You can't trust your feelings during the first couple weeks with a new app. It can be intense — you're spending all your time with it, you're telling all your friends about it, and you're maybe even thinking this app, it completes me. But that hot-and-heavy time always comes to an end, and more often than not, all you're left with is a neglected, vaguely embarrassing reminder of how you fall for any slick new app that comes along.
But three years in, you know a committed relationship with an app is the real deal. That's how it is with me and Paprika, the recipe organizing app I first reviewed in 2013.
If you've never heard of Paprika, you can check out my full review for a rundown of the features, but basically, it is an app that helps you save and organize recipes, use them to plan weekly menus, and create shopping lists based on those menus. It was originally only available for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but they have since developed versions for Windows, Android, Kindle Fire, and Nook Color, so if you have a newfangled device of some kind, you can probably use Paprika.
Read the Review: Paprika: The Recipe Organizer App I've Been Looking For
Since my original review was published in January 2013, I have continued to use Paprika at least a few times a week, and now consider it an indispensable tool in my kitchen. If one of your goals this year is to finally find a long-term solution for recipe saving and organizing, here are a few more reasons why Paprika could be the answer.
1. It's easier to stay on track when following a recipe.
Paprika's developers have added a number of features since my first review, and I especially like the small but handy tools available when you are cooking from a recipe. You can tap on an ingredient after adding it to cross it off the list, or tap on a step in the directions to highlight it. Cook times are automatically highlighted with built-in timers that are easy to adjust if needed. There is even a simple conversion calculator that can be quickly accessed when you are in a recipe. And one of my favorite and most-used features is the automatic recipe scaling, which makes quick work of even awkward calculations like 2/3 or 1/6.
All of these small tools — along with the feature that keeps your device from going to sleep while you have a recipe open — make cooking with a screen more enjoyable and foolproof. On the rare occasion when I cook from a recipe on the web browser of my phone instead of taking the time to load it into Paprika, I always end up frantically scrolling with sticky fingers, and regretting my laziness.
2. It makes weekly meal planning and shopping a cinch.
Once you have all your recipes saved in Paprika, creating a weekly meal plan with those recipes takes just a few clicks. It's also easy to manually type in any meals or dishes that aren't based on recipes in your library, so you can just say "salad" or "roasted Brussels sprouts" without having to link it to a specific recipe.
There is an advantage to putting even the simplest recipes in your library, though — adding its ingredients to your shopping list takes just another click or two. I don't often use this feature for my weekly grocery shopping, as my husband and I have a good thing going with Grocery iQ, but I do rely on it for big meals and events, like dinner parties or holiday feasts. Speaking of which ...
3. It makes planning and cooking big meals so much easier.
My appreciation of Paprika reached a new level when I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time last year. I had a houseful of guests who all wanted to contribute a dish, so I loaded all their recipes into the app and made a master shopping list that I exported into an email and delegated out at a group trip to the grocery store. It was shockingly painless.
A new feature also allows you to "pin" recipes so you can toggle between them, which makes following multiple recipes even easier.
Adding a recipe to the grocery shopping list
4. It's easy to personalize your recipes.
I change recipes all the time to suit my tastes, the available ingredients, or cooking methods I prefer. I like how simple it is to edit a recipe in Paprika, so that I'll always have a record of the recipe the way I like it, but with a link back to the original in case I need it.
5. I don't mind paying a little more for an app that works well and is a pleasure to use.
The biggest drawback to Paprika for many readers is the price — especially since you must purchase it separately for each device. I bought it for my iPhone ($4.99) and my Mac ($19.99), which is certainly more than I typically pay for an app, but if you do the math, using it twice per week for three years brings the cost-per-use down to about eight cents. I'm more than happy to pay that amount to back a team of developers who are working hard to create and support an app that is smart, beautifully designed, and just keeps getting better.
If you're on the fence, I'd recommend spending $4.99 in the phone or tablet version, knowing that if you like it and are serious about getting all your online recipes in one place, buying the $19.99 Mac or Windows app will be the next step.
Do you use Paprika? Any tips for making the most of it?
(Image credits: Anjali Prasertong)