In normal times I am used to doing grocery shopping about twice a week. I slipped into this frequency when my twins were young and I was so sleep deprived I would forget key items; family members would randomly devour key items; and I also shopped for my Dad. I can already hear you say “make a list!” and “hide or lock up key items!”. I tried!
Anyway, now is not normal. If you have seen any of the how to disinfect your groceries and take out videos, you may be looking to extend time between grocery runs too. This allows us all to play a round of Home ‘Chopped’ daily or, find an app for that.
There are many free recipe apps available. I selected a couple I have seen in social media (Tasty, All Recipes’ Dinner Spinner, and Yummly), a couple based on my dietary needs (Paleo Diet and Anti inflammatory Diet), and a couple completely randomly (15 minute Meals and Mealtime). Just from these names you can see a variety. I also added Google search to see if these apps really added value.
I gave each one a turn at giving me recipes for tuna, tuna + rice, and ground turkey. I then added paleo diet or if not an option, then gluten free and non dairy to the ground turkey search.
I quickly noticed the number of criteria matching recipes. I looked at the mouth watering pictures, checked the list of ingredients, and read through the instructions. First, here are the recipe number search results:
|App||Tuna Recipes||Tuna & Rice Recipes||Ground Turkey Recipes||Ground Turkey Paleo Recipes|
|15 Minute Meals||100+||35||57||2|
Here are my impressions of the apps with my Gladiator Shield Rating system from least favorite to best, except I saved Google for last.
The Paleo Diet app was information focused and gave recipe examples. If you are stuck and need an allowed snack idea (or another eating category), this app would be helpful. The app just did not do what I wanted right now.
In the Anti Inflammatory app I searched within 2 features: ‘all recipes’ and ‘cook with’. The free version of this app has a daily search limit. Once you use the daily limit you are offered to watch a video ad or ‘go premium’. There are ads before you reach the daily limit. I watched a video ad to continue. Once I made a shopping list from selected recipes I could delete all of the ingredients from one recipe. That was cool. However, that did not make up for the fact I netted a total of 3 recipes from my searches.
Tasty has filter options for diets, but not mine – Paleo Diet so I had to use the filters for Dairy Free and Gluten Free. I netted a total of 37 recipes before I added my dietary restrictions. There were no ground turkey recipes with the restrictions. I did use one of the Tasty recipes as inspiration and received rave reviews in my house.
The 15 minute meals app gave partial matches after the full matches.This was annoying when I picked a recipe but found the ingredients didn’t match. There is a separate function called ‘Smart Recipe Finder’ but my ingredients were not on the picking list. If you do like recipes and create a shopping list, watch out. Any ingredient in more than one of your recIpes will be on the shopping list more than once.
Dinner Spinner app by All Recipes stores your preference settings in a category called “My Tastes”. This will be used for ‘My Feed’ but not searches. If you make it to the shopping list you can add non recipe type items like cat food. Nice feature. The search provided a decent number of recipes from my searches before adding my restrictions.
Mealtime’s process is that you search recipes for meals, flag your favorites, create a meal plan from your favorites, and create your shopping list from the plan. There are some unique features inside the recipes like price per serving. Surprisingly, the app had special COVID-19 information. When you are ready to purchase your groceries, the app can connect you to some included online ordering options.
Yummly stored my dietary needs and automatically applied them as filters to all of my searches. This app had the largest number of recipes from my searches. There were some cool features like ‘recognize’ pantry items through your camera. This feature is fun and saves typing! You can spend an afternoon entertaining household members with this function! From the shopping list you can online order groceries through provided grocery ordering links.
Google searches across many sites so the search results are large. However, to explore and evaluate the recipes you pop in and out of each recipe site. You lose the value added functions of recipe storage, marking favorites, and shopping list options the apps provide.
My conclusion is that there are free apps that will help you figure out what you can make with a specific or a few identified items. The apps will even help filter recipes based on dietary needs to help you win your home’s round of ‘Chopped’ dinner. Some apps will help make and submit lists to stores. These apps definitely have greater value than a Google search. In my evaluation, Yummly was my favorite. The sheer number of recipes and the added value features make it hard to beat. Check back for a more detailed review of Yummly as I use it in the coming weeks. If there are any recipe apps you would like me to review, please drop me a comment!