Lesson Learned #1: Meals, Planning and Big Oven

As many of you know, up until May I had been living on my own for nearly 10 years. That means I didn't really cook. I typically didn't have a reason to deep clean, and I of course did not have kids to contend with.

I had quite a bit of catching up to do. That is the inspiration for the next mini series: Lessons Learned. I don't have a mom to call when I don't know what to do, but thankfully I friends, Google, and the Google play store to help me out.

Lesson #1: Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping

When Mark and I moved in together, I decided that we were going to start eating healthy. We would have actual home cooked meals.

I actually succeeded at that right from the start. Honestly, we have both lost weight since we moved in. Most of that was from just changing our diets and eating habits.

Every Sunday we would sit down with all my cookbooks (and some online resources too), and make our menu for the week. From that we would make our grocery list.This worked, but the list wasn't really well organized. Trying to find items was sometimes difficult.

I tried a few other meal planner apps on my phone and on my Nook Tablet, but I was not impressed. Then I tried Big Oven.

At first, I was just using it for the recipes. It has over 250,000 you can choose from, plus you can add your own. The basic app is free, but you can upgrade to Pro for $20 a year.

That extra $20 lets you have access to all the parts of the app. You can make your menu plan. You can adjust the number of servings you need. (IE if it a recipe for 4 you can have it make it into a recipe for 2 or 6). While I love both of those features, my favorite has to be the grocery list maker.

Once I have added a recipe to my meal plan, I can click on add to grocery list. All the ingredients will come up. It will give you the option to delete the things already have on hand (IE: we almost always already have eggs, chicken broth, and garlic in the kitchen) or that are covered by other recipes already on the list. You can also manually add things you need (but aren't in the recipes) to your list.

Once your list is made it will sort it by department. That makes grocery shopping so much easier. When I am in the produce section, I can see exactly what I need from that section. It makes shopping so much easier.

Now it isn't perfect. The grocery list sorter sometimes miss categorizes things. Diet Dr Pepper, somehow ends up in spices. If it asks for a can of soup, it may end up in canned goods instead of soups. However, those hiccups are few and far between. The only thing I really wish it *did* have is a way to sync the menu planner to my Google Calendar.

I have the app on my phone and on my Tablet. I also access their web site on my laptop. I use the phone app while I am shopping instead of printing a list. It is a great fit for us.

Comments

Steve Murch said…
Thanks so much! I'm the founder and CEO of BigOven.

Please jot any miscategorizations you see in the grocery list to support@bigoven.com and we'll take care of them right away -- it's fairly easy to train the system to recognize items.

We agree on Google Calendar -- it's on our list of features to look into in the future... thanks!
Steve Murch said…
Hi again Jennifer,

Just a note that I've updated Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper for you -- it's now properly in "Beverages". Thanks!

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