It took me all of five minutes for The Recipe Box to convince me of its charms. The app opens to a standard Home screen, like you see in the screenshot at the very top of this post. On the right, you have a window of all your recipes that you can quickly scroll with a flick of the finger. On the left, you can easily search by category if you need some inspiration or by your bookmarked recipes if you're looking for an old favorite. And of course, the search bar at the very top makes it easy to find a particular recipe without having to scroll through your whole trove.
Open up a recipe and you get a screen like the one pictured just above. The ingredients are down the left (or in a drop-down menu in the vertical iPad position) and can be shaded out as you use them so you don't loose track. The recipe instructions are on the right of the screen. You can tap to highlight each step as you come to it, making it easy to keep your place in the recipe. It's also easy to edit the recipe text, add notes, e-mail the recipe or create a shopping list with the touch of a button.
To add your own recipes, you touch the plus sign at the bottom of the screen and cut-and-paste your recipe in to the fields as shown in the screen shot below of adding the quinoa salad from Fine Cooking. This is the only place where the app gets cumbersome, though this is more a fault of how generally difficult it is toggle back and forth between screens on the iPad than it is a fault of The Recipe Box programming. I got around the toggling annoyance by simply copying the entire recipe from the Fine Cooking website into the "Directions" box, and then cutting-and-pasting from within screen from there.
Once you get the recipe into the program, it's really very nice! The original cut-and-paste of this quinoa recipe was pretty messy - no spaces between ingredient amounts and ingredients, poorly formated instructions, and so on. But once you hit save, the program somehow senses where all the proper breaks should be and reformats the recipe to look like something from Epicurious. Nice!
One thing I'd really like to see are corresponding desktop and iPhone programs and the ability to sync across all platforms. It would be much easier to input recipes through a desktop program and then the iPhone app would be handy for quick reference and going to the grocery store. As it is right now, the shopping list feature of the iPad is pretty useless since I personally find the iPad too bulky to use while shopping.
As much as I love this app, I also have to question whether or not I'll actually switch over to using it full time. I have SO MANY recipes already saved and organized in my Evernote system. The idea of transferring them over to The Recipe Box, or having my recipes divided between the two programs, seems a little silly.
I think that if you're still looking for that perfect system for organizing electronic recipes, this app is definitely worth checking out. If you already have a pretty good system going, still check it out because you might like it even better!
• Find It! The Recipe Box, $6.99 on iTunes
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Screenshots from The Recipe Box iPad App)