There are all kinds of reasons to switch to a plant-based diet. Whether you’re concerned with the ethical, environmental, or health ramifications, Plantry is here to support all your vegan and vegetarian needs.
Meal planning, of course, has plenty of benefits. It allows for ruthless efficiency on your weekly shop, buying only what you actually need in a single visit. This kind of grocery precision not only saves time and money but also helps to reduce food waste, and frees up mental energy to spend on other things.
Of course, you can plan meals simply enough without an app. So how exactly does Plantry fit in?
Well, the app offers to help in two key ways: inspiration and automation. First, it provides over 800 plant-based recipes to choose from, plus a bunch of themed weekly plans so you can set up for seven days in a matter of seconds. Then, once you’ve locked in a plan, the app automatically generates a grocery list to match.
When first encountering the weekly plans, the app can feel a little prescriptive. But dig a little deeper and there’s plenty of chance to customize things – you can add nuance to an existing plan or build one from scratch. For the indecisive, there’s even a delightful ‘randomize’ button to mix things up. You can save DIY plans for reuse, and the Favorites tab is a great way to keep track of the very best recipes.
Speaking of which, the meals themselves look delicious, and the ones we tested went down a treat. It’s worth noting that the included recipes aren’t written by Plantry itself, the app instead curating hits from a selection of external partners. Despite this, the recipes are remarkably consistent in their formatting and quality – and if you develop a fondness for a particular source, the Search tab contains mini ‘cookbooks’ from each contributor. You can also tell Plantry if you’re vegan or gluten-free and it will filter the entire app accordingly.
Visually, the app is pleasantly understated, with more than a passing similarity to the App Store’s Today tab. Recipe pages feature excellent header photos, but no in-progress shots. We really love the ingredients overlay which allows users to check quantities without losing your place in a recipe. There’s also a cute timer utility included on each recipe page, with a customizable aesthetic – another nice touch.
Recipes are essential, of course, but the shopping list function is arguably the most useful part of the Plantry experience. The ability to generate a weekly shop at the press of a button is a massive time-saver, and the interactive checklist is nice too. But the list’s implementation is far from perfect.
The app isn’t yet smart enough to combine ingredients with different measurements (e.g. ‘2 cups’ vs. ’25g’) meaning matching ingredients often show up separately on your shopping list. Plurals can also confuse the app – we found our list asked for ‘1 onion’ and ‘6 onions’ as separate items. It’s not a huge issue, but until the devs figure out a way around it you’ll need to be vigilant to avoid buying unnecessary multiples.
We were also a little disappointed there’s no way to add your own custom recipes to the app, or even add extra ingredients to the shopping list. Meaning if you’ve got a craving for a personal favorite meal – or you want to make adjustments to one of the app’s recipes – there’s no way to add the necessary ingredients. This means that unless you stick 100% to Plantry’s plan, your weekly shop is going to require extra planning and more than one list.
There’s a workaround – you can export the grocery list to Notes, and make changes manually – but we’d love to see an update that allows for all that to be handled from Plantry itself. How else are we supposed to fit grandma’s famous borscht into the rotation?
It’s worth noting that Plantry severely limits access to plans and recipes on its free tier, so to get the most from the app you’ll need to subscribe to its Premium subscription for a pretty reasonable $1.49/month (less if you commit to yearly payments). The app also features daily reminders and Siri Shortcut support, which are certainly useful but not dealbreakers for us. More concerningly, we found the app was surprisingly power-hungry, invariably heating up our iPhone 11 Pro after just a few minutes use. Not ideal.
But all in all, Plantry is a great way to discover new recipes to add to your repertoire, and to ensure they remain in rotation instead of gathering dust on a bookshelf. For convenience and efficiency, it’s hard to match – so long as you don’t mind leaving your own recipes at the door.
- Huge selection of quality recipes
- Potential to save time and money
- Great resource for vegetarians
- Shopping list can't be edited
- Bit of a power hog