Is A Phone The Best New Kitchen Tool?

Me, circa 2009, when I got my first iPhone: I don’t see what the big deal is. Seriously. Everyone is losing their minds over the iPhone; it’s just a freakin’ phone. I don’t even like talking on the phone, so whatever.

Fast forward to, um, yesterday… I used my phone as my camera, my running coach, my partner in word games (OMG: Spelltower!), my meditation timer, a reminder to breathe, and my numero uno, go-to source for fascinating factoids while watching football — all while texting with my mom and checking on Amazon book sales. But for the record, I still don’t like talking on the damn thing. Even with this. (Yes, I have one. Yes, I use it. But only at home. Not like one of the reviews I read where a dude admitted he wears it tucked in his belt. Sexy!)

Anyway… that was a long way to introduce you to a new, free meal-planning app called Venio. It’s a pretty slick app for iPhone and iPad that lets you set dietary restrictions, then serves up a customized set of meal plans and a shopping list based on your preferences. The recipes in Venio are drawn from established, reliable food bloggers — like me! I’m super excited that a bunch of my recipes are in Venio, and it sounds like the company has kickass plans for expanding the services they deliver in the app.

Learn more about Venio here and help yourself to a taste by downloading the free app — then read my first post from a guest writer (!) and learn how your phone might become one of your most useful kitchen tools.

5 Reasons My Phone is My Favourite Kitchen Utensil

by Karim El Rabiey, Venio

I can live without a phone. I don’t need it to function daily. In fact, I haven’t even looked at my phone in the past 32 seconds! But there are things that phones do that make my life much easier. If you’ve used your phone in the kitchen, you know how much a difference having a smartphone makes. Not only does it make things easier — you’re now able to do things you weren’t able to before. Also, as a Canadian writing on an American blog, let me go ahead and call out that I will be using U’s and S’s in places you might find weird. Now let’s prouceed with the post.

1. Improvising has never been easier.
What happens when you’re halfway through making a meal that calls for 3 cups of vegetable stock, only to realise you haven’t gotten vegetable stock at all. Do you stop making the recipe and throw out the food you’ve made so far?

With a phone right in my hands, all I need to do is type, “What can I replace vegetable stock with?” Seriously, whatever question you may have, someone on the internet has already asked it 4 years ago. (Actually, this person asked my question back in 2006!)

There are all sorts of obstacles that you face when you’re cooking, and your phone is there to help you overcome them on the go. My personal favourite: if you don’t have a measuring cup, or you broke yours, use an empty 8 oz. tomato paste can. That was a life saver.

2. Versatility.
So this one isn’t exclusively related to cooking, but there are people out there who are trying to solve your problems. You have no idea who they are, where they are — you sometimes don’t even realize that they exist. But they know you. They know your pain-points, what makes you tick, and what makes your eyes sparkle. These people are entrepreneurs.

It’s actually like having an army of people that are just throwing solutions at you, and you pick what you like. So whether it’s that new label scanner which tells you how healthy the ingredients are in a certain product, or a glossary of terms that translate things like “dredge” into plain english, people are making our lives easier everyday. Why would you not want that?!

There will always be more than one way to use your phone in the kitchen. It’s not like a knife where you’ve maxed the different uses in one go.

3. You can’t take your pots and pans to the grocery store.
The greatest thing about phones in the kitchen is that they aren’t built for the kitchen. They’re meant to be taken with us everywhere we go. Making a meal starts in my head, then extends to the grocery store, then goes back to the kitchen. I’ll check off a recipe beforehand, add all the ingredients I need to my grocery list (available on Venio!), and just stroll through the grocery store.

I’m not one that particularly enjoys my grocery store trips, so anything that makes it faster and smoother is a win in my book. Free samples are also in there. Self checkouts are not.

These are just disasters waiting to happen.

4. You can share with everyone how darn good of a cook you are.
Alright, you can’t really share your meals through the phone with other people. Why would you want to do that in the first place? Something about caring? I missed the first part of that lesson.

But I’m talking about that feeling of pride you get after you finish making the most photogenic spinach eggs in the history of spinach eggs. Unless you have someone else with you, how can you show people? You’re not that desperate to email everyone with the subject line “Someone’s got egg-ceptional taste.” You’re not that cheesy either.

It has now become acceptable to snap a photo of your food and share it with everyone you know. It’s not about filling up your ego; it’s about showing people something that you’re proud of, and sparking some discussion. Some people might have tips, some might ask for recipes, some might see the photo and resent themselves for not trying to date you back in high school.

I should have taken that paleo chicken bastila to the prom.

5. Never a lack of inspiration.
Remember the days of getting together with all your friends, sitting around in the kitchen, exchanging recipes on crumpled sheets of paper that were easily lost? I’ve actually never done that before in my life — but I’m trying to make a point here.

Recipes have never been easier to come by. There are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of recipes online. All of them accessible on your tiny screen. New apps generate new meals depending on your preferences so that every thing you see is something that you want to feast on.

Phones unlock the true potential of your kitchen and your cooking mind. Those four ingredients in your fridge can make tens of different dishes. Or when I spent my whole life thinking Pho probably requires some sort of wizardry to make, only to realise that it’s pretty simple. I’ve always had my phone push me to achieve more than what I thought I was capable of. Nothing else in my kitchen can make me do that.

Big thanks to Karim El Rabiey from a Venio for writing this post for me to share with you. And be sure to visit the Venio blog to read my guest post and lots of other great articles from contributing bloggers.

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  • Peter says:

    Awesome article! Thanks for posting this Mel!

  • Jeni says:

    Looks like an app with a lot of potential. I was pretty excited and downloaded it. Although it has a GF option most of the protein sources come from soy and legumes and there are a lot of smoothies (read: sugar) in the meal plans as well.

    It seems the app has a fair bit of a vegetarian slant. I saw only one dinner recipe with meat in it (Yours! Yummy!). It looks like they are just getting started so I’ll definitely check back in a few weeks to see if it’s something, as a Paleo eater, that I would be able to use.

    Thanks for the heads up, this app has some great potential 🙂

  • great post for all of you iphoners out there.

    I am a bit technologically challenged but I like that phones enable you to troubleshoot while cooking.

  • Trish says:

    I never knew about those handsets. I just ordered one (had to, it was on sale!). As far as cooking apps go I’ll check Venio out but my go-to is Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything” which has a lot of the same capabilities as Venio.

  • Aubrae says:

    I am a chef/instructor at a culinary school and use my phone almost daily to look for recipe substitutes when teaching recipes/cuisines I’m not terribly familiar with (today’s query: is there a substitute for fenugreek seed? answer: not really. but try some yellow mustard seed) or to answer the questions that my students pose that exceed my knowledge base. google is my best friend!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for chiming in! (And I’ve had that question about fenugreek, too 😉 I finally succumbed and bought some, and you’re right — there’s nothing like it.)