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Rita_Scanlan's picture

Howdy all!

A quick intro: I'm Rita, a Web editor at Taunton (on the words, not tech, side). I do cook, but couldn't call myself a Cook--maybe I can claim that title when I develop some level of common sense about it. And, finally, I'm addicted to Alton Brown.

Anyhoo... does anyone have any strong feelings about recipe software? Do you actively use your software? Any brands you'd recommend? Any features in particular to look for? Is it worth the purchase when there are so many sites with recipes and customizable recipe boxes?

Thanks for any input!


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MEANCHEF's picture

(post #57157, reply #1 of 24)

I think most of us use Mastercook 6.  It is great.


Jean's picture

(post #57157, reply #3 of 24)

There was a folder on MasterCook that Li was going to save. Has it disappeared?


Am I ambivalent?  Well, yes and no.

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
nutcakes's picture

(post #57157, reply #2 of 24)

We have been asked many times about fav recipe software and the answer is always MasterCook!   You might try a search for previous discussions.


I lost my old v4.0 so am ready to update to 6.0 as soon as I find it.  One store had alternatives but I was not interested in considering it.  It is nice but not necessary to get popular cookbooks with the software...the main use for me and others here is to store and catalogue our own recipes.  I don't know of any websites that let you do this--do you?  I used my mastercook almost daily.


Even though I do use a recipe box on epicurious, for instance, I can't add my comments and variations or do a calorie look-up like I can if I import the recipe to MasterCook.  Also some websites, like foodtv, will only provide reicpes for a limited time. 


I like that you can make different books 'diet' ' family heirlooms' etc

I like the calorie and nutritional info it will give you

I like to have recipes called 'Leftover Mashed Potato Uses' to jog my memory.

I like to be able to index recipes by multiple catagory 'Italian' 'vegetarian'

saj14saj's picture

(post #57157, reply #4 of 24)

Before using a computerized recipe system, you should ask yourself some questions such as:

1.  Will you actually use and benefit from the features it has, such as the ability to scale recipes, plan shopping lists, or estimate nutritional analysis.

2.  Do you have so many recipes that you need a robust categorization system, and are willing to invest in the discipline necessary to get your information into the system under the categories you will need?

3.  Are you willing to structure your recipes in the format that the system wants them to be in?

For example, I have long, long been a fan of the recipe format that the folks used for the 1970's edition of Joy of Cooking, with the prep list/ingredients dispersed through the recipe (but easy to see for mis en place due to being indented and bolded).  Most programs only have one format, and you will like it, or you will like it.

If the answer  to the first question is no, the software might not be worth the effort.  If the answer to the second or third is no, then you will almost definitely stop using it once the novelty factor has worn off. 

For me, I would like 1 since I often double or half recipes--but since I am a big No on 2 and 3 I stopped using MasterCook.

Instead, I keep all my recipes in some fairly well organized word processing style files in Lotus Notes (since I am a computer professional, and have it available), but if I didn't I would simply use my word processor.  It just isn't worth the work of getting the recipes typed into MasterCook (despite its scanning or import features) for me.

. . .

Now, I am not saying not to get a recipe automation program.

Just think carefully about what you want to get out of the program, whether program will give it to you, and whether you are willing to do what is necessary to get it--and whether using a word processor which you already might have will get you 80% of the benefits for free.

. . .

And no matter how you keep your recipes, eat lots of chocolate!





Tuck's picture

(post #57157, reply #5 of 24)

Hi SAJ, I agree with you on most of those posts but I don't find it difficult at all to get the recipes into the program.  I have found since the last child left the nest, I use the scaling feature more than ever and find it most helpful and for us, this feature makes the cost worthwhile.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #57157, reply #7 of 24)

I guess I don't quite agree.  Although I do scale recipes it is not that often.  Nutritional stuff and shopping lists I never use.

The primary reasons I use it is:

A place to keep/edit recipes so they can be read/printed/emailed/posted to the web.

And most important is the import feature which allows for putting in most/new recipes without typing.

I have always kept recipes in the standard format of ingredients first then directions.  Nothing else makes much sense to me.


Tuck's picture

(post #57157, reply #6 of 24)

Rita, I don't know what the cost is in the USA, but I know a place you can get it in Canada, and for Canadians at least they pay the shipping costs.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

Tuck's picture

(post #57157, reply #8 of 24)

Rita, just out of curiosity I did an advanced search on "Mastercook", 100 responses came back.  Too many to post for you.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague

Edited 3/27/2002 11:34:29 PM ET by tuck

Jean's picture

(post #57157, reply #9 of 24)

Oh, that's relief. I must have used the wrong spelling or two words or something when I searched. I was afraid that stuff was gone into some cosmic chasm.


Am I ambivalent?  Well, yes and no.

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Gretchen's picture

(post #57157, reply #10 of 24)

Our son was just telling us last night about a networking program he is setting up such that I could take a laptop to my kitchen and access my recipes on my main computer.  Now THAT I would be interested in.  I have printed out inches of recipes!!  That would be  inches THICK.


