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More big companies give to charity than you may realize
The Campbell’s Soup Foundation has been providing “financial support to local champions that inspire positive change in communities throughout the United States where Campbell Soup Company employees live and work” since 1953. Every year, they donate about $1 million to “a variety of organizations that focus on community wellbeing, youth empowerment and economic sustainability programming which support the development of a healthy community,” with an emphasis on their hometown in Camden, NJ.
Ben and Jerry’s
In 1985, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors agreed to set aside 7.5 percent of the company’s pretax profits to philanthropy, and even after their 2000 acquisition by Unilever they still keep that promise. In 2013, this amounted to $2.5 million donated by the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.
The Hormel Foundation donates to Austin-area nonprofits and institutions including Austin Public Schools and the YMCA, and in 2014 $6.1 million has been set aside to donate to 28 different organizations.
Since 1984, In-N-Out Burger has been quietly helping abused and neglected children through its Child Abuse Foundation. They raise a fair amount through donor contributions, but they also shoulder the cost of running the foundation, making sure that every penny raised goes towards the children. They donate more than $1 million every year, and in the past 11 years have raised $15.2 million.
The Ronald McDonald House, “a home away from home for sick children and their families,” was founded in 1974, and in 2011 the fast food chain donated $34 million in cash and in-kind donations like burgers and fries to the organization and other charities, combined with the more than $50 million the organization raised via its donation boxes.
Tyson invests in community projects and non-profits through a grant process, and since 2009 they’ve given away $44.6 million in food given to community charities and $13.4 million in cash donated.
Chick-Fil-A has donated to more than 700 educational and charitable contributions over the past three years, to the tune of a whopping $68 million. They’ve also donated millions of dollars’ worth of food across the country.
This food-processing mega-company has a substantial charitable giving arm, donating $69 million toward building “vibrant and stable communities where we live and work” in 2013 alone. Their donations are focused on food security, education, environmental stewardship, and schools in the communities in which they have a business presence.
Since 1984, Coca-Cola has donated hundreds of millions of dollars through its Coca-Cola Foundation and 19 local and regional foundations worldwide. Their goal is to “give back at least 1 percent of our operating income annually to improve the living standards of people around the world,” and in 2011 alone they donated $123.5 million, 21 percent more than in 2010. Between 2002 and 2011 their total charitable giving has totaled more than $812 million.
It’s been 60 years since the General Mills Foundation was founded in 1954, and they’ve donated more than a half-billion dollars to local nonprofits since then. Their charity programs include everything from the popular Box Tops for Education to wellness initiatives like Champions for Healthy Kids and product donations to Feeding America, and in 2013 they donated more than $153 million to charitable causes.
Since 2005, the PepsiCo Foundation has donated more than $600 million in cash and products to nonprofit agencies in in the environmental, educational, civic, arts, and health and human services fields. Initiatives donated to include Diplomas now (which helps inner-city students get the resources they need to graduate), an “Edible Teaching Garden” in Los Angeles, and The Earth Institute’s Columbia Water Center, which helps the underserved get safe water.
This Photographer's Distinctive Food Art Often Gets Stolen. Here's How She Stands Up for Herself and Stays Positive.
While the other kids were playing with Barbies and making them talk to each other, Brittany Wright was organizing the dolls&rsquo outfits and shoes by style and color. She grew up loving arts and crafts, and when she got her first camera at age 11, she found her creative calling.
&ldquoIt just totally blew my world up,&rdquo says Wright, now 26. &ldquoMy imagination, my whole life, has been one of my most favorite places to hang out, and a camera was the first opportunity that I had to be able to actually make a permanent version of what I can imagine.&rdquo
She thought she wanted to be a fashion photographer and set out to major in photography in college. But learning about a range of styles and the technical aspects such as lighting didn&rsquot interest her, so she dropped out, abandoned her passion and spent the next few years repairing computers to pay the bills.
