Last time, I shared with you my general excitement and a very brief overview of what I’m planning for my program.  Today, I wanted to talk a little bit more about some of the features that I’m most excited about, and have garnered some of the most excitement from the people I’ve talked to about it so far. Meal Templates (or The Great Meal Wizard! ™).

Meal Templates:  One of the first things I thought of when I started writing notes for the program was Meal Templates.  In our house we frequently do things like Pizza Night, Taco Night, or Tea Party.  And that is exactly what we write on our current white board. The fun thing is, as everyone who enjoys a good pizza knows, that you can make so many different variations on these, and other sort of generic ideas. But how do you best represent that on a meal planning board?

Yes, I could easily add Pepperoni Pizza, Sausage Pizza, Meat Lovers Pizza, etc into the database until my eyes bleed.  But there’s a better way.  Computers have been walking users through complex configuration for the better part of thirty years.  Why not a wizard that takes a basic idea (Pizza Night) and walks you through the steps to put together your perfect pizza!

In the Pizza Night example, it would follow the steps similar to this:

1) Choose your dough! Sourdough? Whole wheat dough? The system would present you any recipes that are on your account tagged with Pizza Dough and allow you to choose.

2) Choose your sauce. Classic marinara or a spicy pesto? This would be the same as the previous step but for your sauces.

So far steps one and two would be exactly like the manual step of adding recipes to the database and selecting each of them individually. However on step 3

3) Toppings! This one would present you a list of dozens, or hundreds of possible toppings (including cheeses) that you might want to grace your pizza.

4) Sides, much like steps 1 and 2, here you would be given a selection of popular (or not so popular) sides to serve with your pizza. Of course, you can completely skip a side if all you want is pizza.

In each of the steps above, you would also be given the opportunity to add your own recipe to the database, where it would be safely stored for future Pizza Nights.  And when you are done with the process, the whole thing is combined into one Composite Recipe for easy reference and addition to future meals without having to go through the selection process again (if you want the same pizza again anyway).

Don’t know what a Composite Recipe is? Check back soon and I’ll talk about what they are, and why they are important.