Back in my uni days – I would try to negotiate my way out of the cooking roster as much as I could Every. Single. Week – And we only had to cook once a week!
And ever since I woke up and realized I had two boys (three including husband) in the house, cooking, planning weekly menus and grocery shopping has just blown out of proportions.
Stressed from a day’s work and harassed by hungry children while trying to find the answer for the what’s-for-dinner-dilemma, and usually ending up with quick processed “dinners” from a box or take-out, I knew I had to stop this chaos wreak further havoc in my life, so I went for a look out for an awesome way to deal with this once and for all and regain control of meal times. My solution?
It was not long that I found out menu planning in itself could get extremely overwhelming. It wasn’t just planning what to eat for the week or the month, but there was the grocery listing, managing and organizing recipes – and I found myself getting increasingly frustrated as I jumped from one menu planning binder templates to another, and testing out a myriad of apps.
Figuring out the the best way to menu plan for me was a journey in of itself. But my quest of looking for a simple way to win the meal war has come to an end as I’ve found my almost perfect deal tool to deal with meals!
Enter, Pepper Plate!
I tried several other free apps before putting my finger on Pepper Plate. Pepper Plate makes it super easy to:
- Keep and manage recipes
- Plan your menu
- Make a shopping list from your planned menu!
Any apps that doesn’t tie me to only one platform is a big plus point! I like having the flexibility and comfort of mind knowing that I can use the same app say I am needing to change my device sometime down the road.
This also means that you can browse on your laptop and when you find that recipe you want to try, you can simply update your app from your laptop browser and it will sync with the app on your phone. And if you’re anything like me, doing this on the laptop is far more efficient then on the phone. So, another big point here!
Here’s another few of my favorite features on the app;
Keep & Manage Recipes
I’m one of those who have the uncanny ability to lose the papers I write (scribble) my recipes on (without fail). While I love those pretty recipe binders, it just doesn’t seem to work for me. I just need something quick, simple and accessible anywhere, anytime. I’m not going to bring a huge binder around when I’m visiting my in-laws or my parents. It’s enough that I already to need to bring a tonne for the kids. But if it’s on a phone? – No Problemos!
So I thought I’d share with you how I use this app. Creating recipes are so easy with Pepper Plate. You can update via your laptop or your phone. When you download the app, you’ll see an empty list:
To add a recipe, click on the ‘add button on the top right corner – then just simply fill up the app with the recipe that you want to update. There are 3 ‘pages’ in total (You need to swipe to the left for the next page).
Here’s an example of an entry I made for a ‘Nasi Daging and Air Asam’ recipe. When you’re done, just click on ‘Save’ at the top right corner of the page which will bring you to a preview page of the recipe you just entered (left image).
Just scroll down and make sure you’ve got it right. If you need to edit it, just click the ‘pencil’ on the top right corner. If you’re OK with your entry, then click the arrow in a circle on the top left corner and it will bring you to the list of recipes in the app (right image). Yayy! You now have 1 recipe!
Just repeat the process for however many recipes you wish to add to your list. I know this might be overwhelming, but trust me, it’d save a whole lot of time down the road – which brings me to the next point;
If you’ve never planned your meals, you should give it a try! It’s an awesome way to save your sanity and your money!
All you need to do is simply click on the recipe you want to add to your planner in your list of recipes.
Then click the arrow on the top right corner and a few options will appear. To add the recipe to the menu choose ‘Add to Planner’! As simple as that!
There’s also an option to ‘Cook Now’. This is a cool feature as it doesn’t allow your phone to dim till you finish cooking – which is totally awesome because this is one of my biggest trouble when I’m trying to cook from a recipe in an app/website; just finished prepping, so I wash my hands and start to sauté the onions with one hand, flips phone to see what’s next in the instruction and oops – phone is locked. Then with your wet hand you try to unlock the phone but it doesn’t respond and before you know it, you’ve got burnt onions!
This feature is a.w.e.s.o.m.e!
After you’ve made that menu plan or decided on a recipe you want to cook – you can just simply and add the ingredients to the shopping list! All you need to do is to choose ‘Add to Shopping List’
You can choose what ingredients you want to add, and what you don’t want it to add. But let me tell you my favourite part:
It categorizes your shopping list into TYPES! This might sound crazy but it feels so satisfying to my (occasional) OCD!!! I mean look at this:
Sometimes the app won’t recognize the type of ingredient you’ve added or get it wrong so you can edit the category manually. You can also delete the items on your shopping list, which totally makes sense since high chances you’ve still got salt and oil in your pantry!
The app is not without flaws though. There are some features that I can’t get to work like adding things that are not associated to any recipes. So, if I’m running out of coffee, I can’t add it to my shopping list unless I write a recipe for coffee (not cool).
Despite the flaws I still love the app! I’ve tried a few others but this has been my favourite. It’s easy to use, it has all the features I need (I’m no pro chef, but just a simple mom trying to make sure there’s food on the table) and it’s available across platforms! Oh! And it’s freeee (what’s not to love about free stuff!)
Do you have any great strategies to deal with meals? Share with me how you deal with them! I would love to learn how you do it!