About This Series
This is the first post in a (hopefully) long series of posts about the building of a new product called MealMind. It’s going to cover multiple aspects of building the product as a solo entrepreneur. I’ll post about the technical aspects of it, but I thought it would be fun to keep a record of other aspects like the business side of things including marketing, customer acquisition, product development (as in deciding what to build & when), and all of those bits. So, here we go…
I’ve been living a low carb lifestyle since September 2014 – so three and a half years at this point. I’ve lost tons of weight (about 50 lbs), lowered my blood pressure, and generally feel better all around. Over that time, one thing that consistently kept coming up was making sure I had planned my eating enough that I would have low carb options for each meal.
Eating low carb isn’t all that hard. It’s pretty simple to stay away from higher carb things, but it’s actually harder to find higher fat things. If I don’t watch it, I may have a pretty low carb day, but also end up with a low fat intake. That ends up meaning I’ll stay hungry even after I have a meal, I may have less energy than I need, and I’ll end up munching on random things which will almost always push my carbs up into a higher range than I really want.
An obvious solution to this is to plan out my meals so I’ll have the ingredients on hand (or even better, meals I’ve prepared in advance). I’ve tried a lot of meal planning solutions. The thing that bothers me about every once I’ve tried, is they don’t take into account nutrition, the fact that I have a family I’m planning meals for, or (for some solutions) the fact that I want to use my own recipes.
Existing solutions basically consist of assigning a recipe to a day on a calendar and calling that a plan. The catch is, I may not eat the same thing as my wife (she isn’t really focused on low carb) and definitely not the same thing as my daughter. Even if my wife & I eat the same exact meal on the same day, I’m likely to eat more – so maybe I’ll have two bunless burgers while she’ll have one. I don’t think I’ve seen any planning tools that handle that correctly.
When I’m trying to plan out my own meals, I’m concerned about my macros – for low carb & keto, that’s generally going to be net carbs (total carbs – fiber – sugar alcohols), total fat, total protein, and (for some, including me) calories. If I were doing only keto, not planning/cooking for my whole family, and wanted to keep carbs as low as possible, then I’d only use recipes that have practically no carbs. That’s great in the short term for some (that’s basically what I did for the first year), it’s not practical for the long haul and I have no plans to change my way of eating.
Finally, some of the meal planning solutions won’t even let me use my own recipes. They do this so they can curate the recipes so each one has a nice photo, a very accurate (and consistent) ingredient list, repeatable cooking directions, and is in general, a high-quality recipe. That’s excellent and I’m sure it works for some people, but for my family and I, we’ve found plenty of things we already like to eat so we’d prefer to keep using them. Also, each family member has different preferences, so just seeing keto recipes isn’t exactly going to work for a family.
I’ve been working on a way to solve these problems.
My solution is going to be called MealMind. I’ve thought about this problem for quite a long time, so I have a huge wishlist of items I’d like for MealMind to address long-term, but my top priority is getting a solution out there for my core problem and then growing it as appropriate to hopefully apply to more and more general situations. For now, that means MealMind will:
- Provide a quick way to plan a week’s worth of meals for a family with different servings (and even different meals) for each family member
- Show the nutrition each family member will get, per day, from that plan including the basic macros needed for low carb/keto living
- Build a shopping list for a given meal plan to make it easy to have all the ingredients we need to execute on this plan
- Import your own recipes
These are tons of “quality of life” type features I’d like to tackle in the future, but I think these are the core needs to get the product off the ground today. As I said, this is really a product for me to start with, but I’ve seen enough people looking for something similar that I believe it can find an audience. Is that audience big enough to make this anything beyond a hobby? I don’t know, but there is only one way to find out…