BigOven is getting an all-new design, so cooking is even simpler. We’ve been busy polishing our apps to make them better, faster and easier. All year long, we’ve been listening to your feedback and we’ll be unveiling a NEW BigOven app in the coming months.
Want to be the first to give it a try? We’ll have a beta build available soon, so come join the BigOven Early Access Program to get a sneak peek. You’ll be able to check out the new, exciting features and let us know what you think! See instructions to join below for iOS and Android.
#GivingTuesday takes place on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015. BigOven will be donating all revenue earned that day to Feeding America, a network of over 200 food banks leading the fight against hunger in the United States. Last year, with your help, we were able to fund over 15,000 meals for the needy.
What is Giving Tuesday?
In 2013, Bill and Melinda Gates created the concept of “Giving Tuesday” as a natural successor to “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” — a day centered on charitable work and giving back to the community.
BigOven is proud to participate in Giving Tuesday 2015 by donating all earned revenue that day to Feeding America, America’s leading hunger-relief charity, which helps serve 12 million children and 7 million senior citizens.
About Feeding America
In many ways, the United States is the land of plenty, but for 1 in 7 people in America, hunger can be an everyday reality. These are often hardworking adults, children, and seniors—some could be your neighbors—who simply cannot make ends meet and struggle to put food on the table. The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Together, it provides food to more than 46.5 million people, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors through food pantries and meal programs. Give hope today, give a meal.
My eldest son and I volunteer at our local food bank here in Seattle, and I get to see the tremendous affect Feeding America has on the community. It takes incredible logistical coordination to organize and source food, break bulk, package, and distribute fresh and nutritious foods to those in need.
Charity Navigator rates Feeding America, a BBB-accredited charity, with a 98% efficiency rate — in other words, 98 cents of every dollar Feeding America goes back to into the programs that help advance Feeding America’s mission.
In 2002, I stood in the produce aisle of our local neighborhood QFC grocery store with the jumbled list of 40+ items my wife had given me, wondering what to make.
Having forgotten items on the two previous trips at considerable spousal irritation, I made extra-sure to scan through that list multiple times. Since it wasn’t organized in any way, I started at the first aisle, scanned through that list, got a couple items, moved to the next aisle, scanned the list, and so on.
Forty minutes later, I thought I was done.
But sure enough, when I went home, I had forgotten the wheat bread. So back to the store I went. Drive. Park. Find. Queue. Pay. Drive. Park. And… done. So a grocery run that should have taken thirty minutes ended up taking about two hours.
As a developer, I felt that there had to be a better way. It seemed like a mobile device could let me keep my grocery list sorted by aisle, and maybe let me look up my family favorites, so that I’d save time and never forget something at the store again. I had just decided to depart a senior leadership position at Expedia, having built and sold my first startup called VacationSpot.com. In addition to some volunteering, I was very interested in getting back to my coding roots, and was playing around with the Pocket PC operating system.
After that frustrating grocery run, I booted up the development environment and wrote a simple shopping list manager, PocketShop™, which helped me create a quick grocery list and automatically sorted the items by aisle. It saved me a lot of time: about 15 minutes on every grocery run. Perhaps more important, I never forgot another item. I decided to publish PocketShop, and in 2003 and 2004, it won awards for Best List Manager by PC Advisor Magazine.
I wanted to hear ideas from the community to help improve it. So, built-into that little shopping list program was a feature letting customers suggest new features. Far and away, the number one comment was “the shopping list is cool, but please let me keep my recipes here, so I can add them to the grocery list directly, instead of just the ingredients and items themselves.” Some even said “In fact, let me plan the week’s meals here too.”
From this community encouragement, BigOven was born.
I reasoned there were at least five important parts of the cooking cycle that software could help with: discovery, planning (including diet/nutrition constraints), grocery shopping, preparation and sharing.
