Help Me Cook!
September 10, 2008 10:02 PM   Subscribe

Are there any websites out there that will give you recipes based on what you have in your fridge/pantry?

It seems like such a straightforward idea to me that I'm surprised I haven't been able to find one. What I would like is a recipe website where I can tell it what I have on hand, and it will tell me what meals I can cook with those ingredients (or maybe "grab x and y at the store, and you can make abc..."). It could track nutrition against any of the popular diets. Heck, it could even update my inventory based on what I eat, and send me a shopping-list text for my upcoming meals... is that too much to ask for?

Ingredients tend to come in portions too large for a single guy, and the unused portions go bad because I can't think of what to do with them or I'd just rather eat out or I'm tired of eating tacos for the fourth night in a row. But eating out is expensive and I want to learn to cook better, so I need help! Please tell me this site exists... and if not, I've got a great business opportunity we should talk about :)
posted by Chris4d to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I just use google. Seriously.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2008

Google Recipes might help.
posted by DB Cooper at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2008

Allrecipes has an ingredient-based search. There's also Cooking by Numbers, Recipezaar, and Supercook. For cocktails there is the Liquor Cabinet.
posted by jedicus at 10:13 PM on September 10, 2008

RecipeMatcher, Cookin' with Google,
posted by Su at 10:17 PM on September 10, 2008

I feel your pain - I try to cook for 2 people and sometimes resort to cereal dinners, but since I've found Recipe Zaar things have gotten much better.
While it doesn't have every feature you've requested, it's pretty close. They have a "filter" feature that allows you to plus or minus ingrediants and drill down the recipes. Very handy when you don't have a fully loaded kitchen. And you can make a grocery list based on the recipes.
It's worth putzing around the site, they even have a "once a month cooking" section if you don't mind freezing and thawing.
posted by MuckWeh at 10:17 PM on September 10, 2008

I have certainly seen such sites, but never kept them bookmarked, because they were all so crap. They all seem to be someone's LAMP project, with no care at all given to the problem of having edible recipes.
posted by pompomtom at 10:29 PM on September 10, 2008

Response by poster: thanks for the suggestions, some of those are pretty cool even though they don't fit the bill 100%. The custom google searches aren't half bad, actually. In my own surfing I'd only really found sites that could search by main ingredient, which is worse than useless. I don't need a website to suggest sweet & sour chicken as a recipe just because I have chicken, if I don't have bell peppers or pineapples or anything else that the recipe calls for.

Based on the success of other focused, well-designed and user-driven websites, it's enough to make me wish I could code something up myself. Everybody eats (and almost everybody cooks!) and a recipe website could be so much more useful if presented in a more accessible manner. Oh well.
posted by Chris4d at 11:42 PM on September 10, 2008
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:40 AM on September 11, 2008

This Mefi Project sounds like what you are looking for, but it appears to have gone.

You can search the huge BBC Recipe site by up to 3 ingredients.
posted by fire&wings at 4:34 AM on September 11, 2008

Sounds like a job for a Mefite open source project! I'd love to help (my expertise: Java, Flex, Javascript, LAMP, etc) The hard part sounds like gathering together a bunch of recipes... I already have worked on a data-driven app that handles nutritional information. (There are tons of these, I think the USDA has a database that's available to everyone)
posted by Echidna882003 at 7:35 AM on September 11, 2008

Sigh, yeah. Snacksby. I promise it was a lot better than "someone's LAMP project," but now it's certainly dead. RecipeMatcher was a distant second place, with Allrecipes's meager ingredient search taking up the rear. There's a site out there that isn't Cooking with Google that does a half-decent job helping you google for recipes, but I can't say I remember what it's called.

I've got a new recipe site I'm cooking up right now which will definitely feature this ability, even though it won't be the main focus. If you're into cooking sites, you can mefimail me and I'll pass you the url.
posted by soma lkzx at 8:16 AM on September 11, 2008

Google works incredibly well for this. I've never needed anything else.
posted by Miko at 8:16 AM on September 11, 2008

Two previous threads: What can I make?, Cookbook or digital Jeeves.
posted by amf at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2008

Response by poster: thanks amf. I swear I searched first...

I would be interested in helping on a project like this, but I'm not a code guy.
posted by Chris4d at 10:08 AM on September 11, 2008

Cookthink is useful for this.
posted by chana meira at 5:56 PM on September 11, 2008

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