Friday, January 14, 2011

My Favorite Recipe Sites and Tools

I wrote this recently on my Xanga Blog before I switched to here. I mentioned the other day on here how menu planning is important to my family, so I thought I would repost this blog post here also!

A couple years ago I really tried to weed out as much "convenience food" from our household as possible. I began making menu plans that included a lot of home cooked meals. I try to make as much of our meals, snacks and other things from scratch as possible. I have since found a few recipe sites that I utilize for planning our menus and snacks.

My #1 favorite site is RecipeZaar) . It is the first site I go to when looking for recipes to change up our menu or for specific recipes that I have in mind. I really like the "Cookbook" feature where I can save our favorite recipes for easy access the next time we need it. In the last year, they have also added the "send to cellphone" feature, saves on printing costs!

My #2 favorite site is SparkRecipes. SparkRecipes has lots of healthy cooking recipes. The recipes are listed by the users of the site and I have found some awesome recipes for Weight Watchers and Biggest Loser on the site. Some features of this site that I like are: Cookbook: save your favorites from the site for easy access, Share: share the recipe with friends or yourself via email, Facebook, Twitter and more. Recipe Calculator: Input ingredients from a recipe and it calculates the nutritional value of the recipe.

A couple more recipe sites that are "community based" sites and have lots of "made from scratch, like your grandma used to make" type of recipes are Tasty Kitchen and Tammy's Recipes.  Tasty Kitchen is a recipe community by the famous blogger,  Pioneer Woman. A "community based" recipe site is one where the recipes are posted by the members of the site. Members post recipes, you can "friend" other members, so when they post recipes you can get notifications and more. You are able to save favorite recipes into a "recipe box". Both of these sites are FREE to join!

I have a couple of favorite "tools" for recipes and menu planning.

First of all: Every weekend I plan a menu for the coming week using many of the sites listed above and based upon what I know my family likes. I use a word document so I can print it out and put it on the fridge for a daily reminder for the whole family and "no questions asked" about upcoming meals. Here is the document I created and use, which can be downloaded to your computer and can be edited weekly: Blank Weekly Menu Plan  Each Monday I upload my filled in Menu Plan on my blog as part of Menu Plan Monday. Very easy and simple and "old fashioned". I love it!!

ZipList is another great tool I use. Ziplist
is an FREE online Grocery store list maker/manager. It is also a menu planner and an online recipe box. There are over 300,000 recipes at Ziplist that you can search and add to your menu. It will then allow you to add the ingredients from the selected recipe to your grocery list. Once your grocery list is created you can share it with family members so they can add to it if needed. You can also send your list to your cell phone or a family members cell phone for them to do the shopping and of course it is printable. The best thing is that it is printable from any computer anywhere! They also now have "Apps" for iPhone and Android Phones.

Lastly, another favorite site of mine is My Grocery Deals. My Grocery Deals allows me to view and compare the advertised sales at my favorite local grocery stores, print my shopping list, print coupons, and much more. It is FREE to join and I love using it!!

Menu planning and Grocery shopping planning really help our family stay on track, not only with our budget but eating properly.  I usually do all my shopping for the week on one day, go alone and have a weekly budget of about $80. I am able to stay within that budget each week with the help of these recipe sites and tools! It is a wonderful thing for our family!!

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