Recipe Software
March 22, 2009 4:52 PM   Subscribe

As a professional cook, I have lots of recipes. I want to input them into a computer program. Help!

Is there a clean, polished app for windows that I can use to record my recipes? Individual word documents are not desirable... Searching, tagging, and pictures would be a plus!

Is there something I am missing or does all recipe software suck?
posted by sindas to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I've tried recipe center and I didn't think that it was too bad. If I remember correctly, it has everything you listed as a plus.
posted by tdreyer at 5:02 PM on March 22, 2009

You might also check out some non-free solutions that EG-Software has.
posted by tdreyer at 5:03 PM on March 22, 2009

Giga Chef is a web-based solution to do exactly what you describe, as well as the ability to share recipes with other culinary professionals. It also has a lot of other content that may be of interest to someone working in the field.

[Full Disclosure: The developer of the site is a good friend of mine.]
posted by Bango Skank at 5:05 PM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dunno how much effort you're willing to put into it, but an MS Access database sounds like it would fit the bill. Problem is, you'd have to design it yourself and do all the grunt work before you even put in a recipe.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 5:32 PM on March 22, 2009

One of the solutions above may make you happier, but I have to tell you I use OneNote for this and it works so well. It's flexible, and while it doesn't use tagging it's completely searchable (you could certainly add keywords that might not appear in the main text. It does not go pretty into Word, but PDFs very nicely, and the inherent functionality of the program makes rearranging pretty simple.

If you already have Office, it might be worth a try, and if it turns out to not be good enough, it should be less than twice the work to move the recipes to a new software later. I can't say for sure if the alternatives (Google Notebook, possibly Open Office has a similar product) are as good, if you don't have Office.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:32 PM on March 22, 2009

Best answer: At the moment, I'm just using EverNote. It searches, has tags, and accepts photos. It's not specifically recipe software per se, but it does the job admirably.
posted by JDHarper at 5:49 PM on March 22, 2009

I've always used MasterCook, but looking at the most recent reviews it does not do well with Vista. (I haven't run into this problem since our last computer died and I've been too lazy to upload it and try to salvage my recipes.)

But there is a yahoo mastercook group, and they refer to this work-around:
posted by texas_blissful at 6:15 PM on March 22, 2009

Not sure if this would work for you but I've been using Google Notebook to make my own personal cookbook. You can add photos and tags, and create sub sections. It's for grabbing things off the web but you can add your own content too. There's a firefox extension too.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:20 PM on March 22, 2009

Google has stopped supporting and developing Google Notebook. I used to use it to store my recipes, but now use EverNote. It fits your bill without being a recipe application. You might be better served by finding a web based recipe app.
posted by furtive at 6:27 PM on March 22, 2009

From the way your question is written, I'm guessing that most of your recipes are now on paper and that the goal is to get them into searchable bits and bytes. My experience with this over the years is that I'm not willing to sit in front of the computer retyping hundreds/thousands of recipes, inputting ingredients into fields, manipulating pick-lists for quantities, and what-not. Recipes are actually quite complex pieces of writing when you start to break them down.

Tagging/keywording is a waste of time and it's inaccurate, IMHO. Say you're trying to categorize buche de noel; is it french, is it bakery, is it dessert? is it christmas? It really goes in all those categories and you need a system that won't fence you in. Same thing with keywords (if paprika is a keyword, is it smoked, hot, etc..); plus, you have to maintain such rigor in your keywords to make sure searches find the thing again years down the road.

Solution: OCR'd PDF files and use Acrobat's built-in "binder" organizing tools. You'll maintain a true-to-original image of the original paper recipe, plus the OCR layer will allow you to do full-text searching of every file. Get yourself a little Fujitsu ScanSnap that comes with the bundled Acrobat 9 full-app and you're set. Total investment probably less than $400. Automatic duplex/color/different original sheet size detection. Incredibly fast little sucker that you will find dozens of uses for once you understand the power of the system.

If you had a Mac available, then the dream system would be the above plus using DevonThink software to add a powerful level of AI searching to your workflow. Not being a Windows user, I think you might be able to do the same thing with scanned PDF's into OneNote as JDHarper mentioned above, too. But the key to the system is to PDF the original document and then OCR it to add the layer of searchable text. The ScanSnap included software does this all in one swipe with minimal user intervention.
posted by webhund at 6:32 PM on March 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

We have been using a local version of TiddlyWiki to keep recipes in. Doesn't do pics but will work well for the rest of it.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 6:37 PM on March 22, 2009

Gourmet Recipe Manager is what I use. It's got searching and pictures, can import and export all sorts of formats and is quite flexible and very easy to use. It lacks tagging as such, so far, but the developers are a friendly bunch, and always open to good ideas.

The Windows version is always one release behind the Linux release, so you don't get the latest and greatest features, but you do get a very stable program.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that inputting recipes, regardless of how capable the software is, is a mind-numbing chore.
posted by Cobalt at 7:25 PM on March 22, 2009

I didn't know that about Google Notebook, furtive. Sucks. But thanks for the info.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:29 PM on March 22, 2009

I use MacGourmet with great success. Obviously, only helpful if you use a Mac :)

I agree with Cobalt though - entering the recipes is incredibly tedious. Perhaps you could get a Mechanical Turk to help getting the recipes into an electronic, importable format for you for little cost? I wish I had thought of that before...
posted by mooders at 1:07 AM on March 23, 2009

Tiddlywiki does pics, but you have to enclose the img tags in [html] tags [/html].
posted by dg at 2:08 AM on March 23, 2009

I use onenote 2007 also. You can paste photos of the dishes right into each note.
posted by nuke3ae at 3:05 AM on March 23, 2009

You could enter them into a spreadsheet setting up columns for ingredients, instructions, etc. This will be easy to import into almost any program or database if the need arises. I would think a database solution would be the most flexible.
posted by JJ86 at 6:26 AM on March 23, 2009

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