Plan Your Next Meal with Dinner Spinner

Lately, I have been in a bit of a rut food-wise. Each week, I seem to be eating the same old meals, day in and day out, and so when browsing the App Store for a solution, it is easy to see why Dinner Spinner caught my eye.

Dinner Spinner is a free app developed by popular food website AllRecipes.com. It contains thousands of recipes that are displayed at random by simply shaking your iPhone. Sound interesting? Hit the jump to find out more.

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Shake and Bake

Dinner Spinner launches with a Wheel of Fortune-style “spinner” that must be shook to activate. Doing this will cause all three categories to randomize, resulting in a unique combination of dish type, ingredients and preparation time, along with a handful of recipes that reach that criteria.

Each recipe can be sorted by relevance, rating, title and popularity, and includes a photograph of that particular dish, along with the username of the author.

Shake your iPhone to randomize a combination.

Shake your iPhone to randomize a combination.

Although Dinner Spinner will display a sensible option most of the time, it did occasionally randomize strange combinations such as lamb for breakfast in less than 20 minutes and cookies made out of beef. Of course, there are no such recipes that cater to this criteria on AllRecipes.com, and therefore tapping View Matches is a waste of time. Perhaps this issue could be addressed in a future update.

Selecting a Recipe

Selecting a recipe from the list will display that recipe in full, in addition to other information relating to that dish like its nutritional value and user reviews from those who have tested the recipe. Rather annoyingly, however, there is an advertisement plastered across the bottom of each recipe, obscuring a large part of the screen. This advertisement can be banished by upgrading to Dinner Spinner Pro, but more on that in just a second.

Selecting a recipe from the list will display that recipe in full.

Selecting a recipe from the list will display that recipe in full.

As is common with most food related apps nowadays, all recipes within Dinner Spinner can be shared with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. It would be a welcome addition if recipes could also be pinned via Pinterest, too. Again, maybe this is something the developer could address in a future update.

Compiling a Shopping List

Dinner Spinner includes a built-in shopping list which can be added to as you browse each recipe. Every ingredient on that list is then divided into categories such as Dairy, Eggs and Milk; and Meat, Fish and Seafood for ease of use.

Dinner Spinner includes an in-built shopping list which can be added to as you browse each recipe.

Dinner Spinner includes an in-built shopping list which can be added to as you browse each recipe.

Before adding an item to your shopping list, a free AllRecipes.com account must be created. This is a quick and easy process, merely requiring a username, e-mail address, and password. Once you are a member, you will be able to rate and review any recipes you have cooked, upload a photograph of that dish, have access to the shopping list feature, and much more besides.

Search and Save

Dinner Spinner caters for all dietary needs and enables you to search its recipe database using filters such as vegan, no dairy and low sodium. You can also scan a product barcode to search for recipes including that specific ingredient, as well as view your scan history. Additionally, each recipe can be bookmarked for future use by simply tapping Add to Favorites. This will keep track of the many recipes that you intend to make, categorized alphabetically so that they are easily located.

Dinner Spinner caters for all dietary needs.

Dinner Spinner caters for all dietary needs.

User Interface

Dinner Spinner is an exceptionally easy app to navigate, requiring just a shake and a tap or two to view a recipe relating to your category combination.

Each recipe is laid out neatly, written in a plain white font set against a black background and, advertisement aside, is easily readable and simple to follow. I am aware, however, that some people have difficulty reading light text against a dark background so perhaps the option to change the color scheme would be welcome here.

Upgrading Your Account

For $2.99, you are able to upgrade your Dinner Spinner account and benefit from a number of additional features. These include the ability to search by ingredient, online recipe storage, no advertisements, and so forth.

Although these extra features are a nice touch, there is certainly no pressing need to upgrade your account, and I found the core features of the app to be more than enough for me.

The Verdict

Dinner Spinner is an excellent app for those who have hard time deciding on what to cook each evening, or any time, for that matter. It is easy to navigate, packed full of recipes, and, best of all, free to use making it accessible to everyone, whatever their budget.

One feature that came in especially useful is the ability to add ingredients from the recipe I intended to cook to my shopping list in just a single tap. Doing this saves a lot of time tediously typing each one out and minimizes the risk of accidentally skipping over an ingredient and therefore ruining a meal.

If you are a fan of AllRecipes.com or merely looking for something a little more interactive than your average cookbook, then Dinner Spinner is the app for you.


Summary

Randomize your meals by shaking your iPhone.

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