Comparing Recipe Organizers

Shopping Around

If you are visiting this web page, you are probably comparing several recipe organizers. You may have read a few recipe software reviews, or have downloaded a few programs and tried them out. Unfortunately, most reviews are inaccurate, and new users typically only spend a few minutes with a software product to determine what it can or cannot do. The true capabilities of Home Cookin are often overlooked.

In addition, most shoppers compare "features", rather than looking to see if a program really does what they want it to do. Product "A" has more buttons than product "B", so it must be better, right? Not always. In most cases, the features that sell a program are rarely, if ever, used in day to day operations. It's like a car with shiny chrome and lots of gadgets. It looks nice on the showroom floor, but what really matters is how it feels to drive and what it will cost to operate. Also, keep in mind many features claimed by competing products are available in Home Cookin as well, they are just accessed in easier ways than having specific menus or screens for every feature.

Don't Be Misled By Comparison Charts

As you review recipe software products, you will likely run across comparison charts like those at Top Ten Reviews and Living Cookbook. Obviously, each vendor is going to promote the features their software offers while downplaying the features of their competitors. Unfortunately, these lists are frequently inaccurate.

For example, the Living Cookbook chart claims Home Cookin is unable to copy recipes from the internet, and that it only supports Meal-Master and Mastercook recipes. In fact, Home Cookin has the widest support of any recipe product and is able to import recipes from Mastercook, Meal-Master, Big-Oven, Cookbook Wizard, From Scratch, From My Kitchen, Living Cookbook, Now You're Cooking, Recipe Processor, and Computer Chef. Home Cookin also makes it easy to import unformatted recipes from web pages, newsgroups, other applications (like Word), etc.

Home Cookin can also scale recipes, add a photograph to each recipe, perform advanced "and/or" searches, eliminate duplicate recipes, spell check recipes, plan meals days/weeks/months in advance, calculate grocery costs, arrange grocery lists by aisles, and many other features Living Cookbook claims is not supported. Other features like a searchable glossary are not immediately apparent because Home Cookin lets you include as many glossaries or other reference material as you wish in your recipe collection, all of which are fully searchable.

Some charts give Home Cookin poor ratings because there are no predefined fields for ratings, sources, comments, etc. when, in fact, this is by design. Home Cookin lets you enter this information as part of the recipe itself. So you aren't limited by a short sources field, and can add as many comments or ratings as you wish. Any additional information you choose to include is fully searchable with the rest of the recipe, and will export to other applications intact when you share recipes with other users.

Which Features Will You REALLY Use?

Features sell software. The same way commercials show cars racing down city streets, trucks driving over mountains of boulders, and sexy women selling everything from cosmetics to hamburgers. They look great in advertisements, but once you lay down your hard earned money, what will you really be doing with that software?

Unless you are on a restricted diet, you probably won't be calculating nutritional information for your recipes. Sure, you may play around with it for a while, but eventually your main focus will be organizing your recipes and preparing meals you enjoy. Even if you do perform a nutritional analysis, it will only be an approximation. If you have ingredients that aren't in the database, or in an undetermined quantity (i.e. Salt and Pepper to Taste), the calculations will not be accurate. Nutritional values also vary wildly from one brand to the next, which throws off the calculations unless you plan to indicate specific brands in all of your recipes.

Another feature frequently promoted is an automatic grocery list. While this sounds good on paper, it's really not something that works well in practice. You rarely need to buy every ingredient for a recipe, and the ingredients are usually listed in sizes you wouldn't buy at the store anyway (when was the last time you bought 1/2 cup of flour at the store?). Not to mention meals for which you don't use a recipe (grilling a steak, for instance), or the extra items you'll need like toothpaste, detergents, and paper products. I discuss this common misconception in more detail on the FAQ page.

While features are flashy, Home Cookin focuses on the tasks you will perform from day to day. Nearly every feature competing software offers is available in Home Cookin, though not necessarily through a dedicated button or menu item. If we don't offer a feature in Home Cookin, it's probably because there are practical real-life reasons why they don't work well.

Do Your Research

You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive, so why purchase recipe software without trying it out first?

I encourage you to try out as many recipe programs as you can. Everyone has their own individual requirements, and no single product will meet the needs of all users. Download the trial versions and see how they work for your needs. Try the tasks you are likely to perform on a daily basis. Type in a few recipes, see how easy it is to find the recipes you are interested in, and how easy it is to print the recipe or email it to friends?

Also consider what your future needs might be. Will you need to pay for extra features or additional recipe collections? How much will upgrades cost in the future? Is the program flexible with recipe ingredients, meal planning, or grocery lists? Is it easy to add new recipes you find on web pages, or from a friends email? Can you use the program without internet access if you are traveling or your network goes down? Can you create real cookbooks for your family?

I have spent over 20 years refining my recipe products, and truly feel Home Cookin is the easiest to use recipe software available. I hope you will enjoy it too! I would be happy to answer any questions you may have, whether you purchase my software or not. And I'm always interested in hearing your ideas and suggestions for future improvements. I respond to all emails within 24 hours, usually within a matter of minutes. If you do not receive a response, I did not receive your message, so please feel free to contact me again.

Best wishes on your search for recipe software!

Take care,

Anthony Watson
Mountain Software