Just scan the reduced ingredients the Yellow Sticker Cook Book site will do the rest. Image: Uncommon Creative Studio
Say you’re wandering through the supermarket and bright yellow stickers of reduced items catch your eye. What are you supposed to cook with this random batch of nearly-out-of-date ingredients? A new AI-generated cookbook with thousands of recipes has the secrets.
The Yellow Sticker Cookbook is a web-based app and online tool where you scan in the reduced items you’ve picked up from the supermarket, along with those you already have in your cupboard, and it will generate recipe after recipe to inspire your next feast.
The world is fascinated with artificial intelligence – but with that fascination comes fear. Sensationalist headlines warn AI could replace art and journalism, be a catapult for dangerous disinformation and even destroy humanity. But the Yellow Sticker Cookbook shows AI can be used for social good.
“We’re all addicted to things that feel like threats,” says Nils Leonard, co-founder at Uncommon Creative Studio which has launched the cookbook. “There’s a never-ending conversation that it’s going to take our jobs. The truth is it won’t replace our reaction to a crisis. It’s very human that if we’re in trouble, we want to fix it. That’s not going to be replaced.”
The Yellow Sticker Cook Book is more of an ingredient matching exercise than a true piece of AI software on the level of ChatGPT and Midjourney. But as a tool for getting use out of those budget items at a time when people are looking for any way to save the pennies, it does the trick. Entering ingredients or taking a photo in the shop will turn up dozens of possible recipes from across the web.
“We realised there was a discount lottery,” Leonard adds. “You end up with peanut butter and a cucumber. What do you do with that? We wanted to make something useful. We recognise this won’t save the world, but it can be useful. It will also highlight the state we’re in.
“The fact a tool like this needs to exist is just another part of the conversation that needs to continue in this country around how the government and everybody can help change where we are. It really is a crisis. I think the real story here is we need change.”
Research shows the UK throws away 6.7 million tonnes of food each year, the equivalent to filling Wembley Stadium with food waste eight times over. If we stopped throwing away unused food, it would have the same environmental impact as taking one in five cars off the road in the UK, according to WRAP.
As with any technology, AI is a work in progress and thankfully it’s a fair way off replacing our jobs. Chefs shouldn’t be worried about the Yellow Sticker Cookbook as it’s a tool which promotes their food, linking users to recipes by the professionals and helping budding cooks find inspiration.
Leonard himself points out that AI can’t read minds and tailor its suggestions to our tastes or budget. And you’ll have to pick wisely if you’re using the tool as a money-saving hack. When The Big Issue popped in milk, eggs, butter and flour, it suggested crab rarebit with fries and a little gem salad. You’d be sure to impress the dinner party but it’s far from the cheapest meal you can make with those cupboard essentials.
A search through the bright yellow database will spark inspiration, however, and there are cheap recipes too. You’ll find the macaroni cheese sitting alongside the charred steak.
AI is progressing at such a rapid pace that soon, no doubt, we will have an AI-generated cookbook where you can filter by price and tailor it to your very specific taste. We might not be there yet, but who knows what it could do within just a few months?
“Ideas like this have come on leaps and bounds even in the last year,” Leonard says. “We’ve been watching the AI journey take off. All these things are suddenly becoming possible. Outside of the mad stuff that I think a lot of people are talking about, we are seeing incredibly useful things happen.”
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