Really, this search has been ongoing for several years. I have a ton of cookbooks. I have a ton of recipes on Pinterest I want to try. I have a ton of recipes saved to my “recipe box” on AllRecipes.com, TasteofHome.com, ZipList.com, BigOven.com, AllTheCooks.com and the list goes on and on and on and on. I’ve tried them all. None have really had everything I’ve ever been looking for to finally enter and store all of my favorite recipes. Until I found the one app/website to rule them all. Here is my criteria for a good recipe repository….
Longevity of App – Is the app just a flash in the pan that will close it’s doors in several years? Cause I’m not going to spend hours upon hours entering recipes somewhere if it’s just going to shut it’s doors and leaving me without my plethora of recipes. If they are going to go under in any unforseen circumstances, I’d like the opportunity to export my recipes into some sort of format.
User Interface – I really am such a user interface snob. Literally, the app could be exactly what I’m looking for in terms of functionality, but if it looks horrible. I won’t use it. It also needs to be easy to use as well as look nice.
Ease of Entry – How hard will it be for me to enter recipes from my cookbooks, blogs, recipe sites, etc.
Ease of Access – Can I view my recipes from my phone/tablet/computer? I’d like to make sure I have the recipes on hand when I’m at the grocery store in case I decide to make something at the last minute
Meal Planning – My ideal recipe database also needs to make it easy for me to plan my meals so I can look at the schedule and know exactly what I’m going to be making that day.
Shopping List – Does it generate a shopping list automatically based on the meals I have planned? Will I have to do any manual entry? Can I check off items while I’m at the store?
So, in my search I tried so many different websites and applications, but none of them ever made me shout out.. YES! THIS is the one I want to spend hours entering the rest of my cookbook recipes into! I’m going to break down my process for you because maybe the feature that finally made me leave the application is not that important to you, even though it was a deal breaker for me.
Way back when, when I started this journey many moons ago I used AllRecipes.com. It’s a really fantastic site, and I do still use the site often to find new recipes to try. The deal breaker for me with AllRecipes.com was ease of entry and ease of access. Entering your own recipes can be a little daunting on the website, and in order to enter a recipe from another site you found on the web…. well, you may as well be entering it from your cookbook, since you have to go through almost the exact same steps. You can enter a link to your recipe box, but that other website you found the recipe on better stay online, and you need to have internet access to view it. Moving right along….
When I got my first Windows Phone, one of the first recipe apps available was Big Oven. I started to use this, and it was definitely a lot easier to enter recipes from other recipe websites and blogs, but I would still have to download the picture to the recipe to my hard drive and then upload it again to the site, which was fine and all, but definitely not super easy. Then Windows 8 comes out, and they don’t have a Windows 8 application, so in order to use it on my Surface tablet, I’d have to use the website, and I REALLY don’t like doing that. I’d rather have an app that’s built for tablet use. So this one came down to a user interface snob thing.
Next up we have ziplist. Ziplist really does have the majority of the features that I want, BUT the mobile/app user interface is antiquated. The shopping list section alone makes me want to barf, and again no native Windows 8 app. The website itself is SO slow too that it makes it impossible for me to use to enter my personal cookbook recipes. It’s very easy to enter recipes from the web, but for the directions you are directed to the site, which again is not good if you are currently lacking an internet connection or if the website closes down. I understand WHY they did that, especially as a blogger myself, but when I am trying to cook I don’t want to have to load up another website.
Most recently I’ve been using Bing Food & Drink. Which I really thought I was going to end up adding everything to. I loved that my database was actually on my computer so that put my mind at ease on longevity (which was the main thing that made me nervous about going all in entering recipes from my cookbooks into the others) and I started entering all of my recipes into it. Then I started running into issues. My first main issue was that my collections weren’t syncing across devices. I have a tablet, a laptop, and our main family computer that all have Windows 8 running. I’d occasionally get it to sync the recipes, but it was very hit and miss. Also, and pictures I added wouldn’t sync across devices either, even though I added them from my OneDrive. This was getting annoying. Then one day, a bunch of recipes I had added on my laptop disappeared and the recipe database from my tablet took over every device. Now I was mad. Then the fact that entering recipes from the web was slightly cumbersome, and there was no Android app from my phone, I knew I finally had to ditch Bing Food and Drink.
