grocery list. 

Meal Planning With Calendar

  • Meal Planning:  Now that you have a great selection of recipes to pick from you can lay them out into a calendar and have a visual of what’s for dinner for the week or whatever period of time you choose.   Below is an example of my meals for the week.  
AnyList Recipes screenshot

Build an Easy to Use Shopping List

  • Shopping List: Once you have your recipes laid out and have the ingredients added to your list it makes shopping much more simple.  You can also keep a favorites list to easyily add staples (like milk) for your shopping trips.   The app makes it easy when you are shopping by grouping items by section (produce, dairy).  As you go through you can check items off the list and filter only by the items you have left.  I also like the shared feature so you can share with family members so if one of you is at the store you always have the latest list.  One additional feature that is more useful than I imagined is integration with an Amazon Alexa device.   If you are at the fridge and notice your low on milk simply say, “Alexa add milk to shared grocery list.”  Even my toddler now adds things to the list although his items tend to get removed.  
Favorite grocery items for AnyList

That’s the app that made a huge difference for me.  If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend giving it a whirl.  If you already use it or start using it I would love to hear what you think.