Develop an Easy Meal Planning App

March 29, 2016 | Natasha Singh

Develop an Easy Meal Planning App
Develop an Easy Meal Planning App

It is easily argued that we are in the middle of a home cooking revolution. Over the last ten to fifteen years, home cooking has grown in popularity among older millennials. This return to the kitchen has marked a difference from the parents of said millennials. Many of us grew up with a steady diet of meat and potatoes – or, if your parents worked hours like mine did, lots of canned soup and fast food!

However, the backlash from unhealthy eating habits has finally come back around to bite us in the posterior. Diet-related health issues from increasing lactose and/or gluten intolerances (including Celiac Disease) to rampant obesity and record levels of diabetes plague the United States. Thus was born the modern health food movement.

This movement is more than just organic foods and locally sourced ingredients. It’s about taking control of the food we are putting into our bodies. It’s about improving your health and saving money with smart meal planning and fresh, unprocessed ingredients. It’s about leveraging modern tools to accomplish everyday goals.

At SDI, we’ve had a recent increase in projects centered around food and cooking. This includes websites such as Farms and Forks, an eCommerce site selling and delivering organic food, to apps for recipes and shopping lists. We’ve even been getting app orders from local businesses following the fresh, good food movement – from beer gardens to food trucks, everyone is clamoring for their own app or website. If you have an app or website idea on your mind, contact us and get a free quote right away!

And with good reason: mobile apps especially help drive business growth by increasing brand awareness, improving engagement, and encouraging customer loyalty. So our writing staff sat down with our marketing and development teams to figure out other ideas or features that could add value to our customer’s projects.

What we saw was that there were plenty of recipe apps, most with excellent built-in features like create a shopping list (though a quick review found that most did not allow us to import lists into one master shopping list – an easy fix by good developers). What was lacking was a tool to help people learn meal planning.

As someone who cooks 7 days a week, I can tell you that planning a meal is more than just writing down a recipe. It requires forethought, strategic planning, and a detail-oriented approach. Take, for instance, burgers for dinner: always a hit, easy to make, relatively inexpensive. But if you plan on feeding your family on burgers alone, prepare for some hungry dinner goers. A meal is more than just the main dish – it’s all the other things that go with it.

This is why mobile app technology is of such use to the everyday person – and why apps represent such a huge business opportunity. Meal planning for an entire week is a labor-intensive process. If you’re anything like me, even after all the planning you probably forget something. A meal planner app will not only ensure that you have every item you need for each meal but can help teach a newcomer the finer aspects of creating a meal.

Let’s go over some other potential ways a meal planning app can help.

Meal Planning with a Goal

Meal planning for diabetes, athletes, weight loss, et cetera is a complex process. In the case of weight loss and diabetes, it’s a process that is essential to being healthy. But planning a meal that provides the correct levels of carbs, calories, protein, vitamins and other nutritional musts is a difficult task.

That’s where a meal planning app comes in. It’s a simple process to develop a menu planner app that calculates the nutritional requirements of a meal. Even better, an app can be created to meet all sorts of differing needs – or even combine multiple needs. After all, there’s nothing saying you can be a diabetic who’s trying to lose weight and train for that triathlon!

Nutritional calculations can be done in a few different ways:

1. From a database of curated and stored recipes. Each recipe would contain nutritional breakdown and a user can either select different meals or have a week’s meals auto-planned.

2. A list of common ingredients with their nutritional information stored. Users would be able to pull ingredients from the selected list to make their own meal – and see if it will meet their dietary needs!

3. A manual input option is another way to approach this. Users can input an ingredient with its nutritional values, be stored.

4. As always, we say “why not all of the above?” The features aren’t mutually exclusive and all three add extensive value to an app of this sort.

Other Useful Features

Tell me if you’ve been here before: You’re headed home, thinking about the delicious Cornish game hens you’ll be roasting in a little bit. Then it hits you – the hens are still in the freezer. There goes that meal, especially if you don’t own a microwave!

A good meal planning app would have a built-in alarm to remind users to take out the chicken in the morning. This can be set with a simple tap of a button, creating an instant reminder set to go off before you leave for work – or whenever a user desires.

Other important features that would make this project take off include:

    • Training videos and visuals to help new cooks learn. Cooking is hard and requires experience and knowledge. While the best way to get the knowledge is to simply cook, having a meal planning app guide users through a recipe is a great way to make your app even more useful. Heck, instructional videos are a great second-tier option; in other words, the app itself may be free, but users pay a subscription to access further options.

    • The ability to automatically order ingredients for delivery is a great feature that is only now starting to gain traction. This can be done pretty easily and inexpensively with an API integration with a company like Instacart.

    • Any food app needs to be able to not only have a recipe search app but needs to have the ability to filter results. There’s no denying that there’s a whole lot of different dietary restrictions out there: Gluten-free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, Vegan, Kosher, Jain Diet, Low-Carb, Paleo, Vegetarian, Pescatarian – and the list goes on. If a meal planning app for Android or iOS sounds like your thing, be prepared to overcome this particular obstacle. Luckily enough, it’s a simple task for expert developers.

This is by no means all of the great features a meal planning app can offer. Everything from connections to local brick-and-mortar Grocery stores to automatic price calculation was not covered here – but should not be ignored.

If you would like to have a more in-depth conversation with our business experts, give us a call at 408.805.0495 or contact us for a free consultation. All information shared with us is kept 100% private and confidential under a signed NDA. Looking forward to understanding your business idea.

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