App Review - Paprika for Mac and IOS

In the good ole-days everybody collected their recipes in various books, notepads, and binders because that was really the only option. However, the problem with that is finding the recipe again! Nevertheless, it was a model that worked well for many people for a great long time and many people stick with it today.

For me, being a child of the computer age, I like to have the machine do the work for me and so notepads and slips of paper are not a good solution. It's even more relevant now when we have powerful options like tablets and smartphones that allow the integration of applications in very useful ways and so enter the Paprika app for recipe management which offers up support on Mac OS X, IOS, and Android platforms (sorry, no Windows).

Now, there are several apps out there that do things very similar to Paprika (notably MacGourmet Deluxe), but I haven't really encountered any that do as much for as little. I've been using Paprika for quite a while now, so what I'm going to do is describe how I use it, then I'll go into what I think are the highs and lows (or hits and misses) of the application itself.

So, I have the Mac and IOS versions installed on all my devices. With the Mac version, I do most of my recipe browsing and editing because the full keyboard and large screen real-estate lends itself better to the task of editing.

It's also easier to manage the import of unsupported site recipes using the Mac version simply because selection and addition are much simpler with a mouse or trackpad there.

I will do a few other things on the Mac version, sometimes adding items to the shopping list as I'm working, but primarily this is how I use it. I don't generally use the meal planning features since our schedule is so unpredictable.

I use the iPhone version of the app for shopping and, from time to time, emergency recipe entering when I'm away from home. The ability to synchronize the shopping list between devices makes it really handy for adding grocery items in any of the devices and then picking them up in the phone version for actual shopping.

You can add to the shopping cart directly from the recipe (hence the quantities you're unlikely to buy), but if you ignore that little quirk, it's pretty handy and Paprika has an option to combine duplicates when adding ingredients from multiple recipes.

I use the iPad version in the kitchen as my cookbook.

The iPad is large enough to make the text readable from a distance, but small enough to keep it out of the way of cooking activities. Couple with a stylus that can be handled with sticky/messy hands and you have a good way of viewing your recipe without risk of messing up the device. Consider, too, that you no longer risk spilling ingredients over your carefully hand-written recipe book.

So, I'm going to start with where I think this app can be improved.
  • No option for inline images with the recipes. This is truly unfortunate, because visual guides to certain activities or the ability to show what something should look like at a certain step is hugely powerful. It also represents my single biggest complaint about this otherwise superb application. I end up with a bunch of recipes in Evernote as a consequence.
  • No option for good sub-dividing of recipe sections. Many recipes are multi-part such that you have the ingredients and steps for say the cake, then ingredients and steps for the icing. The point is, being able to do something as handy as a header would be huge.
  • No option for multiple shopping lists. I don't buy all of my things at the same store and having the ability to create multiple lists would be very handy.
  • No option for creating new aisles in the shopping list. Some of us shop at specialized stores, so we end up with a lot under "miscellaneous" as a result of our selection not fitting a pre-determined selection of aisles.
  • Category selection clears itself when reopening during the import phase.
  • The web browser import is embedded and so annoying flash popups and other irritating advertising techniques bombard you on some sites. An external plug-in like Evernote has would be so much better.
  • Simplified, high-contrast, view when cooking would be handy, but not particularly a problem for me.
Now, what's good?
  • Recipe import is very, very, good despite my note above. It works like a charm for the support list, as you would expect, but I also find that it often works well with many of the food blogs out there. When it doesn't, then you have the ability to hand-pick off the screen.
  • Recipe display and integrated timers is well designed and makes it easy when cooking to time your work. I love that you just click on the time instruction in the directions and a timer is created automatically (an option to have those auto-start would be nice).
  • Good conversion tools.
  • Scaling is easy to do and I find that it's very accurate.
  • Synchronization between devices allows for my desired workflow.
  • Well consider layout and clean design makes it easy to navigate.
  • Good category features with easy filtering.
  • Search is accurate and provides relevant results.
  • Recipe pinning makes it easy to switch between active recipes.
  • Ingredient strike-out as you go makes it easy to see what you've already done.
  • I use it daily...
If you're a Mac user and you like to cook, then there really isn't anything out there with the bang-to-buck ratio of Paprika. As I mentioned early, MacGourmet Deluxe has similar features (and resolves some of my Paprika complaints), but introduces a fair bit of complexity and a much higher price tag along with losing some of the really useful features of Paprika. Long story short, this app is a winner for me.


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