Cooking at home is by far the cheapest and healthiest way to eat.  If you’re good at it, you can quickly and cheaply make healthy, restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of your own home.  Unfortunately, cooking is a skill, and a lot of us (let’s face it) aren’t very good at it.  Cookbooks are fine, but they only get you so far.  Fortunately, modern smartphone science has your back – there are a number of apps that simplify the process.  So, next time, rather than just going out for fast food, try out these apps and see what happens.  You might just surprise yourself.

1.  How To Cook Everything – IOS – $4.99 / $9.99

Based on his famous, enormous cookbook, this app by Mark Bittman provides handy interactive recipes for literally hundreds of meals.  Whatever you want to cook, from pizza to duck l’orange is in there.  Better, the app allows you to search by ingredient, making it easier to make meals based on whatever you happen to find in the fridge.  The app also breaks down the details of food preparation for the culinary-challenged, with built-in timers, how-to drawings, and emailable grocery lists.

This app provides a sense of comfort for the mildly-incompetent home chefs among us.  If you trust the app and follow its instructions precisely, the food comes out great.  There’s no room for interpretation, and, thus, no room for error.

2. in the Kitchen – IOS – $1.99

A budget option compared to the previous entry, ‘In the Kitchen’ provides a “Deep Impact” to ‘How to Cook Everything’s “Armageddon,” if you see what we’re saying.  It’s developed by the food network, and isn’t quite as good as ‘How to Cook Everything’.  It is, however, a lot cheaper.  If you just want a replacement for your moldy old recipe book, and can handle the details on your own, this app will do exactly what you need for cheaper than a trip to the used book store.

3. Kitchen Math – IOS – $0.99

This app is one of those apps whose usefulness is hard to explain until you try it.  The app provides simple, fast conversions between all the various weird units of measurement that come up in cooking.  Over the course of your cooking lifespan, it’ll save you endless time doing tedious arithmetic.  The app also tells you exactly what temperature and time you need to cook meat for to achieve a desired level of doneness, eliminating a lot of guessing and possibly a nasty case of salmonella.

4. Harvest – IOS $9.99

Another simple, surprisingly useful app, this app is perfect for anyone who wants to eat well, but doesn’t know enough to distinguish bad produce from good.  This app provides a great tool that tells you which vegetables are in season, and provides an easy checklist to see if your vegetables are ripe, without squeezing all of the cantaloupes in the store.  For the health-conscious the app also provides a simple utility for determining pesticide levels in a given produce, to determine whether or not it’s worthwhile to buy organic produce.

If you’ve ever found yourself in the vegetable aisle trying to figure out what on earth constitutes an acceptable breadfruit, this is the app for you.

5.  Ratios – IOS – $4.99

Recipes are great!  They greatly simplify the cooking process and help you reliably make decent food.  However, sometimes you want to experiment and try something new.  This app helps you do that in a clever way.  Like an elementary physics text, this app provides fundamental principles of the science – it tells you the basic ratios that are involved in the building blocks of cooking.  From there, you are free to improvise anything your heart can desire and your stomach can hold.

Scott Johnson is a tech blogger who writes on behalf of companies such as smartphone insurer, a popular brand who insures gadgets that people can’t live without.