Ever stare into your fridge, cupboards and pantry with no idea what to cook or where to begin? If you’re lacking inspiration, help is just a tap away.
There are lots of free meal planning apps available on tablets and smartphones that provide instant recipe ideas based on your current food supplies and leftovers. Not only does this type of meal making save you a trip to the shop, but it also helps cut costs and reduce your waste at the same time. Here are seven apps designed to help you see the potential in your kitchen cupboards and cook with what you’ve got.
Best recipes by ingredients apps
Find recipes you never thought to search using this nifty recipe discovery app which features a personalised feed of recipes you can make using the ingredients you already have at home. Simply add your ingredients into a virtual pantry and it will bring up recipes you can put together. Filter your results by dietary and nutritional requirements, or even by cuisine. What’s more, the handy shopping list feature shows you what you’ve already got in your cupboard, so you don’t buy duplicates by accident.
Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
As the name suggests, the clever AllRecipes Dinner Spinner app lets you quickly spin through a combination of options by dish type, dietary needs, preparation and cooking time. The searching by ingredient function allows you to set your parameters based on what you have available. That way, if you don’t have any milk in the fridge, the app won’t show any recipes that contain milk. If you’re not too confident with tackling new recipes, the app has more than 1000 mobile-friendly recipe videos with step-by-step cooking instructions to follow which allow you to skip to the parts you want to see quickly.
With an impressive collection of 500,000 recipes to choose from, BigOven is perfect for those looking to shake up their dinner routine. Enter up to three ingredients into the search tool and it will show you what you can make using up the leftovers in your fridge. Perhaps the most unique feature is the active community of members, who share recipes, photos, leave reviews and offer lots of useful tips and tricks. Create a shared grocery list for your household, sorting items department or by recipe. Should you get on well with the free version of the app, you can upgrade to the Pro Membership for an ad-free experience, plus ingredient-by-ingredient nutrition insight and advanced search filters.
Supermarket Tesco offers their very own tool 'What can I make with...' where you enter a minimum of three ingredients which then works out the best recipes for you on the Tesco website.
With over 5.5 million recipes to choose from, you’ll never lack mealtime inspiration with this convenient app. Cookpad has an easy-to-use interface and is perfect if you’re not particularly tech savvy. Search for a recipe by entering the name of the dish, ingredient or type of food in the search box and you’ll find all the options of that recipe in its different versions. Alternatively, gain some inspiration from simply seeing which recipes are trending.
Cook as confidently as Jamie Oliver with the Tasty app. It provides over 3,000 recipes with step-by-step video clips and written instructions to guide you through the cooking process. If you have a food intolerance or dietary requirement, you can scroll through different categories and filter out results depending on your specific needs. This feature is especially handy for vegetarians and vegans, as you can choose to hide all recipes that include meat or diary. Plus, you’ll find metric values side-by-side with US measurements – so there’s no need to convert any units!
Forks Over Knives
Looking to go vegan or reduce the amount of meat you consume? With everything from hearty main courses to decadent desserts, the Forks Over Knives is an essential for any plant-based eater. Meal options are far from limited, with over 400 recipes with contributions from more than 50 celebrated chefs. Each one comes with step-by-step instructions and the option to add notes and mark favourites for easy retrieval. You can also send recipes to a built-in shopping list, where ingredients are automatically sorted by aisle. To download the app, there is one-off charge of £3.99.
BBC Good Food
Access a database of over 10,000 meal ideas on the BBC Good Food App, including a combination of user submitted recipes and tested recipes from the BBC GF team and celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Rick Stein. You can create an account and save your favourite recipes into custom collections, as well as rate and save recipes for later. Step-by-step guides make sure you know exactly what you’re doing, and it’s easy to share your favourite recipes with family and friends.
Recipes by ingredient
From culinary classics to exotic eats, we’ve got a selection of different dishes to suit different diets and taste buds:
Whether it’s fresh or canned, roasted or poached, Salmon is one of the best sources of Omega-3 you can eat. Try our tasty salmon recipes below:
Rich in good fats, vitamins and minerals, walnuts are as healthy as they are delicious. Here are some suggestions on how to pack more of them into your diet:
Looking to cut down on cow cheese? Goat cheese is rich in lots of minerals, like calcium, magnesium and potassium and is a great alternative:
When it comes to nutritional qualities, you can't beat cauliflower. This vegetable is very low in calories yet high in vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. Plus, it's very versatile in the kitchen:
If you've had a roast dinner or cooked with a large piece of meat, you might be wondering what to do with the leftovers. Luckily we've got you covered.