Initially Windows + Web. Our Mobile Focus Began in 2008
The web was always an integral part of BigOven (our site went live in 2003), but initially, the method of viewing the shared web archive and adding to it was via a 60Mb Windows desktop application, which was available for download but also purchase in boxed form at Staples, Office Depot and Amazon.
Building a desktop Windows application was a deliberate choice, since many of the “power collectors” of recipes had already adopted MealMaster, MasterCook and other solutions to organize their recipes, and importing home-grown collections from those formats was very important to get the shared archive going. BigOven for Windows let home cooks upload their recipe collection to a shared archive, so everyone could search it. That Windows application was fine for 2002-2008, but then a little thing called the iPhone came along and helped change everything.
As use of the web and at-home high-speed internet connections continued to spread, I quickly heard from people that they wanted to access recipes from anywhere, yes on the web, but particularly on mobile devices, which are equally at home on grocery runs and the kitchen counter.
Inflection Point: 2008 and the iPhone
A traffic boom of unexpected proportion arrived with the first release of BigOven for iPhone.
BigOven was the first cooking app on the iPhone and Android and tied for first with the iPad. One anecdote that helps put into perspective just how important mobile devices are for home cooks: the day before the iPhone app was available, we had 768 downloads of our Windows recipe software. The day the iPhone app was shipped, we had 228,000 downloads, a three-hundred-fold increase. When the iPad and other tablets came to market, it was very clear that tablets and smartphones are where people want their cooking information. Today, well over half of our traffic comes from mobile devices. Four years ago, we adjusted our pricing strategy to reflect this – the desktop application was given away free with one Pro membership applying across all devices.
The Pain and Promise of Grocery Shopping
Mostly, I find grocery shopping to be frustrating, but occasionally, particularly at local and farmers’ markets — it can be quite pleasurable.
For a city dweller, grocery shopping usually includes fighting traffic, parking, struggling mightily over what to make at the store and beforehand, threading-the-needle on too-many picky-eaters, crowded aisles, elevator music, slow checkout, the occasional screaming child, tedium of restocking staples, paying, getting everything home and realizing you’ve either bought the wrong items or that some were forgotten. Survive all that, and too often, we let a good deal of this perfectly good food go to waste. (Americans throw away about 23% of what we buy at the grocery store as unused food waste.)
The pleasurable parts of grocery shopping, at least for me, are the creative, aspirational, experiential sides. Oh look, these gorgeous peaches are in season. The ahi tuna is fresh today, and would make a terrific ahi salad. Endive is on sale.
Or, the anticipation of a simple comfort-meal to come.
Food helps connect and nourish us. Dinner helps us slow down, reconnect, pass along family lore, and share stories. The benefits of a regular all-family meal are well documented. Meals with my family were extremely important to me growing up, and I’ve always thought there’s more that we can do to get people centered around the dinner table once again.
At the grocery store, the promise of a great new discovery is right around the corner. And with growing confidence that comes from experience as a home cook, it is tremendously satisfying to be able to effortlessly whip-up a great meal and share the love through food, helping someone you care about end their day with a delicious thing that you dreamed up in the kitchen.
Getting Home Cook Organized and Inspired
As a software entrepreneur and primary cook for a family of five, I know that innovative software, mobile devices and the cloud can do a lot more to help the life of the home cook. If you enumerate these problems and pain-points, you’ll see innovative solutions to these drive our product releases.
Let’s start with the shopping list — we did.
It is incredibly frustrating to go from one aisle to the next, scanning a random list in full, trudging back and forth across the megamart, only to arrive home without that important item.
Why can’t a smart grocery list sort all the items for you, letting you add recipes and individual ingredients – even change your mind at the grocery store and strike recipes off the list, taking the ingredients with them? Why can’t I make a grocery list during the week from my work computer on the web, then simply look at my mobile app in the store? These features are all now available in BigOven’s grocery list. Why can’t I just tell the grocery list I’m making Caesar Salad tonight and have it add the items? Or, if I don’t know what goes into a good souffle, why can’t I look that up at the grocery store, in the aisle?
