Use Pepperplate for Easy Meal Planning (and Shopping!)
About the time I was putting together my Planning for Success Thanksgiving post, I stumbled across Pepperplate.com. This planning/organization tool has revolutionized the way I plan meals and dramatically decreased the amount of time I spend doing it.
Pepperplate is a free app that allows you to search for recipes and save them in a database, add your own recipes, develop menus, plan your meals for a week or month (or more) and create shopping lists.
You collect recipes by importing them from other supported sites, including favorites such as Taste of Home, AllRecipes, Food.com, Epicurious, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, Bon Appetit and the Smitten Kitchen, just to name a few.
You can also quickly and easily add your own recipes manually.
Once a recipe is in your database, export the ingredient list to a Pepperplate shopping list. (You have the option of deselecting items that are already in your pantry or refrigerator.) Or manually add items.
The list is organized by shopping aisle categories, which you arrange to match the layout of your grocery store. Pepperplate automatically places items in the appropriate aisle category.
It gets better — the app is also available for iPhone and iPad (and other mobile devices) and allows you to sync them all.
No more taking a paper list to the store — you just need your phone. Although if you really want a paper list you can print it from your computer.
Another benefit: if you’re out and about and need to come up with a dinner plan, use your phone to pull up a saved recipe and quickly scan it to see which ingredients you need.
Those who are super-organized (or strive to be) can plan meals for a week or more and add the recipes as links in the Pepperplate planning calendar. Pull up the calendar, click on the meal for a particular date, and voila — up pops the recipe! You are ready to cook!
Finally, you can plan entire menus (say, for Thanksgiving) and organize the corresponding recipes and shopping list.
The app isn’t perfect — it doesn’t always put items in the right shopping list category (for example, canned vegetables often end up in the produce category instead of canned goods), but you can move them around. And the site is sometimes sluggish, which can be frustrating. But all in all, it simplifies meal planning considerably.
And last but not least: the decreased planning time leaves more time for actual cooking!