&ldquoLife was kind of gray. I was like a robot: &lsquoWake up, go to work, wake up, go to work &hellip&rsquo&rdquo Wright says. &ldquoI needed a hobby. I was either going to go to a rally car school and learn how to race rally cars and try to become a rally car driver, or teach myself how to cook.&rdquo
She chose the latter, more practical of the two and fell in love with it, trying to learn and read cookbooks as quickly as she could. But the way many dishes were visually represented disappointed her. She didn&rsquot want to be the type who used mashed potatoes in the place of melt-prone ice cream. She wanted to represent the natural beauty of all kinds of foods.
In January 2013, Wright launched a cooking blog called Wright Kitchen, which she also translated onto Instagram (@wrightkitchen). The account has evolved from step-by-step recipes to singular artistic photos of food grouped in patterns of color, shape and texture. The common theme in her two lines of work -- computer repair and food patterns -- is that both involve elements of constructing a puzzle.
&ldquoI tell people I&rsquom trying to rebrand vegetables,&rdquo Wright says. &ldquoDon't get me wrong, cheeseburgers are like, my favorite food. But &hellip why not give carrots a chance, or why not make broccoli look like the coolest thing you've ever seen?&rdquo
Today, Wright has more than 198,000 Instagram followers, and the platform is largely responsible for Wright&rsquos exposure and success. Last month, she published her first book compilation, Feast Your Eyes. However, in thousands of cases, her photographs have been used without her permission. The cover of her book is one of her images that&rsquos most frequently stolen.
&ldquoI made it the cover of my book just in hopes that it would maybe connect it back to me just a little bit more,&rdquo Wright says. &ldquoThat image -- I&rsquom working on being OK with looking at it again. It just has hurt my feelings so much.&rdquo
Wright estimates that she spends 20 percent of her time working on making art itself, and the rest on the business behind it. She&rsquos grateful for insights she gained from people whose computers she used to fix before founding Wright Kitchen, and remembers one lesson in particular: &ldquoAlways assume positive intent.&rdquo
Wright spoke with Entrepreneur about how she stays inspired and positive, yet doesn&rsquot hide the negative aspects of her work and takes ownership of it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
I had initially started Wright Kitchen as a food blog, where I was posting the recipes in the process of teaching myself how to cook. I was spending forever taking 20 different shots and getting them all organized out so that you would see each step of the recipe. But each picture was kind of, you know, whatever. It wasn't anything special.
Then I started narrowing down, OK, now I'm going to do 10 pictures of each recipe and focus on those. Then I would do five. And each time, in my opinion, the set got better and better the more time that I put into fewer photos. Quality over quantity.
And then one day I was like, I just want to put everything into one picture. All of my energy of those 20 photos, now into one. Once I started doing that, the response that I was getting from friends, family or just random people that happened to have found me at that time was really positive. When someone tells you that you really make their day with your art, my heart -- it feels like I just got a hug. It just means the most to me. People were really blown away once I started going in that direction, playing with the patterns and adding more vibrant colored backgrounds -- making it more art than just food photography. My focus now is to make a piece of art.
2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
When it comes to sharing stuff about what I'm doing or any message I want to get out, it will definitely be on Instagram. It&rsquos my only channel. But it&rsquos almost like, putting out another piece of art, I wonder, what are they going to do to it now? I&rsquove seen it chopped, flipped, advertised and every other way.
I gave up on the reverse-image-searching my pictures because it would just ruin my day and my week. I got this website recommended to me called Pixy that reverse-searches all of your Instagram images, and it took a long time for it to load everything. But once it did, I had 18,000 links to go through. And I just like, I had a moment where I felt like I was sinking in my chair. I was just like, how do you even begin? Someone had uploaded a bunch of my pictures and removed the background to make them a downloadable vector image as if it was a free font. Anything that you can imagine. So there's a little fear in me now, just the power of it all.
But the amount of people who reach out to me who say I&rsquove inspired them to feed their families better, that is insane, in the most amazing way. And the amount of people who have severe OCD who reach out to me and say that they save my pictures, because when they have that really gnarly, nervous tick, that&rsquos what they look at to help relieve them. I would&rsquove never imagined that. Hundreds of people have emailed me, commented or messaged me over the years. Those are the people who I hold dear, and when it&rsquos really hard, I do it for them.
