[App Friday] Sidechef makes every day meal planning and cooking easy as pie

Sidechef aims to be your one-stop shop when it comes to homemade food. From finding the perfect recipe, meal planning, grocery shopping, and more, it aims to empower everyone to eat healthier and save money.
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‘What’s for dinner,’ begin most conversations in the afternoon. They peter out to a mumbled ‘whatever you want to make’ and unhappy faces at the dining table. 

Deciding a menu and dishing out a meal that’s appreciated turns out to be a complex task that one endures day after day. 

But, no more. 

For, Sidechef is here. 

Launched in 2014 by Kevin Yu, a former community developer at Blizzard Games, and Shanghai-based Cadence Hardenbergh, Sidechef aims to be your one-stop shop when it comes to homemade food. 

From finding the perfect recipe, meal planning, grocery shopping, and more, SideChef aims to empower everyone to eat healthier and save money. 

Sidechef offers a wide range of recipes – 18,000 and counting – and currently has more than five lakh downloads and a rating of 4.3, according to data available on the Google Play Store. The app is also available on the iOS app store. 

How does it work?

Once you download the app, Sidechef opens up with a white background user interface, giving you a quick glimpse of what the app has to offer. You can either watch the quick demo or skip it altogether. 

The app necessitates you to log in using either your Facebook or Gmail account, or by entering a new email address. Users can opt out of creating an account by clicking on the ‘SKIP’ option on the top right part of the page. 

The only drawback of not logging in is that you would not be able to use certain features, including meal planning. When this writer decided to not log in, they could only view the recipes. 

Credit: YourStory Design

After you log in, you are taken to a black-background interface with multiple recipes lined up under various categories. The top-most slides are for daily inspiration, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. 

If you scroll down further on the homepage, a ‘meal plans made easy’ category will pop up. This comprises multiple food options, followed by recipes that are trending on the app, weather-themed meals, and new releases.

Sidechef claims to have over 18,000 recipes, which can be uploaded by chefs and food bloggers. The app posts its own food content under Sidechef Originals. 

Once you have decided on a recipe, click on the food icon. This leads to another window that describes the food item in detail. 

This writer chose to make Apple Cinnamon Bliss Balls, created by The Fit Mediterranean, an Italy-based food blogger. The cook time for the recipe was 10 minutes and the dairy and gluten-free balls were made without any added sugar. 

Scroll down further for a list of ingredients and the total number of servings, which can be customised by clicking on ‘+’ or ‘-’ icons. The measurements can also be changed from tablespoons and cups to grams. 

Sidechef also has an in-built timer when a recipe asks you to use an oven. 

Each recipe includes step-by-step instructions with photos for each step, how-to videos, and voice commands. At the very beginning, there is a video of the complete recipe being made quickly so you can know what you are in for. 

Credit: YourStory Design

In case you are planning a meal and need ingredients, click on the ‘add to cart’ option and your grocery shopping list is ready. In the US, Sidechef has tied up with Walmart and Amazon, among others, who deliver these ingredients to their users. This option does not seem to be working in India - yet. 

For planning meals, one of this writer’s favourite offerings, you can go back to homepage and click on the right-most icon on the bottom bar. Here, the section is divided by days and meals can be added, removed, and swapped as per your needs. 

The verdict

This writer personally loves to cook. But deciding on menus for the week can be a pain – one tends to run out of options and inspiration. 

Sidechef is definitely my go-to app for food suggestions. The options are endless, with many easy and challenging recipes to keep the ball rolling. 

The videos in the step-by-step mode are of good quality and the voiceovers gives pretty accurate instructions. The in-built timer takes away much of the hassle of having a separate timer. 

But the meal planner has to be the biggest time saver. Not having to think about what to make each day and having the ingredients list at hand saves so much time and energy. 

Sidechef only has a slight drawback, in this writer’s opinion. The app is pretty easy to navigate but at times certain icons don’t seem to work or users might have to click at a particular spot for the function to work. 

But other than that, it’s all good. So, if you are looking for meal-time inspiration, give Sidechef a shot. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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