Love is a battlefield? Then cooking for your loved one must be like entering enemy territory. The kitchen can be a pretty frightening place if you don’t know what you’re doing. Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals app is something you want to arm yourself with if you’re a newbie to creating culinary delights. The cooking app comes with 55 different recipes and it is perfect for someone who wants quick and simple, healthy meals. It’s also suitable for those who know their way around a kitchen and want a new cookbook toy. Simply put, this app is the best, handsomest cooking app on the market.
20 Minute Meals may conjure up images of Rachel Ray, but she certainly doesn’t have the corner on quick dinner recipes. Jamie Oliver, aka Naked Chef and food revolutionary, brings you one packed app. It comes with 55 recipes with comprehensive instructions, step-by-step photos, a shopping list feature, and 21 videos of tips and tricks. Rachel Ray he is not. Yes, 55 recipes may seem like a very small offering compared to the thousands offered by Bittman/Culinate’s How to Cook Everything or the hundreds provided free from Allrecipes’ Dinner Spinner, but Oliver’s 55 recipes are beautifully presented.
To begin with, the interface is so easy to use, it would make other apps green with envy (that is, if they could turn green). You’ll be able to easily browse the recipes on the app or search for them by name. Ingredients can also be sent to the shopping list, which can be e-mailed. Also, recipe ingredients on the list can be adjusted for 2 or 4 people which is perfect for small and large families. Oliver also offers an easy switch for ingredient measurements from US imperial to metric. What’s great is that the app took a page from game apps, and will also autosave the last recipe you view. The controls are intuitive and you can even switch from modes to view the complete instructions (available in both portrait and landscape) or just the food pornography (landscape). Don’t miss out on the food porn–it’s easy to just swipe your finger across the screen and view all the steps.
The graphics are easy on the eyes and there’s a good amount of animation on an app of this variety. For instance, when you cross items off your shopping list, you’ll see a line go through the words. 20 Minute Meals even offers sound effects and encouraging prompts which is rare for a cooking app. If you happen to shake your iPhone or iPod Touch while on the Recipes homepage, the app will randomly select a recipe for you a la Dinner Spinner. If the shopping list cross-off noises, eraser sounds, and other effects become too much for you, you can even adjust the setting so the app is completely silent while you enjoy your culinary exploration.
This app is so polished that my eyes hurt just looking at it, but it could still use some shine. Firstly, I’d love to see a favorites or bookmark feature. There may be 55 recipes, but I don’t want to browse through all of them before I can find the handful that are my absolute favorites. Secondly, it would be amazing if developers could add a zoom feature for the pictures. Thirdly, an added timer feature might be a nice touch if they could somehow manage to incorporate it. Fourthly, an integrated rating/feedback system for recipes styled after Allrecipes’ and Bittman’s apps would be a nice touch. Users could rate and review the recipes so other users can have inside tips for their meal prep. Finally, 55 recipes really aren’t enough for the app, and I’d love to see more. I found myself a little disappointed by the offerings but I suppose you could also click the button that will take you directly to Oliver’s website.
Overall, this is a great app but the price is a little steep for the number of recipes it offers on the app itself. So if you want it, buy it while it’s hot. 20 Minute Meals normally goes for $7.99 but they’re offering it for $4.99 until May 3, 2010. Get it before it’s gone!
Here is a video demo of the 20 Minute Meals app on the iPhone
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