I’ve never understood how you could have the best of 2014 when it’s still January. Or even February.
Honestly, I jump around with apps a lot, but in this case, dear reader, it’s to your advantage. I’ve tried some great apps and some terrible apps and here are the stand-outs.
First, a baseline of features I was looking for:
- Native iPhone app (no mobile web interfaces)
- Super-clean easy-to-use website, or a native OS X app.
- Recipe storage, with easy input (like a bookmarklet) or similar
- Grocery list generator
- Scheduling for menu planning
Big Oven, Ziplist, and anyone else offering Amazing for Free.
BigOven: “We partner with our sponsors and offer IAB-standard placements, custom sponsorships and in-app mobile apps to reach the home cook while they are planning their meals, all the way through their purchase at the grocery store.”
Welcome to the world of targeted advertising. Every recipe you input, every grocery list you generate is being fed back to advertisers that want to know everything about you, to try and sell you more stuff they think you need. Yes, I know this isn’t credit card numbers or SSN’s, but you care about your cooking experience being intruded upon with ads, coupons for processed stuff you’d never buy, and you have the luxury of plunking down a few dollars for a better app, then you might want to skip these ones. Then again, they’re free to try.
Plan to Eat
Oh, how I loved Plan to Eat. I liked the website and I loved the reliable bookmarklet that sucked down most recipes easily. The menu planning was so simple and even the grocery list was nice. Too bad I couldn’t get to the grocery list at the store half the time. There’s nothing like standing in the aisle, trying to check off items on a mobile website, refreshing the page for each item, without success half the time. Seriously, it was like no one had even used the mobile feature in real life. Bummer, as it could have been so good, I might even have been willing to pay the monthly price for it.
Here’s my personal winner, folks. I say this because Paprika went from being an iPhone-only child to having a lovely Android sibling. It has all the features I listed above, plus smart grocery lists that add up similar items, timers in recipes, scaling recipes, and cloud sync.
The downside is the price tag. The Mac version is a whopping $20; the iPhone version is a bit more reasonable at $5. My recommendation is that until you’re on your computer twenty times a day (like me), or a hard-core menu-planning guru, go with the iOS version first. You can browse websites and save recipes with ease from the app or using their handy bookmarklet, and do pretty much everything from the iOS app.
Now, I know this doesn’t help much for those of you running Windows or non-Mac stuff. But my runner-up, Pepperplate, offers an array of apps for everything from Android to Nook.
If none of these float your boat, then wow, you are a tough cookie to please. I still love you. Here’s a great roundup from theKitchn that covers some other services:Seven Online Meal & Menu Planning Tools.