Keep grocery shopping orderly
When you're managing a horde of hungry family members, winging it at the grocery store won't suffice. Thankfully, you don't need to waste a tree to manage a shopping list anymore. App stores are overflowing with grocery checklists, but GroceryIQ is especially worth a look because it offers an integrated couponing system. As you populate your shopping list, it shows deals for particular items, arranged by aisle. You can scan bar codes to add to lists, and share lists with other people. Use the service online or download the app for iOS or Android.
If you're seeking even more collaborative grocery shopping, OurGroceries instantly syncs lists to iOS, Android, or BlackBerry smartphones. Windows Phone users can check out Shared Shopping List, a nicely organized and free app with sharing features.
Find recipes and plan meals
Planning meals is the other half of the dinnertime battle. No doubt you have some go-to recipes, but a little inspiration never hurts. Food on the Table includes fast and easy recipes organized by main component (such as beef) or type of dish (such as casserole), and it automatically creates a grocery list based on the ingredients. It populates discounts from your local grocer, and it lets you adjust recipe servings to suit your family.
Epicurious is another popular recipe-database option, with apps for nearly any mobile device. Online service Relish provides healthy, seasonal meal plans, recipes, and grocery lists for $7 per month (with Android and iOS apps).
Department of correspondence
Encourage family chatter
Staying in touch is the backbone of a strong extended family, and video chat is essential if you live far away from the grandparents. Skype is a great free option if your loved one is fairly tech-savvy and has a computer with a webcam. Or, go the old-fashioned route and pair Skype with a phone for talks sans video--you'll at least save money on long-distance calls and probably enjoy better reception. For families tied to their iDevices, FaceTime is the way to go. Large families can benefit from something like Biscotti, which attaches to an HDTV and lets you see everyone on the couch with no crowding.
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