Why We Love Paprika for Recipe and Meal Planning

Why We Love Paprika for Recipe and Meal Planning
 For years, we have used Paprika as our primary recipe software for managing the complexities meal planning: finding and saving recipes, mapping out your meals for the week, calculating how much you need to buy, and even grocery shopping. We’ve streamlined our workflow over the years, and now, with the release of Paprika 3, we though it would be useful to post an overview of why we love it, and how we use it.

We’ve streamlined our workflow over the years, and now, with the release of Paprika 3, we though it would be useful to post an overview of why we love it, and how we use it.

It’s Multiplatform

First, and perhaps most importantly, Paprika is an application that’s cross platform, available on iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows and the Amazon App Store. It uses it’s own cloud sync service to keep everything up to date across whatever apps and devices you have. In our house, we own the iOS version, the Mac version, and the Windows version. Since we use iCloud Family Sharing, both my wife and I can use the same single purchase across our individual iPhones and iPads. Having the app available on multiple devices makes for a couple of killer use cases.

Finding & Saving Recipes

We subscribe to a several magazines and food blogs, and when we see a recipe we like or wish to try, we’ll tend to either input it directly into the app on our iPads, or access that magazine’s website and use the import functionality. Sometimes if I am working on my laptop and I see one come through, I can add it from there, too.

I can’t emphasize how good the import function is. It recognizes nearly every recipe site we frequent, and it intelligently parses the various parts of the recipe into it’s own digital card, complete with photos, ingredients, nutrition information, step by step instructions, and any other data it has. Assign a category as you import and you are good to go. Once it’s in the database, you can search by word or phrase or ingredient, filter by category, assign a 1-5 star rating, make it a favorite, or add your own notes.

Paprika 3 Import function on an iPad

And once you have a database of recipes, it’s easy to quickly create a meal plan, a menu, a shopping list, and use the recipe interactively while you cook. Let’s take a look.

A Word on Categories

Before we dig in, I wanted to suggest you take a few minutes to set up your category structure before you get too far into your import-a-rama. Having a category structure that makes sense to you will make meal planning and finding recipes a bit easier later on. A few tips:

Categories can nest, so set up “master categories” and “child categories.” An example would be: Bread as the master category, with child categories that could include Biscuits, Loaves, Muffins, Rolls, etc. That way, if you are looking specifically for that dinner roll recipe, you can filter down to the Rolls category only. If you just want to get your carbs on, you can pick the master category of Bread and see every child category.

I suggest you think outside of the traditional recipe categories of Main Dishes, Salads, Deserts, etc. We have categories for Cuisine (Italian, Chinese, Mexican, etc.), Equipment (Instant Pot, Campfire,  Microwave, etc.), Lifestyle (Comfort, Paleo, Vegetarian, etc.), and Occasion (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Brunch, etc.) and find them exceedingly helpful.

Since you can assign any number of categories to a recipe, almost like tagging, you can use them liberally. Consider an example: importing your favorite Meat Lasagna recipe. I would likely apply the following Categories to it: Main Course>Beef, Cuisine>Italian, Lifestyle>Comfort. Or consider my favorite spiced nut recipe, which I often prepare around the Holidays: Appetizers, Snacks, Occasion>Thanksgiving, Occasion>Christmas.

Making Meal Plans

Once you have a few recipes, you can start making meal plans. From the recipe itself, you simply click the little symbol that looks like a calendar with a ‘plus’ symbol, and you will be presented with a month view calendar. You pick the date first, hit ‘Next’, then pick the meal (in this example, Dinner) and press save. Now, when you look at the Meals tab, you can see your recipes by day, week, or month, sorted into meals.

Adding recipes to make a meal plan on iPad

You can save meals as menus, or create your own saved menus (like Thanksgiving Dinner) for later reference. Paprika really shines when putting together big meals, like Holiday gatherings and dinner parties. After a few months (or years) use, you’ll have lots of menus saved, recipes rated, and favorites flagged.

Making Shopping Lists

Making shopping lists is dead simple. From any recipe, click the little shopping cart icon. You will see all ingredients in that recipe listed, with the capability to toggle them on or off before adding to your shopping list.

