As a brand new iPhone 4 owner, I am still learning how to use my phone and am discovering the joys of apps! I have found a few that I really love and thought I would share them with you, if you happen to have an iPhone or iPod Touch or iPad where you could enjoy them as well.
My first iPhone App Review will be for an app called MealBoard which currently costs $1.99 in the iTunes app store.
I LOVE THIS APP!!
The tutorials on their website are very minimal, so it took me a little while to figure out how to use everything on my own, but I’ve found most of the apps are that way. You have to sort of use your own intuitiveness to discover what all the icons mean and which of the common iPhone touch actions will perform what tasks. This might come easier to you if you’ve had your device for longer than I have, since I’m still learning all that. But here’s what I love about this app…
The app comes with a few recipes, but they are mostly there just to show you how it works – don’t count on getting any spectacular new recipes for your menu! I deleted most of them and have started slowly adding my own. This can be a tedious process, but there’s also the option to add your recipes online on their website and then download them to your phone, which is a bit easier. Instead of trying to add all of my recipes at once, I’ve just been adding them as I use them, when I’m planning my menu. So soon I’ll have everything in there for easy access! Adding recipes is simple and you can create your own categories – I like to have my main course meals sorted by meat, but I also have categories for Breakfast, Veggies, Miscellaneous, Desserts, etc. Each recipe can be in multiple categories as well. If you choose to add your recipes on your phone, make sure to upload them to the website first, because if you add some to your phone without uploading them first & then do a download from the site, it could wipe out your recipes! (**Update: They have added several new fields to the recipes, such as Servings (you can plan your grocery list for a certain number of servings), Prep Time, Cooking Time, Notifications (have it remind you to make a certain meal on a certain day), Recipe Source (allows you to input who created the recipe or even link to an internet site where you found it), and a 5-star rating scale. I really love it that they’re always adding new features! I also love that I can add photos of my recipes, as it makes my recipe book so pretty! **)
You can add recipes to your menu (you can choose to do either 1 or 2 weeks at a time) and designate whether they are for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack or create your own category! It’s easy to add, edit, delete, drag and rearrange meals and to click on a meal to see the recipe. A recent update they made, which I definitely appreciated, was that the screen won’t go black when you’ve clicked to view a recipe. Before the update, the screen kept going off while I was making something and my hands were dirty as I was cooking, so it wasn’t easy to turn it back on – definitely a nice feature.
As you create recipes and add new ingredients or as you create items for your grocery list, these all get added to your master ingredients list. Once an item is added, it’s easy to add them again to a new recipe or to add it to your grocery list in the future. Each ingredient can be assigned to a store section (there is a list of sections already, but you can edit these and create your own – one of my favorite features), a quantity, and a preparation note – i.e. 2 c. cheese, shredded (Dairy). One thing I’m not sure if I like about the ingredients is that it will store the last quantity you used, so it’s often filled in with a quantity already, which you have to edit when you add it to a new recipe or your grocery list – not a big deal though (**Update: this feature has been changed, so the quantity is now blank when adding it to a new recipe**).
Create Grocery List
I love this part!! After creating my menu, I can generate a grocery list from those recipes (for the dates I choose) and it automatically tells me exactly what I need. I can then check off any items I know I already have or add items that are not included in my menu, such as fruit, bread, diapers, etc. I usually only plan my suppers, but this could be more extensive if you actually planned all your breakfasts, lunches and snacks as well! Then, your grocery list is sorted by store section or aisle number – SO GREAT! It makes grocery shopping so quick and easy, as I can check off items as I grab them and have all the items organized specific to my store! Now, this could potentially make it confusing if you went to a different grocery store than usual, but overall, it’s a wonderful feature! If you don’t know exactly where items are in your store, as you are grocery shopping, you can also easily edit that ingredient to mark which aisle you found it in. One more feature I should mention is that you can also assign grocery prices to your ingredients and it will give you a total estimate for your shopping list as well as show you how the total for what you’ve checked off as “In Cart”, but this takes quite a bit of time to add all the prices in for each ingredient (my suggestion, if you want to do this is to use your receipts after shopping)!
It also has a feature that allows you to email your grocery list to someone, which I just did the other day – I emailed my list to Joe at work and he picked up groceries for me – so easy for both me and for him! You can also email recipes or your menu plan.
Overall, this app is SOOOO worth the two bucks you pay for it! It has made my menu planning and grocery shopping a breeze and I would definitely recommend it! The developers are also great at listening to suggestions and making changes to the app, which is awesome. For example, the master ingredients list was originally only viewable in alphabetical order, but they responded to consumer requests that you could also view your ingredients by store section, which I loved having that option. Some things I’d like to see them change in the future are the ability to view a history of past menus, as you can only view a maximum of 2 weeks at a time (**Update: you can now go back up to 8 weeks to view your previous menus**), as well as possibly the ability to plan a menu for as many as 4 weeks at a time (**Update: you can now plan your menu for up to 4 weeks**). You have the ability to save menu templates, but seeing as I don’t usually use the exact same menu twice, I haven’t found this feature to be especially useful. But like I said, a great app with lots of potential for increasing your productivity and helping you be more organized!