There are dozens of tricks to saving time in the kitchen, no matter what you’re making. Sometimes it comes in the prep, sometimes it comes in the timing, and other times it comes in the form of substitutions and using what you have. However, there is nothing like meal planning for saving a little time in the kitchen. Enter the Cooking Planit App, available as an app on itunes or on the Cooking Planit website.
I got the chance to try out the Cooking Planit app for an upcoming giveaway (starts Tues. August 20), with Cooking Planit and T-fal. I’d like to share my experience with you.
The Cooking Planit App for iphone, ipad and itouch (5th gen) (Android version coming soon) is an awesome tool in the kitchen for meal planning and for getting dinner on the table quickly. It’s efficiency includes even the most minor details many of us wouldn’t even think about, which is one of the perks I really loved about it.
Need some help with meal planning and selecting meals?
Cooking Planit takes the hard work out of the equation. They have plenty of recipes to choose from. You can search the database by Ingredient (beef, chicken, pork, seafood, etc.), by Type of Dish (Main Dish, Appetizer, Side Dish, etc.), by Occasion (brunch, quick and easy, weeknight, kid friendly, etc.) and Restrictions (no meat, no eggs, no dairy, no gluten, etc.). It’s pretty comprehensive in the ways you can search, making it a breeze to find something.
But you don’t have to stop there.
They also have entire meals put together with names like “Cool & Crispy” (Quick Cornmeal Shrimp and Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad with Oregano Vinagrette – a meal which is ready in a total of 34 minutes) and “Produce Match Up” (Cauliflower and Chive Puree, Pine-Nut Crusted Eggplant, and Arugula, Green Apple and Fennel with Honey Vinaigrette. For the record they also have super simple meals like “Bake It Easy” (Baked Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard, Asparagus with Lemon and Goat Cheese and Chopped Salad with Creamy Herb Vinaigrette) and “All Under Five” – all three recipes in this meal have under 5 ingredients each (actually only 9 ingredients required to make this simple meal with three recipes included) (Easy Oven-Roasted Drumsticks, Parmesan Potato Wedges and Sauteed Garlic Spinach.)
You can also create your own meal too by putting together recipes in the ever growing database, which is what I chose to do. I was looking for a back to school meal for the first day of school, which for us happened on August 8. Yep, you read that right. So I was crazy busy and wanted a super simple, quick meal. I found three items that worked perfectly for us. I also wanted the majority of the cooking to be done on the stove top mostly because I was dying to try out my new T-Fal cookware so I could tell you all about it. Since that’s what you’d be winning in my giveaway starting on Tuesday, August 20. It was also hot, so I didn’t want to heat the oven.
I naturally called it “Back to School, Quick & Easy”.
Our meal consisted of:
- Sauteed Chicken Tenders with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
- Corn on the Cob with Cayenne Parmesan Butter
- Grilled Asparagus
See, easy peasy. Quick & Simple. The perfect weeknight meal, or back to school meal. And my kids loved it!
Need a shopping list with detailed amounts for the store?
Yep. Cooking Planit has it. I was able to pull it up and check off what I already had here. Then head to the store and get the rest. I’ll be honest, I usually take my grocery list to the store on a piece of paper and then I have to bring a pen, which I am always misplacing in the store so I can check everything off as I go. This made it much easier. It was organized by area in the store, which I loved. I think I might be a digital grocery list convert. I just touch the ingredient once it’s in my cart. So easy.
Another pretty cool feature is the fact that it compacts all of your recipes into one overall list, so you know you need 3 Tbs. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to complete the entire recipe. It also has a detailed list of all appliances, cookware and utensils you will need. Very handy.
Now it’s time to get cooking. How does the app help with that?
It’s so easy. Just click the Get Started button at the top of your screen. The app will walk you step by step through creating the meal.
The first question it has for you is how much you will be making. It is set to 4 servings automatically. If you are making less or more, make sure to check this out before you go shopping so you know you have enough, it will re-order your list by the extra you will need for a larger (or less for a smaller) meal. I almost forgot to do that. On weeknights, hubby is at work so I am cooking for 6 of us.
The following screen has some pretty cool features, I’d like to show you.
- Clearly as I’m writing this post it’s 8:48am on a Monday morning. I don’t think I plan to make dinner right this moment, but just to show you what the app can do, I’m going with it. As you can see below the time you can see that, if I started prepping and cooking my meal, it estimates it will be ready around 9:35am. So for dinner purposes, let’s assume we are making this at 5:48pm, it would be ready to serve on the table at 6:35pm. I love this feature because it’s nice to have an estimate and it was pretty dead on.
- You can see there is a microphone button on the ipad, iphone and ipod app. You can press that at the start, and then interact with the app, so you don’t have to touch it. More on that in #4.
- You see the eyeball on each of the photos of each recipe I am doing? If you click on that you can actually view the recipe in it’s entirety, though I didn’t need to do that, since it just tells you what to do. Still it’s nice if you need it.
- Okay as I mentioned in #2, the app has a microphone so that while you are cooking, you can tell the app to “move on”, “go back” and then for longer directions “scroll up” and “scroll down”. I loved this because it keeps your screen clean and you’re not getting food all over the device. (Have you SEEN my DSLR? ha!)
- On this screen it provides tips and pointers for the various recipes you are cooking. It’s the place where you see substitutions mentioned, etc.
- And last but not least, the arrow button at the top. Once you switch to the next screen there will be one on either side. This is so you can manually go back and forth through the recipe if you need. Keep in mind, that going back will add time to your meal, and that jumping forward will bring the “ready” time down. However this is how you manually move onto the next screen. Click away!
Next screen shows you a detailed list of what you will need to get ready for your meal. This is great so you have everything handy.
Who doesn’t want to be able to cook dinner and have everything done at the same time?
The app makes this possible by creating step by step preparation and cooking directions to ensure that all three recipes are done at the same time. This is great, since I am known to have something done WAY too early and I’m trying to keep it warm with a towel over it or *gasp* on a hot day having to heat the oven to warm to stick something in there to keep it warm. No thanks, this app makes that a thing of the past. It even includes breaks in the middle, while things are cooking, which is great so you can go to the bathroom, grab a glass of wine or just sit down and chat with your family for a few minutes. The countdown lets you know when it’s done and you can then move on with the next step.
Then it’s time to move on and you simple tell it to “move on” or you click the right arrow to go to the next screen (you can also swipe).
The instructions are easy and clear and make prepping everything and cooking everything a total breeze!
And finally, your meal is ready. You really can’t pay attn. to my times, I was too busy cooking to take screen shots while I was cooking, so my times are all over the place. haha But it will be accurate when it’s time for you to do it.
Cooking Planit is pretty cool!
So as you can see, it’s a pretty cool app. But don’t fret if you have an android (app in development) or nothing at all. The exact same thing is available on the Cooking Planit website, which you can access from any device with a browser.
So what do you think? Worth it? I think so!
Go check it out. One of the mandatory entries for my giveaway (starting August 20) is to get a free account on Cooking Planit so you can try it out too. So why not get started now? Have fun!
Note: I will paste the code for the giveaway into this post when the giveaway is live. It will be available on the bottom of all related Cooking Planit and T-fal posts.
Disclosure: I received a set of T-fal cookware to review, as well as the Cooking Planit App to cook a meal from. All opinions are 100% my own.
Giveaway details: US residents only, one winner per household/per family from the 50 blogs participating in the giveaway. Individuals that have won more than one giveaway will receive only one set of cookware and an alternate winner will be chosen.