It’s no surprise that the less you eat out, the more money you’ll save. And dedicated budgeters are quick to point out that you can prepare a meal in the amount of time that it takes to order food for pick-up or delivery—so, why not save all that cash?
It’s sound advice, but a bit overly simplified, if you ask me. As we all know, it’s not just about cooking the meal. To be successful, you also have to figure out what to eat (the hardest part!), hit the grocery store (yuck) and potentially prep your ingredients ahead of time (salmon won’t thaw itself). And don’t even get me started on actual cooking techniques.
But, even for this culinarily challenged budgeter, the perks of cooking are worth the effort. And, wouldn’t you know, there’s an app for that.
Prepear to Be Amazed
If you’re not inclined to make a habit of eating at home, then maybe a gentle, technological nudge will help. There are a ton of recipe keepers and meal-planning apps out there, and today we’ll take a closer look at Prepear.
Unlike many of the other apps I’ve seen, Prepear is social. The app encourages you to connect with your friends and family and follow professional recipe creators via the “Food Feed”. It’s an interesting idea, and I can imagine that it might be a fun way for parents, or those with special dietary needs, to find new meal ideas. You could also use it as a form of accountability if you’re doing a nutrition or weight-loss challenge with friends.
Other features of Prepear are:
- Find, save and organize recipes from online, offline and Prepear’s database
- Generate and edit a meal plan
- Automatically generate a grocery list based on your meal plan
- Access your account/grocery list via the App while you’re at the store
Is a Meal-Planning App Right for You?
A handful of friendly faces on Team YNAB gave Prepear a spin so that I could give you a peek into what the app is like. When I asked them why meal-planning software appealed to them, nearly everyone expressed the desire to easily find more meal ideas. (Like I said, figuring out what to eat can be hard!)
In addition to meal ideas, YNAB trialers also wanted:
- A way to get organized for overall healthier eating
- An automatically generated grocery list to reduce waste and minimize trips to the grocery store
- A central place to organize an already established rotation of favorite meals for more streamlined shopping and meal prep
What We Loved
There were a few concerns about Prepear’s learning curve—the app has a ton of features and both web and mobile apps—but the feedback was mostly favorable. When I asked what trialers loved most, they said:
- Finding new and simple meal ideas (including vegan breakfasts)
- Importing personal recipes from Pinterest, recipe blogs and cookbooks
- Grocery list/pantry features
- Beautiful interface
The most common obstacles included a bit of confusion about how to update the grocery list after editing the meal plan (one trialer had good luck after an email to customer service), and just being too busy to make full use of Prepear.
One trialer said, “I would probably have used the app more during the school year—summers are a lot more flexible around here!”
An Ounce of Prepearation …
There’s no one-size-fits-all fix for saving money on your food expenses, but if you’ve been struggling to cut back, maybe a meal-planning app can help. Especially if the kitchen isn’t familiar territory, Prepear could help you save in three ways:
- Automated grocery lists mean fewer trips to the store, which saves time, hassle (we’re out of butter!), and fuel.
- Meal-planning helps you buy with confidence. (Stop buying produce that’ll go bad before you get around to using it, and feel confident about those cost-saving bulk purchases—mmm, lentils.)
- Stop impulsive spending by sticking with your plan. It’s much easier to say ‘no’ to the extras at the grocery store and to spur-of-the-moment takeout when you’ve got a plan!
For More Tips on How to Save
If you’re interested in learning more about how to cut your grocery budget, drop into our free, online workshop: Saving Money on Groceries.