“One of the great things about creating meals – finding and cooking with fresh, delicious
ingredients – also is one of the worst things about creating meals,” said Sheri Risner as she sat down at her computer to log onto MealEssence.com, which she launched through her own JDGroup Ventures LLC. “I had problems keeping track of what ingredients I needed for dinner, which often led to driving to the store for groceries at the last minute. I was investing too much time and money in daily meal purchases and preparation.”
MealEssence.com organizes the meal-planning stage with its online calendar by selecting recipes and meal plans for the calendar, you can generate a shopping list with the push of a button. The shopping list is interactive and can be edited, arranged by store departments, and printed easily.
“As people plan meals by the day or week, they will be able to organize the shopping list so they buy only the ingredients they need,” Sheri said. “There are more than 1,200 recipes in the Web site’s database, and users can add their own favorites too. Since using MealEssence.com, I have cut my time in the grocery store in half and shaved my food budget by 25 percent.”
The site also has a blog that Sheri regularly updates with topics on everything from planning Thanksgiving get-togethers, tips on holiday baking, spending quality time with family members, kid-friendly recipes and more. “People share ideas about food all the time face-to-face, so I thought why not include a blog to do the same thing?” Sheri said.
Sheri created the idea for the Web site as a student at the University of Southern Indiana, and then submitted it to a statewide contest where she won first place. She started with the SBDC to identify resources and a plan for implementing her idea. The SBDC was instrumental in helping her find a local marketing and IT development team, Extend Interactive. Throughout the entrepreneurial journey she has called upon the SBDC for assistance. Additionally, the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette awarded her a $5,000 technical assistance grant.
Planning meals and menus is not intuitive. I know that it took me many years and a lot of trial and error…but I also know that planning equals nutrition and balanced diets. That alone is motivation for us to work at planning and spending a few minutes a week investing in the long term health and social well being of our families. The goal is to come home from the grocery store with the food items that we need to prepare the meals that we’ve planned, right? “I love being able to sit down with my family at mealtime and find out how their day went. We’re all so busy and our schedules are so full that we really have to manage our time together to make sure we all stay involved with each other’s lives,” Sheri said. “That’s the main reason that MealEssence.com exists – to help families enjoy mealtimes together.”