And of course, with more and more online grocery delivery options on the horizon, why not simply pass those items to a delivery company?
Next, it can seem to take forever to figure out what to make – shouldn’t a computer be able to recommend what I should make? Can’t I go to a device and say “what are all the things I said I wanted to try, when I had some browsing time the other day?” And why can’t I digitize all my family favorites so I can look them up instantly when I see what inspires me at the grocery store?
There are also some problems we haven’t yet solved, or solved well-enough yet. For instance, why can’t a device tell me when things are on sale that I typically buy? Why don’t my cookbooks talk to me while I’m cooking and interleave all the start/stop times for me of the menu that I’m making? And more.
BigOven is a full-fledged organizer and discovery source for home cooks and now food bloggers. We’re constantly improving the way BigOven lets you discover great things to make, use up what’s in your fridge, digitize your family favorites, and generally eat better when you dine-in. BigOven lets you find any recipe, make a grocery list, plan menus, find out nutrition of what you eat, and more.
Fast forward to August 2015, and we’re just now welcoming our three millionth member, with about 1,000 new signups happening every day, and hundreds of thousands of delicious recipe ideas. Thank you cooks for sharing your great cooking ideas and your thoughts on how to make BigOven better. We’re listening.
How Can We Become Your Most-Used, Best-Loved Food App? Let Us Know.
BigOven’s purpose is to get every home cook inspired and organized in the kitchen and on-the-go, and our goal is to be the best-loved, most used app for at-home cooking. How are we doing? What more can we do for you? Be sure to let us know.
BigOven is pleased to be featured in Samsung’s Chef Collection Series Tablet.
During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 this week, Samsung unveiled their Chef Collection Series partners. Samsung launched a culinary initiative to create its next-generation appliances, The Chef Collection Series. In their effort to take a holistic approach to the cooking process, Samsung is introducing content and services via their Chef Collection tablet, pre-loaded with its own Chef Collection app. The app will showcase cooking content and recipes from noted partners such as BigOven. Updated bi-weekly, the app will provide recipe inspiration for cooks, whether they are making something for dinner that night, or preparing a special occasion meal.
In addition, BigOven’s app will be pre-installed with the exclusive Chef Collection tablet, available in Spring 2015.
BigOven’s mission is to help home cooks get inspired and organized, in the kitchen and on-the-go. We provide the same features as Ziplist, plus a host of other useful tools for the home cook on our website and top-rated mobile apps, all for free. See the short video below to learn more.
So, how does BigOven stack up? Like Ziplist, BigOven has a grocery list with mobile syncing, a recipe clipper and mobile apps. You can add an unlimited number of grocery items to your grocery list via the clipper.
In addition, BigOven helps you get inspired with 350,000+ recipes reviewed by other home cooks and curated recipe collections and menus. Store your recipes on BigOven – type them in, clip from your favorite sites, or take pictures and we’ll transcribe them for you. Membership to our site and mobile apps is FREE.
We’ve provided a handy feature comparison chart below.
Free membership allows you to add an unlimited number of grocery items, and save up to 50 recipes (we’ve just moved it up!) Do you have special dietary needs or a large recipe collection? BigOven Pro, our paid membership program, may be of interest. Learn more and try it out free for two weeks here.
Screencast Walkthrough of BigOven’s Grocery List
Questions about BigOven as a Ziplist alternative? Get in touch here.
At BigOven, we are nearing completion of a WordPress recipe SEO plugin that will let food bloggers enhance their search-engine visibility (making SEO friendly recipes), organize recipes in their own WordPress library, keep content of their own in a handy way, and enable optional features that let their readers save the recipe, add it to their mobile grocery list, and more. More on that effort in the next few weeks — please follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or blog.bigoven.com to hear the latest.
In the meantime, I thought it was timely to lay out our guiding principles with respect to third-party recipe content.
Our Pledge to Food Bloggers
1) Your content is, and always will be, your own.
BigOven is a partner with, not competitor to you as a food blogger. BigOven is not a food blog. We aim to surface some of the best content on the web — including those recipes already contributed to BigOven — as part of our job. But our main goal is to provide consumers and the larger cooking-at-home ecosystem with tools that they can use to make their lives easier. We see ourselves as a productivity tool — a mobile and web-based platform that’s used in the daily cooking life-cycle of the home cook, from ideation and discovery through (optional) planning, shopping, preparation and sharing.
2) BigOven is a software platform with a mission of making the lives of home cooks easier.
Our goal is to be the most-used, best-loved tool for home cooks. We make apps, a website, and an optional Kitchen Cloud API that all work together.
We put our emphasis on the software tools that help ease the cooking life-cycle. Food blogs are where a lot of the best ideas, photos and fresh perspectives come from in the food world. BigOven’s heritage and focus is making great software, specifically platform software — and our competitive lens is to take a look at the world of the home cook (and by extension those who help the home cook) and then ask the question “what can we do with mobile, the cloud and the web to make their lives easier, more fun, more healthy?”
At BigOven, we are also home cooks ourselves.
3) BigOven offers optional ways for bloggers to promote their content. When we do so, we give full credit and traffic to the author(s) and originating site.
Two examples of this can be seen in the Recipe Clipper and the curated Recipe Collections. Recipe Clipper is our tool that lets cooks snip a copy of a recipe and keep it in their own collection — it includes the recipe title, ingredients and hero photo, and carries with it a full link back to the original source for the instructions and method. It helps integrate your content and your material into the life-cycle of the home cook.
Recipe Collections are designed to showcase some of the best seasonal recipes found on the web as well as in the BigOven archive. When one of our editors finds a great, seasonal recipe to feature in a Recipe Collection, we provide links back to original source with full “link juice” to credit the author for their work. We do not believe in framing other content. We do highlight what we discover, but will always endeavor to send the reader to the original source for the complete recipe. The BigOven platform includes the BigOven website and the API, and we require third parties to link back to your site, too.
For instance, our editor is highlighting Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salsa in the “Grilled Main Dishes” collection. On the BigOven website, a hero photo and ingredients are there, but there is a full-link-juice link to visit Confections of a Foodie Bride for the instructions as to how to make the recipe. We highlight this recipe as a recommended recipe in the “Grilled Main Dishes” collection on the BigOven app and BigOven sites. (Food bloggers, we’re always looking for ways to improve — if you have suggestions that work even better for you, please let us know. Thanks!)
4) BigOven will never knowingly steal content, nor do we condone the theft of original material. We recognize your content is your own, that you have commercial interests in protecting that content and presenting it in the best possible light as the original source.
Food bloggers make people happy, are a source of inspiration for many, and bring people together. They make our lives as cooks easier and more successful, and as a food blogger, you rightly, fully own the content that you create.
We love food bloggers, consider them allies in the effort to get more cooks making more successful meals more often. As a food blogger, your content is and will always be your own, and belongs permanently to you.
Backing up this pledge — we warn cooks adding recipes to the archive not to post third-party content, and we have an easy DMCA takedown process (see the “Alert Editor” link on every recipe page) that is always acted upon within one business day of receipt. We also review all photos submitted to the site to help minimize the re-transmission of copyrighted material. Now, we cannot guarantee that content copying never happens, because despite our strong suggestions to cooks, sometimes some get through — but we act immediately if an original author contacts us through the “Alert Editor” button.
5) We’re listening.
We have a comments form, and our development team reads every single suggestion that comes in.
We’re always happy to see the word spread about BigOven. It’s been a while since we’ve taken a gander at what the press is saying about us — here’s a short list of some recent and not-so-recent articles. Thanks for these mentions, writers!
DailyFinance.com featured BigOven in its Leftover Apps Savings Experiment:”If you have a hard time figuring out what to do with random leftovers, check out BigOven, an app that will actually generate recipes based on whatever is left in your fridge.”