I&rsquom currently trying to think of other ways to share. And I have different avenues that I'm working on right now to spread the word about how to treat digital imagery now, because it's a wild west. I'm just trying to flip it to find the positive in it, and trying to be the voice. If there's no voice towards changing it, I'll sign up to be the voice. But there are so many opinions -- you know you'll have a good discussion.
3. How much of your time do you devote to Instagram?
I think it's important for everyone to kind of step back just a little bit from the internet and spend that extra hour without your phone. So I've just been trying to live in the moment more and to go back to what inspires me, which is life. Sometimes it's just the way a house is painted or the colors in a sign I'm like, whoa those colors look awesome together. And I want to figure out how to find food that kind of looks like that or a background and play with that.
I&rsquom spending more quality time on Instagram than just sitting there looking at stuff. I&rsquom thinking about it before I actually go to post. I&rsquom not just trying to Instagram-story everything I&rsquom doing. It&rsquos like, is this a value to share or not? Is this worth taking my phone out at dinner and pausing the moment and the conversation to take a video? Or should I keep enjoying this moment that I&rsquom having with friends I haven&rsquot seen in a while.
Like, do I take a lap on Instagram every day? Of course. I check in on what&rsquos going on, see some cool pictures. It&rsquos just not like, every 20 minutes. I can&rsquot do that anymore. Now, I literally will just keep my phone in another room, and it&rsquos nice.
4. How do you promote your account? What's your number-one way to gain followers?
I&rsquoll add certain hashtags. If there are things I really enjoy, just to be a part of the Instagram community. I see that as a way of joining in and doing it the old school way, instead of hashtagging every possible thing. For example, #marthafood, I just worship Martha Stewart, so of course I&rsquom going to put #marthafood under some of my pictures. Every time they repost one of my pictures, it just lights my world up.
I&rsquoll do giveaways of my prints. It&rsquos my way of saying thank you and giving back to people.
Nothing financial. I don&rsquot give in to that stuff. If you want to hang out and watch what I&rsquom doing, awesome. I&rsquom not going to pay for you to be here. There are bots and stuff that will like, if you pay this amount of money, all of a sudden you&rsquoll have 1,000 more followers. Or if you pay to have your picture sponsored and show up on people&rsquos feeds more. Everything I&rsquove done has been genuine.
5. What's your content strategy?
I think the only content strategy is, if it comes to produce, is that I'm using something in season. I stick to that. I had to think about a strategy for my book, but other than that, I don't put as much of an effort into it other than, &ldquoI made this piece of art.&rdquo And timing. &ldquoMaybe I should post it at like 4 p.m. [Pacific time] so that the East Coast can still see it while they're awake.&rdquo
6. How do you set yourself apart on Instagram?
When people ask if I have any advice on creativity or making art, I have kind of the same answer to that. And that's just being yourself. I'll have people that just straight up try to fully redo my art, and no matter what you do, we have our inspiration, and those things already exist. We know that. You got inspired by it. You saw it. Figure out what makes you different and what sets you apart and what makes your own name, your own style. Always work on building new, not trying to be too much anything other than yourself.
That's also a big thing for creators is having that voice to say no. When a client reaches out to you and wants something specific, you can say, &ldquoThank you so much for thinking of me. But that's not me. Here are some people that you might want to reach out to that can do that.&rdquo I have kind of a set list of what I would consider myself interested in. But with that said, I'm always open to anything, too. So I have a good idea of what I do. You know, having that good idea of what you're good at, then being able to speak to that, and being very clear and having a lot of communication with who you work with, you're golden. Have a clear understanding of what you're about to do, and you won&rsquot set yourself up for feeling awkward.
7. What's your best storytelling trick?
Sometimes less is more. A lot of people have long-winded approaches to sharing their stories, and sometimes short and sweet gets the point across. For me, it goes back to being genuine. People can smell the B.S., and it&rsquos just not even worth putting it out there, whatever you do. No matter what I do, I ask myself if I&rsquom proud of whatever it is. If I can&rsquot say yes, then I&rsquom not done.
