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Author Topic: Recipe Manager / Shopping List Generator: CookingAction 2005  (Read 18483 times)


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Basic Info

App NameArca CookingAction 2005
App Version Reviewed2005
Test System SpecsWinXP Pro SP2, 75GB HD, 1GB RAM, Pentium M (Laptop) 1.6 GHz
Supported OSesWindows 95/98/NT/2000/XP
Support Methodsemail to [email protected] (which went unanswered)
Upgrade PolicyNo free or reduced price upgrades
Trial Version Available?30 day full-featured trial (no limitations).  But I got 36 days before it locked me out
Pricing SchemeFlat Fee of $29.90 USD - 1 user license
Screencast Video URLIf there is a demo or screencast of the app somewhere, post the url here. If there is a DC Screencast, post the link here.
DisclaimerI am not affiliated with this software company

This is a Recipe, Meal, Grocery List Management app.  It has three main interfaces:
1.  Grocery List
2.  Recipes
3.  Calendar

Grocery List
The Grocery List app allows one to create ingredients, organize them into categories (such as supermarket aisle) and add them to your shopping list.  Categories can be multi-hierarchical.  IMO, It's very intuitive. 
  • To find an ingredient, just Ctrl+F and type a string.  F3 to iterate the search to the next match.
  • To add an ingredient to the shopping list, just double click it.  To remove one from the shopping list, just double click it when it's in the shopping list.
  • To move an item from one category/aisle to another, just drag it to the new category.
  • The region on the top is where you display, change, and select grocery list items from your products database . Here are the products listed that belong to the category that is selected in the left region.
  • The region on the bottom is where you display, and change the products of your current grocery list .
  • The region on the left is where you display, change, and select stores and categories . If you select a category, it's products are listed in the top region.
  • Each region has it's own context menu (right mouse click on the region). The same functions are accessible through the normal menus above the tool bar. The menu items are sometimes grayed out if they are not accessible at the current state of the program. If you move the mouse cursor over the tool bar buttons and hold it there, a hint tells you what each button does.

Printing a Grocery List
From here, you can print your grocery list via Ctrl+P which creates a print preview which you can edit before sending to the printer
To create an item/ingredient/product/grocery item:
  • Select the category where the item belongs.  You can always easily change it later
  • Press F4 or use menu
  • Enter the caption (name of the item), the number and the unit. These fields are must fields. That means that you have to enter a value there. The green cross next to units lets you add new units to the units database . If you click on it the Edit Units dialog is displayed.
  • The barcode field must contain exactly as much digits as you have set in Properties dialog, so that it is recognized properly. You can also enter the barcode with the help of your barcode scanner .  I personally don't use a I can't really speak to how this feature works.
  • Set the coupon flag, if you have a coupon for this product. Set the correct expiration date, since the flag will be removed after it is no longer valid.
  • For special products make use of the picture function . Press the button "Load..." to select a picture from your harddisk. If it is displayed too large, click the autosize checkbox. The picture fits now in the picture box. Note that the picture is not stored in the database. If you delete or move the selected picture file it will no longer be available in this dialog. To remove the picture press "Clear".
  • The health tab contains text fields for energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat. If you do not have this information you can look it up. Just press the "Look Up..." button. The food composition table is displayed. Then type the first letter of the product you need. If you have found your product double-click on it and the values will be copied into the text fields automatically.
  • Energy is entered in kilo Calories. If you have the energy value only in kilo Joules just enter it in kJ and press the button "kJ to kCal". The value is then converted to kCal and will be replaced in the text field.
  • In the comments section you can enter information like usage, quality or selection of the product.
  • Click OK

Recipe App
The Recipe app allows one to create recipes which contain items from the grocery app, enter the instructions, add a picture and enter health info about the recipe.  It doesn't come with any recipes (other than sample one).  Like grocery items, you can categorize your recipes (though I haven't done that) into things like Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Desert, etc.). I'm personally not a big recipe buff but it comes in handy when I want to auto-generate shopping list based on what I've got planned for the week.  So I create menus of most of the things I regularly cook.  I'm not really focused on the pictures, the health info or that so not having a simple recipe printed cookbook or index card sized recipe printouts is not an issue for me.  Others may take issue with this. It does however, have a simple recipe printout option, and like the shopping list, the print preview is editable....a nice feature.
The app allows an import of recipes from:
  • CookingAction RecipeDAT (rdat)
  • MealMaster (mmf)
  • MasterCook 5 (mx2)
And you can export your recipes (en masse) to:
  • CookingAction RecipeDAT (rdat)
  • MealMaster (mmf)

