I am one of those people that thrives on structure. Ask me to “wing it” and you will most likely see panic on my face. This is why I loved being in school – I had a schedule and knew how my day would be planned out. And this is one of the reasons I ended up in a career in accounting — hello, tons of structure, rules, regulations, debits/credits, etc.
Despite this need for structure, I’m not the most organized person – one look at our house will definitely tell you that! So this means I tend to depend on others to provide the organization and structure for me.
What does this have to do with food and cooking? Everything! Recipes provide the organization and structure for me, while usually allowing for some creative tinkering by me, and once I’m comfortable with the process I am then able to “wing it” to a certain extent.
Now, how to put those recipes together into a meal? And, more importantly, how to coordinate and get myself organized so that I can prepare the entire meal without making it into a drama-filled production? I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate some help here!
I was recently contacted by the folks at Cooking Planit to see if I was interested in learning more about their website and app, and the timing could not have been better. I was just finishing tax season and ready to get back into the kitchen and needed something to provide a little jump start, so this seemed perfect.
First things first -this isn’t just a recipe app. In their words, Cooking Planit is a “personal kitchen assistant” that walks you through the whole meal planning, preparation and cooking process. When you come home tired from a long day at work, the last thing you want is to have to think any more than you have to, so to be able to have everything laid out for you is a huge help.
I think the most fun part is browsing all the recipe and meal ideas. You can browse by ingredient, type of dish, occasion, or dietary restriction. You can then filter results to see all results, meals only, or recipes. There’s a pretty good variety of recipes and I’m sure more will continue to be added. Once you find some meals or recipes you like, you can then save it to your own cookbook for future reference.
Not only can you select from the meals that come with the app, but you can create your own meals by selecting the recipes you want. For one of the meals I created when I was testing out the app, I selected Baked Sweet Potato Fries, Lemon-Pepper Roasted Chicken Strips, and Grilled Lime-Paprika Broccoli and called this meal “Healthy Chicken Tenders and Fries.”
Once you have a meal or recipe you want to make, you can then generate a grocery list based on the ingredients required. If one ingredient is needed in more than one of the recipes, it only shows up once in your grocery list as the total amount needed. Within the grocery list function, you can see the ingredients needed in a list format or as images in case you’re not sure what an unfamiliar ingredient looks like. One thing I really liked is the Cloud Sync feature that lets you access your cookbook and grocery list from your iPad, iPhone or through the website, so you’re not stuck having to access your info in one place. I had the full version of the app installed on my iPad which gives you access to more meals and recipes, but I installed the free version of the app on my iPhone, which didn’t contain the recipes I had selected for my meals — however, I was still able to access the grocery list for those recipes, which really impressed me.
When you’re ready to get cooking, all you have to do is select your recipe or meal and the app has done all the organization for you so that you can use your time efficiently. You first see the recipes that make up the meal, the total prep and cook time, and the ingredients and tools needed. You can pull up each recipe individually or preview all steps needed for the meal. When you’re ready to start cooking, you enter “Cook Mode,” which lets you use voice control to progress through all the steps hands-free (so handy when you have stuff all over your hands!) or manually navigate through the steps. You can make use of automatic timers, and if you find yourself ahead of schedule the program lets you know to take a break before the next step. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
When I tested out the app using the meal I created, I didn’t make use of all the features, but I could see myself using them on other recipes. It did let me know that because I had 2 recipes that needed the oven, I either needed 2 ovens or needed to adjust my temperature for each recipe. As I looked at the recipe steps, I saw where I could easily make that adjustment. And to be honest, instead of grilling the broccoli I ended up roasting it in the oven while I made the fries, but that just shows how you can improvise or tweak within the steps. Once I had everything prepped and ready to go, following the steps was pretty easy and I had lunch on the table in about an hour from start to finish.
Overall, I enjoyed playing around with the Cooking Planit app. I really can see myself using this during the week or to help prepare for a party, where organization and time management is critical. One thing I would love to see in the future is being able to upload or enter my own recipes and being able to utilize the grocery list and cook mode functions with them. Hint, hint? 🙂
So if you’re like me and need a little help sometimes, I think you’ll like playing around with Cooking Planit. And to make things fun and exciting, the folks at Cooking Planit have offered to give away the full version of the app to a couple of Spice’s Bites readers so that they too can play around and see what it has to offer!
Here’s what you have to do:
1. Visit the Cooking Planit website and leave a comment here telling me what recipe or meal from the website you want to make
2. Leave a comment here with your best meal prep or organization tip
3. “Like” the Cooking Planit Facebook page and leave a comment here telling me you did
4. “Like” the Spice’s Bites Facebook page and leave a comment here telling me you did
The giveaway will run from Wednesday, May 29th through Wednesday, June 5th. The app is only available for iPads and iPhones. You must be 18 or older and a U.S. resident. Once a winner has been randomly selected, I will contact you for further information, so remember to enter your email address when leaving a comment (it won’t show up in the comment).
*Disclosure: Cooking Planit provided me with a copy of the full iPad app for review purposes. I did not receive any compensation and am not obligated to post a positive review. Any opinions are my own. Cooking Planit is providing the prize for the winner of the giveaway.