Bright Idea: What's For Dinner?

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Creating a grocery list can be as stressful as shopping itself, especially if you’re on a budget and providing for a family. Creating a shopping list of healthful foods can seem near impossible when your wallet is on a diet. Mary Egan, a former SVP at Starbucks, believes in a stress-free food-shopping experience. Last year, she received $2 million in support from angel investors, including Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, to fund her solution: Gatheredtable.com. 

Gatheredtable is a free online service that helps subscribers budget a weekly shopping list as well as prepare menus and recipes for their families. It comes up with recipes and lists using “real food,” that is, nothing processed. In addition to receiving healthful, affordable grocery lists, subscribers can create a profile to share and recommend recipes and ideas with others. There’s also a delivery option provided by the grocery vendor Peapod; a minimum order of $60 is required for deliveries. 

“We’re a solution for a problem and that problem is: What am I going to make and how am I going to make it?” says Egan. “People [who don’t cook at home] aspire to cook homemade meals a lot more than the people who actually do cook at home. I started Gatheredtable with the mission of trying to ease that process, while changing the way people think about their eating habits.” 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Americans spend 40 percent of their food money at restaurants. After surveying her customers’ planning and eating habits during the beta testing phase for Gatheredtable, Egan estimates that allowing subscribers to figure out how much food they’ll need for a given week can save them from wasting up to 70 percent of food purchases. 

The Gatheredtable office in Seattle’s Smith Tower currently houses 20 employees who strive to reduce the pressures of eating well on a budget.

“We want to be a sanctuary for busy families,” notes Egan. “We want a calm experience and we want to de-stress the 
situation.” 

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Susan Gates, left, and Kate Isler

Longtime friends Kate Isler and Susan Gates encourage consumers to shop with purpose