Social Media, Apps and Food: The Low Down

There are many different trends in the food world these days. Gluten free. Meatless Mondays. Food Trucks. Local food. But probably none are as exciting or as high tech as social media sites, or mobile apps. Keep reading to get to the scoop on how these things can work for you to get them most out of them when it comes to your plate.

Social Media

We’ve all used Facebook. Many of us use Twitter. There are still many more out there that can help you find restaurants, recipes and helpful hints and tips about food and cooking.

Facebook

Facebook is the king of social media and virtually every one uses it almost everyday. But did you know that you can do more than just give your old high school friends updates on your kids sporting events?

In addition to everyday people using them to keep friends up to date on their lives, businesses have been cashing in as well. If you do a search for your favorite local restaurant, grocery store or even food blog, chances are good you’ll find their business page. “LIke” it and you’ll receive updates on what’s going on at the drop of a hat. You can find out when your favorite restaurant adds to it’s menu, when they are doing promotions, or other updates restaurant owners want their customers to see faster than they will get to their websites. Many restaurants post pictures of specials and some businesses will even give you free stuff or discounts just for clicking that “like” button.

Twitter

Twitter is thought of as only being used by the young and hip, but can be an excellent tool for finding out the latest trends in the food world. From 140 character recipes to your favorite celebrities restaurant picks, you can follow local businesses, bloggers and anyone who has anything to say. Another great thing is that you can do a search and see what people are talking about in the food world because, if anyone is talking about it, they’re talking about it on Twitter.

Other Hot Food Sites

There are other sites besides these two big ones. One of these is Food Buzz. A community for foodies, you sign up and create a profile that lets everyone know your favorite foods, restaurants and recipes. You can then meet other people across the world with the same likes and dislikes as you, and even find the best blogs out there. For bloggers, this is a great way to get traffic, build a huge network and share your favorite recipes. If you surf the web, and love food, you’ll love Food Buzz.

Foodzie is kind of like etsy, only for food. Find baked goods, candies, coffees and imported goods, all made by artisans. This site allows customers to purchase high quality foods they wouldn’t normally be able to buy, and sellers to sell to a much wider audience. A win win all around.

All Recipes is one of the biggest recipe site out there and allows users to upload recipes for anyone to find. Find recipes, use the scale to taylor them to your size and review them using their rating system.

Yelp is a popular review site that allows users to review restaurants, along with any other business in their area. You can build a profile and connect with other users based on their choices for reviews and restaurants. Make new friends or connect with old. You can’t go wrong with Yelp.

App, App and Away!

Apps, also known as applications are basically software that you install on your computer, mobile device or tablet computer. These allow you to do things you never thought possible, while sitting at home or on the go.

Computer

There are several computer apps that you’ll find useful, starting with those that allow you to collect your recipes all in one place. I use YummySoup for my Mac, which allows me to upload from any website I want, create my own from scratch, add pictures and email recipes. There is also Windows software, such as BigOven or Living Cookbooks. All of these allow you to plan menus, weekly meals and shopping lists that you can print out on your computer. Find one that’s right for you and you’ll never have to search through bookmarks, websites or index cards for your favorite recipe again.

Mobile and Tablet Apps

Probably one of the best things to happen to mobile computing, you can now do practically anything from the palm of your hand, including food related tasks. Read on for some of the best food related things you can do with mobile apps out there right now, but keep in mind that there are so many, I can’t possibly cover them all here.

Finding and storing recipes: Apps such as AllRecipes Dinner Spinner allow you to plug in ingredients, cuisines, meal type and more and it “spins” recipes that you have in the palm of your hand. Big name food sites Epicurious and Food Network have similar apps that allow you to search recipes, save and share them. These are all free and available for both iPhone and Android platforms so download them and try them out today. You’ll also find apps from big time players like Cooks Corner, Mark Bitmann (How to Cook Everything) and Celebrity Chefs like Jamie Oliver and Rachael Ray, if you’re wiling to shell out a few bucks.

Timers: There are plenty of timer apps out there, some free, some that cost money, those with multiple timers and those with the ability to label your timers. Depending on what your needs are, you’ll find something to meet them.

Grocery shopping: Yes, you can make lists on your phone with one of many, many grocery shopping apps. You can find simple lists to those that will allow you to keep track of units and pricing, to even those that allow you to scan barcodes of foods you buy regularly and start your own database. Yeah. How cool is that?

Calorie Counting: Apps like Lose It allow you to keep track of your daily calorie needs by providing you with an extensive database which has grocery foods, restaurant foods and even the ability for you to add your own. Lose It is free and syncs with a web version, but like every subject here, do a search and you’ll find plenty to meet everyone’s needs.

Local Food/Environmental: Find local and organic food near you with apps like Local Dish. There are also apps that will allow you to find farmers markets, pesticide levels in your food and even learn how to grow your own organic food. Seriously, you can find everything.

Restaurants/Reviews: Pull up an app like Yelp or UrbanSpoon and it will use the GPS in your phone or tablet to find restaurants near you, and give you user reviews of those restaurants. You can search by business type, location or price. These are great when you are in a city you’ve never been and looking for a place that fits your style.

Cooking Games: Okay, so these don’t really have anything with your food per se, but they’re fun nonetheless. Games like Diner Dash allow you to run your own virtual restaurant making and selling things like pizza, hot dogs and cakes to score points and collect customers.

Reservations: Use OpenTable to find and make reservations for hot restaurants without making that dreaded phone call.

Restaurants: Places like pizza joints and Mexican food giant Chipotle allow you to order food on the app, pay for it with a credit card and have it delivered or pick it up without a phone call or fumbling for cash. Starbucks allows you to store your credit card information in your phone and pay for your coffee without ever getting your wallet out.

Check in: Want your friends to know where you are at all times? Use Gowalla or FourSquare to check in at your favorite places. These apps use your GPS location to figure out exactly where you are and share the information on the app or by uploading to Facebook. You can even earn discounts at participating places by earning “mayor” or “duke” rankings by simply checking in. Now you can be digitally rewarded for simply visiting your favorite places. You’ll never get lost again with these apps.

These are only some of the many, many food related apps and things you can do with the latest smart phone and a touch of a button. If you are digitally connected, the world is literally in the palm of your hand.

All this kind of makes you wonder: What can possibly be next?? Do you have a favorite App that you use frequently?

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