I think by just putting the heart into what you do and feeling really excited about what you do, the stories come along with it. The experience that you had getting whatever it was. If you're some fashion blogger or whatever and you spent all week looking for some shoes, obviously you're going to have stories about the process of getting that damn pair of shoes. So it all goes back to putting your phone down. Allowing yourself to be emotionally available to even gather those stories. And looking people in the eye when you're walking around.
8. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
I would say 90 percent of the time when people reach out to me, they just say, "We don't know what we want. We just want your style." I've gotten good at being a creative director and pulling back and saying, "So I do a lot of different things. Here are some of my pictures. Tell me which one you like and we'll go from there. OK, so you like this, Now, what do you like about this? What do you not like about this? Why didn't you like these other pictures?&rdquo Then I can really narrow in exactly what they want, all the way down to, I illustrate out what I'm thinking a lot of the time to be like, &ldquoOK, is this completely right?&rdquo Communication is everything.
I get reached out to by a handful of different brands all the time, and I feel really thankful. But I&rsquom getting to that point now where I&rsquom getting good at the whole having to say no. But with saying no, it&rsquos like saying no with a yes. I can&rsquot right now, but maybe in the future. Never shutting it down all the way. Because if it were up to me, I&rsquod have a million hands and I&rsquod do everything. I&rsquom a one-gal show. It&rsquos important to make sure you&rsquore set up to do something and never give anything other than the most confident &ldquoyes.&rdquo I haven't even gotten to the point where I can reach out to the brands that I would really, really want to work with. I just feel really thankful, and I&rsquom going with the flow and letting it all unfold.
My print shop is still just prints, and I&rsquom just waiting for the right person to approach me to help me blast my art on everything from comforters to shoes to wallpaper. I don&rsquot want to put out poor quality products. I don&rsquot want to put my art on a comforter that&rsquos going to make everyone itchy. But with promoting the print shop, someone will say like, &ldquoThat would be a good yoga mat.&rdquo I had a puzzle company reach out to me, and those will come out soon. My book came out, and there will be a calendar. But notebooks, and beach towels, and plates and cups&hellip it&rsquos like, holy shit. Meanwhile, I&rsquom just trying to make art over here, and seeing it get stolen everywhere, and trying to deal with it all at once. You become this business woman with Post-it notes everywhere, and it&rsquos like hang on, y&rsquoall! I think we all try to hurry up with our ideas, and taking one extra week to think about everything that much more could be your success.
9. What advice do you have for other people who want to build brands on Instagram?
Make your own content. Take a moment to think about your voice and what you want to share, and what you want to get across.
Or make sure you&rsquore properly respecting the content. Instagram is a community of people, and there&rsquos a structure of how you should properly treat imagery. Show that you are engaging properly in the community. Tag people on the picture when you&rsquore reposting it, and not 500 other accounts and yourself and other things so that the creator gets lost in the process. Treat the community with respect. Understand how to use Instagram before you just dive in.
The guy that put the numbers all over my bananas told me that he thought he deserved credit because he put the numbers on it. It really messed with me. Yeah, we share our work on this platform, but that doesn&rsquot mean that we can be ignorant towards knowing how to be respectful.
To be successful, just be genuine. Have an open heart. Don&rsquot be so quick to only focus on your success. Grow with others. It&rsquos not about your gain over someone else&rsquos.
10. What's a misconception many people have about Instagram?
That everything is perfect. That everything is this glorious poolside sunset with a cool-looking cocktail. People think it&rsquos the most romantic, amazing thing. But there&rsquos a lot of hurt and a lot of hard feelings. Even just trying to share those things on Instagram, the amount of backlash that you get and the amount of opinions that show up can scare you to show the negative sometimes. That&rsquos something that I&rsquom working on, even myself. Just getting to where I can have the confidence.
