Online recipe organization. Maybe, like me, you're new to it. Even though I work with recipes professionally, I've been hesitant to go completely digital. I'm used to working from books. Paper is comforting to me.
So the other day, when I found I couldn't reach my desk at home — I've collected a lot of cookbooks over the years, along with files of family recipes and clippings, storing everything in the office — I had my "come to Jesus" moment. It was time to evolve.
A basic search of recipe apps and programs will turn up a ton of options. I spent the last week or so checking with colleagues and friends, and researching a number of the more popular and highly rated apps and programs on the market now.
The results were amazing. While most options will allow you to "clip" and save recipes found online, there are a number that allow you to add your own notes and photos, generate grocery lists and even compile meal-planning calendars. At least one will help you re-create your physical cookbook library online, and still others offer scanning and transcribing services to help you save all those handwritten recipes in the recipe box you inherited.
Below you'll find several favorite apps and programs, including highlights and special features. Remember that these apps are constantly evolving and may offer different features and prices.
What it does: Intuitive and easy-to-follow app for meal planning, recipe browsing, collection, creation and management. Download recipes from anywhere on the Web, and store them on Paprika. In the kitchen, the app helps you track your progress, allowing you to cross off ingredients and highlight current steps; it also helps to automatically scale ingredients and insert timers in steps. Paprika also includes a smart grocery list function to pull ingredients from a chosen recipe into a simple shopping list, along with meal plans and calendar functions. For holiday cooking, use the toolbar at the bottom to check among multiple recipes at once. Cloud Sync seamlessly synchronizes recipes, lists and meal plans between devices.
In a nutshell: A great all-around app, whether you're new to this or not.
Platforms and price: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook Color; $4.99.
What it does: Another great beginner website when transitioning to online. The library contains more than 250,000 recipes, and you can also import your own. Pro membership allows for scanning, in which you photograph your recipes and they are transcribed through OCR (optical character recognition) scanning and human deciphering; you can also enter recipes manually. Pro membership also includes Web clipping, note adding and nutrition information.
In a nutshell: Don't have the time (or desire) to manually input your mother's handwritten recipes? Use the transcription service.
Platforms and prices: Website, iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook, Windows Phone, Windows; free for basic, $2.49 a month or $19.99 a year for Pro membership.
Eat Your Books
What it does: It's your personal online cookbook library. Use the website's indexing tools to locate the cookbooks and magazines you already own, along with blogs you follow to create an online bookshelf, then use the website to quickly search for recipes — by name, ingredients, occasion, food type, ethnicity, book title or author — when you need them. You won't get the full recipe, but it will tell you which book or publication you'll find it in. Use the Bookmarklet to add any online recipe to your collection, and tag books and recipes to organize them. The website also includes a shopping list function and a forum where you can chat with other members and see their ratings on books and recipes.
In a nutshell: All my cookbooks on my phone? I'll take it!
Platforms and prices: Website; free for up to five books (and/or magazines and blogs), $2.50 a month unlimited, $25 a year unlimited.
What it does: Intuitive and easy-to-use visual tool for collecting and storing various interests, not limited to food. The idea is to "pin" — or bookmark — these ideas (recipes, foods, ingredients, etc.) to various "boards." Boards can be organized in any way, such as generic "recipes," holiday-specific courses and seasonal dishes and dietary needs. Pin recipes from anywhere on the Web to your boards, which can either be private or publicly shared with other pinners.
In a nutshell: Pretty pictures galore. I've spent hours at a time on Pinterest. I can share with anyone, and it's so easy to "pin" new recipes and ideas.
Platforms and price: Website, iPhone, iPad, Windows, Android, Kindle, Nook; free.
What it does: A great app for Evernote users that lets you organize and document both recipe and restaurant information and experiences. The app links to a number of recipe sites, and it is easy to "clip" and save recipes, then record your meals start to finish through photographs and notes. You can also save restaurants — whether places you've been to or ones you'd like to try — and use your location to find restaurants nearby. For the "foodie" who likes to document everything, it's a great way to record all your food-related adventures.
In a nutshell: Recipe organization and restaurant guide all rolled into one.
Platforms and prices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android; free for the basic app, premium is $5 a month or $45 a year.
MacGourmet, MacGourmet Deluxe
What it does: Use it to create, organize, edit and share recipes. MacGourmet also includes shopping lists and note functions. Create your own categories, and add images and notes to customize recipes. Use the Potluck feature to find recipes based on ingredients you have on hand. You can import or clip recipes from other sites, and you can scale servings as you like. MacGourmet Deluxe includes a nutrition database. The Mealplan feature generates shopping lists, menus and related plans for any meal. The Cookbook Builder allows you to create your own look, including text, image and divider pages; a table of contents template; and PDF options.
In a nutshell: I love the idea of the cookbook option, so I can create my own collections as gifts or for friends.
Platforms and prices: Apple only; $24.99 (MacGourmet software), $49.95 (MacGourmet Deluxe software), $3.99 for Gourmet (for iOS) app for iPhone or iPad.