Christina Bognet was an MIT grad working long hours in a consulting job. She found she was too busy to cook or do meal planning. In two years, she had gained 50 pounds. The experience led her to start, in 2013, PlateJoy, an online meal-planning service aimed at the time-pressed consumer with jobs and families looking to improve their diets.
Customers go to the platejoy.com website and fill out info on 50 data points — tastes, lifestyle, preferences, time constraints, active time, etc. And then PlateJoy crafts a super-specific meal plan, so they can figure out something for a vegan who doesn't like tofu and wants a cleanse option.
The idea, says Nicole Villeneuve, PlateJoy's director of partnerships, is to create a solution to those puzzling over how to eat healthy.
For the Memphis launch in November they added a grocery-shopping option, so it really couldn't be easier, says Villeneuve.
Membership is $69 per month, $79 per year. With grocery delivery, it's the same plus cost of groceries and a $7 delivery fee.
Villeneuve calls PlateJoy "everyday cooking," something to use on a weeknight.
- Health Nut Food Truck
Michelle McLaurin knows she can be a bummer. She has a habit of judging coworkers' and friends' eating habits. But, she has their best interests at heart. She wants them to be healthy.
McLaurin is a personal trainer. She recently launched her food truck Health Nut Food Truck.
"The biggest part of it," says McLaurin of being healthy, "is the food." She says she is using her truck to raise awareness. "People can eat off a food truck, and it could be healthy. It doesn't have to be bland."
McLaurin says a friend turned her on to a food truck for sale. "It was a big investment. I couldn't pass it up." She offers what she calls "nutritional and traditional." So she may have both a beef and turkey burger on the menu and regular fries and sweet potato fries. The turkey burger and sweet potato fries work as sort of a lure to the healthier side. She also notes that 100 percent adherence to a healthy diet is a non-starter. Folks just won't stick to it if they're feeling deprived. She aligns with the 80/20 idea — 80 percent healthy, 20 percent whatever you want.
Other offerings include omelets, wraps, and salads. As the season changes, she's offering more soups and chilis.
McLaurin says, she's still figuring out this food truck business. She's been pulling up at Terminix, where she works, and at L.A. Fitness, where she also works. She's looking for other opportunities and says she's done pretty well so far. Ultimately, she would like to take the truck full time. "It's more than a truck to me," she says.
McLaurin says she's battling two mindsets: Eating healthy is expensive, and it tastes nasty. She wants the chance to change your mind. "The food speaks for itself," she says.
Adam Weeks is a judge in Arkansas. His side hustle is his gig as a farmer with Powhatan Farms. His side side hustle is the new SingBean.com, a farmers market delivery service.
Weeks says he knows of no other service like SingBean. Unlike a CSA, you can pick and choose what you want and how much you want from a variety of farmers. That means if you want a small thing of tomatoes, so be it.
Customers can pick up their orders at Trolley Stop from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, or have their order delivered for a $6.99 fee.
Weeks says he sought out local farmers market superstars. Among SingBean's vendors are Bonnie Blue Farms, which sells goat cheese, Dave's Bagels, and Whitton Farms.
Sing Bean recently launched its meal-kit service. Among the offerings are herbs ($2.39); sweet potatoes ($3.99); mushrooms ($5.38); cheeses from Bonnie Blue Farm ($6.75-$8.75); Braggadocio's rices, grits, and popcorn ($3.75-$5.99); eggs ($5.99); bratwurst ($7.53); bacon ($10.73); and pork chops ($12.29).
As for the name SingBean, Weeks says that he liked how it sounded like "string bean" and "singing" and, at the same time, sounds like a doorbell ringing. "That's all," he says.