By LIZ MACLEAN
Food: most college students have it on their mind almost 24/7. It’s a priority, especially during those late nights when all you crave is mac n’ cheese or buffalo wings. But munching on caf pizza every day or ordering UberEATS can get unhealthy and expensive. That’s why there are apps to spark your creativity in the kitchen, help you save money at the liquor store, and learn about the best, and least pricey, restaurants around. The best part is, the apps are all fit for a college budget — aka, they’re free.
This app is great for finding nearby restaurants, complete with customer ratings and tips. Foursquare divides restaurants into breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee & tea, nightlife, and things to do. The app even keeps a history of places you’ve visited in case you want to go back or recommend them to a friend. Users have the ability to link the app to their Facebook or email so they can follow friends and foodie experts to see what establishments they suggest.
Foursquare Labs, Inc., the creator of the app, claims there are no reviews from businesses trying to promote themselves or long rants from unsatisfied customers. With Foursquare, you can rate the places you’ve been to and which menu items you enjoyed, so the app can recommend other restaurants that would be a good fit for you. The app also lets you create a list of restaurants and bars in the area you want to visit. There are hundreds of tips from food aficionados about special menu items, wifi passwords, and even speakeasy entrances.
When searching for a dinner place in Tampa, a list of restaurants with their closing times and average score on a ten-point scale appears. Several of the places on the Tampa dinner list include Boca, Mise en Place, Edison Food and Drink Lab, and Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar. Users can click on a map to see the different restaurant locations. You can also apply filters such as relevance, distance, rating, and price, which can be very useful if you’re trying to stay under-budget. The app will also let you know if the restaurant delivers, allows dogs, has happy hour, or is within walking distance.
For students who want to cut back on The Grille and SOHO Donuts, MyFitnessPal is an essential tool. The app lets you count calories by selecting the food you’ve eaten that day and in what quantities. MyFitnessPal can even count how many steps you take and how many calories you burn, providing a free alternative to a Fitbit. You can save meals that you frequently eat, making it easier to count calories. The app will also take into account the exercise you input and subtract that from the total amount of calories you’ve consumed that day.
Hannah Elliott, a junior psychology and business double major, uses MyFitnessPal to track the food she eats.
“I think it’s really useful,” Elliott said. “I have been using it for five months now and have lost 40 pounds, so it works. It keeps you honest about what you are eating, and it’s good to use to track your weight as well.”
One of the most convenient features of the app is that it lets you scan a food item’s barcode and it will tell you the nutritional value of it. This is especially useful when grocery shopping. The app is easy to learn and can connect with multiple other fitness apps, including Apple Health, Fitbit, Garmin, Runkeeper, Misfit, and others.
Tastemade could be described as a cookbook on social media. The app features video series about food, recipe videos, and cooking classes. For people who are visual learners, Tastemade is ideal because there are dozens of videos to watch that will teach you exactly how to make a meal. Users can browse recipes by cuisine, ingredients, and more, and are able to save their favorite recipes to come back to later.
One of the shows featured on the app is called Sweet AF, which is described as “sweet recipes and sexy food porn guaranteed to satisfy even the most bizarre cravings.” Another is The Grill Iron, which travels to different colleges and tries out their famous tailgating recipes. Several of the fall-themed recipes include apple cider donuts, pumpkin french toast, and a caramel apple ginger root beer float. The app is aesthetically pleasing, contains lots of content, and is as easy as scrolling through Facebook (and possibly as addicting, too).
This app has hundreds of drink recipes, from smoothies to mixed drinks, with an easy-to-use interface and step-by-step instructions. Categories include Thanksgiving drinks (or any approaching holiday), sparkling drinks, winter drinks, healthy drinks, and several others. You can even search under weak cocktails, extremely strong cocktails, and in between. There are also drink recipes specifically for certain occasions, such as girl’s night out or poolside lounging. From the Fruity Spinach Smoothie to a Winter Chill, this app will inspire anyone to try a new drink. Another added benefit: it’s way cheaper to make your own than to buy one at the bar.
This app is designed to help users make healthier decisions at the grocery store, which involves entering your health goals, taking pictures of your groceries and receiving recommendations on what grocery items to purchase next time. ShopWell offers options for people who are allergic to gluten, peanuts, soy, eggs, wheat, corn, milk, and shellfish. The app suggests certain foods for you based on your age and health goals, such as being more athletic or having better heart health or losing weight. Users can even talk with a ShopWell dietician over live chat. Users can connect a certain food store to the app, such as Target or Stop and Shop, so the app can recommend certain food that is available in those stores.
When you first sign into Yummly, it asks about your age, how many people you cook for, what cuisines you like (from barbeque to Cuban to Japanese), what foods you dislike, and what your cooking skills are (beginner, intermediate or advanced). Then, Yummly displays a personalized sets of recipes based on your answers. The app includes beautiful pictures of meals that will make your mouth water. You can view recipes that are popular in the area or explore recipes that are trending.
There are several categories, from quick n’ easy to diets, such as paleo, vegan, and pescetarian. Users can search for certain recipes and apply filters such as prep time, nutrition, tastes (spicy, salty, sweet), and techniques. The app is basically like Pinterest but solely dedicated to food. Users can save a recipe by tapping “yum.” Your “yums” are then stored under your account and separated into categories such as drinks, sides, breakfasts, dinners, and desserts.
Each recipe displays how many ingredients are needed, how much time it takes to make, and how many calories are in each serving. Users can add ingredients to their shopping list by tapping “add to list.” The recipe also says what nutrients are included, along with similar recipes. You can also easily text recipes, add to Pinterest, or share on Facebook.
Liz MacLean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org