Rita_Scanlan's picture

(post #57157, reply #11 of 24)

Hey, this is where you all live when you're not in the Sandbox!!!

Good morning*

Thanks for all of the advice! I'll definitely do a search on MasterCook, since it has such a following here. No other brands made the cut? (I'll check the previous discussions.)

It does seem that, even with the Web sites that offer lots of functions (such as or, most of them I don't use--such as the ones Mean mentioned, the shopping list and the scale function. But the importing recipes is very attractive.

I'm afraid to hear the answer of this question, but: Can you import Fine Cooking recipes from our site? I know we don't have printer-friendly versions, which we're working on. I'm just curious about how this importing works. Like SAJ suggested, I have to question whether I have the discipline to enter my bookmarked recipes in my cook books (if I look at my track record with entering my checkbook stuff into Quicken, my hopes are dim). But if the import function is fairly effortless, as Tuck said, that could make it all worth it. Nutcakes: The site I've been using is, but I haven't noticed whether you can enter notes, etc.

And, as Gretchen brought up, I've been printing each recipe as I use it and storing it in a binder. Networking through a laptop--see, I DO need a laptop more than I need a hole in the head!

Off to do my search--Jean, I'm glad to see the search works, too!

Thanks again!!



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Li's picture

(post #57157, reply #12 of 24)

To Lovely Rita:

Version 6.0 of MasterCook Deluxe is $19.99. from I don't know about the importing of recipes from our site, but I'd be interested to hear.

To all the rest of you:

The MasterCook info was supposed to be imported into this folder, but I think it wound up getting lumped in with the general archives. Sorry, my bad. Once I get this issue out the door, I'll try to track down the threads and move them.

Cooks Talk

Only connect.

Rita_Scanlan's picture

(post #57157, reply #14 of 24)

Thanks for the info. I think I should just have my direct deposit routed to Amazon!

Thanks, Mean, for the import explanation. The cut and paste makes sense. I was thinking that there might be some sites compatible with MasterCook, so you'd just open MasterCook, go to a site, then hit "import." Yes, then I would expect it to cook the meal for me :)

Good luck with the deadline, Li!

And a happy Easter to all!


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TracyK's picture

(post #57157, reply #15 of 24)

Hey Rita! Actually, there are a couple sites that have MasterCook compatible cookbooks... entire collections of many hundreds of recipes, from Emeril to Martha to bread machine to bartender's bibles. Mean, you posted one a while back... do you still have the link? I've got it bookmarked at home but not here at work.

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #57157, reply #16 of 24)

cten's picture

(post #57157, reply #17 of 24)

Mean Chef provided the following "tutorial" regarding importing recipes to MasterCook. For easy reference I keep it as the first item in a Word file where I dump all recipes I want to eventually enter into MasterCook.


The easiest way to import a recipe is as follows:

1) Go to the web site where the recipe resides. Highlight the entire recipe, then right click and select copy.

2) Open the cookbook in MC where you want to put the recipe. Then go to MC file, and click on import assistant. At this point you will see a blank recipe come up as well as the import assistant screen.

3) Go to the blank area in the import assistant screen, right click and select paste. The recipe should now be on your import assistant screen.

4) In order to make it simple (for me), I then go to the recipe on the IA screen and do a bit of editing (many times it is unnecessary).

5) Edit as follows: make sure you have title on top (no other verbage - delete it if you do), then a space. Next should be your ingredient list with no spaces between ingredients. Then another space followed by directions. For ease of learning, just delete everything else in the recipe like yield, author etc. (just for the time being. assume you can type those few things in later but after you master what I am telling you we can do advanced training)

6) Next go to the recipe in IA, right click and choose "select all". This will highlight all of your recipe. Then click on "auto-fill". Your recipe should now fill in entirely by itself automatically.

7) There are times when "preparation" verbage is too long and it will carry it to another line, so you need to proof the recipe before closing IA. Once you are satisfied you can close IA and go to file, save. You are now done.

8) If you have another recipe for the same cookbook just select in and start over with your new recipe.


MEANCHEF's picture

(post #57157, reply #13 of 24)

You can import from any web page.  If the recipe is in fairly standard format,   Title, ingredients, directions etc, all you would have to do is highlight it and then paste into the import box in MC.  From there you just zap it into MC.  Then you can make any changes or additions you want.  There are times when recipes are not formatted exactly right, but fixing them is pretty easy.  At least there is no typing.


Edited 3/28/2002 6:04:53 PM ET by MEAN CHEF

devon_rd's picture

(post #57157, reply #18 of 24)

I've used Mastercook and don't use it much anymore. One of the main reasons I wanted it was to look up nutritional information, but most recipes in magazines come with the nutritional info so what's the point. I also wanted to be able to print my recipes out on 4 x 6 cards, but most office supply stores didn't sell the Avery cards that Mastercook had formats for (they are also very expensive).

I started exporting my recipes from Mastercook and opening them up in Word to format - and there is a editing that has to be done because of the way the recipes are exported. The reason for going to Word is that I set up a document template for a 4 x 6 index card. I can buy a package of index cards for $1.99 (CDN) which is a lot more inexpensive than buying the Avery products (even if I could find them), so I don't even use Mastercook anymore.

