More Meal Planning Apps and Resources

8 Nov

Here are some random apps that I love. No company has ever given me money for… well, anything at this point really, but especially not to promote their iphone apps. I just like these. “I’m Carrie Anne, and I approve this message!”

Now that Thanksgiving approaches and I’ve been back at work for a few months now, my struggle to get something healthy, delicious, and easy on the table is making me long for summer vacation when I had energy to cook and plan. Now that autumn rolls around I feel like I need help. Enter, technology.

You can find a whole lot of posts about my struggles with meal planning here. You can find the first post about which meal planning apps I use here.

Getting dinner on the table every night is a work in progress, but I’m happy to say I’m doing better at it now than I ever have before, ever. I think some of that has to do with how hard I used to make the process for myself—how complicated, how many steps, how unnecessarily detailed it was. Using my apps at the grocery store, or during the last five minutes of work to plan dinner, or browsing recipes stoveside has changed my life. Technology flawlessly fits in with my philosophy for meal planning: make it easy, make it convenient, and make it simple.

1. Simply Recipes / 101 Cookbooks: these aren’t apps per se, but the writers of these websites have created mobile-friendly versions of their sites for recipe-browsing via smart phone. Going here will show you how to add their icon to your home screen, just like a real app. I cook from Simply Recipes all the freaking time, so I was elated to find this.

2. Go Meals: every once in a while I like to log my meals to look at my nutrition objectively. I always think to myself that I will chart my food particularly when I have a Crohn’s flare up so I can see if something is setting it off, but invariably when I have a Crohn’s flare up I nearly stop eating altogether. The point is, you can track your meals with this app, and if you counting calories is your thing (I could never be bothered) it has the ability to do that, too.

3. English Muffin: I nearly swooned when I found out Nigella has an app! I normally don’t like to pay more than 99 cents for my apps and this one cost a pretty penny at $8. But it’s worth it because it streams all sorts of videos of her cooking and demonstrating recipes and such. Plus she is my girl crush and in a perfect world I’d be married to Anthony, Picard, and Nigella. What?

4. Rules, man: Have you read Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio? For me it was groundbreaking. From the app: “Ratios are the starting point from which a thousand variations begin. A culinary ratio is simply a proportion of one ingredient relative to another. [This app] puts 28 key ratios in your pocket… The app does all the calculating and converting for you. Just enter the amount of the ingredient, and all the ingredients will appear in their exact proportions.” Squee, I say. Squee.

5. Chow Thanksgiving: Just in time for the holidays, Chow has released a free app that does only one thing–it helps you plan and track what needs to be done the week before Thanksgiving to get your meal on the table while minimizing stress and loss of limbs. I’m honestly not sure if this will be very helpful or not so much, but it’s free so I thought I’d give it a go.

WEB RESOURCES

I have relied heavily on certain websites for recipes and inspiration for continuing the nightly family meal. The sites I’ve used the most are:

1. Dinner: a Love Story – one family’s committment to instilling a tradition of family mealtimes. This is my goal for my family.

2. Angerburger – some of the best writing out there. Period. Oh, and also food. And a Viking.

3. Outpost 505 – a couple post their delicious dinners on the web.

4. Lunch in a box – Biggie doesn’t update this site so much anymore, but it’s a treasure trove of information for people who want delicious, homemade food for work. This site is designed for bento enthusiasts, but the information is invaluable even if you use a humble brown bag. I live near enough to SF that I stock up on imported bento items from Japan when I can, but I also invested in a Mr. Bento. I bought one for my husband, too, who was initially exasperated with me but ultimately delighted. He loves his Mr. Bento and the last time he brought his to work a coworker asked him all about it and ordered one for himself on his phone before lunch was over.

5. Simply Recipes – This is my go-to site when I’m looking for a recipe for something. Well, this, Everyday Food, and Epicurious.

ALSO OF NOTE

November is the month where some people commit to posting every day on their blog. Some people commit to growing facial hair. And some people commit to writing a novel. All honorable, noble pursuits, but my friend Sarcasmically didn’t feel particularly called to do any of these things. And yet she felt left out. So she’s taking on a challenge of another kind: National Deep-fry a New Food Month. I look to her with a mixture admiration and fear as I am personally very intimidated by deep-frying. I check her blog with great anticipation as she’s made some wonderful, heart-stopping (literally) discoveries. My favorite so far? Probably her deep-fried pickle-wrapped-in-bacon experiment. I have a feeling that pregnant ladies everywhere have developed a strange new craving.

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4 Responses to “More Meal Planning Apps and Resources”

  1. Laura November 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    For the past year or so, I’ve subscribed to the weekly list at SavingDinner.com. For about $50 a year, you get a weekly shopping list and 6 dinner recipes. The shopping list includes side dishes for the entrees. There are regular, low-carb and heart-healthy menus included. I have no affiliation with them; just a satisfied customer.

    They are not fancy recipes. Not hipster cooking. Not Martha, not Nigella. BUT – for sheer ease of use, you go to the store, buy the stuff on the list, and then for 6 nights, you don’t have to think at all about dinner. Everything you need is there in the house. No wasted food, no trying to figure out what to make. Doing the lists relieved so much stress from my day.

    Only trouble is that I kinda got tired of her recipes – like I said, nothing too special and I’m a better cook than that. So my current scheme is planning 5 or 6 meals from my own recipes and resources and then I do my shopping at a local supermarket that has an ‘online shopping’ dealie. (You put in your list, they cart it up, you drive over and pick it up. Totally sweet.) So I figure that I can spend the time that I would have wandering up and down the aisles on looking through cookbooks and meal-planning.

    But using that service did get me on the right track. I don’t think I could have just jumped in and started doing weekly planning on my own. So if any of you readers out there are feeling completely overwhelmed, SavingDinner is a great place to start to get a feel for meal-planning if you’ve never done it. They’ve got a free WeeklyMailer you can try. (Again – not affiliated, just generally happy with their service.)

    • LittleBig November 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

      You know, I totally feel you on the menu service. I used relishrelish.com (and still do, to some extent) for a long, long time. Even when our budget was stretched to the limit I wanted to keep my subscription, because it was valuable to me.

      However, it does require work, planning, and cooking. I have to be really on top of what’s in my pantry contents. I had to be up on shopping. I had to choose things I liked and modify to my family’s tastes and budget. In the darkest depths of my PPD, even a menu service was too much work.

  2. Kristi November 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    ANGERBURGER!!!!

    Love her site, and then realized the name…now I can’t find a good way to tell her my new name for IBS story. But I can tell you? I love the internet. (Yup, weird-o)

    I announced in a college cafeteria that IBS should be renamed ANGRY HINEY. The lady at the burger station I was at with my darling afflicted with such things almost fell over laughing. Yup. Angry Hiney.

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