Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WoW: AllRecipes (my favorite things #4)

typography canvas by tenderbeasts on etsy
Up this week as my favorite thing... AllRecipes! (see my other favorite things here: #1, #2, #3)

I don't mind cooking dinner most nights. But I *hate* planning a menu every week. As a consequence, we often eat the same things over and over again, including multiple times in the same week. And because I hate menu planning, I tend to not buy the ingredients for normal meals in my weekly grocery shopping trips... instead I just buy what's on sale and then, as I start dinner prep, I try and figure out how to use them.

Now, this isn't really a meal planning strategy I'd suggest, but if you ever find yourself in the same boat (especially if that boat is springing a leak as the dinner hour rapidly approaches), try my secret weapon: AllRecipes.

I've told you a bit about AllRecipes before, but today I wanted to review some of my favorite features of the site. (And, again, I'm not compensated in any way for sharing my love of AllRecipes with you. :)

With my aforementioned shopping and menu planning habits, I often find myself looking in the fridge or pantry and wondering what I can make from x and y and z (such as, cabbage and ground beef and cream cheese). Instead of having to get creative on my own (which usually ends up only moderately edible), I can hop on AllRecipes and use the ingredient search to find multiple recipes using those ingredients.

As an added bonus, I can also specifically exclude recipes that call for ingredients I don't have (like boullion cubes... for some reason I *never* have bouillion cubes) or that my family won't eat (I'm looking at you, cream of mushroom soup).

Most recipe sites have some way to save recipes that you want to try, but AllRecipes recipe box lets you save and rate recipes, plus add notes to the saved recipes, plus categorize your saved recipes, plus create and save menus from your saved recipes, PLUS create a shopping list of recipe ingredients. That's a lot of pluses! And all those pluses come together in the menu planner -- drag and drop your recipes for the day/week and the menu planner creates your shopping list for you. {angels singing}

**Please note that to take full advantage of some features, such as saving menus, you must be a supporting member of AllRecipes = paying a small monthly fee. I am not a supporting member, but there are still plenty of free features!

For as much Food Network and Iron Chef America as I've watched, I still have very few talents in the kitchen (unless you count balancing a spoon on my nose or withstanding the burning smell that comes every time I turn on the stove). So, I often need some help learning a new technique or troubleshooting a problem I'm having. The tools and tips section of AllRecipes proves very helpful -- I can now cook scrambled eggs and mince garlic without hurting anyone (myself included).

AllRecipes is a site created primarily by its members, so you have the benefit of having many other home and gourmet cooks right in your kitchen... if your computer is in your kitchen. ;) You can read other reviews and tips, see other cooks' versions of a recipe, and ask questions in the forum. Because it's always more fun to cook with a friend!

Happy cooking!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.
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