Adding ingredients to a grocery list.

I find myself usually unchecking staples like salt, flour, and the like, but it will add anything you leave to you list, and – cleverly, simply increment the amount if the item is already on the shopping list. So if you are adding 10 different recipes that all have butter in them, you won’t get 10 different butter items on your list, instead it will add them all up to the full total.

If you have a full meal plan, simply click ‘Edit’ on the bottom left of the screen, and then select every recipe you want to include, then pick ‘Add to Grocery List’

Batch adding multiple recipes to a grocery list.

You don’t have to export a recipe to get items on the list, either. You can add anything to any list, at any time. When I use up the last of the milk, I grab my phone and quickly add milk to the grocery list so I don’t forget later. You can even do it with Siri, if you enable the function. I love yelling at my phone in the kitchen.

Going Shopping

This is where the multi-platform thing shines. We always have our phones with us, so when we go to the grocery store, we simply open the Paprika app, and navigate over to the Grocery Lists tab, and all of our items are listed, by isle. As we add items to our carts, we check them off the list.

Using Paprika’s Grocery List on an iPhone while shopping.

Paprika 3 introduced the ability to have multiple Grocery Lists, so we actually have 4 different lists based on the stores we most-often shop: Grocery List (for our main weekly supermarket visit), Costco (for our less frequent visits to hell), BevMo! (My liquor store of choice) and Trader Joe’s (infrequent, but we love a few of their specialty items). You can choose which list to add ingredients to, or move them among lists once they are there as needed. Go crazy.

(We should note that Paprika also has a Pantry function that allows you to track the ingredients you have on hand, and deduct recipes from that pantry before adding it to the grocery list, but honestly we have never taken the time to inventory or keep it up to date. We generally know when we’re running low on any particular items and simply add as needed.)

Using Recipes in the Kitchen

We tend to use our iPads in the kitchen. The big screen is great and it allows us to multi-task, watch a show, or catch up on the news while we cook. Paprika has a number of useful tools built-in that make cooking easier:

  • As you work through the ingredients, tapping on it will cross it out so you know you added it.
  • There’s a pin icon on the bottom left that you can use to keep several recipes ‘active’ to easily navigate between them, without having to keep going back to your master catalog.
  • Paprika supports multiple timers, and smartly identifies times in the recipe steps, so as you are working through a recipe you can quickly set a timer.
  • You can highlight the step you are on by simply tapping that paragraph or section.
  • Paprika will allow you to scale recipes up or down, or convert units if needed.

Our Weekly Meal Planning Workflow

We tend to front-load meal planing into the weekends, when we have more time to shop and prep for the week. We think it’s important to eat together most nights, so almost always have a sit-down, traditional dinner together. Since weeknights are usually pretty hectic, we like to have all our ingredients at hand and a plan ready to go, based on who is here and how much time we will have. For weekday lunches, we will either scale up our recipes to make sure we have leftovers to take the next day to work, or sometimes we will do a big “lunch prep”on Sundays and pre-package a week’s worth of lunches ready to go.

  • Friday Night or Saturday Morning: Make the meal plan for the following week
  • Saturday or Sunday Morning: Go grocery shopping
  • Sunday Evening: Do any lunch meal prep

We’re huge fans, and find that Paprika makes cooking more fun, meal planning less stressful, and weekly grocery runs dead simple. We even gave it a as a Christmas gift this year!

Paprika costs $4.99 on the iOS and Android App Stores, $14.99 on MacOS, and $19.99 on Windows.

Related Posts

February Monthly Garden Checklist

February Monthly Garden Checklist

Things are still dark, damp and chilly here in the Seattle area, but we love February because it’s the first month where we actually start seeds. For this month’s Garden Checklist, onions and shallots are on deck, as are sweet peas, beans, and kale. Depending on […]

Cheese Press … Totally Worth It

Cheese Press … Totally Worth It

This is our second year making cheese, and we seem to be making it more often, at least once per week. Since the first of the year, we have made a sage-infused cheddar, a gouda, a gruyere, an imperial porter cheddar, and a traditional Colby. […]

1 thought on “Why We Love Paprika for Recipe and Meal Planning”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *