Company Launches Web Site to Improve Meal Planning, Food Shopping

By: Contributor Last Updated: October 27, 2009

Planning meals, sharing food preparation tips, and saving time and money while grocery shopping could become easier thanks to a new Web site that provides the necessary tools to get organized in the kitchen.

Officials at Meal Essence, a product of JDGroup Ventures LLC, launched MealEssence.com on Thursday (Oct. 22) during the Evansville Women's Conference. The company is an affiliate of the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.

Company founder and owner Sheri Risner created the idea for the Web site as a student at the University of Southern Indiana.

"I had problems maintaining food inventory in my household, which often led to driving to the store for groceries at the last minute," she said. "I submitted the business idea to a competition at the university, and then at the inaugural Indiana Economic Development Corporation Boot Camp where I won first place."

The Web site's tools include:

  • A recipe archive that is searchable by ingredient and type of dish.
  • A glossary with cooking terms and ingredient conversions.
  • Tips and suggestions for healthy eating.
  • A featured recipe of the week.
  • Risner's blog about how families can improve their mealtimes together.
  • A calendar to manage recipes and generate shopping lists.

"The calendar may be the most important tool on the site," Risner said. "By selecting recipes and meal plans for the calendar, a user can generate a shopping list in seconds. There are 1,200 recipes to choose from in the MealEssence.com database, and users have the ability to edit them or add their own recipes. Once the calendar of recipes is complete, a user can edit, arrange and print a categorized shopping list."

The Web site will be further developed, including adding nutritional information, dietary plans for people with medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, budgeting features, a smartphone application, and a social network.

"The social network will facilitate recipe exchange and allow users to comment on featured recipes or provide helpful hints," Risner said. "It also will be a resource for users to share recipes and calendar plans and to follow favorite cooks."

Users register for the Web site by providing their name and e-mail address, as well as creating a username and password. All users are premium members the first 14 days after registering on the Web site; a nominal monthly fee will be charged for premium membership thereafter. Users who do not remain premium members still will be able to browse the recipe database; scale, e-mail and print recipes; and read the blog and recipe of the week. Additionally, premium members will be able to enjoy the calendar and shopping list features as well as the added time- and money-saving benefits.

While the Web site's target audience is women between the ages of 25-45 and their families, there is content that can aid others as well.

"Everyone can benefit from MealEssence.com because the goal is to simplify dinner and make it easier for everyone to plan meals," Risner said. "It is our desire to inspire and enable people to regularly spend mealtime together, sharing the events of their day."

About Meal Essence

Meal Essence offers a helping hand - simply and successfully organizing meals. MealEssence.com is a place to go to simplify the daily mealtime experience.

About Purdue Research Park

The 725-acre Purdue Research Park (http://www.purdueresearchpark.com) has the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country. The park is home to more than 160 companies. About 100 of these firms are technology-related and another 39 are incubator businesses. The park is owned and managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, a private, nonprofit foundation created to assist Purdue University in the area of economic development. In addition to the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, the foundation has established technology parks in other locations around Indiana including Indianapolis, Merrillville and New Albany.