One Saturday morning as I was roaming around Moss Street Market with a couple friends when we got to talking about recipe apps on the iPhone. This got me thinking … how many free recipe apps are there? What makes an app good?
My buddy Adam wants to be able to search for recipes by ingredients on hand. I want an app that allows me to build a grocery list. So hunting I went.
For years I have been a fan of Allrecipes.com because I can search by multiple ingredients on hand. That way I can find recipes that use up whatever needs to be used up in my kitchen. But that’s not all! It also allows for ingredients you DON’T want to use thus filtering out recipes that have ingredients one might be allergic to (I have allergy issues).With allrecipes.com as my idea of good functionality the other important issue was cost – I wanted FREE. There’s no way I was paying for an app; that’s just how I am. Now I can’t review ALL the free recipe apps as there are a fair number. I looked about over a dozen apps that appeared to be recipe search apps.
Probably won’t surprise you that the first app I was excited about was the allrecipes.com app. Unfortunately my excitement dwindled quickly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun app if you’re the type of cook that likes to gamble. Allrecipes.com came up with the Dinner Spinner. There are three wheels – Dish Type, Ingredients and Ready In; shake the iPhone and the wheels spin; whatever falls down the center of all three wheels is what type of recipes you’ll end up with. It is possible to lock a wheel – I like to lock it on Ready in 45 mins or less or sometimes Soup/Stew but I’m a lazy, moody cook. Despite having this app for over a year, I rarely use it and when I do, it’s generally for entertainment not recipe hunting.Adam seemed happy with the Epicurious app. I was shocked that the ingredient search was limited to one specified ingredient – Allrecipes.com allows for up to four desired ingredients as well as four undesired ingredients. What I did like is the selection for filtering recipes in the search – Main Ingredient, Meal/Cuisine, Dietary Consideration, Dish Type and Season or Occassion. Within each filtering option were further sub-categories to refine a search quickly. It also had the lovely shopping list feature I’m a fan of. Betty Crocker was next. Finally an app where I can enter more than one ingredient on hand! Unfortunately they only allow for two ingredients. The app also allows for browsing by ingredient with quite the extensive list of ingredients. Once delicious recipes are located they can be added to favourites for easy reference next time. What irked me about this app is that the coupon function is just for American stores. Seriously, an app bought from the Canadian iTunes Store should either have Canadian coupon options or just remove that option entirely. One that caught my attention and turned out to have great functionality was the Woman’s Day Cooking Assistant. From the “Featured” screen there are articles on various culinary topics with related recipes. The search function had the standard one ingredient search with ability to filter – the “Budget” and “Quick & Easy” options being my favourites. There was also a shopping list & favourite option. The function that made this app better than others was the assistant part; the “Tips & Tools” screen. From here there is a variety of information such as “Cooking Time Calculator” to figure out how long you need to cook various types of meat along with a “Herbs & Spice Dictionary” to help season things perfectly. The final one for this blog was from Spark Recipes. This one is for the health conscious cook. The search function allowed for filtering by number of calories per serving, dietary – needs such as vegetarian, lactose or gluten free – and prep time. Users can also search for recipes by category, course, cuisine, dietary needs or occasion. What really sets this app apart from the others is that each recipe has the nutritional value calculated for those watching their calorie, fat or sugar in take.
These were the top four apps I liked. I had an opportunity to play with a friend’s android and discovered that the Sparks Recipes and Epicurious apps were available for that platform. Unfortunately none of my crackberry friends would let me check their available apps.
Happy recipe hunting!