All you wanted to know about Sainsbury’s Meal Planner

Claire Elsworth, Digital Client Services Manager, writes about our new work with Sainsbury’s on their Meal Planner – it’s all you wanted to know about this brilliant tool:

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Show of hands – how many of you have ever opened your fridge, hungry and devoid of ideas, rummaged around in the veg drawer in some vain hope of finding a bit of Masterchef inspiration, come across this, baulked, shut the fridge and ordered a pizza? Me too (last night).

Those days are the worst.

So bad, in fact, that they put you off buying ahead forever, just in case the mould fairy makes another impromptu appearance and scares you out of your fridge again. (Once I left some courgettes in the veg drawer for so long they were basically compost. I even found a spider on them.)

If only there was some sort of clever thing which let you plan things properly, right? Something which let you put all the things you wanted to cook for the week into a handy chart, and then put all of those ingredients into a shopping list for you, so that instead of scatter-gunning your way around the supermarket, picking up a kilo of Maris Pipers, 6 hot dog buns and 20 tins of beans for the price of 4, you actually only buy the stuff you need, for the meals you’re going to cook and never again have to gingerly scrape through your kitchen’s brand new life forms for the sake of a Spag Bol on a Monday night.

Oh, what’s that you say? There is? Amazing!

The Sainsbury’s Meal Planner, in collaboration with MSN, Shoothill, Gravity Road and us lot, is the thing of your dreams which does all that stuff we just talked about. Go on, have a look. You can either start by browsing the recipes on the right hand side, or jump straight in by starting your meal plan on the left hand side (highly recommended). You can search by whatever sort of thing you want to search for (i.e. chicken), or pick some of the options in the little “Choose by Category” box. And then all you do is drag the recipes you want over into the meal planner, click up on “My Shopping List” in the top right, and job done. You can either filter your shopping list by day, or by ingredient. I prefer by ingredient, but it’s up to you.

But I’m sure you all still have questions, so I’ve pre-empted some of them here:

Looks amazing! How long did this take?

Thanks! This particular thing you’re looking at took about 6 weeks, but we’ve spent about a year or so working on various other tools to work out what the ultimate Meal Planner tool would look like. And this is where we netted out.

I have toast for breakfast so I don’t need to make three whole meals a day. Also I’m going out on Thursday so I won’t be cooking anything.

That’s fine – you don’t need to fill up all the slots. Leave whatever you want blank, and the Shopping List will still work.

This looks great, but I can’t be bothered with all this picking and choosing. Do it for me.

Ok. You’ll notice that some of the little orange recipe boxes aren’t orange at all, they’re maroon. Those are the Meal Plans we made earlier. Drag any of those into your planner and it’ll drop all the recipes straight in. No faffing about. And there’s a little button called “See All Meal Plans”, which will show you loads of the little critters, so you’ll hopefully find one you like.

Right, I’ve done it, and got my shopping list, but I’m not going shopping yet. Can I close this and come back?

Yep, as long as you come back to it on the same computer. We’re working on some sort of login thing so you can access your meal planner Shakira-style, but for now it’s just cookie-based. So don’t clear your cookies, or else you’ll clear your meal plan.

This is great, but I think it would be better if it could do [insert functionality improvement here].

We’re working on it. No, really. This is just the first iteration of the tool, and we’ve got loads of stuff in the pipeline which will go live over the next few weeks/months. Including:

–          Add-to-basket functionality

–          Refined, amalgamated shopping lists

–          Downloadable and e-mailable meal plans

–          Many, many more updates and many, many more recipes

Got a question which wasn’t one of those ones? Ask away. And Happy Meal Planning.

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