What's Cooking for Foodies?
Food is necessary for our survival, but it's so much more than that: a comfort, a creative outlet, a hobby, and a way to connect. Chefs make food their life's work and, lucky for the rest of us, many of them are willing to share their secrets online.
In the following pages, we present dozens of web-based ideas for making the most of every meal. You'll find sites to search for just the right recipe, resources to improve your cooking skills, communities to foster bonds with other foodies, and blogs to read for fun perspectives on cooking and dining.
We think you'll like our delicious collection of unusual restaurants and handy list of apps for finding places to eat. Other highlights include tips for how to spot a great recipe and how to take impressive photos of food for social media. Busy people with hungry households will also appreciate our overview of meal delivery services including pros and cons to help you decide if they're right for you.
No matter whether you love to cook or love to make reservations, you're sure to find something here to satisfy your hunger for food inspiration. Bon appetite!
FAST FACT: Over 80% of meals are now being prepared at home, an increase over a decade ago.
Here's a Taste of 2019's Food Trends
What's hot in food these days? Here are some current trends to follow:
For everything from main dishes to snacks, meat alternatives are gaining popularity, especially those made with plant-based protein. Sources include wheat, coconut oil, and potato. While not especially high in protein, mushrooms are another popular source for a healthy alternative that offers a meaty texture and umami flavor. (What's umami? It's a category of taste in food — other than sweet, sour, salty, and bitter — that corresponds to the flavor of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate.)
Plants grow in all kinds of interesting configurations, but you won't see many of them at the grocery store. Instead, only the most perfect specimens are typically displayed, which results in food waste. But ugly food tastes just as good and is just as nutritious. Retailers are increasingly making these unattractive options available in the produce department, so keep your eyes out for them where you shop.
It used to be there was just one kind of milk. Now there are many varieties including cow, goat, almond, and soy. Another milk is also gaining popularity: oat milk. Its creamy texture and proteinand- fiber-rich nutritional value make it a desirable choice for vegans, those with certain food allergies, or folks who simply like the taste.
Sea Vegetable Snacks
Think one step beyond kale chips. Sea vegetables have become a popular ingredient for snacks, taking the place of those loaded with meat and carbs. These crunchy treats may not have the same flavors or colors as corn or potato chips, but they're nutritious and just as easy to grab-and-go as a can of Pringles.
With a new FDA regulation that starts in 2020, food manufacturers will have to label their products with the amount of sugar they've added (not just the amount of total sugar, whether natural or added). This upcoming change has prompted some packaged food makers to reduce the amount of added sugar in their offerings.
QUICK TIP: Find tips for eating thoughtfully and living joyfully at Food52 (food52.com).
Most Popular Foods from the Past
Foods can be just as trendy as fashion or home décor, and different decades had their favorites. The website Insider has identified the most popular foods in every decade since 1910. Take a look at these highlights and enjoy a blast from the past:
1910s | Cracker Jack. Snack foods haven't always been a thing, and Cracker Jack was the very first.
1930s | Casseroles. During the Great Depression, women started working more but still maintained traditional roles. Easy, fast casseroles helped them be efficient with their time.
1950s | TV Dinners. These superconvenient meals were the perfect accompaniment to the emerging trend of TVs in the home.
1960s | Beef Wellington. This meat and pastry combo was a hit at dinner parties.
1970s | Smoothies. After entering the mall scene, smoothies became a common snack or meal substitute.
1990s | Lunchables. Packing kids' lunches was a breeze with these uber-convenient kits.
2000s | Cupcakes. This trend led to the TV baking competition Cupcake Wars.
2010s | Kale. During this decade, the super-healthy veggie went from garnish to main dish.
Find Your Inner Chef with Online Cooking Lessons
Whether you're an accomplished cook or a novice, these online options are available to help you — in the words of chef Emeril Lagasse —"kick it up a notch!"
More than just a recipe repository, this free site includes videos and articles with expert tips to help you become a better cook. Visit the Techniques section to learn about skills like braising or working with a knife. Handy ingredient guides help you pick just the right bottle of olive oil and more.
