I’m a foodie at heart. I truly enjoy gourmet meals and crafting delectable dishes. But eating out in five-star restaurants and buying gourmet ingredients doesn’t always add up to an affordable budget. I want to have my cake and eat it too! I found a way to do just that: I get free cooking apps and track down bargain cookbooks!

‘App’ly Yourself

One trick I use to satisfy my desire for delicious food is cooking apps! Anytime I know I'm stocking up on an item or want to try a new dish, I look through my apps to decide what to cook. I love that I can access them while at the grocery store or in my kitchen.

  • The Big Oven app boasts over 250,000 recipes and won the About.com Readers Choice Award for best cooking app. Plus, it's available on all smart phones and tablets for free.
  • The Epicurious.com app is free and works on most smart phones. You can search for recipes and save your favorite ones, plus create a shopping list.
  • The Cooks Illustrated app is another free recipe app that works with iPhone and iPad. You can search for recipes and create shopping lists, plus it has a kitchen timer built right in! It also features "taste tests" that tell you the winners for the best commercial ingredients, like chicken stock or mayo!
  • The Mise En Place Lite app is a free app for iPhone and iPad and is great to help you organize for a dinner party! Mise en place is a French term for "everything in its place" and is used by culinary professionals to describe the importance of being prepared before starting to cook. Plan each task, from buying the ingredients to preheating the oven.
  • The Cooking app by Portable Knowledge is yet another free app for iPhone or iPad and is fantastic for general information about cooking, like culinary terms, substitutions and yields. So if you were wondering what exactly a "coulis" is, you can look it up!

Whip Up a Bargain

Ah, food nerds. We love reading gourmet cookbooks and trying out the recipes of superstar chefs.  I used to buy all the newest cookbooks at regular retail price. (Don’t say it.) But now I'm just as satisfied with buying books published several years ago. Just because the recipes are from 2008 doesn't make them any less delicious!

  • New Hardcover Books: One of my favorite series is from the editors of Food and Wine Magazine called Best of the Best. Each volume features the 25 Best Recipes from the best cookbooks of that year. You get amazing recipes from famous chefs like Bobby Flay, Alice Waters, Giada De Laurentiis and Jamie Oliver at a fraction of the retail price. Order directly and get Best of the Best Vol. 11 or Best of the Best Vol. 12 for only $15.99 including shipping (per book). That’s a 50 percent savings over retail. At Amazon.com’s bargain bookstore I found Volume 11 for $11.98. Buy another item that adds up to $25 to get free shipping. That’s also a 60 percent savings over retail (before the second item).
  • Try searching the closeouts and bargains at Jessica's Biscuit an online cookbook store, where I found other great deals like Wolfgang Puck's Pizza, Pasta and More for only $12.98, a 63 percent savings over retail! Plus, spend $25 and get free shipping or spend $50 and get a free one-year magazine subscription to Bon Appétit or Conde Naste Traveler.
  • Browse discount stores like T.J. Maxx, where I just snagged Best of the Best Vol. 11 for only $4.99 (that’s an 83 percent discount).
  • Good Condition, Used, Hardcover Cookbooks: Of course, you can really create an impressive cookbook collection if you don't feel the need to crack open a shiny new book. If you are willing to buy them used from private sellers on online bookstores, you can find some great bargains. Try Amazon.com, Alibris.com and BarnesandNoble.com – where I found several of the Best of the Best volumes in Like New and Good condition from $.99 – $1.50  plus cost of shipping!

 This has been a guest post by Rebecca from Atlanta, GA
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How to Get Free Cooking Apps and Bargain Books