During my Bing Food & Drink phase I was also trying out AlltheCooks. This was available for my Android phone and had a Windows 8 app! I loved the recipes I was finding here, and every one I tried out was a hit. Ease of entry though was the big hang up for me. I like to enter my recipes on my laptop instead of on a mobile device. Ease of entry is what finally killed this app for me though. It’s difficult to add a recipe on the phone, and finding how to do so on the website is practically impossible. Plus I love to just be able to add a recipe from the actual site I’m viewing the recipe instead of copying and pasting.
Which brings me to PepperPlate. I noticed PepperPlate when I first started using my Surface tablet. It looked cool. I installed it for a bit, but never really looked into it (I think I was still in my honeymoon phase from Bing Food & Drink. After my frustration reached it’s tipping point with Bing Food and Drink, I loaded up Pepperplate and started using it. I visited the website and saw a nifty little toolbar icon I can add to my browser. I’d seen toolbar icons like this before. Ziplist and BigOven both have them. So I put it up in my toolbar and went to my Pinterest recipe board. I visited the first recipe and clicked the toolbar icon. I can not even tell you how easy it was to add a recipe with this method.
First… if it’s one of their partnered sites like AllRecipes or Food Network it will just grab the recipe AND the photo and add it to your recipe box. WHAT?? It literally does every thing for you. What if the recipe site isn’t a partner? Like a random blog or something? Well, all you have to do is grab the picture from the page and drag it to the PepperPlate entry area! Oh my goodness. It was soooo easy! I became addicted and just kept added every recipe from my Pinterest recipe board. Then I moved on to my AllRecipes recipe box, that was even easier to import since they are a partner site. I kept going until I had all the recipes from all of the various sites I’ve used in the past loaded up into my PepperPlate. The Windows 8 app is fantastic, it has an Android app that is great too. Entering my personal recipes has a very simple interface that makes it really easy to enter those as well (even if there is a lot more typing involved)
Meal planning is still a little bit wonky, but it works. I’d love a more “drag and drop” function when I’m meal planning, which they do not have. I can even combine several recipes into a “meal” and add the entire meal to my meal plan. Or I can just add individual recipes to my meal plan… OR I can even just add text to the meal plan, like Friday night we are going to get Pizza. I don’t need to add a recipe for Pizza or for Cereal for breakfast, but I can type those in individually to the meal plan so I’m set with exactly what is going on during the week. I can also plan well in advance so I can figure out my entire month if I want. In order to add something to the shopping list though, I have to be ON the recipe or ON the Meal and add it to the shopping list. I’d like to be able to just pick the days of the week and have it add all of the planned recipes from that particular week to the shopping list, but definitely not a deal breaker for me. The shopping list also will combine like items so it will say 1 cup milk + 2 T of milk (which means one recipe calls for a cup and another recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons) which I love.
My only concern with PepperPlate is the longevity. The Android app hasn’t been updated in a year, and the about page on their website doesn’t have any sort of recent news. That definitely concerns me. They do still seem to be somewhat active on social media (Facebook and Twitter), so that’s slightly encouraging. I just hope that if they do end up shutting down, they will give us some way to export our data, which does seem likely given some of the help tickets I saw from a while ago. I did email them and they did say that their Android app will be getting a new release soon. So it does look like there is current active development on it, which is a very good sign.
For now I’m going to keep entering all of my favorite cookbook recipes into Pepperplate and cross my fingers that they never ever go out of business. 😀 Maybe I should keep clicking on their ads on the website just to be sure.
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