Great for beginners, this site offers dozens of videos about everything from cooking basics to homemade marshmallows to "make-ahead breakfasts that will change your day." The friendly featured cooks take you through everything you need to know, step by step. Skillshare is a paid service, but you can get a month of use for free.
America's Test Kitchen
This site offers a wide range of cooking resources including courses, discussion boards, and instructors who help you understand not just the how but the why of each technique. ATK features over 200 cooking courses, and instructions are broken down into manageable steps. ATK is a paid service with a 14-day free trial.
Allrecipes Cooking School
Allrecipes offers "a lifetime of cooking confidence." This cooking school takes the Allrecipes recipe site several steps further with easy-to-follow lessons — tips and tricks that can make the difference between a good dish and a great one. Sign up for a free month and pay a low monthly fee for access after that.
QUICK TIP: Smitten Kitchen (smittenkitchen.com) offers ideas for comfort food with flair.
5 Tips for More Appetizing Food Photography
Did you just make a new recipe that turned out great? Or were you served a beautifully plated meal at a new restaurant? Naturally you'll want to show images of these dishes to friends. But before you snap and share on social media, consider these tips for creating the best food photos:
- Use natural light. Whenever possible, snap your food outdoors or near a window.
- Pick a great angle. Move your phone or camera around and take several shots to find the angle that best showcases the food.
- Don't go overboard. Try to capture just the food without too many other distracting elements (such as silverware) in the shot.
- Follow the "rule of thirds." Pretend there's a grid consisting of nine equal squares on your screen and position your main elements along the lines.
- Include a person – or not. Use people only to enhance the value of the food shot, such as making a toast with a well-garnished drink.
Beyond Recipes: Fabulous Food Resource Sites
These sites add a little something extra to the standard search-and-find recipe format. You'll get articles, communities, and tips to take your cooking to the next level.
This site has a bit of everything food related. You'll find recipes with a focus on seasonal food and plenty of fresh veggies. The Local Stories section includes articles about innovative people in the food industry. Check out the Home and Garden section for tips about gardening, eating on the road, and much more.
Tastemade is a global lifestyle community with three primary sections: Food, Travel, and Home. The Food section includes yummy-looking recipes in many categories like "easy breakfast," "skillet," and "healthy." The Hacks section offers tips you never would have thought of, like unexpected things to do with cauliflower (cauliflower nachos, anyone?).
This delightful site is more like a foodie community. It features a recipe swap and cookbooks, all submitted by members. You can make your own cookbook or browse the recipe section where you can search by course, ingredient, country, taste, or special diet. Check out unique and delicious recipes such as Healthy Avocado Chocolate Cookies.
Chowhound is a place for people who like to have fun with food. Explore recipes and how-to guides, then go beyond with food experiences in various cities (such as The Liqueur That Only Chicagoans Like), food trends, history, and product tips. The community allows members to post questions and participate in discussions.
QUICK TIP: Check out the Minimalist Baker (minimalistbaker.com) for quick recipes that require 10 ingredients or less to prepare.
How to Spot a Good Recipe Online
What are your criteria for evaluating new recipes? Simple? Fast? Uses your favorite ingredients? What about ease of preparation, or for that matter, ease of understanding the instructions? When evaluating new recipes online, it's important to know what to look for. Online food magazine Kitchn (thekitchn.com) asked several recipe writers how to evaluate a new recipe. Here are some of their suggestions:
Read the blog text and comments. You'll be able to tell the level of testing the author used and whether others have had success with the recipe.
Make sure the ingredients match the instructions. Read a recipe all the way through before trying it. Ideally recipes should have ingredients listed in the order in which they're used.
Look for specificity. An ingredient of "1 carrot" is good, "1 medium-sized carrot" is better, and "1 cup chopped carrots" is best. Similarly, descriptive text — like, "the onions should be translucent" — is useful.
Enjoy an Eating Adventure at Unusual Restaurants
Looking for a truly unique dining experience? These restaurants offer much more than just good food. They offer ambiance you won't soon forget. If you can't check the restaurants out in person, at least visit online.
Started in Japan, this ramen chain includes tables that are like library carrels. Great for messy eaters or those who would rather focus on their phone than other diners.
