Meet Jen and Gaby, the people behind popular meal planning app PlanBuyCook. Jen is a chef and master meal planner. Gaby used to panic every night about what to feed her hungry family of 5. A chance discussion when preparing the food for their annual school fete led to the development of the PlanBuyCook iPhone and iPad meal planning app.
Shooting the breeze while squeezing about 100 lemons, Gaby asked the other parents helping out what they cooked for dinner. Everyone talked about the difficulty of making an interesting family meal everyone would enjoy.
Jen remarked how easy it was to prepare great tasting nutritious meals without too much fuss. She’d been slowly teaching the other mums in her mum’s group how to meal plan and make cooking easier. One thing led to another and before the day was out they had hatched a plan to build an app.
Gaby says they chose an app because it could be a very practical tool to help solve the nightly dilemma.
‘With a cookbook you can get some inspiration, but with an app you can also have a tool that will put the meals into your calendar, remind you on the day, and automatically generate a shopping list. PlanBuyCook can do everything except cook the meals for you – although I really wish we could work out a way it could do that too!’
Jen (left) and Gaby: PlanBuyCook founders
Fit for purpose
Their key point of difference was to write recipes that could be scaled for any household size.
‘The average family is no longer your typical 2 parents + 2 kids. We decided to write all our recipes so you could scale them from 1 to 10 serves. So from small households through to large ones, you don’t need to do mental calculations any more, the app does it for you,’ Gaby says.
The result is the PlanBuyCook meal planning app, which includes an interactive planner where you can plan out each meal, scaled to match your household size. There are also more than 130 dinner recipes to choose from, and you can plan in leftovers, meals out or takeaway – to match how you actually live. You can even add your own recipes, which will also automatically scale to match your household size.
Being a chef by training, Jen has all the tricks and tips to make the weekly meal planning and prepping a breeze. They have also produced videos on practical kitchen basics such as chopping onions and scrambling eggs.
“We’re just trying to help make it easier for people to cook food from scratch rather than panicking each night. With some planning and doubling freezable meals you can start banking meals into your freezer and having plenty of home cooked meals ready to defrost with very little effort,’ Jen says.
‘In many ways we are going back to how people used to shop and plan, when we didn’t have the convenience of 24/7 supermarket shopping and you had to have the ingredients at home. Meal planning is a bit old school in that sense, but with PlanBuyCook we’ve put a modern twist with a pretty advanced tool so you don’t forget things at the supermarket. You cross them off on your iPhone as you walk through the shops.
‘You save time and money and the environment, as you don’t buy more food than you’ll use in a week – a win-win all round.’
So how has it changed Gaby’s cooking? ‘Unbelievably – no more 5 o’clock panic and I have an answer every night to ‘What’s for dinner?’. It has, quite literally, been life changing knowing what we are eating every night days or even weeks in advance,’ Gaby says.