Recipe management in a multiplatform home in the time of ...
August 9, 2020 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I have cookbooks. I have recipes printed out and shoved into cookbooks. I have recipes in Evernote. I have recipes pinned on Pinterest. How can I get all of my recipes in one spot and display them while I cook?

I have an Echo show in the kitchen which can show me million recipes but not my recipes. I own a desktop PC, an older Microsoft Surface with a dwindling battery charge time, and an iPhone, but I hate touching my iPhone while I cook. And it's so small.

After years of love, I'm cancelling my Evernote Premium subscription because I stopped using it for everything other than recipes. I know Paprika exists, but I only want to spend the $30 once, so I'd have to pick either iOS or Windows. I'm honestly this close to printing everything out and putting in a binder but certainly I can make all of these screens work for me, right?

Have you solved this recipe chaos in your home? Is Paprika still the answer? What tech are you using to display these collected recipes?
posted by kimberussell to Technology (30 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I print them and keep them in a file near the kitchen. It's a technology that will work for the entire rest of my life for free. After I use a recipe, I put it back at the front of the file, so the most commonly used ones are easy to find.
posted by fritley at 8:54 AM on August 9, 2020 [11 favorites]

Paprika is the answer. Yes, it sucks to have to pay per version and not simply once, but the net benefit to having it organize everything is overwhelmingly positive.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:56 AM on August 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

We also print them and then keep them in those clear sleeves to put into three hole binder, so can be flipped through with messy hands and cleaned later...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:58 AM on August 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

I do what tandem affinity does with slight modifications. I usually keep a spiral bound notebook that I copy recipes into, then if they make the cut or I like them enough I'll pull out the page and throw it into a clear sleeve and then it can be organized into a binder.

I personally find that reading and manually transcribing a recipe is a super useful step in making sure I fully am ready for a recipe the first time I do it. I also am able to better compose the recipe in a way that makes sense to me (making dry/wet separate lists for baking or blocking together prepped veggies for a recipe into groups that can be added at once)
posted by Ferreous at 9:12 AM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Paprika has been amazing. I no longer have dozens of recipe tabs open on my phone, they’re quickly added by the software and I categorize for easy finding.

I also didn’t want to pay for multiple devices and started with one, but expanded from iPhone to iPad and MacBook and haven’t regretted it.
posted by icaicaer at 9:26 AM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I know Paprika exists, but I only want to spend the $30 once, so I'd have to pick either iOS or Windows.

Yes, you have to purchase it separately for each platform, but Paprika for iOS (or Android) is just $4.99. It's only the desktop versions that are $30.

There's an annual half-price sale around Thanksgiving if it's worth it to you to wait three months.
posted by mumkin at 9:38 AM on August 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

If I make an online recipe once, and like it, I just save it to a messy Notes file on my phone. If I find myself making it again, at least twice, I consider it to have entered the canon and transcribe it by hand onto an old school index card. I keep the cards in a plastic index card box, the internet suggests these cost $3. I sort them roughly into categories but don’t get precious about it. I like that you can pull out just one, and getting vanilla on them seems to add a vintage note that’s kind of heart warming. I’ve been using a variation on this system for nearly 20 years; you never have to upgrade!
posted by chocotaco at 10:19 AM on August 9, 2020 [7 favorites]

I would think that an offline solution would make it easier to hand down too, if that's something to factor in.
posted by heyho at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2020

We employ, and I strongly endorse, the three-ring-binder with plastic sleeves option. It’s fun!
posted by silby at 10:38 AM on August 9, 2020

I am a Paprika fan as well. Yes, it sucks to pay more than once for the same software (but at least, as far as I can tell, it is still a one-time fee and not the incredibly annoying subscription model) but things I like being able to do:

- Tag recipes with multiple tags -- so, for example, I have a category of "braises" where I tag all those recipes, but I also have a category of "beef" (and "pork", "chicken", etc.) so whether I think "oh hm, I'd like to make a beef dish this week" or "oh hm, feel like a braise" I can get to the same recipe multiple ways

- Multiply/divide ingredient amounts automatically when scaling recipes up or down

- Have access on-the-go to recipes. Maybe more relevant in the pre-COVID times, but it's nice if I'm out and about (or am at the grocery store and change my mind) to be able to quickly look up a recipe and its ingredients on my phone, and make sure there are no major ingredients I am forgetting

I know there are additional capabilities like automatically bringing in recipes from properly-formatted online cooking blogs and sites, but I've never used them. (I'm actually simultaneously a very big cookbook fan -- I just like using Paprika to record the recipes I truly like, as well as convert all my North American-origin recipes to metric measurements out of personal preference.)
posted by andrewesque at 10:51 AM on August 9, 2020

I reverted to index cards. I picked a slightly oversized 4”x6” box because it will hold a 8.5”x11” sheet (printouts!) in quarters just as well. I depend on taking notes as I cook and doing it by hand was just easier.

