Paprika, Meal Planning's New BFF | Blog to Taste

Monday, February 23, 2015

Paprika, Meal Planning's New BFF

A few weeks ago I covered the basics of meal planning. Today I want to spend a little more time talking about the app I use to make the whole process easier. Again, I should just tell you that meal planning saves you money because you are not eating out, and you are not over purchasing groceries. I know you get me!

Paprika is an app made for meal planning. It costs a few dollars to buy and is totally worth it! 

In a nutshell here's how it works:

  1. find a recipe
  2. save recipe to Paprika's recipe box
  3. add the recipe to your calendar
  4. add the ingredients to your grocery list
  5. share the grocery list between devices (that have Paprika on them)

You can very easily do all this with just a few taps, the app is very fluid and user friendly. I feel like the people who made Paprika really understood the meal planning process. The caveat is that you have to buy Paprika for each device separately. But, it is a one time only fee, and many other meal planning programs on the market charge you monthly fees. I use Paprika on my iPad, that's where I do the bulk of my planning, then I bought it for my iPhone so that I could use that for my grocery shopping. I love using my phone for my grocery list, it eliminates the need for a pen! Each of Paprika's features are awesome in their own ways, and I will go into a little more depth on them below. 

Alright, it all starts with the recipe box. Paprika has a built in browser in the app. Basically you can browse there, or if you copy a URL from somewhere else (Pinterest anyone?) Paprika will detect the URL and ask you if you want to load it.  Then there is a little button you press to save the recipe. Now, this is an awesome feature, it literally just sucks all the information out of the recipe and puts it in the right places. Unfortunately it doesn't work on all websites however, if the website is not supported, do not despair! You can still save the recipe in a fairly easy way, you just highlight and copy, then touch the area of information. As in, you highlight the ingredients, copy them and then click the ingredient section and they appear. Once you have been using this for a little while you get a feel of what websites do and do not work. 

Once you have a recipe saved, it will look like the one above. There are so many things I like about this feature. You can scale the recipe as big or small as you want, and it does all the math for you. You can tap ingredients to cross them off the list as you go (see ingredient section above, half are crossed out!). And when it says to cook something for 10 minutes, you can click that and it goes straight to a timer (see above photo, 10 minutes in blue).

Now when it comes to making a grocery list, of course they have integrated features for that as well. From the recipe, if you click the grocery cart at the top of the screen and a menu will pop up with all the ingredients. Then you can quickly move through the list and get rid of the ingredients you already have (salt, pepper, oil, you know, things you keep on hand) then add the ingredients you need to the list. This may seem simple, but trust me, it's a much better grocery list tool than many others I have tried. 

The grocery list is broken up into different sections of the grocery store, something I was only able to do with a hand written list before. If Paprika lists something in the wrong category, it is easy to go in and switch it to the right category. It will even remember the aisle you change it to for the next time. This is usually only necessary if I add something to the list that is spelled wrong (I'm not perfect!), or is not a food item. I recently had to purchase a refrigerator light, Paprika wasn't sure what aisle to put that in. 

Meal planning becomes easier and faster the more you do it and the more you build your recipe collection. So if it seems overwhelming at first, and too time consuming, try to stick it out, it really is a tool that is worth doing. I have taken the time to add recipes that I do not need recipes to make. It's nice to have the ingredients added at least, so that the grocery list making is fast and easy. 

This is a picture of my recipe collection, you can see that it has pictures (another necessity for me), and you are able to sort by category. If you recall me talking about creating a system to plan by, if you pick Wednesday as your sandwich day, you can simply sort by sandwiches and then pick four recipes for the month. It's really as simple as exporting to the menu, picking the day, and then adding ingredients to your grocery list if you need to. 

This last photo is the menu in month view. When I am planning for the whole month, I love to switch to this view. You can see I have gaps in my month. Yeah, did you hear me say earlier that I am not perfect. I am so not. Sometimes, I fall off the wagon and feed my family microwave burritos for a week. That's probably what happened above, but I am not sure because I didn't update my calendar! I try to update it to reflect what we actually eat and on what day. I find that I often switch around the meals to different days then I planned them for,  but I like to have the calendar accurate so that I can look back and see if there was a method to my madness. 

Keeping your calendar updated and accurate is also great for looking back and repeating weeks that you really liked. Paprika has an edit mode that lets you copy and paste meals from one night to another. 

I had basically always been a meal planner, and I have used a ton of different methods- from a pen and paper (which was my fave prior to Paprika), to paid subscriptions and at least ten other apps, many that I paid for, and BY FAR Paprika is my absolute favorite. Download it, and don't look back!