Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Smartphones and Cooking Shopping

Sarah Dickerman has an article about the impact of her iPhone on her cooking with a fairly obvious conclusion, but it's one still worth noting:
Having tried a few cooking applications, it seems to me that the only undisputed advantage of cooking from a smartphone is the ability to fold shopping into the process of making a meal. I mentioned Epicurious' handy shopping list. Grocery Zen is even better. The app downloads recipes from Amanda Hesser's Food52 site—like, say the couscous, fennel, and almond salad I tried out—and breaks the ingredients into a shopping list. You can add non-recipe items like Bon Ami or Cheerios and cross off items as you fill your cart, or, if you like, send the list to your sweetheart to pick things up after work. This fluidity between procuring and preparing also allows you to respond to the market: If you see a nice stash of mackerel at the fish counter, you can find a recipe online and purchase the other ingredients on the way home, without a second trip. Shopping applications (there are others, too, like Grocery IQ) combined with recipe apps take full advantage of the iPhone's mobility. Back home in the kitchen, though, mobility isn't really what you're seeking: You just want something easy to read and able to survive a splattering of Sriracha. (That's why, when I do work from Web recipes, I generally print them out—backward as that may be.)

Neither Epicurious or Grocery Zen apps are available on Android, so I have no personal experience with either... but grocery shopping is definitely the area of my cooking life where having a constant connection to the internet is the most beneficial. The absolute ideal thing would to have digital access to all my cookbooks via my phone while I'm at the store or farmer's market... but baring that, being able to search Epicurious or Cook's Illustrated while looking at the produce is pretty handy. Being able to make a shopping list on my phone is more of a novelty I'd say... but whatever.


  1. I like "Hungry" for an android shopping list program. It's surprisingly convenient because you always have your shopping list with you, and you automatically carry over the remaining items.

  2. Good suggestion... I had tried "AK Notes" and "Notes" for list making, but have been disappointed by the inability to cross off things you buy... that's pretty key for a useful shopping app methinks. I'll give "Hungry" a shot.

  3. Do be aware that the pregenned categories for Hungry are terrible. They appear to be made by a british person who doesn't cook. Export and reload the CSV for categories.