I think the fact that this is such a wild west of a business and it&rsquos all so new, and the rules and regulations are still getting built out. It can create a lot of misconceptions that might not even be misconceptions, with people just trying to figure out how to even do this. There are so many ways that we go about doing this, essentially, one thing. There are so many different ways that you can be you. It can be a really vicious platform, but it can also be such a warm and inviting place.
Click through the slideshow to see five of @wrightkitchen&rsquos favorite posts.
Coke and Pepsi Give Millions to Public Health, Then Lobby Against It
The beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have given millions of dollars to nearly 100 prominent health groups in recent years, while simultaneously spending millions to defeat public health legislation that would reduce Americans’ soda intake, according to public health researchers.
The findings, published on Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, document the beverage industry’s deep financial ties to the health community over the past five years, as part of a strategy to silence health critics and gain unlikely allies against soda regulations.
The study’s authors, Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University school of public health, and Daniel Aaron, a student at Boston University’s medical school, scoured public records including news releases, newspaper databases, lobbying reports, the medical literature and information released by the beverage giants themselves. While some of the incidents cited in the study already have been reported by news organizations, the medical journal report is the first to take a comprehensive look at the industry’s strategy of donating to health organizations while at the same time lobbying against public health measures. The study tracked industry donations and lobbying spending from 2011 through 2015, at a time when many cities were mulling soda taxes or other regulations to combat obesity.
“We wanted to look at what these companies really stand for,” said Mr. Aaron, the study’s co-author. “And it looks like they are not helping public health at all — in fact they’re opposing it almost across the board, which calls these sponsorships into question.”
Mr. Aaron said that the industry donations created “clear-cut conflicts of interest” for the health groups that accepted them.
The report found a number of instances in which influential health groups accepted beverage industry donations and then backed away from supporting soda taxes or remained noticeably silent about the initiatives.
In one instance cited in the study, the nonprofit group Save the Children, which had actively supported soda tax campaigns in several states, did an about face and withdrew its support in 2010. The group had accepted a $5 million grant from Pepsi and was seeking a major grant from Coke to help pay for its health and education programs for children.
Responding to the new research, Save the Children said, in a statement, that the group in 2010 had decided to focus on early childhood education, and that its decision to stop supporting soda taxes “was unrelated to any corporate support that Save the Children received.”
When New York proposed a ban on extra-large sodas in 2012, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics cited “conflicting research” and didn’t support the effort. The academy accepted $525,000 in donations from Coke in 2012. The following year it took a $350,000 donation from the company.
The academy said it no longer has a sponsorship relationship with the beverage firms.
The N.A.A.C.P. and the Hispanic Federation have publicly opposed anti-soda initiatives despite disproportionately high rates of obesity in black and Hispanic communities. Coke made more than $1 million in donations to the N.A.A.C.P. between 2010 and 2015, and more than $600,000 to the Hispanic Federation between 2012 and 2015. The groups did not respond to requests for comment.
“The beverage industry is using corporate philanthropy to undermine public health measures,” said Kelly D. Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, who was not involved in the new research.
The American Diabetes Association accepted $140,000 from the company between 2012 and 2014. The American Heart Association received more than $400,000 from Coke between 2010 and 2015. And the National Institutes of Health received nearly $2 million from Coke between 2010 and 2014.
In a statement, the heart association said the group is “leading efforts to reduce consumption of sugary drinks,” and the group has advocated for increased taxes on sugary drinks.
“To achieve our goals, we must engage a wide variety of food and beverage companies to be part of the solution,” the statement said. The soda sponsorship does not have “ any influence on our science and the public policy positions we advocate for.”
Coke referred questions about the study to their trade group, the American Beverage Association.
“We believe our actions in communities and the marketplace are contributing to addressing the complex challenge of obesity,” the beverage association said. “We stand strongly for our need, and right, to partner with organizations that strengthen our communities.”
The beverage association said it disagreed with public health advocates “on discriminatory and regressive taxes and policies on our products.”
In a statement PepsiCo said it is “incorrectly painted as a ‘soda company,’ when only a quarter of our global revenue comes from carbonated soft drinks.”
“We believe that obesity is a complex, multifaceted issue and that our company has an important role to play in addressing it - which includes engaging with public health organizations and responding to consumers’ demand for healthier products,” the statement said.
The New York Times last year reported that Coke had paid for scientific research that downplayed the link between sugary drinks and obesity. After that article was published, the beverage giant released a database showing that since 2010 it had spent more than $120 million on academic research and partnerships with health organizations involved in curbing obesity.
From 2011 to 2015, Coke spent on average more than $6 million per year lobbying against public health measures aimed at curbing soda consumption, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Pepsi spent about $3 million per year during that period, and the American Beverage Association spent more than $1 million each year, the study found.
In 2009 alone, when the government proposed a federal soda tax to curb obesity that would help finance health care reform, Coke, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association spent a combined $38 million lobbying against the measure, which ultimately failed.
When the mayor of Philadelphia proposed a soda tax in 2010, the beverage industry offered $10 million to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia if the tax proposal was dropped. The City Council voted down the measure, and the beverage association later made the donation.
Philadelphia did ultimately impose a soda tax this year. The beverage industry filed a lawsuit in September, calling the tax illegal. The industry also is spending millions on advertising campaigns against soda taxes that are on the ballot in at least four cities this November – three in Northern California, and one in Boulder, Colo.
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said the paper shows that soda companies “want to have it both ways — appear as socially responsible corporate citizens and lobby against public health measures every chance they get.”
Companies Have Promised $35 Billion Toward Racial Equity. Where Is the Money Going?
U.S. companies pledged tens of billions of dollars toward racial-equity efforts in 2020. A challenge for 2021 and beyond: tracking where the dollars go and what changes the pledges will bring.
Big businesses made commitments of a cumulative $35 billion in the past six months, according to a review of announcements by The Wall Street Journal, in response to a national debate about systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd while being arrested by Minneapolis police on May 25. Companies say the money will go toward boosting the net worth of Black families, creating professional opportunities for minorities and diversifying their own ranks, among other outcomes.
The bulk of the $35 billion stems from JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s October pledge to invest $30 billion over the next five years into such efforts as financing affordable housing and opening branches in neighborhoods where financial services are scarce.
Major banks are behind some of the other biggest pledges, including $1 billion from Bank of America Corp. and $1.15 billion by Citigroup Inc. to provide capital to Black business owners and home buyers, among other measures.
Elsewhere, Walmart Inc. has pledged to found a center for racial equity, through which it will donate $100 million to nonprofit groups over five years. Alphabet Inc.’s Google is putting $175 million into supporting Black business owners, startup founders, job seekers and developers, in addition to a $100 million YouTube fund for Black artists and creators.
6 Surprisingly Simple Ideas That Made Millions
A winning business idea doesn’t have to be complicated or technical to be successful. In fact, arduous business strategies and lengthy execution time can be a commercial inventor’s worst enemy. Seeing opportunities right under your nose can reap great benefits.
Consider Arthur Fry and Spencer Silver, creators of 3M’s ubiquitous Post-it Notes. Their idea for memo paper that you can stick to just about anything, which hit stores in 1980, helped contribute to the company’s $29.9 billion in net sales for 2012 (Fry and Silver have since retired.) Or take Spanx’s Sara Blakely, whose vision in 1998 for a new type of women’s shapewear revolutionized the undergarment industry and made her a billionaire. These are examples of how commonplace business ideas can strike a chord with consumers and generate huge sales.
The six no-frills concepts featured here all helped their inventors make millions. Take a look.
