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Cook's Illustrated.com....worth it?

bxgirl Feb 26, 2010 02:48 PM

For years I've been getting emails about joining Cook's Illustrated online website. I just got another offer (50% off) and, again,am wondering if I should subscribe to the online site?
It always looks so tempting, but I'm not sure it is worth it
Does anyone have it, or used to have it? Thoughts as to whether it is worth it.

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  1. l
    lulou23 RE: bxgirl Feb 26, 2010 03:32 PM

    Yes, I just renewed after my first year of subscribing online. CI is my go-to bible for most things cooking, recipes and recommendations. Even though I have a few CI books, and a stack of old issues, I always go online first. Also, I will sometimes flip thru a current issue, or bonus issues at the grocery store or library, then run home and look up a recipe online. I know, not very honest, but since they repeat a lot of recipes in their issues, I don't feel too guilty. And sometimes I end up purchasing the magazine anyway. I would definitely recommend subscribing if you are a fan of CI. It's great to be able to look up years worth of recipes.

    1. greygarious RE: bxgirl Feb 26, 2010 03:40 PM

      Do you already subscribe to the magazine? If so, then you can buy the annual index (which goes all the way back to the charter issue) to allow you to find what you want among your magazine collection. It's around $13 and I found every other year was good enough because it wasn't hard to find something within the previous 6 issues. You can try the website for free for 2 weeks to see if you'd use it enough. I prefer having actual magazines to skim for inspiration.

      1. todao RE: bxgirl Feb 26, 2010 07:18 PM

        I've gotten the magazine for several years and I've been a member for a couple of years (a gift subscription from my kids). I actually prefer the magazine to the web site. Either way, I think it's worth the subscription price and if you can sign at a 50% discount, give it a try.

        1. c
          Claudette RE: bxgirl Feb 27, 2010 07:20 AM

          A friend of mine swears by the website because it's so easy to look things up, and there's no clutter. I read the mag in bed for fun, and just like the feel of paper and ink.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Claudette
            southern_expat RE: Claudette Feb 27, 2010 05:27 PM

            Claudette! I love that I'm not the only one who considers cookbooks and cooking magazines great bedtime reading! Hard to read a computer screen when you're trying to fall asleep, even if it is a laptop. And there's something about leafing through old issues that's comforting, seeing the wrinkled, stained pages from past kitchen endeavors.

            I have to admit, my magazine and website subscriptions are a yearly birthday gift from my mom. Even if she didn't gift them to me, I'd pay for them. I've only been getting the mag since 2006, and it's so great to be able to look up things in the archives.

            I agree with lulou23 - it's my go-to resource. Reading through the testing process has taught me SO much about cooking.

            Answer: It's definitely worth it! Peace!

            1. re: southern_expat
              jarona RE: southern_expat Mar 3, 2010 07:18 AM

              Another one here with the same thought process! I LOVE C/I as bedtime reading. In addition, I always find a helpful hint or two with each issue. In fact, I've gotten THE best pound cake recipe from C/I--I could never figure out why my pound cakes always failed until I made the recipe in C/I. I do watch all the "Cooks" shows, buy the books and get the magazines--I just started a subscription to their "Entertaining" magazine. However, I like having a tangible material in front of me rather than the online subscription. But whatever works for you is wonderful!

          2. l
            lodgegirl RE: bxgirl Feb 27, 2010 07:44 AM

            I have subscribed to the magazine since it re-started (in the '80's - dating myself). In just about EVERY issue, I have found something worthwhile - a technique, a tip, a best grocery choice (peppercorns, supermarket olive oil, whatever), a recipe. I've also subscribed online (and they give you no print subscription discount - grrrr) for years. This year, to economize, I decided I really didn't need the print mag, though I love it - because like lulou23, I find myself going online to search, rather than leafing through past mags. I love this resource, no matter how you read it - it's up to you whether reading a magazine or searching a website is "how you roll."

            1. b
              bxgirl RE: bxgirl Mar 1, 2010 09:46 AM

              Thank you all for your input. I have decided that, since I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months, and since I often get the 1/2 price offer from CI, I will wait until my birthday, and put it on my wish list. I do plan to try the trial membership, though, and see how often I use it, and if I like it.

              1. dave_c RE: bxgirl Mar 3, 2010 09:50 AM

                I'm a longtime online subscriber and I'm actually thinking about dropping website.
                My main gripe is the website was redone about a year or two ago. Now, there seems to be less material and their website is more difficult to search.

                For you, you won't have that issue since you'll be going in new.

                Also, based upon previous complaint threads on Chowhound, make sure you read the sign-up screens carefully and make sure you opt out of stuff. You may end up with a cookbook a month with a bill coming in the mail.

