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MealSteps

MealPlan has always been about making the weekly task of planning meals as easy as possible.  A big part of meal planning is groceries, and I added that a couple of versions back.  Another part of meal planning is choosing meals.

MealPlan keeps track of meals you've added, and is really optimized for day-to-day meals that typically don't vary that much.  Around my home, we have 20 or so go-to meals that we reuse frequently, and we don't follow a recipe when making them.

But sometimes you do want to find a recipe and use it.  To help with this, MealPlan recently added a built-in web browser that you can use to find recipes, and a unique "Drag to Add" capsule that you can use to drag the recipe from the web browser right into a meal slot.

The least fun part about using MealPlan is when you've added a recipe, you need to add the groceries required for this recipe.  I've looked at attempting to parse the grocery list out of the web page, but that's an incredibly difficult problem.  

I'm tackling this problem from two angles.  

I've had a recipe database that I've been building and running for years, that I've just moved to a new home at mealsteps.com.  The MealSteps site has over a hundred thousand recipes that I've collected from various sources that identified them as public domain.  I've built up a list of rules and heuristics that I've applied to the recipes to extract ingredient and grocery lists, and have a sizeable subset of those recipes "tagged" with grocery lists.  

add-from-mealsteps.png

And I've integrated this right into MealPlan.  Now in MealPlan, when you use the web browser to find a recipe on the MealSteps site, and you drag that meal into MealPlan, it comes with a grocery list!  (That's what the paperclip on the "Drag to Add" capsule means).

This is great if you can find the recipe you want on MealSteps, but I don't expect you to use MealSteps to find all your recipes.  You can still find a recipe online anywhere and drag it into MealPlan, or type in your own recipes.  And when you do, MealPlan will now be able to share that data with the MealSteps site, so that other folks can benefit from the work you put into adding a grocery list for that recipe.

These new features don't get in the way at all of the core workflow, which is still as streamlined as it always was.  But for those cases where you need to find a recipe online, this can be a significant time saver.

I can't promise a release date yet but this is coming soon.  If you have any comments please drop me a note, I'd love to hear what you think.