Elliece R., fourth-year undergraduate, University of Regina, Saskatchewan
You’ve had a busy day, it’s late, and you’re edging on hangry, but you just can’t decide what to make for dinner. Or you realize after getting home from the grocery store that you’ve got a lot of great items, but they just don’t make a meal. Let me introduce you to Mealime, a meal-planning app that can solve your dinnertime woes. By providing meal plans every week, Mealime allows you to schedule ahead, cut down on food waste, and eat healthy, delicious food with minimal fuss.
Mealime’s design is clean and intuitive, and it only takes a few minutes to get your first meal plan. Mealime asks you about your eating preferences—classic omnivore, vegetarian, and low-carb diets are among the options; kosher and vegan are not—as well as any allergies or foods you dislike. Then you can choose an automatically generated meal plan or create your own from a list of recipes. After a quick grocery shop, you’re ready to get cooking.
One of the best parts of this app is that even a chef of little skill can succeed. The recipes provide cook time estimates (usually between 25 and 40 minutes, and they’re fairly accurate), and portion estimates (not as accurate—expect to have more food than the recipe indicates). The required cookware is pretty basic, though if your kitchen is sparse, you might need to hit up a dollar store for some cheap tools and utensils. My cooking ability can best be described as “thoroughly so-so,” and I could easily follow the instructions. Even better, the results were tasty, and seven of the eight recipes I tried could be classified as 10/10, would make again.
There may be one obstacle for the average university or college student, though: $$$. I calculated my food costs before and while using the app to see if there was a difference in average cost per meal—and oh boy, was there ever. The average cost of a home-cooked meal for me before Mealime was $3.06, but that more than doubled to $6.70 while using the app. The recipes are good, but they call for a lot of fresh produce and the ingredients can be a little pricey. Can I really afford asparagus, fresh parmesan cheese, and cashews on a student’s budget? My wallet says, “Nope!”
All in all, Mealime is useful for planning ahead so you’re never stuck without the ingredients or brain power to put together a meal. This app would best suit a beginner to intermediate cook who’s not on a tight budget or who knows how to work around the more expensive ingredients on the list. I’m not going to rely on Mealime for all my future meal planning, but I’ll definitely consult it to see if anything within my budget appeals—and I’m sure something will.