Recipes / Meal Planning app w/shopping list
March 9, 2014 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to find an app (or even a website I access via my PC) that allows me to: 1) easily schedule meals over the course of a week or month, 2) already has the recipes/ingredients/directions, and 3) allows me to create a shopping list based on ingredients. I swear, I really have looked all over the place and I think my problem is too many choices.

My partner and I both grew up fairly poor with limited food options. We are no longer poor, and we want to prioritize a healthy (and tasty) diet. Neither of us has any food education. The dietary and cooking options available are overwhelming, and we both find ourselves paralyzed at how much we didn't know that we didn't know.

We have decided that we are going to take turns cooking meals each week and ideally, the meals will be large enough that we can have them for dinner the next day - so we'll each be cooking 2-3x per week. That seems doable. We are only feeding ourselves - no kids. We have no dietary restrictions (except bell peppers are yucky). We are open to new dietary experiences (we kind of have to be).

Complications: My partner and I both work a lot. We have very little time. We are also both always very tired. I'm hoping a better diet will help, but for now please assume that neither of us has the mental energy to make tons of micro-decisions. Neither of us knows how to use most kitchen gadgets (grew up poor, no context). In fact, in terms of kitchen gadgets, please assume that we are ignorant of their existence, and that as a result, a lot of recipes are probably made more complicated for us because we don't realize there's something out there designed to make it easy. Growing up, if you couldn't stir it with a spoon or cut it with the one good knife, it didn't get made.

Prep options are limited to: Stove, oven, slow-cooker, microwave. There will be no grilling out, and anything slightly smoky in the kitchen sets off the smoke detector immediately (a rant for a different day). We do have a fridge and a separate, very large freezer, so we can totally cook in bulk. We don't know what braising means. We don't know what parboiling means, etc. I need a cooking glossary. Maybe not in this app, but it would be handy.

Solutions: I am completely willing to throw (some) money at this problem. If there's some monthly service which has its own database of recipes, allows you to schedule meals, and coordinates with a shopping list, and doesn't cost more than $5/month, and And AND you have personal positive experience with it, please let me know. I'll give it a shot!

What we want:
1)Either a pre-existing database of recipes, or an easy way to create a database of personal recipes (Mmm Clipper does this).
2)Coordination with a shopping list
3)Allows you to schedule meals, or schedules meals for you

We both have ipod touches. We both do grocery shopping. It sure would be awesome if we could get the recipes and shopping lists to both ipods and have them sync, but our recent adventures in syncing budget software suggests this may still be a pretty advanced feature for most apps.

It would be great if the recipes indicate how long it will take to prepare.

I'm wondering if maybe part of my problem is that I'm trying to do all of this on my tiny ipod screen. Perhaps an app/software/website that does PC to iPod would be best, so that I can see the whole month in front of me, see the whole recipe, etc. I think I'm having a hard time conceptualizing stuff.

I mentioned Mmm Clipper above, and it seems to have a lot of the features we want, but there's still more self-assembly required than we are able to do right now. I really want something very, very simple and convenient to start. It doesn't need to have a great variety of food. It just needs to be easy to use.

Oh, I have such hope that you folks will be able to help us. I've been looking for something for a few years, and I keep getting overwhelmed by options, or getting partially into an app and realize it takes a lot more personal set-up than I'd envisioned, and then I get frustrated and walk off, and it's back to Subway for dinner.

Again, the things this app/website/whatever must have are:
1)ability to schedule meals
2)easy-to-access recipes
3)ability to create shopping list based on recipes
4)simple to use both technologically and for people who don't know much about the lingo and tools of cooking.

Thank you!
posted by tllaya to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Hi tllaya,
I would checking out the app for How to Cook Everything from Mark Bittman. It does not do scheduling, however it is a great repository of recipes with tabs for ingredients with the ability to make a grocery shopping list in-app, step by step instructions for the recipes, and links to relevant basic cooking techniques with photos (for example "chopping"). There is also a section of recipes that can be made in under 30 minutes.

