Planning and cooking a meal lies in figuring out who your audience is (yourself, your wife/husband, Mom, a roomful of friends, or Bobby Flay). The level of detail and attention that preparing a home-cooked meal entails will vary depending on who you are trying to impress but one element remains the same: it’s a process. In this post, I’m going to tell you about how I plan meals, create grocery lists, and cook — using Evernote.
I tend to attack at least a few recipes a week that require step-by-step instructions and a few ingredients I probably don’t have at home. For a weeknight dinner, I might do something as simple as pan searing a piece of fish and roasting a few vegetables on the side. Weeknights, particularly when I’m having friends over for dinner, I’ll put together an actual menu: an appetizer, main, side dish, and dessert. This requires some additional research and planning. I have Evernote installed on my work computer (a Mac), my second home computer (also a Mac), my Android phone and my iPad, so no matter where I am — at work, on the couch, in the kitchen, at the grocery store, or on the train — I have access to my recipes, grocery lists and notes.
Here is how I go about planning out and cooking a delicious meal:
- Ongoing capture of recipes and recipe inspiration.
I feverishly clip from the web using the Evernote browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. I clip recipes from my favorite food blogs (like 101cookbooks, The Year in Food, A Sweet Spoonful, Dula Notes, shutterbean, Smitten Kitchen, Joy the Baker, Not Without Salt and Sprouted Kitchen) as well as resource and magazine sites like Epicurious.com, Bon Appetit and Saveur. I like to grab the recipe along with an image or two. If the accompanying post is something I might want to remember, I clip that as well. I’m not super organized about my recipes. I tag them as ‘recipes,’ ‘main,’ ‘dessert’ or my favorite: ‘breakfast.’
- Saving photos of handwritten and printed recipes.
The web is a wealth of information when it comes to recipes, but I love a good old fashioned cookbook or magazine. I’ll often snap a photo of a recipe from a cookbook and save it in Evernote to remind myself to make it later. My mom is a fabulous cook, but she rarely writes down her recipes, so when I get her to write something down — on a piece of scrap paper — I now take a photo of it to search for it later. Evernote can search for text inside of an image so Mom’s Beet Salad doesn’t get lost in my kitchen drawers.
- Narrowing down the recipe search.
Search is one of Evernote’s most powerful features. Within seconds, I can narrow down hundreds of recipes into a handful. I can compare them visually to figure out which one I want to go with. A search for ‘drinks’ and/or ‘party’ brings up all of the recipes tagged as such. A search for ‘chicken’ finds every recipe with chicken as an ingredient. If I search for ‘Mom,’ I’ll find the recipes my mom has shared with me. From there, I might look in my pantry and decide I really want to use some dried beans I recently purchased. I can search for beans and see all of the recipes containing the word ‘beans.’ Sometimes I’m drawn to a recipe by name, sometimes, by image.
- Choosing the recipe, preparing the grocery list.
Once I’ve decided on what I’m making, I’ll create a new note titled, “Grocery list.’ I often delete my grocery lists after I’m done with them. If I’m at my desk, I’ll create a checklist, but if I’m on the train, I’ll just jot down the items I remember into my phone. When I’m at the store — even if it’s a last minute pit stop — I always have the grocery list and the full recipe with me.
- The real fun: cooking.
Back home, I bring my iPad into the kitchen, pull up the recipe in Evernote and start cooking!
- Documenting the experience.
When I’ve made something, I like to note whether it was tasty, and if I’d make it again. If a recipe is a complete fail, I delete it from my Evernote. But if it could be made better, I make a note of it for the future.
There you have it: planning and cooking a meal with Evernote.
Do you have any tips for organizing recipes, planning and cooking a meal with Evernote? We’d love to hear them in the comments.