Phil shares the history of Mealfire and how he transitioned from eating out all the time to eating in with his family. Oh, yeah…and he developed a free website that can help you do the same…build a meal plan using the recipes you love!
Back before my wife and I had our first child we used to eat out a lot. Most weeks we ate at least 4 or 5 meals at a restaurant. That has its benefits; it’s easy and it’s pretty tasty once you’ve been in a town for a bit and get to know the local food.
But, the food in restaurants is rarely all that healthy, it’s expensive, and you waste all kinds of gas and time driving all over town. Once we learned that our son was on his way, we knew we’d have to start eating many more meals at home. We tried getting used to it before he showed up, but despite our best intentions, it wasn’t working. Every night at 6 o’clock, when my wife and I both got off work, neither of us had the motivation to spend the rest of the night grocery shopping and cooking. We needed a way to plan out our meals ahead of time so we could do our shopping when we actually had time. I’ve never been one for pencil and paper, so I looked to the web. There were some good tools online, but most sites focused on recipes, not meal planning.
So, like any good little geek, I decided to roll out my own solution.
Mealfire is a FREE website that lets you collect your recipes in one place, plan out in advance when you’d like to prepare them, then turn those recipes into a shopping list. The quickest way to get started is to grab the bookmarklet. Once you get that installed (by dragging it into your address bar, or right-clicking in IE), you can use it to import recipes from several of the largest recipe sites around the web. Once you’ve got some recipes collected, you schedule them by dragging them onto a giant calendar…your meal plan! Then, before you head off to the store, click on the days you’d like to shop for, hit “Create Shopping List”, and you can print off everything you’re going to need for the week.
In addition to this core functionality you can also add extra grocery items that will always show up in any list that you print. This is good for things like bread, milk or eggs that you still need to pick up, but aren’t part of any recipe. And, there’s a mobile app as well if you have an iPhone, plus iCal support for integration with your favorite calendar application.
Phil Kulak is a full-time developer at Vodpod.com. Like most programmers, he enjoys experimenting with interesting side projects in his spare time, that hopefully other people will also find useful.
Head on over to Mealfire and get started on creating your meal plan for next week!