The Daily Special: 4 Essential Apps for the Creative Cook

On average, Americans cook just 30 minutes a day, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. That’s the lowest average found in a study covering 34 different countries. The implication is that better opportunities do not necessarily increase the quality of living among a group of people. Fast food, prepackaged meals and other conveniences may free up time in our daily lives, but they also affect our physical health. Cooking is a healthy lifestyle choice, and a wide range of mobile apps aim to make cooking more accessible and fun. If you’re looking to bolster your chef skills or simply get more direction in your culinary efforts, consider adding these four apps to your toolbox.

Learn to cook healthy recipes like this brie, blueberry and almond salad with these four great smartphone apps. Image by AmazingAlmonds via Flickr.

1. Epicurious

For discovering new recipes and working with specific ingredients, Epicurious is a great resource. This app collects recipes from a wide range of culinary resources to provide users with a massive body of options. Searches can be done according to the type of meal you’re trying to make or the foods you want to include. Ratings and reviews also provide additional information on these professional recipes, so your first attempt can be a stunner. And if you really love the app, you can sync it with other apps on your BlackBerry 10, including your recipe box and grocery lists, all through one convenient portal.

2. Food Network

The Food Network app lets you carry around professional chefs and their instructional guides wherever you go. In addition to the text-based recipes, you can watch videos that walk you through the cooking process and even learn additional tips, tricks and techniques that will sharpen your culinary skills. This is a great supplement to your favorite Food Network shows, since you can recall past recipes and segments and consult them during your meal preparation. Other features include meal planners, interactive planners and shopping lists.

3. Happy Cooking

If you’re looking for a culinary guide offering an international flair, Happy Cooking may be it. In addition to recipes from around the world, this app connects the foods being prepared with the native cultures that invented these foods. Users can create their own dish diaries, which are comprehensive recipes complete with cooking methods and step-by-step photos. In addition to searching by region, recipes can be discovered by searching for ingredients, dish types and whether or not you’re looking for a health-minded meal. Happy Cooking is a great way to explore the world from the comfort of your own kitchen.

4. OurGroceries

Want to get the family involved in the kitchen? Get them started by contributing to the grocery list. The big problem with most grocery apps is they only allow one user to edit the list. OurGroceries takes a more collectivist approach, allowing multiple family members to access and edit your growing shopping list. This can be a great stepping-stone to encouraging other family members to take charge making a meal on a set night every week. But even if one party still manages most of the cooking in the home, OurGroceries will make that process much more collaborative and social.