<p>(BPT) - There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal to keep you connected to friends and family. Between busy schedules and long distances, even a quick meal can be tough to coordinate. Since so much of our lives are managed online these days, a few tech tips and tricks can help keep your life gourmet.</p><p>Cook with friends across the country</p><p>If you have cultivated a circle of friends as food-conscious as you are, cooking together can be even more fun than going out. But, between living across the country from loved ones and traveling for business or pleasure, it’s a challenge to find opportunities to connect in person. When you can’t be in the same dining room, connecting digitally over a shared passion for food is the next best thing.</p><p>For instance, with an Outlook.com email address, you can share recipes via email, then start a Skype call right from your email when you need to talk face-to-face with your friends to clarify recipe details or gush over images of your divine finished dishes. Even food experts share recipes this way, including author Gail Simmons. Cloud storage services like SkyDrive are a great way to share photos without worrying about storage limits. Just upload, share and go!</p><p>Become a restaurant connoisseur</p><p>A true foodie knows the importance of staying up to date on your local restaurant scene. When it comes to organizing your social life to ensure you’re hitting all the hot spots in town, be sure to use online resources to their full potential. Your email provider likely has a built-in calendar feature that can be incredibly helpful in scheduling dinner dates and keeping track of reservations. Some, like the Outlook.com calendar, even let you invite others to your appointments and select their level of input: are you sending it as an FYI only, or do you want them to be able to change the time, location or notes? Set up your calendar in the way that works for you.</p><p>Also, with many restaurants accepting online reservations, it’s important to be sure you don’t lose those confirmation emails. Flag important emails, sending them to the top of your inbox so you never miss a reservation.</p><p>Get your favorite food content delivered directly to you</p><p>If you love to cook, chances are you have a few food blogs and websites you use to get inspiration. To make sure you never miss an amazing recipe, be sure to subscribe to your favorite sites, then use built-in organization tools to ensure your inbox never gets too cluttered. For instance, Sweep from Outlook.com lets you easily sort your favorite food newsletters from the rest of your messages, and you can choose to delete all but the most recent content, or even schedule future cleanups so your inbox stays clean and clutter-free.</p><p>Enjoy a combined meal</p><p>Even the most food-savvy people don’t want to do all the cooking. Gather a group of your foodie friends and host a potluck so everyone can enjoy something new. Send invitations and collaborate on a menu online in the weeks before your event. For example, invite your friends and create a shareable signup sheet using Office Web Apps and collaborate on recipes using OneNote. Friends can easily access the document and tell the group what they plan to bring.</p><p>Share recipes</p><p>While you may still keep your grandma’s favorite recipes in a box on your counter, today it’s easier than ever to share recipes with friends and family with a few quick clicks. Cloud storage providers like SkyDrive are a great way to cultivate a virtual cookbook. Just upload your favorite recipes to a folder and invite fellow foodies to view and add their specialties. You can either type them up or scan them in and share with friends. Access the recipes from wherever you are; and of course, if you still prefer working from a paper recipe, it’s easy to print directly from the Web.</p><p>What are you waiting for? Technology and online tools can be great time savers when it comes to connecting over a meal. With the wide variety of options for video chatting, sharing recipes, scheduling dinner outings or planning get-togethers, a new world of tech-savvy cooking awaits you. To get started, go to <a href="http://www.TryOutlook.com" rel="nofollow">www.TryOutlook.com</a>.</p>
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