                I never had that problem. Maybe I opted out or I joined before they started doing that type of shady marketing.

                I may be coming off very negative and I'm not trying to be. I just noticed I go to CI less after their website upgrade.

                1. b
                  bxgirl RE: bxgirl Mar 3, 2010 12:59 PM

                  Jarona and dave,
                  Thank you both for your input. It is always good to hear the pro and cons of any issue, before making a decision.
                  Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts.

                  1. mlukan RE: bxgirl Mar 4, 2010 08:05 AM

                    It is Worth it, if you have this link for 64% off. It works out to be $12.50. Some of the single recipes alone I have are worth that price. Go to this link and follow the instructions. Enjoy!

                    The thing that makes online worth it is you can go back and look at every past issue they ever had. So many amazing recipes.

                    1. a
                      armagnac RE: bxgirl Mar 8, 2010 01:44 AM

                      I see you've decided, but for what it's worth, I passed on the web site membership a year or two ago, but this time decided to pay up. Really useful in many ways. For me it's better than the magazine - not just because I've too much paper around here as it is, but because of the back listings of Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen, the video demos (made for the site, not clips from ATK), and other content which a magazine subscription won't get you.

                      Cook's Country I can do without.

                      1. Davwud RE: bxgirl Mar 8, 2010 04:08 AM


                        Have you seen this book??
                        It's not CI per se but the same people and it's a great book.

                        Keep in mind that with CI you have to renew your subscription. The book is forever.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Davwud
                          bxgirl RE: Davwud Mar 8, 2010 07:30 PM

                          I am not sure which book you are refering to. Have I seen what book?

                          1. re: bxgirl
                            Davwud RE: bxgirl Mar 9, 2010 03:11 AM

                            I find it really amazing how much better this works when you include the link.



                        2. g
                          gfr1111 RE: bxgirl Mar 9, 2010 06:56 AM

                          I subscribe to both the Cooks' Illustrated Magazine and the website. I really enjoy the magazine more than the website because I can read it in bed or dining alone at lunch, etc. However, I tend to lose copies of the magazine and what would be a long treasure hunt to find a recipe in the magazine is instantly available on line.

                          When I want to make the recipe for brownies that I vaguely remember reading last year, there's no contest: I go to the website and find it in a couple of minutes or less. I think that the website subscription is well worth the money.

                          1. MichaelB RE: bxgirl Mar 11, 2010 08:58 AM

                            This is a little late, but I just saw this thread and thought I'd throw in my two cents. I have a subscription to the CI website and I like it and use it frequently, but I don't think it's a quite a replacement for the magazine itself (which I buy issue-by-issue). While the website has all the recipes in the magazine, it just has a summary of the articles, so you don't get the full-on OCD testing of every possible permutation that is the CI specialty. This can be fine, especially if you can't find the magazine or just want to print out a recipe to share, but often their elaborate testing notes contain helpful tips about the recipes themselves. I find that I mostly use the website as an index or if I don't have the magazine itself - if I'm reading or cooking from a recipe, the magazine copy is preferable.

                            One pet peeve I have about the website subscription is that it only gives access to the CI website, not to the full family of websites - Cook's Country, America's Test Kitchen, Cook's Country TV, etc. I think some of those are free but require separate registration, and while I understand the economics of segmenting their market, I tend to think of them all as one big stable of properties, and it's frustrating to look for a recipe I saw on one of their tv shows only to find that it requires another registration. I'd certainly be willing to pay a little more for full access to everything. But that really is a peeve - overall I'm happy I have the subscription.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MichaelB
                              bxgirl RE: MichaelB Mar 11, 2010 11:11 AM

                              Thanks for the lengthy, newsy response. It is interesting that you mention your "peeve" about not having access to all the CI properties. I used to subscribe to CI magazine, and it reallly annoyed me, that, even as a PAID subscriber to the magazine, I would have to pay additionally, to subscibe to the online site. I think that still bugs me, and adds to my reluctance to subscribe online

                              1. re: bxgirl
                                greygarious RE: bxgirl Mar 11, 2010 03:51 PM

                                Amen. IMO they'd be smart to offer some packages. If you subscribe to the mag you should be able to get a hefty discount for the online membership which, after all, has far less overhead per subscriber. Like for an additional cost of <$10 per year. It also bugs me that there's no discount for subscribing to both magazines. Not to mention the multiplicity of log-ins required. Surely it wouldn't be THAT hard for them to streamline the process.

                              2. re: MichaelB
                                hobbess RE: MichaelB Mar 11, 2010 11:49 PM

                                I know that, for at least, the equipment reviews, the magazines don't have all the information in CI's attempt to strongly nudge their readers to their website.

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