To create a recipe:
  • From menubar, select Recipe->New Recipe
  • Enter caption (recipe name) and number of servings.  The number of servings is helpful as it will adjust the recipe amounts based on an adjustment to the servings.
  • Enter the Instructions.  Here is where I usually just copy/paste from a recipe on the web.
  • From the menubar, select Ingredients->Add Ingredients
  • In caption field, type part of an ingredient name and then press the search icon (magnifying glass).  The first match will be highlighted to the left (via a star), press search icon again to advance to next match until you find the right ingredient.
  • If the ingredient you enter in the caption is not in your grocery app already, you can simply click on the category where you want it added, then click the "Add Ingredient" button....a nice feature for quick entry (something other apps were not as slick on)
  • Enter the amount and unit needed (you can add units via the green plus sign)
  • Optionally enter a manner (I don't really use this).
  • Click Finish to finish adding ingredients.
  • Optionally add a picture
  • Optionally add health/statistics

Create grocery lists out of recipes
One of the most important features of CookingAction is that you can create grocery list out of your recipes. To do that select a recipe in the recipe view, right click on it and select the menu item "Add recipe to grocery list".

In the ingredients tab, every ingredient has a check box left of it. If this is checked, the ingredient is added to the grocery list. If not it is not added. This is needed for ingredients like salt, that you do not need to buy every time you cook the recipe.

First you must enter the number of servings of the recipe, you want to add to the grocery list. Then a dialog comes up for every ingredient. You can enter the amount you really want on the grocery list.

If the product that is needed for this recipe is already on the list, you can click the
  • button. The two amounts are added together. And you have the total amount on the list.

I think there is a bug that appears when you add a menu to the grocery list from the menu bar vs. the right menu option.  So at least in my version, the only way to add a recipe to the grocery list is via right click menu

Calendar App
I have to admit, I don't really use the calendar feature nor do I understand it's value.  I guess it's an easy way to document the recipes for each meal for each day.  If you create an "event" on the calendar (such as dinner) and add a recipe, it will allow you to add the items to the grocery list (just like from the recipe interface).  Aside from a picture here, I really don't know what else to add here.

Who is this app designed for:
People who want to be able to store recipes on their computer and generate shopping lists printed by grocery aisle to speed their shopping

The Good
  • Aisle sorted shopping list built from selected recipes (the key feature for me)
  • The print preview (for shopping lists, or recipes) can be edited....a nice feature
  • Items can be easily moved around
  • Clean & Intuitive interface (you'd be surprised how many recipe apps look like they were developed in Window 95)
  • Export/Import Recipes
  • Barcode reader capable (not that I really expect anyone to use it, but it is a novel idea).
  • Supports English and Dutch Language
  • Adjusts yield based on number of servings

The needs improvement section
  • No export of grocery item database.  This would be a nice feature if you wanted to make available for others....or more importantly, as a backup should you need to reinstall the app and don't want to have to re-key all the ingredients/categories again
  • Health attributes are not distinct by product.  I'm pretty sure this is a bug
  • No fancy cookbook or recipe "card" printout options
  • No translation of recipe units to purchase units.  This is one thing Living Cookbook can do if you set it up but CookingAction does not do.  For example, a recipe might call for a tablespoon of Vanilla and cup of sugar but you buy vanilla by the oz and sugar by the you have to do some guessing in some cases.  For what it's worth, I'm not that impressed with Living Cookbooks method of doing this because it requires you to set it up yourself....for each ingredient.
  • No inventory feature (not an issue for me since I don't really keep track of inventory levels on food but it looked like a nice feature if you are into that.
  • Price doesn't appear on grocery list (might be nice to know what price to expect so I know if I'm getting a deal or getting taken)
  • Grocery List doesn't show what recipes were added to it.  I get around this by creating a "bogus" ingredient for each recipe which is the name of the recipe.  Those ingredients go into a separate category called Recipe Admin (just so they are easily isolated in the grocery list).  I then add that "ingredient" to it's recipe.  When I print out shopping list, I then see the recipes that the list supports.
  • No receipes are included in the software and none are available from arcasoft.  While it's easy to add the recipes I want, it would be quite easy for the website to allow sharing receipes or even groceries since there is import/export functions

