As some of you may know, I absolutely adore collecting recipes. While I may often be too lazy or busy to actually use these recipes, I like having them around for “someday” (or I bully Mr Anderson into making them for me). Either way, cooking apps were a big draw for me, and there are LOTS of free ones to choose from. I’ve already weeded out a couple (such as the How to Cook Everything App…it looked really good, but I wasn’t interested in the majority of the recipes, and those I did like the sounds of were fairly common and I could find them anywhere) but here are the ones that are sticking around, for a while at least.
10. Cooking: AllRecipes, BigOven, Epicurious, Recipes, Pepperplate, Top Chef U
Okay, phew, that list looks HUGE. But really, the first four are all really just recipes apps. I’m going to do my best to sort out their similarities and differences for you, in case you’d rather have just one recipe app. Starting with AllRecipes: it’s a nice little app, lots of great recipes, but you can’t save or ‘favorite’ them without upgrading to a premium account. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever find that recipe again – simply email to to yourself, like I do. (You can always share to Facebook and Twitter as well, but I don’t like doing that until I’ve already vetted the recipe.) And since I already have a giant recipe folder in my email anyway, it’s not all that inconvenient for me. (But keep reading – I have an alternative to saving recipes in your email, but I’ll get to that later.) Anyway, if you’re looking for a specific kind of recipe, AllRecipes allows you to sort by ingredients, course (breakfast, lunch, etc.), method (baking, roasted, stir fry), and cooking time. That’s just when you’re looking for inspiration – if you want a more specific search, that function allows you to list ingredients you either want to include or avoid as well as dietary restrictions (vegan, no dairy, low sodium, etc.).
If you’re really not keen on the idea that AllRecipes doesn’t allow you to save without upgrading (but seriously, wait for my alternative before you write it off entirely), BigOven and Epicurious both allow you to ‘favorite’ recipes so you can easily find them later. Both apps also allow you to create grocery lists – you can add your recipes to the list so it automatically creates a shopping list of the ingredients you’ll need. What’s also neat – you can email or share not only the recipes you found, but the grocery lists. (So if I make a grocery list, I could email it over to Mr Anderson and he could pick up the groceries for me.)
Both BigOven and Epicurious have really neat categories that could help point you in the right direction and provide inspiration. Some of BigOven’s categories include Worlds of Flavor Rice Dishes and Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners; Epicurious has categories such as Summer Desserts, Weekend Brunch, and Lunches Kids Love.
Both apps have decent search features – on BigOven, you can search by keyword, course, and ingredients to include (ingredients to exclude and dietary restrictions are premium features). The Epicurious search options are far more extensive – you can search based on the main ingredient, course, cuisine, dietary needs, type of food (ex., frozen dessert, soups/stews, or bread), and season/occasion.
The only other feature that sets BigOven apart is its “use up leftovers” search – you can list up to three ingredients that are already in your pantry or fridge and BigOven will suggest recipes you could make. For example, I searched applesauce, balsamic vinegar, and chicken (which to me sounds like a tasty combination) and it gave me the recipe for Balsamic Glazed Chicken Tenders. Sounds delish!
And then we get to the Better Homes and Gardens Recipes app. It comes with over 500 free recipes, and then allows users the option to purchase more recipe categories (such as casseroles, cookies and bars, and Mexican) for $0.99 each (that amounts to less than one cent per recipe). Just like BigOven and Epicurious, you can save your favorites for later, email or share recipes, make shopping lists (and email those, too), and search recipes (this time by keywords and cooking time). But, BHG has include a couple cool options: there is an in-app timer, so while you have one of the recipes pulled up to cook, you don’t have to exit the app to set a timer; even better, if any of the ingredients have special cooking instructions, you can tap the ingredient name and a little pop-up gives helpful hints. Now you can cook like a pro, every time!
Okay, so now that those are covered (finally!), I want to talk about Pepperplate. This is not like the above apps – it is not a recipe database, but instead a place where you can collect recipes from various other sources so that they’re all in one place. So remember earlier when I said not to write-off AllRecipes just because it didn’t allow you to save recipes to an in-app collection? Pepperplate to the rescue! Any of the recipes you find on AllRecipes, Epicurious, and Better Homes and Gardens can be added to one master recipe box on Pepperplate. So, if you’ve found a recipe you like on AllRecipes and have emailed it to yourself, there is a link at the bottom of that email that will pull open the recipe on the AllRecipes website. From here, you have two options: either you can open up Pepperplate.com and input the URL of the recipe to add it to your collection, or you can install the Pepperplate bookmarklet which will add the recipe to your collection with one click. Pepperplate works with many other recipe websites, so soon you’ll have an extensive collection from all over the internet saved in one convenient place. While I only know how to import from the Pepperplate website/bookmarklet (I don’t think there is a way from the app), the website and the app automatically sync, so you will always have your collection with you.
You can also make menus and add them to your planner so you can plan out whole weeks of meals. Like the above apps, Pepperplate also allows you to add recipes to your shopping list. However, I much prefer this shopping list to the ones provided by the other apps because you can easily add ingredients for just everyday shopping and it’s all conveniently combined – love it! To better organize your recipe collection, Pepperplate lets you sort your recipes into categories and mark your favorites.
Okay, last but not least, I want to briefly mention Top Chef U. This app provides lessons from the Top Chefs on subjects such as knife skills, working with specific vegetables, and herbs and spices. Some of these lessons even come with recipes. Here’s the catch: the free app download only comes with lessons for the basics; everything else costs money (yet another reason to suggest iTunes gift cards from my family for Christmas). Maybe this app doesn’t float your boat, but I think it’s probably the cheapest way to become a really good home chef. I’ve always struggled with my knife skills, and it’s not like I’m heading to Le Cordon Bleu any time soon, so I greatly appreciate this app.
Wow, that took a lot to get through. I hope this helps you choose one or more cooking apps for your iPad, if that’s what you’re into. See you guys tomorrow – I’ll be discussing health and fitness apps! Bye!
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