The Paprika love is impressive though! How does it handle extensive note taking / recipe development?
posted by clew at 11:10 AM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

We use our blog with a recipe category.
posted by terrapin at 12:18 PM on August 9, 2020

My main concern with any app or website that is cloud based is that it can cut the legs out from under you at any moment; not that a disaster or such couldn't destroy hard copies of course but never underestimate capitalism to throw something useful into the garbage if it can't return a profit.
posted by Ferreous at 12:31 PM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm old-school all the way. I print out recipes and keep them in a three-ring notebook. When I'm using a recipe, I tape it to a cabinet using removable tape which doesn't tear the paper or leave residue on the cabinet, and can be moved as needed from the prep area to the stove area.
posted by DrGail at 12:34 PM on August 9, 2020

We made a folder called “Recipes” in iOS Photos that we share with family members. Works great on the go (which used to happen more...) and has also turned into a convenient conversation topic for all involved.

For new or involved recipes, we print it out from the folder. It works pretty well!
posted by El_Marto at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2020

My old technique was to turn all my recipes into PDFs and put them in Dropbox, so they could be viewed easily on any platform and I could share them with other people.

Now I'm a Paprika user, which I like for its ease of pulling recipes from online sources, making notes and modifications, sharing functions, and creating grocery lists. The interface is also pretty smooth when you're actually cooking, as it allows you to highlight whatever step you're currently on and to strikethrough the ingredients you've used with just a tap. I also like the ability to link to other recipes in your collection. So, for example, if you've got a recipe for a main course you can insert links to various side dishes that go well with it.
>How does it [Paprika] handle extensive note taking / recipe development?
There is a NOTES field at the bottom of each recipe, which is what I usually use, but I also add stuff in the main DIRECTIONS field, using italics or brackets to indicate my own additions and modifications. The DESCRIPTION field at the top is useful for background about a recipe, especially if it's a family recipe that you want to document.
posted by theory at 1:13 PM on August 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I use Microsoft OneNote for this - if you've got an Office 365/Microsoft 365 subscription, it comes with that, syncs between most devices (although probably not the Echo) and can be shared with friends/family members. It supports tagging (after a fashion) and hierarchical organisation. If you don't have an Office 365 subscription, though, it's fairly pricey and probably not what you want.
posted by parm at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2020

> My main concern with any app or website that is cloud based is that it can cut the legs out from under you at any moment

Agreed, but nth-ing Paprika as the database is local per machine. The online capability is just to synchronize between devices. Plus you can print nicely formatted recipes from the desktop versions, so I've got a binder of our favorites just in case.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I keep mine in Google Drive, shared with family members. When I make one but don't want to be constantly looking at the recipe on my phone, I print it out.
posted by kbuxton at 2:31 PM on August 9, 2020

Ah, hankscorpio83 beat me to it, re: where the Paprika db lives. In terms of backing up your data, Paprika will export recipes to either HTML or their .paprikarecipe format. The latter is intended for passing files between instances of Paprika, but it's JSON, so if something better comes along it should be easy to ingest.

What tech are you using to display these collected recipes?
  • For cooking, I tend to display them on an old iPad that's too slow for everything else but perfectly fine for Paprika. I leave it plugged into a charger, parked in a book stand on the counter. If yours is a Surface Pro, it could do this too.
  • For planning what to cook and grocery shopping I tend to use my iPhone. Sometimes I use it for cooking.
  • For auto-capturing recipes from the web, entering my own recipes, and doing more significant collection management tasks I tend to use my laptop (a MacBook), because I like a keyboard and it's just easier.
It really is a great application. If you want a digital solution I know of nothing better.
posted by mumkin at 2:49 PM on August 9, 2020

$35 dollars is worth it for both versions of Paprika.
posted by soelo at 8:48 PM on August 9, 2020