I grew up without any food education, too, and have found the physical cookbook of How to Cook Everything to be the greatest help towards learning to cook for myself. It is written with the assumption that you don't know the basics yet, teaches those and then teaches you to vary simple recipes for variety. None of the recipes are too complicated--it's about good food served simply. The introduction relates the inspiring view that it's possible to cook many healthy recipes from scratch in the same amount of time it takes to make some prepared foods. I can't recommend it highly enough. Good luck!
posted by ialwayscryatendings at 1:17 PM on March 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have you checked out There's a free trial for 30 days, and then it's $5 a month or $40 a year if you want to keep using it. It keeps everything you input if you try the free trial but then want to wait before you buy it. You can schedule recipes, it automatically generates a shopping list for you, you can access recipes that other users have stored publicly, and they have a mobile website that's designed so it kind of feels like an app (you can throw the link on your smartphone display and it has the logo, but opens the mobile webpage).

In terms of recipe library, users can choose to make their recipes public or private, so you can see/search other recipes people have added, and they have a Chrome extension so you can automatically add recipes you find anywhere on the internet with minimal effort. You may have to do some searching to find recipes that fit what you're looking for; I have less experience with how this may suit you as I mainly use it to collect online recipes I have bookmarked + all the existing recipes I have on paper in my recipe box into one place.
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 1:38 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out The Fresh20. They have you set ip a pantry of basic supplies, then send a weekly menu with a shopping list and cooking instructions, including what to cook/prep ahead of time to make the week easy.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:51 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most apps assume you know more than zero about cooking (le sigh). If I were you, I would start with not How to Cook Everything, but How to Cook Everything: The Basics (either the app or the book). I would deal with scheduling separately.
posted by wintersweet at 1:52 PM on March 9, 2014

I think that SOS Cuisine might work for you. I tried the Cook for One menu and didn't stick with it, because I know how to cook and wanted to choose my own recipes. But they basically do most of what you're looking for. The one big omission is that you can't schedule your own meals. They just give you a meal plan for the week. The beginner plan might be a good place to start.

SOS Cuisine is based in Canada, and they have some features, like the thing where you enter your location and they use produce that is in-season locally, that I think only work in Canada. I'm in the US, and I didn't find that to be a big issue.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:56 PM on March 9, 2014

Emeals. Not an app, but does everything you ask for.
posted by superfille at 4:35 PM on March 9, 2014

Try PepperPlate, It doesn't contain recipes at the start, but will import from a ton of cooking / recipe sites easily. (Even more easily if you install the bookmarklet, you can then look at a recipe on a supported site then click the bookmarklet and it's brought into PepperPlate.) It's a web-app that also has apps for IOS and Android. For me, the sync between devices works seamlessly. It also seems to tick all your other boxes as well - I don't use the scheduler so I cannot vouch for it, but I do use the shopping list function frequently.

PepperPlate supports the following recipe sites (from the PepperPlate import page):

Better Homes and Gardens
Bon App├ętit
Cooking Channel
Cooking Light
Eating Well
Fine Cooking
Food & Wine
Food Network
Food Network Canada
Food Republic
King Arthur Flour
Kraft Recipes
La Cucina Italiana
Martha Stewart
Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray Magazine
Real Simple
Serious Eats
Simply Recipes
Smitten Kitchen
Taste of Home
Tasty Kitchen
The Crockin' Girls
The Pioneer Woman
Vegetarian Times
Whole Foods Market

Many of the above sites are also great resources for learning to cook. I'd also recommend How to Cook Everything (book and app) as well as the classic The Joy of Cooking in book form.

Learning to cook can be great fun - I hope you enjoy it!
posted by Expat at 8:50 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ziplist does all of those things! There is an app, and a web-based database where you can add your own recipes (and there's even a little recipe clipper you can add to your browser). You can browse and add other people's recipes on the site too.

It's not the prettiest or most advanced, but it works.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:08 AM on March 10, 2014

What's for dinner?. It doesn't do the meal planning part but has recipes and shopping list.

Food on the Table This is web based with an app that does weekly menus and grocery list based on the sales in your local area.
posted by okieangel at 7:52 AM on March 10, 2014

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