In the fast-paced world of foodservice, time is limited and in high demand. Sifting through paper recipes or hard-copy cookbooks can suck up precious hours of menu planning and preparation time. Luckily, the technology revolution has come to the rescue! Check out this guide to computerized recipe managers to find which time-saving solution is right for your kitchen.
1. BigOven— BigOven offers a host of features for organizing your own recipes and discovering new ones. With an integrated shopping feature that automatically converts the recipes you select into simple grocery lists sorted by aisle/department, it can save you an immense amount of time. Trying to use up some old inventory? If you type just three ingredients into the “Use up Leftovers” area, BigOven will search its database and suggest recipes from your personal collection and its larger online archive.
To create a custom system of folders to organize recipes, however, requires the Pro membership, valued at $1.99/month or $19.99/year. This also includes nutrition filters, which can help with menu planning for a variety of dietary needs.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows Phone
2. Epicurious— Epicurious is not only a system for storing your own recipes, but also provides access to more than 30,000 others. Recipes are accompanied by photos, making it easy to quickly scroll through a list and find a particular dish. While recipes are searchable by name and ingredients, this program favors a category-centric structural approach, grouping entries by characteristics such as theme, season, and preparation type. Like BigOven, it also has an incorporated shopping list feature, although Epicurious’s is more simplistic.
Though the basic cooking app is free, Recipe Box Sync—a feature that gives users the ability to transfer recipes across devices and share grocery lists with friends or colleagues—comes with a $1.99 price tag. Additional features such as voice-recognition searching and a tabbed, full-screen cookbook view are available depending on the device platform.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, B&N Nook Color, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire
3. MasterCook— MasterCook seamlessly melds the traditional cookbook with computerized recipe storage for an intuitive, friendly interface. When adding recipes to your MasterCook database, you have the option to customize each with personal notes or serving ideas. You may then configure these entries into cookbooks, developing an organizational system that best suits your kitchen. With a subscription ($9.99 for one year), cookbooks can even be shared with coworkers for easy collaboration.
While the mobile apps are limited, MasterCook’s desktop software offers an even more extensive set of features, including robust cost assessment, nutritional analysis, pantry inventory (including purchase and expiration dates), easy-to-use printing templates for cookbooks or recipes, and an ingredient substitution tool.
Available for: Windows desktop, iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch/Android (app)
4. Shop’NCook— Both of Shop’NCook’s tiers of service supply the essential basic tools: recipe editing, an organizational system (based on cookbooks), and integrated shopping lists. However, only the Pro version offers nutritional analysis, recipe costing, and price optimization. Online subscriptions for additional synchronization between devices and the ability to add recipes from pictures through OCR are available for a monthly fee.
While Shop’NCook is equipped with a wide range of highly useful tools, it is important to note that it also has the potential to cost significantly more than some other alternatives. With desktop versions of Menu and Pro programs priced at $49.95 and $189, respectively and online subscriptions at $4.20 and $12.50 per month, make sure you fully investigate this product before buying to make sure it is the best option for your situation.
Available for: Windows/Mac (desktop), and apps on most mobile devices (including Android, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, and more).
5. Microsoft Excel— If you are hesitant to rely on a mobile app or internet-dependent system, a simple Microsoft Excel template might be just what you need. This program can make complex calculations behind the scenes while presenting your recipe in a basic, no-frills format. Plus, using Excel means you can organize your recipes using your computer’s native folder/file system. Just make sure you use the same template for all recipes and save them all in the same place; otherwise you may not be able to relocate your hard work!
Some websites with Excel templates you can download: