When it comes to meal planning, we always start out with the best of intentions, don’t we parents? But then someone needs something or work calls, and that meal planning resolution goes onto the back burner (so to speak). Cue gatheredtable, a meal planning and recipe website, conceived and created by a busy working mom. If you’re ready to say goodbye to “What’s for dinner?” and hello to customized menus based on your dinner needs, fave recipes and food preferences, read on.

<gatheredtable large friends dinner

photo: gatheredtable

Mom Knows Best
A former senior vice president at Starbucks, Mary Egan was that mom trying to fit in meal planning between a demanding job, bedtime rituals and work trips—and usually fell short, or at the least, felt overwhelmed by dinnertime planning. She knew she felt strongly about the importance of making nutritious, filling meals for her family, and she knew she had a bunch of favorite recipes, but also knew that the weekly planning took more time than she had available. Egan began researching online meal planning sites to help her save time, but didn’t find anything flexible enough for her varied schedule and desire for healthy food.

Egan then realized that she was asking the same questions of herself when planning meals—How many nights this week can I cook? What do I have in the pantry already? What do I need to buy at the store? What foods will my family simply not eat and what do they love? What recipes do I want to use? Where can I easily get new recipes that fit our lifestyle? All of these factors resulted in the creation of gatheredtable, which uses a complex algorithm to send members weekly, customized menus, based on their dinner needs, favorite recipes, food preferences and allergies and gatheredtable’s curated list of delicious, seasonal recipes. They do the work, you eat the results!

Sign Me Up
Head over to gatheredtable and start inputting your information—your household’s primary diet preference (omnivore, vegan, paleo, etc.), your food avoidances, what main dishes you like to eat most often, how often you choose organic and natural foods, and what kinds of recipes you’d prefer receiving (from just starting meal planning to mostly needing help with organizing your recipes). Input your contact info, and your first weekly menu will be delivered to you two days before your chosen start date.

And hey—did you notice that the first 10 days are free? Gatheredtable is currently offering a discounted annual subscription to all Red Tricycle users for just $79/year. Click here to redeem (must redeem by November 30, 2015).

photo: gatheredtable

Customizable Cuisine
Once you’ve input your initial information, you can really start personalizing your menu. Grab another cup of coffee and get ready to customize! Click on “Recipes” at the top of your home page, and you’ll see where your list of saved recipes will populate. Browse through gatheredtable’s recipe collections (check out their sheet pan meals, roasted veggies or Kale is the new cauliflower collections) broken down by main ingredient or search by choosing filters, and you can add recipes that stir your appetite to your recipe list or weekly menu with the click of a button.

Have a favorite cookbook or website that has recipes you can’t live without or have been meaning to try? Click the green “add a recipe” button to add recipes manually or with a super-cool and super-convenient web clipper, and soon you’ll have a whole database of delicious recipes, right at your fingertips. Plus, you can change your account preferences, such as your menu start day, number of days you plan to cook, food avoidances and more simply by clicking your name in the top right corner anytime. Could it get any more helpful?

Menu
                                                                 photo: gatheredtable

Shopping, Simplified
If you’re anything like us, it’s the grocery listing and shopping that really loom large when you think about meal planning. As if fitting in a trip to the store with two Littles in tow isn’t daunting enough. First, you have to mentally recall items in your pantry and somehow get useful ingredients written down on a list so that you don’t spend two hours wandering the aisles, only to end up with the same old bag of pasta and another bottle of soy sauce to add to the one it turns out you already had. (We know we’ve been there more times than we care to admit).

Luckily, gatheredtable’s got you covered. Simply click on Groceries on the main menu, and you’ll see Replenishables and Pantry listed at the top of the page. Here you can add in items you already have in your pantry (a great excuse to clean out the old half empty bags of lentils and expired cans of soup), and list replenishable items you always buy every week (like milk, bread, etc.). Then, when you receive your weekly menu a few days later, the grocery list that is also generated will list the items you already have and items you need to purchase at the store, so there are no duplicates or missed ingredients. It’s also editable if you need to add, change or delete ingredients. You’ll be in and out of the store in a snap!

iPhoneGroceryList

                                                                                photo: gatheredtable

Smart(phone) Planning
Gatheredtable knows that smartphones help keep us parents organized, so their new app for Android, iPhone and iPad helps you place dinner planning in the “Completed” column. Use it to add or remove recipes for any day of the week, choosing from your own or gatheredtable’s recipe libraries. Your weekly dinner grocery list will be there too, ready to use when you hit the aisles, with the option to filter your menu for particular days. If you know you’ve run out of something, just swipe to move items from your pantry list to your grocery list, or vice versa as you’re shopping. And once you hit the kitchen, just pull the recipe up on your device and start cooking. You’ll be the coolest chef in town with this great new tool!

Uniquely Yours
Yes, having someone else do the meal planning for you is awesome, but what we really love is that gatheredtable’s service is totally, 100% unique to each customer—no two customers receive the same weekly menus. Your farmers’ market-shopping, meat-eating family will get a completely different menu from your vegetarian, urban-gardening neighbors. You are able to file your recipes by category (main dish, side, etc.), ingredients, format (baked, grilled, slow cooker, etc.), frequency and season, making sure your time and the season’s freshest foods are fully optimized. And best of all, you end up with a week’s worth of delicious, healthy meals that your whole family will love, because they’re curated just for you. Pretty sure we couldn’t love this idea more if we tried!

gatheredtable vegetables

photo: gatheredtable

Giving Back
Besides giving parents back the gift of time, gatheredtable also gives back to a great cause. 1% of their profits will be given to the Edible Schoolyard Project, which is a national non-profit organization founded by Alice Waters, with the goal of connecting kids to their food through the development of edible education curricula. As parents of young kids, we’re sure this awesome connection gives you one more reason to sign up with gatheredtable!

Farm to Table
In the next year, look for gatheredtable to link up with local CSAs to help you optimize the groceries you’re receiving from your local farmer. Check their blog for more information as it becomes available.

Online: gatheredtable.com
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Gatheredtable/410954255717077

Do you think you’ll give gatheredtable a try? Let us know about your experience in a comment below!

—Erin Cranston