Journalists, media, logos and screenshots can be found at www.bigoven.com/site/press. We appreciate you getting the word out to home cooks everywhere! Just as important, we love reading reviews on Google Play, Windows Marketplace and iTunes – BigOven continues to earn 4.5/5 star reviews on every major app platform.
We’re just getting started. We love hearing from you, and hope BigOven is making your life easier, and getting you to the home dinner table more often!
These updates bring the BigOven Recipe Clipper™ to your iPhone and iPad, letting you add recipes from your favorite food websites and blogs, right from within the app. This is a great way to build up your custom collection and always have it at the grocery store or the kitchen countertop, where you need it most.
Add Recipes from Your Favorite Food Websites and Blogs
We’ve brought our convenient Recipe Clipper feature to your iPad and iPhone. Coming soon for Android.
Just click “Add Recipe” / “From website or blog”, then find the recipe details page. (Make sure it has the recipe on it, with ingredients and instructions.)
Then, click “Import Recipe.” BigOven will inspect and import the recipe, ingredients, instructions — even photo — with just a single tap of a button. From there, you can add it to your grocery list, mark it a Try Soon, a Favorite, rescale it up or down, add it to your Menu Planner and much more.
We have a starting list of food sites, and are expanding the list all the time. As this relies upon third-party websites, we cannot guarantee that this list will remain constant — but we’re hard at work adding more to this list.
Just find the recipe you’d like, click “Import Recipe” in the top menu bar — and bingo, it’s in your collection. You can categorize it and make any further edits directly via the app. Changes you make will be automatically synchronized for you across other BigOven points of service, including on the web at www.bigoven.com. We’re adding recipe sites to this list all the time — jot us a note using the link on the form if you’ve got one you just can’t live without. At this writing, we’ve got a good backlog of a few dozen sites to add, so more are coming in the weeks and months ahead!
Edit (or delete) recipes right from the app
Need to make changes? No problem! Just tap on the action button in the upper right, choose “Edit Recipe”, make your changes in the text boxes provided, and press Done.
You’ll also find the “Delete Recipe” option on the same action button.
Easy Facebook Sharing
Cooking is social, and the new BigOven apps make it easy to share your Favorite and Try Soon recipes with your Facebook friends. When you mark a recipe “Try Soon” or “Favorite”, you’ll be asked if you want to share it once, always share Favorites or Try Soon discoveries, or never prompt you again.
Benefit: Your timeline on Facebook keeps handy links of recipes you want to try. Your friends also get an easy way to see your discoveries. You can change your preferences at any time; simply visit your “My Profile” area — www.bigoven.com/account/me and customize them as you see fit.
You can notify friends when you mark a recipe Try Soon, when you Favorite a recipe, or when you’ve Loved a recipe (rated it 4 or 5 stars.) Or, you can choose not to do so at all — it’s all up to you.
We’re improving BigOven all the time. But we’re human, and don’t always get it perfect the first time. Thanks to you, we’ve identified and fixed some important bugs with this release, the most notable ones are a fix to editing ingredients in the grocery list (this used to cause a sporadic crash in the app), and in invitations to Facebook friends (which used to fail silently in most situations, but now work properly.) Notice any bugs that you’d like fixed? The quickest way to tell the development team is our feedback form. While we do read the app reviews, with two million+ registered members, you’re much more likely to reach the developers in a timely way by letting us know directly. Thanks!
If you find the BigOven app helpful in the kitchen, we’d love it if you take a moment to say so with an App Store review. That’s a great way to spread the word about BigOven, which means more recipes, photos, reviews, and tips for you!
From all of us here at BigOven, happy cooking. Make something great tonight.
We’re listening, and constantly working on improving BigOven. We’ve got a lot more in the queue to make it an even better best friend in the kitchen. It also always warms our heart to read your stories and comments in the App Store — how it’s saved you time, how it’s helping you cook more at-home meals, and much more.
On behalf of the whole team, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on BigOven, and for telling your friends and family about BigOven!