A number of weeks ago I stumbled upon a service that I thought might just help out with both of these issues. The service is called Big Oven and is a combination online recipe book/organizer, meal planner, and grocery list creator. Something like this sounded like it could help, and since the basic level of membership is free, I decided to give it a try.
They have a bunch of different recipes to try. You can search for specific recipes if you want, or you can browse by different groupings such as a seasonal collection, quick and easy suggestions, best ratings, etc. The application allows you to review and read reviews of the recipes to help you decide which ones to try. It also lets you flag recipes you want to try and this is handy when building a menu plan. If you have your own favorite recipes, you can also add them as either publicly available or private (up to 50 in the free version) and it can also import recipes found elsewhere on the web so you can include them in any meal planning efforts.
I was able to create a couple week-long menu plans and then have it generate shopping lists from the menus. By installing their app on my phone, I was able to sync up the shopping list on my phone so I could take it to the store and make sure I bought everything I needed. The application attempts to organize the shopping list by departments so that you aren't running back and forth across the store or constantly scrolling through the list. As you put items in your cart, you can then check them off of the list so you can keep track of it all.
I tried several recipes from the site as well as entered a few of my own. Overall I think the application is handy and did help me organize a weekly menu as well as keep me on track at the grocery store. And some of the recipes on the site are fantastic, my favorite one thus far is this Chicken Tikka Masala one.
|Chicken Tikka Masala, Baingan bharta, and Naan|
The application does have some drawbacks though. When generating shopping lists, it didn't seem to combine ingredients from multiple recipes into a single shopping list item...so I ended up with three listings for "1 onion" instead of a shopping list that read "3 onions"...and this can make the shopping list rather long if you have a large menu plan. The big catch for cruisers though, is that everything is stored online. This means that once you are done planning, you will need to make copies of your plan and all the recipes before you head out of internet range. Not impossible to overcome, but would be nice if the application could save this stuff for you without having to resort to screen captures or cut-and-paste.
Still, it is a tool worth having in your meal planning and provisioning arsenal. So, if you cruise, do you have any special apps or techniques you use to help with these tasks? Leave a comment and let me know.