FAQ: Miscellaneous Questions

Can I create grocery lists automatically from my meal plans?

No. While this sounds like a good feature, there are numerous reasons why it is not practical:

Home Cookin has no way of knowing which items you already have on hand, and which you need. For instance, you probably do not want to buy salt every time a recipe asks for salt.
Grocery items are often purchased in different quantities than recipes ask for them. For instance, flour is usually used by the cup, but purchased in 5 or 10 pound bags.
Many ingredients can be interpreted in multiple ways. For instance, if a recipe asks for 1/2 cup corn, Home Cookin wouldn't know if you needed fresh, frozen, or canned.
Most recipes require only two or three ingredients you do not already have on hand. It is much faster to select the items you need than it is to remove items you do not need from an automatic list.
Home Cookin allows you to plan for meals that are not in the recipe database, such as referencing a page in a printed cookbook. There is no way to determine what ingredients are needed for meals like this, other than selecting them manually.
A large percentage of a typical grocery list consists of items for which there are no recipes. For instance, cold cereals, bread, milk, toilet paper, dish soap, etc.
Home Cookin does not use strict ingredient fields. This makes it much easier to enter your recipes, but also makes it difficult to "reliably" extract ingredients for a grocery list.
However, you can simplify the process of selecting the items you need for a recipe, by selecting that item from the recipe screen. While you are viewing a recipe, place the mouse pointer over the ingredient you want to find, and click on that word. For example, click on the word "flour" on a line that says "1/2 cup flour".

Selecting grocery items manually is much faster than it sounds and gives you the most control. In most cases, you will spend far more time choosing your meals and checking your supplies, than you will selecting the grocery items for those meals.

Can I calculate nutritional values for my recipes?

No. There are a variety of reasons why Home Cookin does not perform nutritional calculations:

For a recipe program to calculate nutritional values, it must maintain a database of ingredients for which it has information on. If you enter an ingredient that is not listed in the database, the nutritional values for the recipe will be inaccurate. While many recipe applications avoid this by limiting you to the ingredients they have data for, Home Cookin allows you to enter any ingredient you wish.
Nutritional values vary wildly from one brand to the next (For example, compare the nutritional labels on any two brands of identical sized canned foods). Unless you specify the exact brand of every ingredient in your recipes, and the nutritional data in the recipe application matches that brand, the values for the recipe will be inaccurate.
Home Cookin allows you to enter recipe ingredients in any format. Items like Enough water to cover, Salt and Pepper to taste, 2 to 3 cups water, Flour as needed, A large handful, etc. Even something as simple as one can of tomatoes will work fine in Home Cookin, and you might instinctively know what this means. But, to calculate nutritional information it would be necessary to specify the exact size of that can, and to enter the ingredient in a specified format (i.e. 16 ounce can tomatoes). While it's generally a good idea anyway, Home Cookin gives you that flexibility if you need it.

Scanning recipes into Home Cookin

Home Cookin does not support scanners directly, but you can scan in recipes if you have OCR software (Optical Character Recognition) for your scanner.
  1. Scan in your recipe
  2. Use OCR to convert the image to text
  3. Save the text to a file, or copy it to Windows clipboard
  4. Import the recipe into Home Cookin using the Manual import method
While this process can work well in certain situations, it is a slow and complicated process. Since most recipes will need to be edited anyway to clean up errors generated during the OCR process, it is often faster and easier to type the recipe in manually.


When you scan a recipe from a printed page, the result is a digital photo. If you want to edit the text in that photo, you need to use special OCR software (optical character recognition) to convert the pixels in the image to text you can save and edit in other programs.

There are a variety of reasons why OCR is not implemented directly in Home Cookin. Optical character recognition is a complex task to do well. It requires sophisticated algorithms to detect the patterns of each letter, number, or symbol in a variety of fonts. While dedicated OCR products like Omnipage usually produce acceptable results, there are almost always errors in the converted documents. I have tried a number of OCR products over the years and in every case I have found it easier and more accurate to just type the recipe in by hand.

This is certainly not a limitation of Home Cookin. If you look around at other recipe applications you will see none of them offer direct scanning either, for the same reasons mentioned above.

There are paid services such as the "Recipe Scan" option by the folks at BigOven.com, who will type in your recipes for you. However, at an approximate cost of a dollar per recipe, that could get expensive quickly. You also have to wait for them to type the recipe in and send it back to you. As a small business, I simply don't have the time or manpower to offer a similar service. If you want to go that route, you could probably hire your kids, grandkids, or students to type in recipes at a lower cost.

Finally, most recipes you will find in newspapers, magazines, or cookbooks can be found online. Either from the source itself, or that readers have typed in and uploaded. Once you find a recipe online, you can easily copy the recipe and import it into Home Cookin.

How do I print a cookbook with Home Cookin Recipe Software?

Home Cookin was designed to replace printed cookbooks with a system that allows easier access to your recipes. However, there are a variety of ways you can create printed cookbooks, from simple to extravagant:

Print to standard letter size pages and place them in a 3-ring binder for presentation.
Print to 3x5 or 4x6 index cards and place them in a decorative photo album for presentation. Many office supply stores also sell clear sheets that will hold four index cards in a traditional binder.
Print using the "booklet" print layout, then fold and staple the pages into a small cookbook.
Export recipes using the PDF Cookbook format. This will create a print ready PDF file complete with a title page and index at the end. You can send the PDF to friends and family for them to print out, or you can upload the file to a printing service like Lulu.com and have professionally bound cookbooks printed. Coil bound books are best for the kitchen, as they lay flat while you are cooking. But a hardcover book has a more professional look for gift giving. See the Cookbook Instructions for more information.
You might also consider distributing your recipes electronically. The easiest way to do this is to "export" the recipes you want to share to a text file. You can then send the file by email, copy it to a flash drive, or burn it to a CD to share with friends and family. They can print or view the recipes using any text editor or word processor, or they can import the recipes into the recipe software of their choice.

Fix Home Cookin recipe organizer so you can add new recipes.

Windows protects many folders on your computer by creating virtual copies. This can cause problems with Home Cookin when the recipes you add are not saved where the program expects to find them. Home Cookin will appear to function normally, allowing you to enter and save your new recipe. The next time you open Home Cookin your new recipe will be missing since Windows saved it to a virtual folder.

When you first install Home Cookin, the folder permissions are set so Windows knows not to create a virtual copy of the folder. However, if you create the folder manually, it will revert back to the virtual behavior. This may occur when moving Home Cookin to a new computer, or when restoring files from a backup.

To fix this problem you must run the installer that came with your original version. This will not affect your existing recipes, but it will configure the folder permissions and recreate the desktop shortcut icon.

Your original installer can usually be found in the Home Cookin folder at C:\Program Files\Home Cookin\setup.exe. Or, you can download the trial version if you are using the current version of Home Cookin. If you are unable to locate your installer and are using an older version of Home Cookin, you will need to upgrade to the current version.

Solution to error 4119 when saving PDF cookbook.

A bug in version 6 can sometimes result in error 4119 when trying to save a PDF cookbook. The error occurs when creating a new file, so you can work around the problem by overwriting an existing file with your PDF cookbook:

1. Quit Home Cookin and copy any file (text, music, or whatever) to the folder where you want to save the PDF document.

2. Rename the file to the name you want to use for your PDF document (i.e. Cookbook.pdf). Ignore any warnings about changing the file type.

3. Open Home Cookin and create your PDF cookbook as usual.

4. When you save the PDF, select the Cookbook.pdf file you copied earlier (overwriting the existing file).

This bug was fixed in version 7. We recommend upgrading to the current version.

Fix the "System file is not suitable" error

Running older 16-bit applications on Windows XP often results in an error message that includes the phrase "The system file is not suitable...". This is usually caused by missing or damaged Windows system files that are necessary to support 16-bit applications.

Home Cookin 5.0 and later are not affected, since they are 32-bit applications. However, if you are still using version 4.9 or earlier, you may want to try one of these solutions:

1. Download the "Quick Fix" utility from www.softpedia.com

2. Worldstart discusses the problem at worldstart.com

3. Microsoft discusses the problem in detail in knowledge base Article #324767