What is wrong with the app in its current state
  • Apparently dead development and response to email inquiries
  • A bug (in the form of a non-english error message) when highlighting a recipe then from the menu bar selecting Recipe->Add to Grocery List

Why I think you should use this product
  • Ease of Use
  • Simplicity of layout

How does it compare to similar apps
It lacks some of the features of other apps that are about the same cost or more such as Living Cookbook (LC).  I used LC for a few months before coming back to this app because LC was too much overhead for me to support those advanced features that I really didn't use but were impressive.  On the other hand, it's layout and function is much easier on the eye and intuitive than other apps.

I've installed and used many recipe apps and of those that can print an aisle-based shopping list (which weeded out a lot) this one hit the sweet spot for me as it balanced function with simplicity.

Links to other reviews of this application
I am not aware of any other recipes or even users of this app.

Preferences Screenshots

Since I talk about the breadth and scope of the Living Cookbook (LC)'s a list of features from LC that I did an assessment on CookingAction.  LC is a Y for every feature listed.
Recipe ManagementFeature in Cooking Action?
Copy recipes from the InternetY
Import recipes from Meal-Master and MasterCookY
Import recipes from MicroKitchen Companion, Pocket Express and Recipe Processor 2000N
Calculate recipe nutritionN
Share recipes with other usersY
Export recipes as HTMLY
Scale recipesY
Convert recipe unitsN
Add photographs to recipesY
Add photographs to recipe proceduresN
Add media (audio or video) to recipesN
Organize recipes into folders and subfoldersY
Enter recipe reviews and ratingsN
Advanced recipe searches with "and" and"or"N
Share searches with other usersY
Flag recipes as favoriteN
E-mail recipes from within the softwareY
Customizable recipe displaysN
View nutrition for each recipe ingredientN
Calculate recipe costsN
Automatically eliminate duplicate recipesN
Recipe spell checkerN
Meal Planning
View daily, weekly and monthly meal plansY
View meal and day total nutritionN
Calculate meal costsN
Share meal plans with other users7N
Move and copy meal itemsY
Add an entire meal plan to a grocery listY
Menu Management
Calculate menu nutritionN
Share menus with other usersN
Calculate menu costsN
Add images to menusN
Ingredient Management
Create new ingredientsY
Add photographs to ingredientsY
Add any number custom measures to ingredientsN
Import USDA nutrition updatesN
Share ingredients with other usersN
Enter multiple prices for an ingredientN
Cooking Reference
Searchable library of cooking techniquesN
Add photographs to cooking techniquesN
Add media (audio and video) to techniquesN
Searchable cooking glossaryN
Share reference information with other usersN
Create an unlimited number of grocery listsY
Create grocery lists from meals, menus or recipesY
Calculate grocery list costY
Group grocery lists by grocery aislesY
Share store and ingredient pricing data with other usersN
Create grocery lists involving multiple storesY
Inventory (Pantry)
Track what you have on handN
Determine what you can make with what you have on handN
Create a grocery list to restock inventoryN
Deduct on-hand items from grocery listsN
Share inventory data with other usersN
Publish cookbooks in Microsoft WordN
Create user-defined publication templatesN
Print recipes on index cardsN
Unit converter toolN
Backup application databaseN
Compact application databaseN
Database of cooking web sitesN
Built-in support for scannersY
Help and Support
Illustrated online helpY
Searchable help with indexY
Animated training tutorialsN
« Last Edit: January 19, 2008, 12:39 PM by johnfdeluca »


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Re: Recipe Manager / Shopping List Generator: CookingAction 2005
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 10:01 AM »

A totally unexpected mini-review, now that's nice.
Too bad that i don't cook (i should learn someday, though! ;)). But I'm sure it'll be VERY useful for the people in the following thread:
What's the best program for cooking and recipe management?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 10:02 AM by jgpaiva »


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Re: Recipe Manager / Shopping List Generator: CookingAction 2005
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 10:13 AM »
Cool, thanks for this  :up:


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Re: Recipe Manager / Shopping List Generator: CookingAction 2005
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2008, 12:40 PM »
Appended a feature index onto the review in the top post.