Michael Landau and Alli Webb (Courtesy of Drybar)
- What it is: A women’s salon that specializes in blowout hairstyling for less
- Created by: Alli Webb and Michael Landau
- Launched: 2010
- Estimated annual retail sales (2014): $60 million
Webb, a Los Angeles hairstylist, quit working full-time in 2008 and was a stay-at-home mom when she came up with an idea to earn some extra cash: Why not focus exclusively on blowouts, a salon service she could take to her clients’ homes? Her services were soon so in demand that she approached her older brother, Michael, about starting a brick-and-mortar salon. They would offer a blowout for just $40 (versus up to $100 at more upscale establishments) and offer some of the fancy extras that clients might expect from pricier salons: a swanky bar layout with champagne and trendy music playing. Landau was working at Yahoo at the time and admits he wasn’t too keen on the idea. “I’m a man and I’m bald, so I didn’t get it,” he says. “But Alli felt very strongly about it and convinced me to give her [$250,000] to start the business.”
The brother and sister opened their first location in Brentwood, Cal., in 2010 and generated $1 million in sales that year. Today, there are 35 Drybar locations nationwide the shops serve 100,000 clients a month on average, according to Landau. He attributes their rapid growth over the past year to a new line of hairstyling products and tools that are sold at Sephora and on the QVC channel, as well as at Drybar locations.
Even Landau is amazed: “It was something that was never meant to be a huge business,” he says.
Scott Boilen (Courtesy of Allstar Product Group)
- What it is: A fleece blanket with sleeves
- Created by: Allstar Products Group
- Launched: 2009
- Annual retail sales: The company declines to disclose exact sales revenue, but says 30 million blankets have been sold to date.
You’ve probably seen the TV commercials for the Snuggie, which retails for $14.99. “It’s definitely one of those ideas that’s so simple that a lot of people might say to themselves, Why didn’t I think of that?” says Scott Boilen, founding member and president and CEO of Allstar Products Group, a Hawthorne, N.Y.-based consumer products company.
Allstar, which is privately-held, also produces other “as seen on TV” products, such as the Bacon Bowl and Magic Mesh, but none has the name recognition of the Snuggie. “It had actually been around in various forms for a few years with similar products available in the backs of catalogs, but nobody really knew about them,” Boilen says. His company decided to create its own version, marketing it with those infamous infomercials. The campaign was so over the top that people started posting parody videos on YouTube, which attracted millions more views, boosting viral marketing. Boilen says sales have remained steady after the first-year spike.
“I think what clicked for consumers is that the Snuggie appealed to everyone,” Boilen adds. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a kid, a senior citizen, a mom, a guy -- everyone can wear one. The market potential was limitless.”
Michael Araten (Courtesy of K'Nex)
- What it is: Creative construction/building toys
- Created by: Joel Glickman
- Launched: 1992
- Annual retail sales (2013): $200 million
Glickman, who had worked in his family’s plastic business, was fiddling around with some drinking straws at a wedding reception in 1990 when the idea for a building toy hit him, and he spent two years developing the concept. Glickman’s construction set added an extra dimension of wheels, pulleys and gears to more traditional concepts pioneered by Lego and Lincoln Logs. Several companies, including Hasbro and Mattel, turned him down. But his idea clicked with Toys ‘R’ Us, which began carrying his line in 1993.
K’Nex quickly became a household name. Children could build miniature roller coasters and awesome mini vehicles. “No other construction-toy company at that time had a product like ours,” says Michael Araten, president and CEO of K’Nex and Glickman’s son-in-law.
Araten says that toys like K’Nex engender a feeling in kids “unlike anything they get from playing with a video game or prefinished product.” The company’s products are available in more than 35 countries worldwide.
Roni Di Lullo (Courtesy of Doggles)
- What it is: Protective goggles for dogs
- Created by: Roni Di Lullo
- Launched: 1997
- Estimated annual retail sales (2014): $4 million
Sunglasses for dogs? It all happened by chance one sunny afternoon when Di Lullo was in a park playing Frisbee with her border collie, Midnight. She noticed that her pooch was squinting and having trouble catching the toy because of the glare. That sent her to the drawing board to develop a prototype based on a pair of human goggles. Midnight took to the goggles and was able to frolic outside with no issue.
Other pet owners Di Lullo would meet while out with Midnight took an interest in the invention, which persuaded her to start selling the specs online. Initially, she devoted just a couple of hours a week to product development and marketing while working full-time as a software developer in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t until 2001 that she finally realized she was on to something. That year, Doggles received its first big order from PetSmart, the pet-supply store chain.
