Stuck in a food rut? Revamp the way you eat with these fun, easy apps. I dare you.
1. Fooducate (free) — Become a grocery store James Bond with this handy little app. It turns your phone’s camera into a barcode scanner, which you can use to scan any product in the store to uncover just how healthy it really is. The app gives each item a letter grade, along with a quick list of pros and cons—and healthier alternatives. (Case in point: Velveeta Shells & Cheese, that classic dorm staple, registers at a disappointing C-. While it’s a good source of calcium, it also contains 40% of your daily salt intake. Swap it for Annie’s Mac & Cheese, which has half the sodium.)
2. My Coffee Card Pro ($1.99) — No more fumbling for cards or cash for that latte! You can upload your Starbucks giftcard to the app, then click the “Show Barcode” button any time you’re at the register. The barista scans the barcode, just like she would a real giftcard. Plus, the app lets you easily reload the card, tracks your purchases and counts each scan toward your Starbucks gold card status.
3. MyFitnessPal (free) — If those late-night dining hall trips are making your jeans feel little snug, don’t worry—this app will help reverse that Freshman 15…or 25. When you log in, the app will have you answer some basic information, including your goals (losing weight, staying healthy, bulking up, etc.). Then, you can use it to track what you’re eating (and the calories, nutrients and fat those foods contain!), as well as your exercise routine. It’s a great way to learn just how many calories are in that order of fries (500, if you’re at McDonald’s), and keep your fitness goals on track.
4. Foodspotting (free) — Let’s face it: when we’re hungry, we’ll usually go to a few standby restaurants we know we can count on, where we eat the same dishes we know taste great. With the Foodspotting app, you’ll have the courage to try new things—even when your stomach is growling so loudly it’s hard to focus. It’s kind of like Foursquare for foodies. The app uses your GPS signal to find eateries near you, then it shows photos of the local dishes Foodspotting users have ranked the highest. When you go out, snap a pic of whatever you order and upload it to the site so others can see your recommendations.
5. Jamie Oliver’s 20-Minute Meals ($7.99; still cheaper than a cookbook) — Want proof that preparing a gourmet meal is way easier than your biology homework? Just download this app. Each recipe comes with photos and step-by-step instructions, along with videos that illustrate tips and tricks for getting the dish right the first time. Plus, the recipes are all formatted for smaller devices, so you won’t have to constantly scroll or pinch the screen to see what comes next.