There’s not much that goes together better than peanut butter and chocolate—except food and technology. Whether you’re looking for help with grocery shopping, cooking inspiration, or a way to find new restaurants, there’s a free app to help you out.
Here are a few of my favorite free food apps, available on both iPhone and Android (unless otherwise noted). Bon app-etit!
All Recipes Dinner Spinner
If you’ve ever wished you could just spin a magical wheel and let someone else decide what to make for dinner, you’re in luck with this app that helps you find menu inspiration. You can browse by ingredient, so you can pick out recipes based on what’s in your pantry , or you can scan items at the grocery store and search for recipes to make with them. But my favorite way to search is by cooking time—perfect if you’re looking for a quick recipe to soothe your grumbling tummy.
And if you don’t have any parameters about what you want to cook? Just give you phone a shake and the app will give you a random spin of the wheel.
Food on the Table
Planning meals while sticking to a budget can be a challenge, but Food on the Table simplifies the process by helping you cook what’s on sale. Just select your favorite stores, and the app will tell you what discounts are available that week and recommend recipes to make with those ingredients.
Like the Dinner Spinner, you can also search for recipes based on the ingredients you already have on hand. The app also offers entertaining articles, cooking tips, and humorous quotes—perfect for your time spent waiting in the checkout line.
This app, created by America’s Test Kitchen, is like having a cooking school in your pocket! If you’ve ever been baffled by a cooking problem, like a stubborn vinaigrette that keeps separating, this app will give you tips to help you solve it, plus understand the science behind the cooking technique. (The solution for the vinaigrette? Add mayonnaise.)
Other great features: The “Taste Test,” which gives product comparisons and tips for how to buy the best ingredients; recipes that come with video tutorials; and even a multiple-timer feature, so you can keep tabs on all your dishes as they sizzle and simmer.
Ness (iPhone only)
Ness solves this problem by giving you personalized suggestions based on your favorite dining experiences (think Pandora meets Yelp). You create your taste profile by rating your favorite restaurants, and the next time you search for a restaurant, you'll see a “likeness score” that predicts how likely you are to enjoy it. You can also get the inside scoop on what others think of the restaurant by looking through reviews from your Facebook and Foursquare friends.
While dining out at the hottest restaurant in town is a beloved foodie activity, it can also leave a big dent in your budget. But this app from the folks at Groupon helps you discover new restaurants, make free reservations, and earn a generous discount while doing it. Since you can search for last minute reservations, it’s great for spur of the moment dinners and beating long lines on a Saturday night.
Just log in to the app, choose how many people in your party, the date, and the time—then you’re presented with a variety of restaurant options, along with your discount (10% to 40%, depending on how busy the restaurant is). To help you make your decision, you can peruse the restaurants’ menu directly from the app and check out the “Why We Love It” section for a detailed review.
What’s your favorite food app? Let us know in the comments.
TopicsTools & Skills , Phones , Apps , Foodies , Syndication , Fearless Foodie by Nina Tamburello , Cooking & Food
Nina Tamburello is a freelance writer and communications assistant. When she’s not reading about food, following food trucks or trying out new restaurants, you can find her traveling, learning French, or watching cheesy ‘80s crime dramas and plotting her escape from Boston’s brutal winters.More from this Author