I had kind of given up on using my computer for any sort of recipe management. In the past, I had tried a number of other programs. They all Held Recipes Together, but for me, it’s not so much *having* recipes. Always-on internet access and maybe owning a few cookbooks means we all have millions of recipes at our fingertips and I like to think I’m pretty good WITHOUT a recipe too. For me, it’s about implementing them in an efficient way.
Enter Paprika, which has Mac, iPad, and iPhone versions of its app. I was dubious, despite all of the praise that I was reading in reviews. But the thing that sets Paprika apart from any of the other things I’ve tried is that they have actually thought about how someone might use recipes and have included a bunch of features that make it easy. With all of the upheaval and general stuff going on right now, I had decided that I really needed to make meal-planning something of a priority, so we weren’t finding ourselves scrounging around every night for bits of whatever. It takes a load off of your mind to know that you have enough food for meals for the week and I also think it’s probably a good thing for Cecilia to know one can eat other things besides peanut butter sandwiches every other night.
So here’s how I’ve been using Paprika:
First, I imported some of the recipes that I did have from other programs into Paprika. An import from MacGourmet went very smoothly. This saved me a lot of time as I had already typed a bunch of family recipes into that. I’ve also been using Pinterest a lot lately to collect recipes for later processing, so I had a little backlog of things I’ve nabbed from around the web. The nice thing about Paprika is that recipes from a lot of the more popular food sites can be instantly added to your database, but if not, they’ve added simple clipboard tools that save you from having to go back and forth copying and pasting and re-typing.
Now that I had everything in place, I could go through and start using the meal planner and grocery list features. This is kind of huge and something that I really hadn’t seen incorporated well into other applications. I feel like there are still some tweaks that need to be made to these features, but it works. It helps that Paprika has a clean, clear layout too, so I’m not getting muddled up in a poorly designed environment. It would be nice to be able to drag and drop onto a calendar and see a week or month view as you are looking at your recipes, but again, it still works well as is right now.
I try to plan at least three dinners for the week and then throw in a “Breakfast for Dinner” night or “Leftovers Night” to use up food from the weekend. And sometimes my mom will provide dinner or we’ll have a cookout, so we can be flexible. Once the week of meals has been planned, you can go down through your list and add ingredients for all of the meals to the grocery list in the app and now you know exactly what you’ll need for the week.
For me, the big selling point of Paprika was its ability to sync across devices. As handy as the iPad is, sometimes you still need to get down and dirty on the desktop with filling in information, especially when typing in your own recipes. But the iPad is perfect for propping up next to you while you’re cooking. And the iPhone is what you have when you’re actually at the store. The iPhone app has also been great when I’ve come across an ingredient at the store that I’d like to use. I can pull up Paprika and locate a recipe to use it and figure out what else I’ll need to make it. Done!
Overall, I’ve been really pleased with how smoothly I’ve been able to integrate Paprika into this process (and really, how it is integral to the process). It works the way I do and the way I always wanted a recipe app to work: with tools that make it easier for me to actually USE my recipes!
Speaking of recipes, here is a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever: