It’s hard to imagine a busier time in the typical family kitchen than during the holidays — when not only do the meals tend to be more elaborate, but they also serve the centerpiece of many family gatherings. Add in the fact that holiday meals usually feature (often many) more guests than the typical household breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and it’s enough to make even the most experienced of cooks feel the heat.
But there’s no need to get overwhelmed. With the help of modern technology, the cooking-related stress can be at least somewhat eased as an array of smartphone apps are available to lend a (virtual) hand with the mountain of chores in the kitchen. Cooks seeking some help handling the holiday culinary frenzy can turn to these eight kitchen-duty-related apps for some much-needed assistance:
Primarily a recipe app (it boasts 350,000-plus recipes covering all different types of cuisines and offering options for nearly any occasion), BigOven also offers a handy grocery-list feature that allows users to add items straight from their favorite recipes, share lists with family members, sort items by department, and mark off items as they shop. Later, the app helps users eliminate food waste with its Use Up Leftovers feature, which will offer recipes based on the ingredients users have on hand. The app is free, and it’s available in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.
This app trims a ton of work for coupon clippers by putting digital coupons for the groceries they need right on their phones. It can search fliers from over 1,000 retail stores, associate available coupons with the items on users’ grocery lists, and then let users know which retailers in their area are offering the best deals. Flipp is free to download and use and it’s available in the App Store and on Google Play.
3. Allrecipes Dinner Spinner
For cooks who sometimes struggle to decide just what to cook on a given day, this free app helps users identify meal choices based on what’s on sale in stores near them — and will even suggest a recipe as a user walks into a select store. It also features tons of recipes, step-by-step cooking videos, social sharing features and much more. Users can find it on the App Store and via Google Play.
4. Perfect Produce
This app helps take the mystery out of choosing the best fresh produce by telling users just what to look for in their fruits and vegetables. (For example, they should grab soft-spot-free avocados that are firm but yield to gentle pressure for immediate use, or hard, still-slightly-green avocados to store for use at a later date.) Later, the app can provide helpful storage and handling tips (that hard avocado, for example, can last for up to five days in the fridge), plus offer nutritional information, recipes and preparation guidance. Perfect Produce is free and available in the App Store and on Google Play.
5. Smart Foods Organic Diet Buddy
For grocery shoppers who prefer to buy organic but can’t always pay the premium that comes with the lifestyle choice, this free app identifies the fruits and vegetables that typically contain the highest pesticide levels — and therefore are most worthwhile to buy organic. It also guides shoppers regarding the produce for which organic purchases aren’t quite as vital. Further resources provided include a farmers market finder, a nutrition calculator and more. The app is available in the App Store and via Google Play.
6. Nose to Tail
This app designed for devoted carnivores maps out the various cuts of meat, where they come from and how best to cook them. More than 80 cuts of beef are identified and detailed in the free version, while details on chicken, lamb and pork cuts are available through in-app purchases. Nose to Tail is available in the App Store and on Google Play.
7. Wave Timer
Professional and rookie cooks alike know how messy their hands can get when working in the kitchen, and how the mess can spread to pretty much everything they touch in the process. This app helps rein in the cleanup chores — and keep users’ phones from getting all gunked up — by using the iPhone’s front-facing camera to allow users to stop a timer/alarm with a simple (and touch-free) wave of the hand. The free app is available to download from Apple’s App Store.
In addition to offering alternatives to ingredients that might cause issues for allergy sufferers or wreck that hard-to-follow weight-loss regimen, this app can help prevent a cooking disaster and/or a mid-prep run to the grocery store when users realize they forgot to pick up baking powder or buttermilk. Substitutions is free to download in the App Store.
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