This unique restaurant was founded by inventor David Edwards and provides drinks and dining alongside art, science, and design experiences.
Serving carnival-inspired comfort food and décor, this restaurant offers the opportunity to sit in a Tilt-o-Whirl booth while you enjoy your Donut Burger or Fried Chicken-n-Waffle Monte Cristo.
The Airplane Restaurant
Here's one airplane meal you might actually enjoy. The Airplane Restaurant is just that: a restaurant inside a fully intact history-rich Boeing KC-97 tanker.
This spy-themed restaurant and bar features spy-related décor and serves "spycialties" and cocktails with names of secret agents. Don't forget to check Facebook for the password you need to get in.
Before your upscale meal at the 43-feetbelow- ground Catacombs Restaurant, you'll be led on a tour of the historic Bube's Brewery above it.
Enjoy great Japanese food and an interior designed to depict a Ninja village of feudal days, including a maze of rooms and contraptions designed to deceive intruders.
QUICK TIP: Turn to Budget Bytes (budgetbytes.com) for delicious recipes designed for small budgets.
Best Apps for Finding Where to Eat
There's nothing worse than being in a strange place and not knowing where to get your next meal. These apps can help you locate great places to grab some grub.
Google Maps. The best thing about Google Maps is that you probably already have it on your phone. Just access the Explore section to find restaurants, coffee places, bars, and more.
Zomato. Perfect for traveling foodies, this app has it all: recommendations for a nice lunch out, trending restaurants, nightlife picks, delivery services, and where to get food to go.
Foursquare City Guide. This app makes it super easy to find somewhere to eat (or something to do). Just enter the area where you want to search and what you're looking for.
Zagat. A must for those with discerning tastes, this app features only ratings and reviews by Zagat editors. Restaurant info includes address, hours, and price range.
HappyCow. Vegans and vegetarians rejoice! Here's a restaurant-finding app just for you. Save favorites for trip planning and reference them when you arrive at your destination.
Beef Up Your Virtual Recipe Box
Bring your device into the kitchen and use these apps to make your next great meal. (Unless otherwise specified, all apps listed are free and available on both Android and iOS.)
Tasty. Use the comprehensive search tool to find new recipes, then follow along with helpful videos. Easily post to social media so your friends can share in the foodie fun.
BigOven. Search by keyword, course, ingredient, or collection, or use the leftover feature to enter ingredients from your pantry to see what you can make. Additional features help with menu planning and shopping.
Yummly. Perfect for those with special diets or food allergies, this app has you input some initial information to find the best recipe for you, then it keeps learning to refine future results.
SideChef. Great for beginners, this app provides step-by-step recipe instructions including photos and videos. Search filters allow you to find exactly the right recipe.
Eipicurious (iOS only). This handy app allows you to search over 35,000 recipes from specific categories and save your favorites. The seasonal food feature helps you find the freshest ingredients.
Allrecipes Dinner Spinner. Get dinner on the table with less fuss and more fun. This app allows you to specify ingredients and prep time to find just the right recipe.
Oh She Glows. With a focus on healthy cooking, this app helps you avoid meat-based and processed food. These mostly plant-based recipes include many gluten-free options.
Are Meal Delivery Services Worth It?
The answer is this: It depends. While meal delivery services such as Sun Basket (sunbasket.com), Hello Fresh (hellofresh.com), and Blue Apron (blueapron.com) may be costlier than buying the same ingredients at the grocery store, you'll experience big savings in time and less aggravation. Check out these pros and cons to decide for yourself whether a meal delivery service might work well for your household:
- Reduced grocery shopping
- Little meal prep
- Healthy options
- Filling meals
- Special diet options available
- Pricier than the grocery store
- Serving sizes tend to be small
- Limited options for very picky eaters
- Some ingredients aren't the best quality
- You still do meal planning by selecting each week's meals
For a detailed description of eight of the most popular meal delivery services, check out this Buzzfeed review: buzzfeed.com/hannahloewentheil/meal-kit-subcription-boxes-review.
QUICK TIP: Visit How Sweet Eats (howsweeteats.com) for healthy recipes, comfort food, and cocktails.