The {Insert Meal Here} Meal Planning Board was conceived around midnight in the middle of June 2014.  I was up late, and had been looking for a better solution to keep track of the week’s meal plan than an old white board hung on the kitchen wall.  It worked, but there were problems.  I had to be at home to check it; I had to remember what cook book the recipe came from (or sometimes what a dish even was!); and, while it was easy to change things around, it wasn’t as easy to look and see how long it was going to take to make a dish, and, maybe we didn’t want to make home made pulled pork sliders on fresh baked brioche buns on a day that my young child and I were out running a bunch of errands.

whiteboard-11292014So around midnight, I started writing out a list of features that I wanted in a program that would help me in all of this.  The heart, and the origin of the whole thing, was a flexible meal planner that worked just as easily as a white board.  Something that I could drag recipes into and into their selected time and day, and if I wanted to change the day, just drag it and drop it into its new place.  I also wanted to be able to adjust the number of people that it was serving, to scale up a recipe to a party of twenty, or down to an intimate two.  I then wanted the program to be able to generate my shopping list for me, to make sure that I didn’t forget anything from the grocery store, ever again (the number of weeks I made a third trip to the grocery store because I forgot olive oil on the first two was getting ridiculous).

Insert meal here alpha shopping list.

{IMH} Shopping List Alpha Display

Of course a shopping list isn’t very useful if I can’t add things to it, but once I started using the  program, I quickly realized that there were certain things that I was adding to the program every week: eggs, milk, yogurt, etc.  So, a little bit more coding and I could make a list of things that I wanted to get every week.

Around this time I had started talking to some other people about this.  And there were four questions that I kept being asked, “Can I use it?”, “When will it be ready?”, and “How much?”. The fourth question was always in the form of, “Will it be able to ____”, and my answer was always one of three. Either “Yes, that’s in the plan!”, “It already does!”, or as happened earlier today, “It will now!” when someone asked about something that I hadn’t thought of, but was a wonderful idea!

Now, when I turn the search features on, it will not only be able to search by ingredient, style of cuisine, and prep time, but also by dietary restriction.  And, if you turn it on, it can warn you if you are adding a recipe that might violate any diet that you might be following!

But I still wanted more.  I kept adding features to the list, like a wizard to build unique recipes from common components (a pizza with choices of a dozen different doughs, sauces and any topping and sides you can imagine!) A budgeting tool so I could keep track of what I was spending before I get to the checkout line (without doing all the math myself). Or a glossary with common cooking terms appears as tool tips in recipes.

There is all of this, and more (so much more) on my list of features to add. There’s not a day since I started that I haven’t worked on this program in an effort to bring it to life.  It’s alive, and it works, and all of the core functions are in place.

glossary example

An Example of the {Insert Meal Here} glossary