Meal planning SOS

by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

In my household, we try to plan out a week of meals, so there's no excuse or temptation to spend money and eat out. But it's easy to run out of ideas, or fall into the same cycle of pasta, curry, tacos, chicken salad, stirfry.

I've experimented with various menu planning websites but they're either badly designed or don't have interesting recipes.

Enter SOS Cuisine. Created by two Montreal engineers, it's a genius website.

You can customize recipes and meal planning based on your tastes and dietary restrictions.

The bilingual (no mean feat based on the little that I know about software development) site suggests recipes and even grocery shopping lists based on seasonal ingredients in your region — and on your budget.

SOS Cuisine partners with supermarkets and accesses their weekly flyers to find out what's on sale. (This service is available only in Ontario and Quebec so far, but there are plans to include the rest of the country soon.)

They've also hooked up to the databases of provincial producers to accurately list which ingredients are in season.

Budget menus

Amateur cooks won't be intimidated by the step-by-step instructions and those who are more comfortable in the kitchen will appreciate the more gourmet recipes. There are specific sections for cooking as a single person and cooking with children.

There are balanced three-course meals that cost $3 per serving or less. And if you're sick of that bag of carrots always going bad in the fridge, the weekly menus list ingredients to be used up all in one recipe or over several meals.

This is a labour of love for the couple behind this site. They've yet to turn a profit after five years of investing mostly their own money into the venture.

I'm crossing my fingers they're successful, because it's such an amazing resource for anyone who has allergies or diabetes, trying to cook more at home, looking to save money, or even just to eat more healthy or more local products.