About Us

The {Insert Meal Here} team is a family of four hungry bellies and two cats based in rainy Portland, Oregon.

522780_760319521944_1787747619_nSam Justice is the developer on the project. With years of web development behind him, he started working on the project when he couldn’t find a digital meal planner that met his needs. The digital meal planing board is written almost entirely in Python, which is Sam’s preferred programming language. Sam meal plans in part because his wife tells him to, but primarily so he can keep run a tight ship at home. In a house where so much is focused on food, having a clear and concise plan as well as quick and easy access to every recipe for the week is crucial. The first recipe that was used to test the program was his signature Almond & Hazelnut Crusted Chicken. During Alpha testing, the recipe went in to the system at least a dozen times. His favorite meal is _____. When he’s not working on new features or chasing after his children, he can be found playing a board game or making triangles for the Enlightened on Ingress.

12660238_10153364026829135_2076445125_nMegan Justice runs operations and writes most of the recipes you see here on the blog as well as the public recipes in the Recipe Collection. She spends her day away from home putting numbers in columns and filling out tax returns while chasing after her CPA license. Megan loves most all whole, unprocessed foods and is quite proud of her Grape Walnut Salad. She started meal planning at just 19, when she cleared up debilitating migraines and a few other health issues by eating food. She’s a huge proponent and early adopter of the traditional foods movement, and started fermenting her own food over a decade ago. When Megan manages to steal a few minutes away from her obligations, she can be found knitting or writing.

20150716_124917Bran is the dragonmaster of the house. A true free spirit, he spends his days reciting facts and figures and finding recipes both in cookbooks and online. He has his very own board on our Pinterest account called Bran’s Picks that is full of the magic and whimsy of a small child. A budding cook himself, Bran has written a few recipes, including butter puree. His favorite meal right now is Quinoa Meatballs, though he’s also a sucker for all things spinach, kale, and parsnip.

20151216_121140_HDRLiam is the newest addition to the team. He’ll have his first bite of food sometime near the end of tax season 2015 when he’s around six months. We’ll let you know what he loves. He enjoys holding, waving, and sucking on pieces of cloth, talking, flirting, and is super excited by the prospect of crawling.

Here’s the spiel all about the Meal Planning Board. No fancy words or programmer notes or excitement. Just the words I, the accountant, use when I tell friends, family, and strangers about the app.

That, right there, is probably the best place to start. The app. The Meal Planning Board, or MPB, is an app. It’s web-based and accessible across all devices. It doesn’t care what operating system, device, or even very much what browser you’re using. If you have an internet connection and can type “www.insertmealhere.com” into your web browser, you can use it.

But WHAT does it DO!?

I think of the app as having three parts: a Recipe Collection, The Plan, and the Shopping List. Each part is exciting on its own, and his its own set of features. I’ll walk through each one this morning, and take you on a little tour of the app. I’ll update this post with new features as they’re added, as well as better screenshots as we abandon the Web 1.0 look of the Alpha test and move toward the finished product (these last updates will be later, in March and April – which is also when I’ll be knee deep in tax returns).

The Recipe Collection

Recipe Card
Recipes from your collection appear on cards with detailed information, including ingredients and instructions just like you’d expect them. Manage your recipe with tags, diet restrictions, and planning. Make notes to remind yourself what you served the recipe with or a something to try the next time you make it.

Growing up, my grandparents and even my mom had recipe cards they kept in a little box with their favorite recipes on them. Some of them came from cookbooks. Some were family recipes passed on from generation to generation. Most were on the same color and style of card with a cute watermark or border of vegetables or a picnic basket or similar. Some were on different colored cards and came from friends and family at the end of the year or with a potluck contribution. They would thumb through the recipes and make a selection prior to cooking. As I got older, some of these cards were copied with love and care on to a set of my own cards and given to me.

Adding recipes
The recipe input screen. Add all your favorite recipes, including Grandma’s secrets, right here. Keep them organized with source information so you can always go back to where you originally found or created it.

The Recipe Collection takes those cards into the digital space. You can add as many recipes as you like. Tag them by meal, ingredient, holiday, diet, or anything else you’d like. There’s a place for a note about where you got the recipe – cookbook, author, page number, blog, Grandma, whatever. You can even add notes to your recipe, to say replace mayonnaise with yoghurt or cream cheese (a regular replacement in my household with a few very specific exceptions). If you like that note enough, you can even edit the recipe later to include that change.

The Plan

A Simple, Sample Meal Plan
A sample schedule. Make it as detailed or as complicated as what works for you. When plans change, drag recipes from one day to another to keep track of those changes.

Use The Plan to build a calendar of your meals for a week, a day, a month, or whatever timeframe you like best. You can see how leftovers might be used – the roast beef at the beginning of the week becomes French dip and then tacos later in the week, for example.

You can also use the Menu Wizard to build a custom menu for a meal. We have a chicken recipe that involves honey and herbs that we love, as well as several potential sides from green beans with mustard and walnuts to roasted cauliflower to a shaved Brussels sprouts and cranberry salad. But we don’t always want to eat them together, and I don’t particularly want to have seven recipes in the collection to cover all the possible variables (just the chicken, the chicken with each side, and just each side). The wizard lets me build this menu, save it, reuse it, and add the entire menu to The Plan as a single meal.

The Shopping List

A Sample Shopping List
A view of the shopping list. Any item can become a repeating item by clicking on the circular arrows. Items already in your pantry can be deleted.

Before the Meal Planning Board, I almost always forgot something at the grocery store. Salt was a big one. We use sea salt, and we buy a cardboard can of it once every few months. We use salt all the time, but, hardly ever buy it. When we started running low this summer, we forgot to get salt to the list no less than five times. And then we ran out of salt, and had to go to the grocery store JUST TO BUY SALT!

This was what English majors call the “inciting incident,” of the Meal Planning Board – the thing that gave rise to the action – the action that gave rise to the app.

The shopping list pulls from your plan to build the list of things you need and want to buy. It’s based on your recipes. If you need 8 chicken breasts for the week to use in three different recipes, it will put eight chicken breasts on the list. Salt shows up on the list every time (salt is, in fact, in all of our recipes). And, as we don’t need salt every week, we can delete it from the list.

Shopping List Management
Manage the shopping list by adding items, store sections, putting items into store sections, viewing repeating items, and creating a new list, for those times when you do forget the salt.

The list also sorts itself based on your preferences. Sections are fully customizeble to you, the user, and how you shop at your store. You can even add repeating items to your list so they show up every week. We always buy eggs and cream. We usually also buy milk, yoghurt, and bacon. These are on our list automatically, every week, regardless of our meal plan. We also add other, non-food items to the list: shampoo, soap, and parchment paper for example. Hard to forget items that are staring you in the face on a list.