Cooking Planit: The Kitchen Solution?

CookPlanitTopEverybody eats, but unfortunately planning and cooking meals has never been easy. In a fast-paced world with fast-food restaurants offering instant-gratification meals that seem a lot more realistic than a home-cooked meal, the Cooking Planit computer and complementary phone app aims to help get people back in the kitchen. The app assists the novice-to-advanced cook in each step of the meal-planning process:

The app assists the novice-to-advanced cook in each step of the meal-planning process:

  • Planning the meal and the mealtime
  • Purchasing groceries
  • Getting the meal cooked and served

How it works

When you first log into the app, the homepage gets you started with featured meals and links to the Meal Creator feature. In the Meal Creator, you are given the freedom to build a meal from the recipe database and customize it to the prep and cook time, cuisine, main ingredient, type of dish, and dietary restriction your heart or health desires. Once your meal is complete you can give it a name of your choosing, click the save button, and it is instantly added into your virtual cookbook, ‘My Cookbook’.

There is also the option at this point of scheduling your culinary creation into your My Schedule feature. Here you can choose the date and the time to both start and serve the meal. This handy tool will send you an email or alert reminder when it’s time to start prepping your food. All you have to do is log into your account, find your meal, and click the “Cook Now” option.

But before you get to cook, there’s the time-consuming, disorganized, annoying task of grocery shopping. Cooking Planit lends a helping hand here as well, with a Groceries feature designed to streamline your shopping experience. In your virtual Cookbook there is an Actions button next to each meal, which gives the option to “Add to Grocery List.” With just a click your ingredients are instantaneously organized into a grocery list, complete with needed amounts and categorized by sections at the grocery store such as produce, dairy and eggs, and frozen.

CookPlanitListNow is the fun part. You get home from work, and an email kindly notifies you at 5:30 that it’s time to start prepping your ingredients if you want that dinner ready for eating at 6:45. You log into the app, click “Cook Now” on your recipe, and are guided into a step-by-step meal preparation guide. Once finished with a step you just click next, while the app provides you with built-in timers when necessary and updates a clock with the estimated time of completion. The great feature here is that the app organizes your meal preparation, which may have one to four or five recipes, so that all the pieces are ready at the same time.

As good as it sounds?

I set out to answer that question by using this app for 1-2 weeks of meal planning. Through my college studies and love for cooking I have acquired enough skills to make the majority of my meals from scratch. I enjoy both trying new recipes and making up my own culinary creations. I was curious then, as to whether I would find the app helpful, complicated, creatively-limiting, skill-expanding or otherwise.

As I sat down to browse and build my meals, the professional-plated pictures first looked intimidating. I groaned thinking about all the time and work these recipes were going to take, instead of just opening my fridge and making its contents work for a simple, familiar dinner. I grew optimistic, however, when I discovered the grocery list feature, and taking my list to the store, surprisingly found my usual aisle wandering consolidated to an efficient, successful trip.

The real test came in the kitchen, when I pressed the cook button on a Tex-Mex tilapia stew. Once again I was pleasantly surprised to find the step-by-step instructions easy to follow and my meal more or less ready on time. I am a planner though, and not being able to see the recipe as a whole to anticipate was the only drawback. Sufficiently stewed and ready to eat, I gave my meal a taste test and awarded it about 9 out of 10.

The pros:

  • A great organizational tool that takes away most of the main stressors with meal preparation.
  • Getting to mix and match your meal according to preferences.
  • Chef-created and tested recipes, which can almost guarantee a successful product.
  • Basing meals around ingredients that need to be used up.

The cons:

  • The app only allows 2, 4, or 6 serving size options, which can be difficult for one-person households.
  • Not being able to see the whole recipe when cooking.
  • There is no nutrition info or pricing features.
  • The dietary restrictions are useful but not reliable for those with severe allergies.
  • While 732 recipes is a big database, it may be limiting on daily basis.

My final opinion: Cooking Planit is a great supplemental tool resource for those who need a bit of organizational support in order to get in the kitchen.

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