I love my iPad and with the help of a bluetooth keyboard use it as an almost complete laptop substitute. 99% of the time I use a handful of the same apps, but occasionally I find a new one which joins my fairly small list of favourite must-have apps. Last week I went hunting for a menu planning app and discovered Paprika. I have been playing with it for a few days and so far I love it.
The app has four functions, which make up the main menu: recipes, browsing, shopping list, and calendar. Everything interlinks. You can browse the internet for a recipe (it has direct links to a lot of sites, including a number of UK specific places such as BBC Food and Waitrose), copy the recipe into Paprika in a couple of "clicks" and add categories. You can also add recipes manually. Recipes can be browsed by category or searched by ingredient. They can then be added to the calendar to build up a meal plan. A single touch will either bring the recipe details up in the calendar or add the ingredients to your shopping list. You can view the ingredients first to delete any you already have so that the list only has the items you actually need to buy. Within the calendar you can move and copy recipes between days and add notes for those meals which don't need a recipe.
There is one other feature which is giving me a disproportionate amount of pleasure - multiple timers! Not only does the app give you a timer facility on the recipe screen, it allows you to set several timers simultaneously. If you need to cook chicken for twenty minutes and pasta for ten and simmer something else for five, and they are all on slightly different schedules, you can set three separate times - you can also label them chicken / pasta / sauce or whatever to avoid confusion over which timer has finished.
The app cost me £2.99, though I had to pay twice for iPad and iPhone versions. Worth doing as it syncs automatically between the two and means that menu plans and shopping lists are readily available on whichever I happen to be using. I realise this reads like an advertisement, but I am hugely impressed. I have played around with various ways of storing recipes and menu planning in the past but none have quite worked for me - Evernote probably came closest. I think this is going to be The One.