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Organizing the week's menu favorite app.

A friend who is shopping and cooking challenged asked me for the best app to help her plan menus and shopping lists. I still use pen and paper. What are your favorite, uncomplicated apps for someone who is single, wants to eat healthy, but doesn't have a lot of time to cook and shop?

Meg is a trusted home cook.

asked 10 months ago
6 answers 503 views
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Ali Slagle

Books Editor and Stylist at Food52.

added 10 months ago

To be honest, I use Pinterest. The images help me remember what the recipes are and sometimes the pins will pull in the ingredient list.

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Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 10 months ago

This is hardly an app, but it is a reliable, fairly easy method.
It takes advantage of seasonality, visual cues, nutrition needs balanced over a week.
Figure out what you need to eat in a week:
e.g., 4 oz animal protein per day (if you eat that) = 28 oz need or about 2 lb ground beef, boneless chicken etc. Adjust to other amounts and foods if you are vegan or vegetarian.
e.g. min 5 produce servings per day, each about 4 oz, multicolored for best nutrients. So, 20 oz per day or 140 per week, about 9 lb total.
Continue on with basic ingredients to make a master weekly shop list.
Then buy what's in season, cheap, attractive that day.
If it's too much to bring home in one trip, split it to convenient days & volume.
Be sure to stock your pantry with basics (many lists online), so you have oil, seasonings, food you regularly eat...makes it easier to cook.
Then, cook from the fridge & pantry.
This method also allows you to include special recipes...if you're making coq au vin, that's one of your proteins for the week, and get side dishs (veg, grain) to go with it. Not to mention the wine.
Fun and creative.

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cv
added 10 months ago

Like Your Guardian Chef, weekly menu planning is not something I do, my meal ideas basically come from my weekly visit to my town's farmers market (which runs all year long, rain or shine) where I buy *ALL* of my produce. I just buy what's in season and looks good, so vegetables are the focal point of my cooking activities. There is a fishmonger at farmers market, as well as a couple of stands that sell meat & poultry.

I've collected a few cookbooks over the years, but I stopped about fifteen years ago since I realized that they looked nice in the bookcase, but I don't use them for inspiration or menu planning guidance.

Like Your Guardian Chef, I don't worry about starches since long-term storage is easy (rice, potatoes, pasta, grains, etc.). I only eat small amounts of animal protein and there's typically some piece of frozen meat that's ready to cook.

I usually just improvise dishes and not follow a written recipe but I'm a more experienced cook than your friend.

I'm pretty visual, so if I were in her shoes, I'd probably use something like Pinterest or Evernote for basic recipe clipping and idea saving. I use my phone's notes app for grocery lists.

If I make something and I want to save some notes, I usually write them with a Sharpie on a piece of butcher paper, put the dish (or raw ingredients) on the paper and take a photo.

Again, much of this will be based on her working style. I think a picture is worth a thousand words, so my own notes are heavily image (or occasionally video) based. I know many of the people here would rather write several thousand words rather than take a single photo, but not me.

Anyhow, best of luck to your friend.

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creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added 10 months ago

True confessions: I don't love weeknight cooking for the family. It doesn't hurt to have a bunch of simple favorite pantry meals as backup. My backup plans are Bean chili (canned beans are fine for those who don't want to cook dried), Lablabi (my chickpea recipe) or megedarra (again, my lentil and rice recipe); "market supper" which might include a platter of hardboiled eggs, smoked salmon, chickpea salad, cheeses, and green or chopped salad; shakshouka--super easy; baked potato night (baked potatoes with chickpea salad--there seems to be a pattern here--, Greek yogurt, grated cheese, or any topping you like; sweet potato night (large sweet potato with miso-butter glaze), spaghetti night. A lot of these use pantry staples. Miso and yogurt are pretty long lasting in the fridge. If you have a few simple backups like this, cooking doesn't have to be onerous (make extra and in many cases the leftovers are good, too, either for lunch or for the next night). Add chicken night and fish filet night (each with 2 sides) and you're done.

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added 10 months ago

There is also an app called "Recipe Keeper" that make work. It is free, let's you import most recipes from the net, you can add photos, categorize, put you own recipes in, plan meals and it will automatically provide a shopping list. Hope this helps.