December 28, 2009

No-Brainer, Quick, Whole-Food Dinners!

How often do you look up at the clock at 5:00 PM, groan, then proceed to rustle through your cupboards, frig and freezer desperately seeking something to serve your family?  If you're like me this happens more often than you care to admit.  Try as I might to keep ingredients on hand that can be transformed into a meal at a moments' notice, my "back-up" repertoire gets tired with overuse.  I need inspiration!  I need pictures!  I need shopping lists!

Enter Bust-A-Meal.  Bust-A-Meal is not your ordinary recipe site.  It is a subscription-based recipe-site that helps you prepare meals based on the unique needs of you and your family.  You can input such detailed information about your family's ongoing dietary preferences and restrictions such as food allergies, aversions, vegan, vegetarian, etc.  Then you indicate specific meal interests such as how many ingredients you are willing to work with, prep time, crock-pot, soups, barbecue, high or low fat, fiber, specific kinds of meat and poultry, fish, side dishes, main dishes, etc.  Then, for folks like me who aren't so good at planning meals and shopping in advance, you receive an email every week with your recipes for the week and their shopping lists. There is even a search engine on the site where you can type in a few ingredients that you have on hand and it will find a recipe for you that uses those ingredients!  I'm not kidding!

The site also helps you to keep track of your recipes and favorites and gives you the opportunity to share with friends.  You can even have the shopping lists sent to your iphone and use it as your shopping list at the store.

It gets better.  The recipes are simple and use primarily whole foods.  (There are a few recipes calling for cream of mushroom soup and packets of dry onion soup, which I either skip or substitute ingredients.)   A few of our favorite recipes include: Coconut Curry Chicken, Slow Cooked Fireside Beef Stew and Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs.  A year's subscription is about $1.99 per week, and there is an introductory period where you can try it out to see what you think.  My justification for paying for the service is that without good planning we waste at least $1.99 each week in food that goes bad because it doesn't get eaten, or I purchase food more frequently with less discretion and pay more as a result.  The meal-planning and shopping lists help me to purchase exactly what I need.  My goal is that over time I will get more comfortable planning meals and shopping lists so that I won't need to pay Bust-A-Meal to be my brain!  For now, it has added a lot of sanity to my life.

I don't think they could have done a better job making meal preparation simpler.  Bust-A-Meal is one of those brilliant things that comes your way in life, so practical and user-friendly that you can't believe you didn't come up with the idea yourself...

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