Technology isn’t my strong suit so I’ve ask Adrienne of Pongra to share with us from time to time on various organizing tools related to technology.
Let’s face it – planning for, shopping for and cooking for your family is no easy task. Your husband and children may think food magically and easily appears on the dinner table every night, but you know it takes a lot of thought and effort to put everything together. On super busy days, even you may wonder how you pulled it off! Thankfully, there’s an app — actually, many apps — for that.
There are apps to help with your grocery list, save money with coupons, pull together meals with what’s on hand and much more. Here are four menu planning apps to help you get dinner on the table in a breeze. Now, if only someone could come up with an app to help with the cleanup…
AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner
This app is a lifesaver on those days when you are too busy, tired or simply forgot to plan dinner. AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner will do it for you. Simply pick ingredients you have on hand, select what meal you are planning and note how long you have to cook, and Dinner Spinner will come up with the best match for you from the database of recipes at AllRecipes.com. If you don’t want to play a game of chance, you can also search and sort available recipes.
When a trip to the grocery store is in order, download this free app to your Android or iPhone to find the best deals. Grocery IQ allows you to search, scan and share your grocery list by typing items in or by scanning barcodes of items you plan to buy. You can organize items by aisle to ease store navigation and save time, and you can download or print out coupons to save money. This app is fully integrated to Coupons.com, so it’s easy to find lots of great deals.
You can even create lists for several stores, for those who visit certain stores for meats or produce. You can even share your list with your husband, in case you need him to pick up ingredients for chicken pot pie after you visit an Amish outlet and are inspired to try Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.
The Menu Planner app is a full-service app that lets you store recipes, create shopping lists and meal plans, and even keep track of what you already have at home. You can even track nutritional information of dinners you are planning to make — a plus if you are focused on healthy meals. If you need ideas for dinner, simply import recipes from popular websites or add your own favorites.
Another great feature of this app is that it can track items you have in your pantry and add items to your grocery list if you get low. This way you’ll never find yourself without a needed item. Menu Planner is designed for the iPhone and iPad and costs $2.99.
Cozi Dinner Decider
On some days you don’t even want to think about planning anything. Let an app like Cozi Dinner Decider take care of things for you! With this app, you get five recipes and two alternates per week based on criteria you select. Simply note if you have any food allergies, don’t have a slow cooker or if you’re looking for low-calorie options, and Cozi Dinner Decider will do the rest.
Once you have your menus, easily download items to your grocery list. View the recipe while you’re cooking with an option to keep your screen from dimming. If you have a favorite, you can store it and access it any time you wish. Once Dinner Decider leans more about your preferences, it will send you more personalized results. It’s free to download to your iPhone, and if you like it a subscription is required. (Three months will cost you $6.99 from within the app, or purchase a whole year for just$19.99.)
Adrienne is a freelance writer and designer who loves cooking and living an organized life. You can see more of her work by following her on Twitter at @adrienneerin or visiting her blog, Pongra.