Thursday, December 18, 2008

Living Cookbook

It Lives!

Night of the Living Cookbook!

Despite the fact that it sounds like a 50's B movie, Living Cookbook is actually a recipe managment program. And an awesome one it is!

My previous recipe management system went like this: I have subscriptions to about 6 food magazines and I check out epicurious and CHOW on a daily basis. When ever I see a recipe that interests me and/or Mr EA, I cut or print it out. It then got stored in The Notebook. The Notebook is a 3 ring binder divided into sections (Vegetarian main dish, baked goods, sauces - that sort of thing). These untried recipes go into folder/pockets in the sections, and once they have been tried they get taped fast to pieces of paper and put into the bodies of the sections. You can see how this would be really efficient up to a certain point and then become completely unworkable. Well, it did. The pockets are overflowing, many of the recipes in the "try this" folders were duplicates or very nearly so, and the thing weighs like 50 pounds. It was about the time the system went into failure that I decided to surf around and look for a different solution.
After weighing a couple of different options, I decided to go with the Living Cookbook . It's reasonably priced while having an absolute boatload of features. In addition to being able to manage the recipes in a handy digital format, it also has menu planning, shopping list creation, nutrition analysis, and cookbook publishing features that will be extremely useful to me. It also has a bunch of features I probably will not use - inventory management being one of them, but mostly it is very useful. So far I have had it two weeks, and I love it very much.
The best thing I have found about it so far is that you can copy and paste recipes from net sources, which is saving me a huge pile of time. Since most of the recipes in The Folder - which I am busily converting - are from magazines, and those magazines have websites, and those websites have databases of their recipes... Well, you see where I am going with this. It is saving me a LOT of tedious typing.
While I know that it is wrong to look for happiness outside of yourself, I will go ahead and say it - this program makes me very happy indeed. I am a tech-geek kind of person, and this program is already making my life easier, which is what computers were supposed to do. Every week I -with input from Mr EA - make up a weekly menu, from which I make up a shopping list. I use the list to plan our weekly grocery shopping list, pick out the coupons we can use, plan our route for the stores we need to hit, if our Fred Meyer's is not likely to have everything we need. This took probably a couple of hours of planning time per week. Since I've started using Living Cookbook, it's taken about 45 minutes, and approximately 10 of those minutes were me hunting through the drop-down menus looking for the option to edit the list. Seriously, you drag and drop your recipes into the calendar, hit the shopping list button, and it does your list for you, which you can then edit to add other stuff or remove the items you already have. And it organizes the items into categories. I'm dizzy just thinking about it.
Is this program for everybody? No, probably not. I was telling a coworker about it, and she launched into a thing about how cooking is an Art and she doesn't follow recipes, and anyway, she doesn't like to be constrained by pedestrian menu lists, and anyway, she doesn't cook everyday, just like she doesn't paint everyday. O. K. So this program is not for her, or anyone like her. Also, if you don't have a lot of recipes, it's probably not worth it for you. But if your situation is more complicated, it just might be for you.
(I paid full price for my copy, and am receiving no compensation for writing this. I just love it and think it rocks. Enjoy!)

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