Saint Louis University

martha blogLet's face it; we all can't be Martha Stewart (despite our best efforts). Cooking multiple dishes for one meal, with hopes that they all finish within enough time of each other to still be palatably hot, is daunting and nearly impossible if years of experience or a culinary degree have not preceded this cooking frenzy. In my pitiful experience, I find that if one dish is not burnt, another is underdone. Compound these traumatic experiences over time, and anyone would be left feeling terrified to host a dinner party or partake in any multitasking that revolves around a cook top.

With Thanksgiving behind us, but more winter holidays ahead, I look to the stars hoping I will not be forced to reattempt the art of polygamy in the kitchen. What if there was a mini Bobby Flay who told me when to cook every dish so that they all finished in synchrony? What if this bitty Bobby also gave me tips on how to chop obscure vegetables or pick the best cut of meat? If only there was an app (or a mini Bobby) for that. Alas! There actually is! (the app, not the Bobby)


May I introduce to you the free app, CookingPlanIt.

I am not exaggerating when I say; you will fall in love with this app. The most notable feature is that it coordinates all of the dishes in your meal to finish at the same time. A pre-generated meal with thoughtfully paired sides can be used, or you can create your own meal using their recipes. I chose "Double Date Dinner" featuring herb-roasted filet of beef with horseradish cream, rosemary scalloped potatoes, and haricot verts with almonds. Hand me a napkin to dab the drool from my chin.

Once you have picked your meal, you can import the ingredients into your grocery basket with one simple click. The most fantastic part about the grocery basket is that the list is displayed as photographs of the ingredients and kitchen equipment needed. Check off the pictures as you go. No more googling haricot vert in the middle of a busy produce isle; the Jimmy Johnson's of the supermarket will thank you. This smart app also compiles the ingredients from all the recipes into one grocery list. If the same ingredient is used twice, it will combine the amount from both recipes so that you know how much is needed for the entire meal. No more confusion when one recipe is in grams and the other in cups.

Once you are home with your ingredients and ready to cook, simply press "Get Started" and the app will take the current time and extrapolate exactly when to start each step. If you are like myself, and seem to get your hands messy regardless of what you are cooking, tell the app to "move on" and it will seamlessly guide you through every step leaving your smart phone free of a buttery screen protector. When there is a lull in the cooking or preparation process, the app prompts you to take a break and enjoy a glass of wine. This is a winning feature in my book.

I have yet to try any recipes from this angel of an app, but they all look incredible. The worries of holiday cooking can rest in peace, leaving nothing but gumdrops and eggnog on our minds. Happy Holidays!

Disclaimer: Although I think this app is splendid, it does have its drawbacks. Personal recipes cannot be added, and the library of recipes is limited on the free version. There is, however, a version for $2.99 with more recipes.