Paprika has also been suggested to me, so I will note for any multilingual users that it doesn’t let you choose your language, but uses whatever your OS language is set to. For my purposes, the Italian translation is excruciatingly horrible.
posted by romakimmy at 11:56 PM on August 9, 2020

I went through and typed up all my recipes one winter and had them printed by as a personal cookbook, which my siblings all demanded copies of. This year I've been updating it (it's been 10 years) and my siblings all got very excited and sent me all their frequent-rotation dishes to include too because it turns out having a personal cookbook of your own favorites and fallbacks and family holiday recipes is AMAZING. And it's just a lot more pleasant, for me anyway, to have a spiral-bound book you can spill things on than trying to deal with screens while cooking.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:37 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

We employ, and I strongly endorse, the three-ring-binder with plastic sleeves option. It’s fun!

This has been one of my Covid projects, in large part as a gift to my spouse. I've been retyping all of our regularly used recipes for insertion in the plastic sleeves because that way I can a) get some uniformity, which is helpful for her process; b) incorporate changes that we've made to recipes over time; c) print them in a font that's easy on aging eyes; and d) have them stored for editing/reprinting if needed. The plastic sleeves have already proved their usefulness as my spouse is a messy cook and often leaves splotches on the recipe pages, which can now be wiped up.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2020

I like Paprika, and it works for me. I tried to do index cards, but couldn't get myself to write them all out. I could maybe be persuaded to print letter-sized sheets and put them in a binder.

BUT, I love the fact that I can easily update Paprika when I make changes to a recipe (as I am wont to do). I also love that I can easily scale a recipe up or down within Paprika. I often split recipes in half or thirds, and Paprika can do that easily (though it only applies that to the ingredients list, not the instructions).

My method: I keep items in Pinterest until I make them. Once I make them, if I like them, they get added to Paprika and removed from Pinterest. I keep a few recipes in Paprika that I haven't made yet (tagged under "Untested"), but in general, everything in Paprika is something I want to make again.

You can get Paprika just for your phone at the lower price ($5), but personally, I like having it on my computer too, for easy typing. You can even get the trial for Windows, and you can see if you like it.

You can install any or all versions of the software, and they will sync to each other. There may be software updates eventually, but I've only done that once since I bought it a few years ago. And you don't NEED to update. I think I upgraded because they offered a deal around Thanksgiving/Christmas.
posted by hydra77 at 11:16 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

I actually use Zotero for this. It's free.

I treat recipes like webpages and put them in a shared library (shared with my husband). I use the tags extensively and can filter by any metadata I want. I also use the notes function a lot.

I can either view the recipe from the original webpage, a snapshot of the page, or I can cut and paste the text into the notes sections. I like that it can take snapshots of webpages if I think the original page will go away (or I'll lose access to it, like NY Times recipes or Cook's Illustrated monthly extras).

I display my Zotero library on whatever I'm using at the moment. I use Papership on my iPad or iPhone, but I could just make a shortcut to my Zotero account online.
posted by catdapperling at 11:46 AM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

We use Dropbox for this. If I see something I like online, I copy and paste the recipe into a text file and save it to my recipe folder. For older recipes I have on paper, I scan or take a photo and put them there as well. If I need to annotate, I open the file on my laptop and save it back to dropbox, so it's always there.
posted by Mchelly at 12:21 PM on August 10, 2020

Paprika has also been suggested to me, so I will note for any multilingual users that it doesn’t let you choose your language, but uses whatever your OS language is set to. For my purposes, the Italian translation is excruciatingly horrible.

A big disclaimer that this answer applies only to iOS (I'm mentioning it though because the OP mentions having iOS) -- if you are on iOS 13 or higher, you can choose individual languages for (non-preinstalled Apple) apps that are different from the base system language. This applies to Paprika.

I have absolutely no experience on Android, so can't speak to what's available there.
posted by andrewesque at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2020

It sounds like we need a MeFi 3-ring cookbook project...
posted by sagwalla at 5:21 AM on August 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for all of the great responses! It looks like Paprika handily wins the day, and I'll probably do an actual binder full of recipes as backup.

Last week I won a 10" Kindle Fire from a conference I virtually attended. If I can get Paprika on there (it should work) I think that's going to stay in the kitchen and be my recipe display.
posted by kimberussell at 12:40 PM on August 17, 2020

« Older What kind of paint should I use on a lambskin...   |   Bad at plants Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.