The Daily App: Gojee -- Making New Use of Old Food
Have leftover food in your pantry? Gojee can help. It suggests recipes based on what you have in your cupboards -- in a visually ravishing format.
Consumers, restaurants, distributors and other parties in the food chain waste 222 million tons of food a year in industrialized countries, making it one of the largest landfill categories. The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released a report on waste, noting about 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is thrown out or otherwise lost, and the average four-person family loses about $2,275 a year on unused food.
A number of food apps and sites aim to cut that waste, helping you create smart shopping lists and try recipes to use up leftovers. But Gojee offers a particularly appealing take on the food app, bringing a touch of luxurious detail and visual beauty towards a humble yet noble aim.
What's the App?
Touting itself as "Pandora for the Kitchen," Gojee is a free food and drink recipe discovery app for iOS and Android that gives you access 10,000 recipes by over 200 popular food blogs and websites, screened for both visual appeal and usability. You can search by ingredients -- either by what you're craving or what you have on hand. You can then "favorite" your preferred recipes for later or repeated use, e-mail them or share them on Facebook or Twitter.
Gojee.com, a site popular with foodies for its visual appeal, developed the app, so the site's beautiful look and feel translates over to a clean and clever touch screen integration. You can, for example, swipe up and down on a recipe's title to get access to its full ingredient list.
The app is perfect for those days when you're confronted with a pantry and fridge full of random ingredients. Its ingredients-first approach leverages its hidden strength: the ability to track and manage pantry and refrigerator items and suggest recipes that use them. The more items you add, the more suggestions it creates. And when you access the recipes' ingredients list, it helpfully separates what you have versus what you need -- that's a feature that makes compiling shopping lists easier.
But unlike other recipe apps, you can't easily navigate recipes by criteria -- like say, desserts, appetizers or main entrees. You can search for "desserts," but the results aren't optimally organized. That's frustrating if you're looking for a traditional "foodie" app.
The barebones navigation, however, is hard to use. It's difficult to shuffle back between the food and drink categories, for example, or even just flip back to the previous screen. If you create favorites requires, you need to tap on a star near the recipe's titles. But the star is so faint that the feature is hard to figure out. There's also no Pinterest sharing, a curious omission for one of the most popular recipe-sharing platforms. And access to full recipes is jarring. you'll be directed to partners' sites, which aren't optimized for mobile, for a disjointed experience.
You'll Want It If...
You're a foodie who's looking for both a rich culinary experience as well as practicality in an app. There's no question Gojee is beautifully designed -- it satisfies more your sense of taste. The focus on ingredients available in your pantry or refrigerator gives it a useful, practical bent -- and helps you avoid adding to the already mind-boggling amount of food waste generated in the U.S.
It's a powerful shopping tool too, and can help you remember what you already have and what you need to get.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
There's a lot of value in Gojee, but in terms of functionality, it isn't as intuitive or powerful as it could be. It clearly has a powerful database of recipes to draw upon, and emphasizing ingredients is a clever approach to cooking. But it's harder to follow your culinary muse. There needs to be clearer ways of filtering -- by source, for example. And improving navigation would make it easier to use as well.
If you're looking for a different take, Foodily offers a more traditional cookbook approach. And when you just need to escape the kitchen, Open Table suggests and helps you book restaurants when you just can't stomach slaving over a stove. ♦
Categories: Lifestyle | The Daily App