08. 18. 2006
Search engine for recipes
Have you ever found yourself staring at a sufficiently filled refrigerator and still having no clue what you can cook with what’s in it? Ingredients are available, but you just can't come up with a final plan; next time you find yourself in this situation, try visiting either Recipe Matcher or SnacksBy.
Both sites allow you to search for recipes by entering the ingredients you have available at the moment. It’s just that simple: insert pepper, cucumber and pasta in the search field and, voilà, you have several recipes to choose from … at least in theory.
I first tried my pepper, cucumber, pasta search with SnacksBy, as Recipe Matcher requires you to register with the service before you can start using it. While I wasn’t really expecting SnacksBy’s search engine to actually return a recipe including all three entered ingredients, I certainly was hoping for it to return a pasta with some kind of pepper sauce at the top of the search results list.
Alas, this is what I got as my first result on the list:
pasta and sauce - surprizingly
pasta sauce, to taste
pasta, to taste
Cook the pasta, add the sauce for a pasta sauce delight !
Ok, so maybe SnacksBy is not always so useful for quickly finding inspiration for dinner; nonetheless, I think the site has some quite nifty features. First of all, it also allows you to search by quantity of available ingredients (for example: 1 pepper, 2 cucumbers and 200 grams of pasta). Every recipe and ingredient is tagged with what they refer to as snacksonomy (love the name), and finally, SnacksBy can help you with ingredient substitutions; for example, it will tell you what you can use as a vegan substitute for eggs.
Overall I enjoyed SnacksBy’s simple and geekish touch and I am definitely planning on going back to discover more recipes. I should mention that the pasta and sauce recipe above is not really representative of their content.
I approached Recipe Matcher at 10:30 pm after a full working day, which probably wasn’t a very good idea. I was put off by the fact that I couldn’t play around with it without registering first, and the only explanation of how the site works is a not very appealing click-through demo on the homepage. Eventually I found some left-over energy and somehow was able to come up with a username and password to register.
Unlike SnacksBy, the recipe search engine on Recipe Matcher doesn’t provide a search field where I can just type in my list of ingredients -- pepper, cucumber and pasta -- but requires me to select the desired ingredients from an endless list on the ‘My Pantry’ page. Oddly enough, pepper wasn’t listed; therefore I selected just penne and cucumber (ok, I know I am stretching it here, pasta with cucumber is not a winning combination, but … you never know). I got only one result: Shrimp Salad.
Recipe Matcher also allows you to search recipes by category (Italian, Mexican, etc.) or by title, so I try ‘apple pie’ which should be a fairly common recipe and I get no results … and by now I am too tired to try and find more recipes.
Both Recipe Matcher and SnacksBy are really good ideas, but my preference goes to the latter which, imho, is simply more usable.