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Cooking Computer Software?

mebird's picture

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Please recommend your favorite cooking software.I've looked at a few but can not make up my mind.

Holly_Werner's picture

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mebird,
A couple of years ago Fine Cooking did a review of all of the cooking software programs, I am not able to find it but I am thinking that maybe Fine Cooking might be able to help access the info. After a failed attempt with the Cookbook program, I went on to purchase Cookworks, Micro Cook 5.0. It has lots of recipes, (none of which I have used) and most importantly for me, it allows the user to enter their own recipes, making their own files so you can designate a section for your favorite deserts, salads, side dishes, whatever your heart desires. It also gives nutritional info on your recipe, which is great to determine fat content ect....this has simplified my life a lot because now instead of hanging on to endless magazines because of that "one perfect recipe", I just enter it and toss the mag!

MEAN_CHEF's picture

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This is not as easy to answer as you might think. I have used Mangia for years and love it. I also have an older version of Master Cook. I like Mangia better BUT BUT is has two major drawbacks:
*you can't import or export or e-mail recipies. I never had the need until recently.
*Sierra bought Mangia last year to kill the competition and to steal what Mangia has. They don't promote the product anymore.

Now the good news. Sierra is coming out with Master Cook 5.0 in the second quarter of this year. It should have incorporated in it all of the best of Mangia and Master cook. No way to know for sure but I am hopeful. It is supposed to be able to import recipes in almost any format and make them Master Cook compatable. You can also e-Mail recipes.

My recommendation is to wait for MC 5.0. You can read about it at Sierra.com.. I have preordered it from Sierra for $29.00. To the best of my knowledge all other software is lightweight in comparison to the two I mentioned. I'm sure others here will have opinions on the subject as well. Just don't pay any attention to them unless they agree with me.

Other considerations which are important to me. I really do not want any of their damn recipes. I would just throw them away. What I want is a place to keep MY recipes. So many of the recipes any of these programs give you are junk. I also have a million cookbooks and only care about the few recipes in each that are worth keeping. Those go on my computer. In addition I keep recipes which use in my catering business.

I am also not interested in pictures, sound, and computation of nutritional values (which most programs do very very inaccurately). I just want ease of inputting recipes, multiple variations to print them out, ability to make shopping lists(most important in my business), Ease of importing, exporting AND e_mailing recipes.
The end result for me would be to have a compendium of all of the best recipes for everything that that I like to eat or need to know how to make. The only rub for me is the initial input.

Peter_Goulding's picture

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For getting text into electronic form have you thought of a scanner with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software? I'm not clear on what kind of originals you want to get into electronic form, are they mostly in print? If so, a scanner could work well for you.

Peter

mebird's picture

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Peter,

We are in the process of looking at scanners right now for photo applications.I hadn't even thought of the cooking applications.Thanks.
I'm also looking forward to Master cook 5.0 that MC told me about.

Jeff_'s picture

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RE: OCR

I've thought of this as a possibility and looked
into it a bit. Be warned. . .any OCR software
that is worth buying will cost hundreds of $
(perhaps 300-500). It's not worth getting the
cheap (~$100) versions--they're a fraction of the
cost of the real thing for a reason.

Chris_Melton's picture

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I just bought a HP jetscan 4100 and am having trouble importing recipes from my new scanner. I have a Master Cook program and love it since I can save all my recipes and can scale them too. anyone familiar with OCR and how it works?

nanawyo_'s picture

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Master Chef, I am new to this site and was reading your response about MC 5.0. Did you purchase it and were you as pleased with it as you thought you would be? Is it hard to operate? I play around with catering for friends, nothing serious but would like something that would help with sizing recipes. I am interested in the nutritional values of my recipes but am not interested in pictures or sound. I am hoping to create my own cookbook for my family to pass on and the ease of importing/exporting recipes is extremely important. I realize this was an old topic, but hope you can help me with it.....Nanowyo

nihon_no_cook's picture

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Nana -
There are tons of other references to MasterCook on this site, in other threads. I bought it for home use (to replace the MasterCook 4.0 I was already using) and have mixed opinions on it. It is definitely superior to trying to use a word processing program to make your cookbook - it automatically scales recipes for you (haven't tried that feature myself), and generates nutritional values as long as you use ingredients that it recognizes. Pictures and sound and video are optional and easily left out. Importing and exporting recipes is supposed to be a snap - again, I haven't imported any recipes directly from the web, but it has a new feature that supposedly helps it recognize the different parts of the recipe (so that the "ingredients" end up in the right column, as do the measurements, directions, etc.). And if you plan to type any recipes in by hand, the autofill feature really speeds things up (you type in "ta" and it pulls up a list of words it recognizes for that column that start with those letters - so if you're in the "units" column, it would pull up "tablespoon", or in the "ingredients" column it might pull up "table salt").

That said, I find the new version (5.0) much more awkward to work with than the previous version, just from an ease-of-use point of view. The previous version was set up to look like a physical book, and you would turn pages to scroll through recipes, etc. New version is set up to look like a computer program, with multiple windows to show the various parts of a recipe . . . there's no way to edit the text in the page view mode, or if there is I haven't found it.

I use MasterCook extensively to keep track of recipes I have already tried and liked. It's extremely easy to share your cookbooks with others by print out or via email or disk. I guess overall I would say that I like what the new version can do, I'm just not too thrilled with how it looks while doing it. But the printed cookbooks are gorgeous!

I'd say invest the $30 for the basic 5.0 software and give it a try . . . it makes posting recipes here a snap!

nanawyo_'s picture

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nihon, Did you review the MasterCook 5.0 Suite? What is your take on it. When I reviewed it on line it looked like the only thing you gained was more recipes, which I am not particularly interested in. Do you have any advice?--nanawyo

MEAN_CHEF's picture

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All of the MC 5 products are the same except for the recipes. I just bought the cheapest one and deleted all of the recipes.

dixie_'s picture

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I apparently bought the cheapest one also because I don't even know about "Betty Crocker" stuff that I have heard others talking about. I do love the capability of copying, and that is the only thing I like about 5.0. I like the 4.0 version much better for my own use - printing the way I want, searching, etc. Actually, I have not deleted any recipes on 5.0 yet, but going to soon (probably whole cookbooks at a time, they just don't fit my life-cooking-style). I am really disappointed so far but maybe I have not given it a chance.

nihon_no_cook's picture

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That's true, as far as I know - you just get extra recipes. Not very helpful to me, since I never look at the already-installed recipes anyway (spend too much time looking at a computer at work to want to spend a leisurely evening looking at the computer for new recipes, too). I bought the basic version, and am happy with it - but if you plan to look at the recipes that come with the program, the extra $10 or $15 for the Suite is certainly cheaper than most paper cookbooks : )