Tuesday, September 13, 2011

{Tech Tuesday} Making Menus with SayMmm

I am not an OCD person. Step into my house on any given day and you will identify me as any type of person but Type A. However, there are a few things in my life that I am obsessively perfectionist about, and one of those things is the software I use on a daily basis. If something isn't just right, I keep looking and looking until I find exactly what I want.


One of my biggest technological and organizational headaches has always been storing recipes. I am definitely of the new-school way of cooking -- no cookbooks for me! I almost exclusively use online recipes. I love finding recipes rated highly by hundreds of people; they rarely let me down! I also like to be able to easily edit, sort, search, and "resize" (# of servings) my recipes. But where do I keep them??? Print them off, never to be seen again except when I (maybe) annually clean out that kitchen drawer? Make a binder that is so bulky and cumbersome that I never actually get it out? Save my allrecipes.com recipes in my allrecipes.com recipe box... on allrecipes.com? But what about my food.com recipes? Email myself recipes and drag my laptop in the kitchen only to forget what recipes we really loved? (...except there must have been one with alfredo sauce, because I think I see some on my space bar...)  !!!!!! You see my problem.

So when I came across (the free) SayMmm several months ago, I was hopeful (because I always am about new technology), but my expectations were fairly low. I am happy to say, however, I have found a system I love, and I have not strayed! I want to share with you how I make menu-making easier with SayMmm.

(By the way, this is not a paid endorsement. SayMmm does not know who I am, or that I am writing this review.)

First of all, I want to say that starting a whole new system for something as big as your recipes is a somewhat monumental task, and it does require some work up front. But I have found this system to be so much easier in the long run. When you are making your menus in the future, you will appreciate that initial data-entering effort!

So let's walk through a typical recipe-finding experience. Say I have found a highly-rated recipe on Allrecipes (my favorite), and I want to save it for later. The first step on SayMmm is to save the recipe. This is no different than many other similar websites. I typically like to read reviews and see if I might want to adjust the original recipe based on the suggestions (I usually do). Under the "Link" tab, I also include the link to the original recipe for attribution, as well as reference should I need it.

I save the recipe and come to one of my favorite features of SayMmm -- the shopping list feature! I know a lot of sites offer automatically-generated shopping lists, but they always include every ingredient. Let me tell you, we never run out of garlic powder at my house (since I always have extra on hand! ;-), and I don't need it on my list 4 times. SayMmm lets you decide which ingredients you will need to put on your list, and also a "check your pantry" section. These items don't go on your list unless you click on them when making your list. You'll see that later. OH. And SayMmm automatically categorizes by department for you. Yes, please. Thank you. This is also the screen where I select the categories the recipe belongs under (these can be customized).

Saved. So now it's Sunday, and I am making my menu for the week. Clicking on the "Plan" tab brings me to a calendar of the week ahead, with "Cook" and "Dine" options. When I click Cook > My Ideas, a popup presents me with my saved meals, recipes, and places (for eating out). I am going to add my new beef and barley soup recipe. I also have saved my favorite cornbread recipe, and I will add that now as well for those non-dieters in my house. And just to torture myself I guess. The soup has vegetables in it, so I'm done! This is my very favorite thing about SayMmm (have I already said that?) -- you save meals, not just recipes! Now, next time I want to cook this soup, I won't have to think of any sides to go along with it! (Sides are my nemesis.)

As I fill out my week, I can look at my "Meals" tab in the popup. I will then relish in the satisfaction that I have so many whole meals already saved! I can quickly fill out the week, and I'm ready to go shopping!

Under the "Shop" tab, I am going to create a shopping list based on the dates I am planning for.

Now is the time that I will check my pantry for any items that I normally have on hand. These items are listed in the right-hand column. If I am missing any, I simply have to click the item and it is added to my list. At the bottom are any items on my menu that are not associated with recipes -- sides mostly. I also have saved checklists of common foods we eat, and I can add them with a quick click. I'm telling you, once you do this a few times, it is fast and so comprehensive.

Now I can either print my list...

or view it on my iPhone (I'm sure this works on any modern phone with a browser).

When it comes time to cook, I can either print my recipes (poor trees!), view them on my iPhone...

...or my favorite way, on my Kindle. :-)

Ok! I realize that was a LOT of information! And SayMmm actually has so many more features that I didn't even touch on! I can also promise you that, just like with anything in technology, it's not as complicated as it looks all written out like this. Just give it a try! Or drip alfredo sauce on that print out and blur the ink. Your choice. :D

Do you have any technology questions you'd like covered in the Tech Tuesday feature? Questions about one of our articles? Email me at tech {at} defrumpme.com.

I'm also linking up at Menu Plan Monday, Tutorials and Tips Tuesday at Home Stories A2Z, and TipJunkie.

Tip Junkie handmade projects