Meal planning SOS
Friday, May 29, 2009 | 01:32 PM ET
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.
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.
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About the blog
From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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