When personal computers first came out they promised to reduce the paper clutter but we all know that didn't happen especially for those of us eager to print out new recipes. Fast forward to 2013, and going digital without all the paper clutter has never been so easy. There really is no longer a need to buy food magazines, clip recipes from magazines or newspapers, photocopy recipes from borrowed books or write out shopping lists. All you need is a digital camera, a computer and/or laptop and/or tablet. But don't let this scare you as all are very inexpensive these days. You can easily set yourself up with all three for under $500 which sounds like a lot of money but given the relatively low payback period combined with the continued savings over the lifetime of that equipment, going digital is the way to go.
I, like many, have gone almost entirely digital for recipes and food related information. Not only am I reducing the paper clutter, I'm saving money while doing so. Before I go into details, as with all digital, make sure you back-up your data. You can use a USB flash drives, an external hard drive or iCloud (allows all your registered equipment to access the data online). Following are some of the ways to save money in the kitchen by going digital that I use:
- food magazine subscriptions - I gave up buying magazines in favour of the digital versions. Like the hard copies, you can buy one copy or a subscription and back copies are usually available. They are set up identical to viewing the paper copy. I subscribe to Cook's Illustrated (33% off single issue price) and just bought a subscription to Taste of Home (62% off single issue price) as well as a single special issue of Chatelaine ($4.99) and single issue of Food Network Magazine ($3.99). In addition to the reduced subscription costs, many of the magazines offer extras like videos. The beauty of electronic subscriptions is less to carry when traveling. The magazines are safely tucked away on my iPad ready to enjoy anywhere. I can buy single issues of magazines including back issues anywhere I have online access. The magazines can be archived for later access as well.
- recipes - I use a variety of apps on the iPad to store my own recipes (My Recipe Book), quickly search/view online recipes and store my favourites (Epicurious, FoodNetwork) as well as recipe collections and cookbooks (iBooks). Some of these also create shopping lists from the recipes. I don't use recipe software on the desktop or laptop although I did at one time. I do have a collection of recipes on both though. I use the laptop and iPad in much the same way others would use a recipe book, right in the kitchen when cooking. There is a holder for the iPad so you can put it at eye level on your refrigerator, out of harms way but still convenient for recipes and grocery lists. I use my digital camera to take pictures of recipes I want to try from borrowed recipe books and magazines. The results are rather impressive and they are free!
- grocery lists - As mentioned some of the recipe organizing apps have a grocery list feature and there are several apps for generating shopping lists. I like the Buy Me a Pie! app for making my shopping lists. There is a free version and a paid version ($2.99); I liked it enough to buy the app.