Your iPhone can't make dinner, but it can make making dinner easier

Shoppers want convenience at the tap of a finger, and now that Apple reports more than 85,000 apps for the iPhone, shopping applications have gone mainstream.

Apps can assist, inspire and inform you while grocery shopping. Different programs help you build a shopping list, find a recipe that suits your dietary needs, cooking capabilities and contents of your kitchen.

The following seven, mostly free, apps will hopefully help make the process of shopping and cooking easier and more fun.

1. Dinner Spinner -- Free

Select your ingredients, your meal preference and how much time you want to spend cooking, and AllRecipes provides the details. Filters allow you to select dishes for vegetarians, the lactose intolerant, gluten-free diets and more. Includes recipe reviews and ratings.

2. Grocery Gadget Shopping List -- $3

Recommended by Rachel Ray Magazine and tons of users, this full-featured grocery list app also manages your other shopping lists, whether for holiday meals or the office. The app learns the order of items at the store as you shop and checks them off your list.

Next time you shop, the items appear in the proper order. You also can name the categories in each list with the aisle numbers at that store. A handy and unique feature allows you to share and sync lists with family members.

3. Betty Crocker Mobile Cookbook -- Free

Betty Crocker and Joy of Cooking are my kitchen bibles, so having immediate access to more than 4,000 of dear Betty's recipes is heaven-sent. Searchable by type of dish and ingredients with detailed photos and informative explanations. Unfortunately, it appears Joy hasn't developed her own app yet.

4. Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List -- Free

Epicurious receives rave reviews from users and bloggers alike. More than 25,000 recipes in a gorgeous wrapper with online access to the collection from Bon Appetit, Gourmet and other magazines. Too much advertising, but the app is otherwise delicious and includes a shopping-list builder.

5. Ucook -- First version is free

Search more than 60,000 recipes from the Grocery Shopping Network by ingredients, region, available kitchen tools and more. Includes weekly specials, circulars from your favorite grocer, nutritional information and a shopping engine.

6. VeganYumYum Mobile -- Free

VeganYumYum Mobile lets you search, view and organize all your favorite recipes from the award-winning food blog Includes scrumptious photos and step-by-step preparation directions.

7. Jamie Oliver 20-Minute Meals -- $4.99

Rather pricey, but Oliver's searchable app has 50 brand-new recipes with step-by-step photos to help you shop for, prepare and cook all sorts of delicious meals.

Includes shopping-list function, demonstration videos and hints.