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What makes a good recipe app?

We all need to eat, right? Some of us like to eat more than we should, but we all need to eat to survive; it’s a basic human need. It’s no wonder then that the food and drink industry is a massive industry, and an industry that will continue to grow as the population increases.

Businesses that offer recipes, cookbooks, cooking classes, and cooking shows have historically always done well. Even with the decline of print publishing, the increase in takeaway food consumption, the variety of places to eat out and even a recession or two, the popularity of recipes continue to shine. The growing number of recipe blogs, celebrity chef cook books and reality TV cookery shows is testament to this.

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It’s not a surprise then that the food tech space has jumped on the bandwagon and very quickly produced a wide array of recipe apps. Go on, google it, you’ll see what I mean, there’s so much out there.

Given this competitive landscape how does one go about choosing the best app?

It’s simple, there is no best app. There is only the app(s) that most suit the way you like to cook.

In our household Guy does most of the day-to-day cooking. Yes, I know, total role reversal, but he loves it and is definitely a lot more adept in the kitchen than I am. He rarely uses recipes and is able to whip up an amazing meal when all I see is an empty fridge. I’m more of a baker, always trying out new things in the hope of one day finding the ultimate muffin or cheesecake recipe. I’m not amazing at it, but I enjoy it and generally (but not always) the results are enjoyable too.

Our different interests and skills in cooking make us a good team, but it would be almost impossible to find one app that we both loved and suited our different cooking styles. A recipe app that is highly regimented would be a nightmare for Guy who’s more interested in finding inspiration and learning new ways to use fresh produce. On the other hand, I’d need an app that has very detailed instructions and makes cooking easier, not more painful.

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If you’re a foodie and haven’t yet had the pleasure of experimenting with a recipe app, here’s a few questions that might help you determine what style of app will work for you:

What do you want the app for?

Is it to store your existing recipes, find new recipes, read and leave reviews about recipes, or perhaps improve your cooking skills?

How do you like to cook?

Are you happy to wing it a little or do you measure your ingredients down to the exact gram?

What types of recipes do you want?

As well as different types of cuisine there are many specialist apps including paleo, gluten free, juicing, calorie based, the list goes on. And of course your favourite celebrity chef probably has their own app.

Is the browsing experience just as good as the cooking experience?

It’s no good if you can’t find any decent recipes in the first place.

Are there videos or audio to accompany the recipes?

This is particularly good if you’re learning a new cooking technique or don’t want to have to do too much reading.

Do you want to store your own notes, recipe modifications or ingredient substitutions?

I’ve not seen this feature in many apps but it’s something I’d find useful.

Do you want a community associated with the app?

Either a social network or an online community where  you can share success stories.

Does the app provide a shopping list?

If it does, what’s the format? Make sure it’s available in a format you can have with you at the supermarket – its no good if you have to lug your laptop around!

What device(s) do you have?

Many of the apps made just for phones and/or tablets so just double check the requirements.

Are you happy to pay for an app?

Many are free with in-app purchases, but there are also quite a few paid ones on the market.

The list could go on; there are a wide array of benefits and selling points that any app could include. The question is whether those features are appropriate to the person using the app.

Regardless of the features that makes your perfect recipe app, the one thing that really makes a top-quality tool is awesome photos. Everyone with an interest in food can spend hours looking at amazing pictures of food and if the photos aren’t up to scratch then they’ll just leave and find something that does have amazing photos.

So go on, go hunt down an app or two and lose a couple of hours drooling over all the tasty things you could cook!

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