Making a meal of planning an app

Allison Tait blog
Posted on January 15, 2012

I used to love cooking. I was a huge fan of recipe magazines and cookbooks (see evidence in photo of a small portion of my collection). Always looking for something new to try.

The Builder and I used to have at least one new dish to try each week, if not more. I hated eating the same thing two weeks in a row.

Used to.

All of this, of course, was pre-children. When I was dealing with two adults with relatively adventurous palates and had all the time in the world to pontificate about what we’d have for dinner that night.

Now I have four palates: two relatively adventurous, one relatively adventurous for a kid, and Mr5, who would happily live on ham and salad for the rest of his life.

So I have to plan meals. A week in advance. And generally featuring mostly things we’ve had before. Things I know that Mr8 and Mr5 will eat. Boring things.

All of which makes meal planning about as exciting as flossing one’s teeth.

Having said that, I have learned through the school of ‘Cruskits for lunchboxes’ that meal planning is essential. I do a weekly shop, including stuff for lunches, and top up with fruit and bits and pieces as the week progresses (which is to say that I’m still at the supermarket every second day but it’s only for small items). But there’s great value in arriving home after Little Ninjas or swimming or whatever and knowing the ‘fixings’ for a meal are at hand.

As I wandered through the supermarket today, menu planned, list in hand, I began to invent a new app. A meal planning app. You put in your details (number of adults, number of kids, general likes and dislikes, level of cooking skill), fighting the auto-correct all the way, and it sends you, once a week, a full week’s menus, with shopping list.

All the deciding done for you. No need to sit down and think ‘what the hell am I going to make for dinner tonight?’.

I think it would sell.

There is an app out there called ‘What’s For Dinner?’, which seems to offer access to lots of recipes, your own and other people’s. It’s almost there. Now if they could just make the decisions for you, I reckon they’d be on to a winner.

Until, of course, they create an app that actually does the cooking for you. And the washing up.

Now that would would make me app happy.

What would you put in a meal-planning app? What’s the best food/cooking app you’ve tried?


  1. Saffron

    Ahh I’ve spent many afternoons thinking of ways to go about weekly meal planning.

    If there was an app it would have to include a section where it asks you whether each person would be home or not so it can schedule packed lunches or dinners that are easily transportable for when you have to eat on the move or take something to work.

    So it would also take into account the available facilities- ‘is there an oven or microwave at work?’

  2. Seana Smith

    Hello Al, Well I am going to buck the trend and say that I didn’t used to love cooking, nor was ever really at all into it… but am going to be this year…. I’m over being over the family meal so my meals plan is to embrace it ALL.

    All for me includes:

    One fussy five year old
    One ‘good trier’ five year old
    One fussy but geting better 12 year old
    One starving eats-anything Teen14
    One fussy vegetarian husband

    And me… who rally can’t eat what they all eat or I will be too wobbly all over.

    It’s a bloody mess… but I must and shall conquer mealtimes!

  3. Love in a B and B

    I don’t have kids so I get that this is not so hard for me, but I do have to put a meal on the table (or lap or into the hand) almost every lunch and night for hubby and me. I am hopelessly intimidated by recipes but I can cook quite well in a “what-is-in-the fridge/pantry-and-what-shall-I-make-out-of-it” kind of way. So when I shop I wander around with no list and get: 1) stuff for stir-fries. 2)stuff for a pasta dish 3)stuff for a salad meals (yes, the ham/cold chicken staple) 4) stuff for sandwiches 5) stuff for a few meals of meat/fish & 3 veg and 6) stuff to make soup/curry/stew. And then, having learned a few basic techniques that can be modified by adding anything you like, I have fun and invent. Every night I cook a hot meal or huge salad and every night my husband says: “Yum, I could eat this every night.” (BTW weightwatchers online has the “put your ingredients into the computer and out comes a recipes” thing
    . I have lost nearly 10 kilos with WW just by modifying my cooking using their ideas to reduce calorie load/increase healthy food and fibre.

  4. tinsenpup

    I confess that I buy menus (from savingdinner.com) in PDF format all made up with recipes and shopping lists. They’re cheap and good and healthy and they make it so I don’t have to think too much, which can only be a good thing.

  5. Nat - Muddy Farmwife

    Great idea. I’m hopeless at making decisions for mealtimes, and the worst bit is when you ask Hubby what he’d like and he says ‘don’t mind, whatever you make is fine’. Just an occasional break from mealtime decisions would be nice.
    Sometimes I just ask the kids what they’d like and go with that option, for a decision making break.

  6. River

    I like Trish’s idea for an app.
    I tried menu planning for a while, a couple of times, but it just doesn’t seem to work for me. Too often I don’t feel like cooking or eating what’s been planned and once I skip one day it’s too easy to junk the rest of the menu. Being alone makes it harder I think, since I don’t have to worry about feeding others nutritionally balanced meals.

  7. Lisa @ HomeWorkMum

    Sign me up for the decide/cook/wash up app.
    I would love to be a meal planner….maybe when I grow up.

  8. Maxabella

    Any sort of meal planning app would be a godsend around here. For all my organising and planning, I am still clueless when it comes to meal times. x

  9. thepomoslso

    When I am being ‘good’ I love Daily Burn. You can even choose which method of super fabulous fat-loss you want to try.

  10. Anna @ green tea n toast

    I love this idea! I’ve just finished writing a blog post (unpublished) about how stuck in a food rut we are at the moment. I’m going to do something about it as soon as I find some of that elusive time!

  11. Zoey @ Good Googs

    I want that app. I used to love cooking until feeding a fussy eater crushed my freaking soul.

  12. therhythmmethod

    I plan. I’ve resolved this year to start throwing more curve balls at the children, hoping they will eat a wider range of foods. If all else fails, our soon-to-be-purchased chickens will benefit from the experiment.
    And yes, I stopped buying cookbooks when Boy 1 was a bub.

  13. Marion Williams-Bennett

    I’d buy it!!

    I watch young couples in the grocery store these days, slowly picking out the right olive oil, the perfect tomato, having discussions about salt. I kiss those types of shopping trips, preparing those meals.

  14. Kelly Exeter

    That would be my dream. It’s the DECIDING that is the killer. Please someone just tell me what is going to be for dinner every night. I would actually be happy to do the rest!

    Bring on the app 😉

  15. Vicky

    Oh wouldn’t it be lovely …..

  16. Dorothy Krajewski

    The one that shops and cooks for you, washes up and brings you an after dinner drink… Now that would be an app I’d pay for@

  17. Mrs Woog

    I would love that app! Link it to a grocer and send your list of stuff to be delivered would make it perfect x

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