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The Et Cetera

Must-have apps to sharpen your culinary skills



With the holidays comes the dreadful dilemma most people face every day: “What am I going to eat?” A question so simple yet profoundly difficult to answer. But worry no more— we’ve got you covered with five fantastic apps available through the App Store or Google Play to answer the age-old question for you.

Whether your concern is budget, ease, health, flavor or time, there are solutions for everyone. The apps are easy to navigate and all but one are free of charge. It’s time to dust off those pots and pans and start using them. 

  1. Allrecipes Dinner Spinner

This app allows you to select personal preferences in a wide variety of categories, such as budget, cooking, healthy meals and every type of cuisine you can think of. Simply browse through the extensive selection of recipes and choose any dish that makes you salivate.

Each recipe comes with written instructions, a short video tutorial, a list of each ingredient you need and the nearest store that has everything in stock. As you choose more dishes for the week, the app recognizes previous selections and tailors a shopping list for you.

Try this for dinner: Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (25 minutes)

  • EatThisMuch

This app is an automatic meal planner. You provide information about your height, weight, age, gender, diet and nutrition goals, and the app will determine the number of calories you need. Then it categorizes the calories into the exact amount of carbs, fat and protein you need to stay healthy.

The free version will generate a daily meal plan including breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Each meal suggestion can be easily replaced by swiping left to make another appear, much like Tinder. If you would like more advanced options, you can subscribe to the premium version for $9 a month or just $5 a month with an annual membership.

The premium feature suggests a weekly meal plan along with a tailored grocery list at the cheapest cost. The final benefit of premium is leftover Sunday. The app will analyze what you have left over from your grocery haul and create recipes that utilize all of it.

Try this for dinner: Turkey Taco Salad (20 minutes)

  • Slow Cooker Recipes

This app is perfect for busy students on the go, with countless recipes for your choice of beef, chicken or pork. If you don’t have a slow cooker, Target sells one for the very low price of $9.99. Select your recipe, throw in all the ingredients and enjoy your meal six hours later.

For anywhere from 99 cents to $1.99 you can access more recipes on this app including Mexican dishes and soups.

Try this for dinner: Beef Barley Vegetable Soup (six hours)

  • Spoonacular

This app contains a wealth of information about each recipe. It breaks down a recipe into macro and micronutrients, level of difficulty, price point for all ingredients and more. There are various settings to customize your meal planning experience. You can pick and choose which areas you would like focus on, such as specific diet types, meal preferences, time of day you prefer your meals and your budget. It features a great recipe of the day for those adventurous experimenters.

The app also breaks down recipes into price per serving. One of the coolest features is the food journaling option. Simply fill in information about your daily meals and the app will keep track of your nutrient intake over a period of time and advise you on options for meals that contain nutrients you might be lacking. Who needs a nutritionist when you can download Spoonacular?

Try this for dinner: Turkey Noodle Soup (30 minutes)

  • Yummly Pro – $4.99/month

This app is interactive and will guide you through each recipe with a chef who specializes in the type of cuisine you select. It takes into account so many different things from likes and dislikes, cuisine preferences, allergies, diet goals and even the level of your cooking skills. Based on these criteria it will suggest recipes for you in the “Just for You” section.

Each recipe begins with a picture of how the dish is meant to look upon completion. What’s more, the app recommends certain kitchen supplies to purchase for the sake of making your life easier. The fact that you can pick recipes based on skill level is a serious plus for the novice while the advanced cook can experiment with intricate recipes. Seriously, need I say more?

Try this this for dinner: Korean Short Rib Taco (20 minutes)

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