One of the things I’m super passionate about in my business is making my products as useful and user friendly as possible. Unless my customers get real value in their lives, I really don’t feel like I deserve to keep their money.
Which is why last week I decided to have a week of following one of my Soupstones meal plans.
With the relaunch of this relatively new service coming up, I wanted to see if I could discover any ways to make the Meal Plans even better.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the experience.
You see, normally I’m someone who doesn’t like to follow instructions. I usually prefer to do my own thing.
But I was surprised!
Very pleasantly surprised at just how easy the whole shopping and cooking process was for me following the plan.
So this week I wanted to share my lessons from the experience. And here they are…
7 Surprising Lessons from Using my Own Meal Plans
1. It’s nice not to have to ‘think about dinner’.
These days I usually don’t start cooking dinner until after Fergal has gone to bed at 7pm. As much as I love thinking about food, it was actually a relief to just whip out my phone and check the meal plan and recipe for that night. And just start cooking without any deliberation.
2. Short shopping lists are the way forward.
Here at Stonesoup you know I’m all about keeping the ingredients in a recipe to the bare minimum, mostly to just 5 ingredients. And it gets even better when you look at it in terms of meals for a whole week. When I excluded the pantry items I already had, there were only 12 items that I needed to buy to have dinner for 5 nights.
3. You don’t need to go all over town to get ingredients.
When I lived in Sydney it wasn’t unusual for me to go to 4 or 5 different shops in 4 or 5 different suburbs to get my food for the week. I loved the thought that if I wanted I could get all 12 items on my shopping list in my local supermarket.
4. I could still enjoy the farmers markets.
The thing that I was most worried about in committing to following a meal plan was that I would be restricted and not able to enjoy shopping for ‘what looked best’ at the farmers market on Saturday morning.
Happily, I found I was able to channel the ‘spontaneous’ shopping into our weekend meals (which weren’t covered by the meal plan). So I didn’t miss out on the super fresh brussels sprouts or the broccoli which was labelled ‘best broccoli in the world’!
And I was also able to find the ingredients on my [short] meal plan shopping list without too much effort. Win. Win!
5. The Adobe Reader App is awesome.
For the longest time I’ve been a big fan of Adobe Reader for reading my ebook PDFs on my computer. But it’s only since I launched Soupstones Meal Plans back in January that I discovered the iPhone app. Using the app on a daily basis with my meal plan has given me a deeper appreciation for how useful the app is.
Basically, it allows you to edit any PDF and save your changes.
You can copy text and paste it into other apps or into a text message (perfect for sending shopping lists to your husband if needed!).
You can free write or type new text anywhere in the document. And you can cross out wherever you want (perfect for customizing your shopping list for the items you already have).
I also loved the bookmarks and internal hyperlinks which made for super easy navigation to whichever recipe I was after.
6. Meal plans can still be flexible.
Of course, my week didn’t end up exactly as planned. But fortunately my meal plan was able to cope!
My brother was meant be be staying all week but he ended up only being here Monday and Tuesday. It was easy for me to figure out what to do with the extra ingredients. But if I hadn’t known, I could always have referred to the ‘Waste Avoidance Strategy’ that comes with each recipe in the meal plans.
7. Outsourcing meal plans saves time.
One of the biggest hassles of doing a weekly meal plan is that it takes a lot of time to choose the recipes and write and organize the shopping list. I know because I’ve been pulling together a new Soupstones Meal Plan for our members every week since we launched back in January.
Outsourcing these tasks is a brilliant way to save yourself an hour or two each week.
What about you?
Do you think you could benefit from a ‘done for you’ meal plan each week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.