I often find myself juggling a lot as a single parent.
One of those juggling acts includes what to make for dinner on the nights my three kids are with me. Back when I was married, I was the cook, but now I want to make the dinner hour even more special, so I find myself trying to not only make something they like, but which will hopefully make them love food as much as I do.
My friend Mark Briggs found himself in a similar predicament. I ran into Briggs, a journalism entrepreneur and editor, at a recent journalism and technology conference and we began talking about the new app he has developed – FORK. The idea came after his daughter began displaying post-it notes of reviews and suggestions of dinners they liked and disliked on his refrigerator. We dads often find inspiration from our kids, and Briggs soon found himself working on an app.
FORK allows you to like a particular picture of a food dish and allows for comments and questions. One recent picture of a French Toast Casserole posted by one of his friends prompted Briggs to ask, “How do you make that?” So, there's the ability to exchange recipes and have a conversation as well.
The real value is the ability to show my kids a photo of what I was thinking of making – while shopping for food with them. It's a feature that cuts across many food apps but the photos on this app are dynamic – much of the screen is devoted to the image. The ability to show my kids a photo and describe the recipe allows them to be a part of the dinner-planning process. Gone are the days of force-feeding your kids what you think is good for them!
As I played around with FORK, it got me to thinking about what similar apps and programs there are available around food. Here's a short (and of course incomplete) list of apps I found:
First of all, what a cool name. I think food apps may have the coolest names. This application operates together with Spotify and offers playlists to go with the dinners you select. Click on a dish you want to make and not only do you get a recipe, but you also get a playlist to go with food preparation and a playlist for when you sit down to eat. I like this idea because it allows you to dance in the kitchen!
iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle Fire, Nook Color; Free
There's a very large database to choose from here as well as some nice categorizations, including “Lunches Kids Love.” Yay! Can we get a “Hiding Veggies in Yummy Dishes” category? What I really like about this app is the site's option for email updates, including a “Recipe of the Day.”
iOS, Windows Phone; Free
A little confusing at first as an app, but once you get situated, the ability to mix-and-match ingredients – and to ask for recipes that take 20 minutes or less to prepare – is a virtual godsend. Working parents everywhere are going to like this app.
iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, NOOK, Windows Phone, Windows, Web; Free
This app lives up to its name – many offerings here but I really like their categorizations, including “Comfort Food” and “Vacation.” Big Oven also has menus for holidays, seasons and menus for when it's hot and humid!
It's increasingly a mobile world and having access to menus, recipes and photos while shopping creates new opportunities for interaction between parents and their kids. And I see myself spending a lot more time roaming the aisles, checking out recipes.
What foods apps do you recommend? Feel free to offer up your suggestions in the comments section.