While we work our way through leftovers, I thought I’d share an excellent tool out there for anyone who needs some extra help with meal planning and creating shopping lists.
When I started out on this little venture my first thought (as it always is) was “how can technology help me with this?”
I immediately went to look for apps & websites that would help me with the organization I knew I would desperately need if I wanted to keep at all on top of this stuff. The concept of having a meal planned for every night of the week is a bit of a turn off for me. It sounds annoying, rigid and hard. I quickly realized that it actually made things easier, and that I (gasp) didn’t actually have to stick to the plan if we changed our mind later.
The tool that appealed to me the most was Pepperplate. It’s an easy way to save recipes discovered from around the web into one big recipe collection. You can then plan meals for the week – either by manually entering in meal names (i.e. sandwiches) or by linking to the recipes. You can also go to each recipe and choose to add it to a shopping list. It will
automatically sort the list by aisle/food type and will combine similar food (chicken breasts for multiple recipes) into one item. Each time you go to add a recipe to the shopping list, it also offers you the option to deselect items. So if you already have some of the essentials on hand, you don’t have them showing up all over your list.
It’s not perfect. There are some items that show up under the wrong category. canned tomato sauce shows up under produce for me when I would rather see it under canned goods. Little stuff like that. It’s pretty each to go in and tell it to move to another category but it doesn’t remember this choice. Next time you add the recipe to your shopping list, it’ll be back under produce. I’ve tried to see if there’s a way to force the categorization but I haven’t found one. This means either going in each time and reorganizing the list (my preference), closely scanning your list in each aisle (which I’ve also done), or backtracking like crazy (guilty). It’s a small criticism and once you get used to it not a big deal. But it’s a change I’d like for the future.
It also has an option for creating menus. This would be good for planning bigger meals for special occasions or a family get together, but I haven’t had a reason to use it yet.
Visit pepperplate.com. They also have an app available for android/iOS. I mostly use the app to view my shopping list in the store but it has all the other functionality as well.
Here is a preview of my planner for next week (still working on it):