Each time I hear of the latest and greatest food app, I rush to my phone to download it, only to use it once and never click it again. Food is a very personal thing, so making a food-related app that has universal appeal is a challenge. And finding a food app that works for you can be just as difficult. Here are five food apps just about anyone can use and enjoy (plus five more just for fun):
1. How to Cook Everything by Culinate
This five-star iPhone app is based on Mark Bittman’s award-winning and invaluable cookbook, “How to Cook Everything.” When you download the How To Cook Everything app, you get all 2,000 recipes, 400 illustrations, and tips on equipment, meal planning and more. (There’s even a version for vegetarians.) Like most cooking apps, this one allows you to search and browse recipes, make a shopping list and share your favorites on Facebook and Twitter. As for unique features, the built-in timers for each step of the recipes are extremely useful, and they work even when the app isn’t running. Since all the information is embedded in the app, you can access it anytime. There’s an iPad-optimized version available for $9.99 and a free How To Cook Everything Essentials app that includes 102 recipes, compared to the paid app’s 2,000. How To Cook Everything – named Bon Appétit’s Top Food and Cooking App in Fall 2011 – is well worth the cost for both experienced cooks and kitchen newcomers.
Other handy cooking apps: Ratio, Egg Timer
2. Top Shelf by Affogato LLC
Top Shelf is an easy-to-use iPhone app that allows you to search for drinks based on categories like Classics, Cocktails, Shots, Frozen, etc., as well as by ingredient. (There’s even a pretty good selection of non-alcoholic drinks to choose from.) You can also keep a list of your personal liquor cabinet and Top Shelf will tell you what you can make using what’s on hand. Each drink recipe is customizable, so if you want your Amaretto Sour without the cherry garnish and with a little less sour mix, you can edit the recipe and make notes before saving to your Favorites. Sure, bartenders may cringe when you pull out your phone, but who cares, as long as the end result is a delicious beverage?
Other useful drink apps: Cor.kz Wine Info, Cellar
3. Foodspotting by Foodspotting, Inc.
Foodspotting is a photo-based food guide with a focus on specific dishes, instead of just restaurants. The app shows recently spotted or most popular dishes near you and allows you to upload your own dishes using your phone’s camera. In addition to helping you find and post great food in your area, Foodspotting also engages users in a sort of game where they can follow guides and complete scavenger hunts to earn badges and other recognitions. Folks who spot the same dishes a certain number of times can become experts, which is fun for the “spotters” and useful for the “seekers.” Foodspotting is available for Windows Phone, iPhone, Android and coming soon to BlackBerry. (We recently incorporated Foodspotting into our The Year of Alabama Food campaign for the Alabama Tourism Department. Users can spot Alabama’s famous dishes or follow our trail guides to some of the state’s best.)
Other photo-based food apps: Evernote Food, Foodgawker
While not the newest or most fancy food app out there, Urbanspoon still proves useful for anyone looking for nearby places to eat. The shakeable restaurant finder is great for the indecisive – it’s not uncommon to hear of people shaking the app and going to the first place that pops up. From chain restaurants, local eateries, dessert shops and everything in between, Urbanspoon’s database houses addresses, contact information, website links, photos and reviews from other diners and bloggers. Users can also lock preferences – area, type of cuisine or price range – in the finder. Urbanspoon is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Kindle Fire.
Other local dining guide apps: Ness Dining Guide, Yelp
5. Epicurious from Bon Appetit and Gourmet
There are lots of recipe apps out there and Pinterest has made online recipe hunting and gathering even more popular. But as someone who’s experienced more than her fair share of failed Pinterest recipes, my money’s on apps like Epicurious when it comes to dependability. The app comes with 30,000 proven and tested recipes from Bon Appétit, Gourmet and other magazines and cookbooks. While that doesn’t always guarantee a great outcome, it increases the chances that a recipe won’t let you down. Simple and user-friendly, the Epicurious app lets you search for recipes by ingredient, course, type of cuisine, dietary considerations, season, occasion and more. You can create a shopping list and a list of favorites. Epicurious is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook Color, Windows Phone and Kindle Fire.
Other popular recipe apps: Allrecipes, Trufflehead, Foodily
And Five More Just for Fun:
- 42 Restaurants by bytesizecreations, iPhone, $0.99
This cookbook app houses recipes from 42 of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants. If Nobu, Lark and The Spotted Pig mean nothing to you, you may want to pass on this one.
- Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay Aquarium, iPhone, Free
Seafood Watch is an app that tells you what seafood is currently in abundance in your area, as well as information about how seafood is best fished or farmed. The app also provides a guide to sushi and alternatives to seafood that is not sustainable.
- Locavore by Hevva Corp., iPhone and Android, Free
Locavore tells you what’s in season in your area and points you in the direction of farmers markets and farms where you can purchase local products.
- Vegman by McKS App Development GmbH, iPhone, Free
Vegman is a worldwide guide to vegetarian and vegan eats near you.
- Eat St. by Invoke Media, iPhone and Android, Free
An extension of the popular Food Network Canada television show, the Eat St. mobile app is a guide to local food trucks and carts. Many vendors’ information includes a clickable link to their Twitter account, which often houses updates on mobile truck locations.