Gathered Table hopes meal planning can help bring families back together

Jun 18, 2014, 11:51 AM | Updated: 3:02 pm
Gathered Table pulls from a library of easy-to-understand recipes, according to Egan, which are pul...
Gathered Table pulls from a library of easy-to-understand recipes, according to Egan, which are pulled from online sources. All of the recipes have been tried by the Gathered Table team. Next, a grocery list is generated. And it's not just any grocery list - it's a "smart" grocery list. (AP Photo/File)
(AP Photo/File)
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Family meals have taken a back seat in our busy, hectic lives. You either don’t have time to plan the meals or you’re too busy to cook. That’s where Gathered Table comes in.

Mary Egan, a mother of three, got the idea for a meal planning website back in 2005 when she had finally had enough of her frozen-meal lifestyle in New York.

“The thing that was bothering me the most about our busy life was what the kids were eating for dinner. It seemed to me too often we were taking the shortcuts: We were ordering takeout, warming up frozen food, ordering in pizza and it was expensive and not as healthy as what I wanted,” Egan said.

Egan is now in Seattle and last June started bringing her meal planning website to life. She’s now founder and CEO of GatheredTable.com where meal planning is done for you.

When you sign up, the first thing Gathered Table will do is get to know your family.

“We ask them a number of questions to be able to develop the perfect menu for them. Questions include things like, ‘How often you want to cook?’ Some people only want to cook two nights a week from scratch,” said Egan.

The questions continue to get much more in depth as the program begins to understand the makeup of your family’s diet.

“Pescetarian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore, Kosher. You can also identify any foods that you avoid, which could be anything from a food allergy to a food you just don’t like. And that can be not just the common allergens, but any food that has any ingredient that’s in any recipe. ‘You can just say ‘I don’t like that,’ and it will never show up in a recipe on your menu,” Egan said.

Gathered Table pulls from a library of easy-to-understand recipes, according to Egan, which are pulled from online sources. All of the recipes have been tried by the Gathered Table team.

Next, a grocery list is generated. And it’s not just any grocery list – it’s a “smart” grocery list.

“There’s a grocery list feature that’s linked to your menu, so anytime you update it your grocery list is automatically updated. And the grocery list is smart. It learns what’s in your pantry over time. So it’s accompanied by things you probably have on hand based on what we know about your pantry,” she said.

If you don’t have time to go to the store, Gathered Table is working on partnering with grocery stores across the nation for a delivery service. Egan wants to make her website accessible for any budget with a subscription fee of about $10 a month.

“From a budget perspective, if you are getting delivery you’ll be able to set a budget goal for how much you want to spend for the week. One of the things we are really surprised by in our beta testers is people are spending much more than they have to on meals today, mostly because they don’t have a plan. They’re just going to the store, buying ingredients, bringing it home. They end up throwing a lot of it away,” Egan said.

Gathered table is beta testing right now but once it launches in the fall Egan hopes all families can benefit financially by saving money through meal planning, and also get the emotional benefit of sitting down at the dinner table together.

“Kids eating something homemade for them and sitting down and enjoying that together and even preparing and setting the table together,” Egan said.

You can be part of Gathered Table’s beta test by going to the website and sending them a request for an access code.

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Gathered Table hopes meal planning can help bring families back together