I store my recipes in one of those little photo albums that you can buy at camera shops. You can buy the plastic refills and it's a great way to use the recipes. I just open the album to the recipe and lay it flat on the counter and the recipe card doesn't get dirty.

PeterDurand's picture

(post #57157, reply #19 of 24)


I looked into Mastercook and decided to stick to my system.

Its easy. Cut and paste or scan with your favorite OCR and save (I use the rtf. format in Word) into the appropriate folder. For instance > Recipes then a whole bunch of subfolders : soup, pasta and so on. Add notes or pictures as appropriate. And back up to 2 CDs from time to time.

Print when needed.



DanMetzcus's picture

(post #57157, reply #20 of 24)

I thought I was the only one Pete, as long as I keep the folders organized Word works well for me also.

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right

betty0126732's picture

(post #57157, reply #21 of 24)

I am on a Macintosh. And I copy recipes from all over the internet. I just copy and then paste them into an Appleworks document. I always begin with the URL address, hit return a couple of times, copy the recipe, and then paste it into the document. I name the document by the name of the recipe. Then when done for that, I put the documents on my desktop into folders labeled RECIPES 01 and RECIPES 02. 01 has recipes arranged alphabetically A to L, and 02 has M to Z. If I come across at a later time, say a second or third recipe for "Chocolate Cake" I go back to the document name and add 02, or 03, or whatever is appropriate, before adding it to the file folder. Then I go to the original recipe I had for "chocolate cake" and add 01 to that recipe. That way, in the folder, they follow in sequence

Chocolate Cake 01

Chocolate Cake 02

Chocolate Cake 03,

and so on. If I want to check out my recipes for a particular one, I open the file folder and go to the names I want. Or, if I am not sure just what I labeled that recipe as, I go to the FIND feature, and ask it to find all documents with the word, "Chocolate". Then it shows everyplace I have such an item, what hard drive it is on (I have 3 hard drives on my computer with over 30 Gigabits of memory. I have computers all over the house, and they are all networked, so I seldom print any thing out. I do back up with a CD writer periodically, so that if anything should crash, my files are retrievable and replacable. This really works for me and save on ink, paper, and my time. I am a retired librarian with over 10,000 cookbooks, and just use the organizational formats that worked best for me when I was working. Hope this helps. betty

Jangomango's picture

(post #57157, reply #22 of 24)

Thanks - helps me and my new Mac.  

Adele's picture

(post #57157, reply #23 of 24)

Hi Betty!

WOW! Over 10,000 cookbooks?????? Bet you could find all kinds of information for us. How do you keep them? Author? Type? Color? - LOL

But, but, its SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

betty0126732's picture

(post #57157, reply #24 of 24)

Before he died, my financé made a library for me in the basement with floor to ceiling shelves. Unfortunately, they don't move, so I keep them the way the first libraries ever kept their books. By size. However, I don't chain mine to the shelves. I pretty much remember where things are, and have some arrangements such as Czech cookbooks, series such as Time-Life Foods of the World, diet, old time cookbooks, my mother's cookbooks, etc. I literally fell into collecting cookbooks. I had a "library" upstairs, actually the third bedroom, and was running out of space - well, that had already happened long before. I decided to put a lot of bookcases around the walls of my family room downstairs and so I asked my son and his little friend, they were about 9, to sort the cookbooks out of the books they were bringing downstairs for me, so that I could keep the cookbooks near the kitchen. I came upstairs after a couple of hours to see if they wanted lunch, and literally fell over this huge pile of books in the dining room. I raised my voice (polite for low key scolding) and said, I thought I told you to bring these books downstairs. Well, yes they said, but you told us to keep the cookbooks upstairs. So!, said I. And they said, Well, these are all cookbooks. I looked and the munchkins were right. That's when I realized I was collecting cookbooks with out even knowing it. I buy from garage sales, used book stores, auctions, estate sales, and reluctantly, new book stores. No one ever gives me a cookbook anymore because no one else knows what I do and do not have. But they could buy new ones, because I seldom buy any new ones ever. Anyway, he built the library for me, and I ran out of space. I have boxes and boxes of cookbooks still unopened just stacked up. Unfortunately, I haven't stopped gathering cookbooks to my bosom! I love to read them, and lately have gravitated to cookbooks made by families for themselves. The stories they have inside are great! And the most prized cookbooks, other than my mom's, are the ones with scribbled notes inside from the previous owner cook, that give this works this doesn't directions. I just love cookbooks, although to meet me you'd never know. Obsessive compulsive I'm sure! All collectors are, in one way or another. I don't have enough money to travel the world and pick up a cookbook 1500 years old for thousands of dollars, I tend to buy as inexpensively as I can. But since I've retired, I really only look things up for myself. But my favorite cookbook and the one I give to new brides is the older edition of JOY OF COOKING by Rombauer, say one from the 60's or 70's. It, all around, is one of the best.