“Back then, I didn’t understand all of the various eye diseases dogs suffer from, so I didn’t have a grand plan,” she says. With some research, she discovered that there was no other company offering protective dog glasses. Di Lullo now has a patent for Doggles, which made $3 million in retail sales last year. Her company also distributes through Amazon, Petco and 3,500 mom-and-pop pet stores and outlets worldwide. Retail cost: $13.99-$20.99. Di Lullo also now offers a line of cat products, which includes toys and catnip.
Brian Scudamore (Courtesy of 1-800-GOT-JUNK)
- What it is: A trash removal service
- Created by: Brian Scudamore
- Launched: 1992
- Estimated annual retail sales (2014): $148 million
Scudamore was a struggling college student looking to make some extra cash when he bought his first truck for $700. The Vancouver, Canada, native saw a golden opportunity in hauling away the big stuff, such as furniture and appliances. Service calls picked up, so he decided to drop out of Concordia University in Montreal to run the company full-time. “I was learning more about business by actually working than being in school. My father thought I was out of my mind,” says Scudamore, 44.
By 1995, he had branched out to nearby Victoria, Canada. A move to the U.S. with a Seattle operation followed in 1997. Two years later, the company became a franchisor, making its first million in profits nearly eight years after 1-800-GOT-JUNK was founded, “There’s that old saying that it takes a while before you become an overnight success, and that’s how it happened for us. Once we made our first million, the business really began to take off,” he says. Today, there are 173 1-800-GOT-JUNK franchises, and the company posted revenues of $137 million last year.
Scudamore says that there’s really no “secret sauce” when it comes to refuse disposal: “We’re all consumers and we like to buy stuff. At some point, you need to get rid of that stuff.” His company now also offers services such as WOW 1 Day Painting, a same-day painting service, and You Move Me, a home moving service. Both are also franchisors.
Kara Goldin (Courtesy of Hint)
- What it is: Fruit flavored H2O
- Created by: Kara Goldin
- Launched: 2005
- Estimated annual retail sales (2014): $50 million
After leaving her job at AOL in 2001, Goldin, a wife and mother of three, developed an interest in healthy foods and beverages. A longtime diet-soda drinker, she found it difficult to give up artificially sweetened drinks. “I aspired to drink plain water but found it boring,” Goldin says. So she started adding fresh fruit to her water, giving it a flavor that she, her husband and her kids enjoyed.
Goldin researched to see if there were similar beverages on the market and found none. So she invested $50,000 of her savings to launch a drink company. Her big break: A local Whole Foods store in San Francisco agreed to distribute the product a year later. By 2007, Whole Foods started distributing Hint water in all its grocery stores nationwide.
Over the years, Goldin has also developed beverage-dispensing partnerships with some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Square. Hint has become a popular choice among their health-conscious millennial employees, she says. The company is privately-held, and Goldin declined to disclose specific financial information pertaining to 2013 sales. However, in a recent Wall Street Journal article the company projects retail sales for 2014 at $50 million.
So, how did a sugar-free water beverage become so popular -- and profitable? Most big drink companies focus on products that are sweet, Goldin says, while Hint’s pitch has always been about health. “There are lots of consumers who have to drink water for health reasons -- they absolutely cannot have drinks loaded with sugar. We’re one of the very few options they have.” In May, Hint is set to launch an e-commerce platform, which will allow consumers to order and ship the beverage (in large quantities) directly to their homes.
6 of the worst product failures in the food and beverage industry's history
Big corporations are not immune to product mistakes. Just think of Coca-Cola's infamous formula change for its classic soda and toothpaste maker Colgate's unsuccessful introduction of frozen lasagna.
Editor's Note: This article is part of a series focused on innovation in the food industry. To view other posts in the series, check out the spotlight page.
In the ultra-competitive food industry, companies are under immense pressure to develop the next big thing — products that wow consumers while bringing in millions or even billions of dollars in revenue to the manufacturer’s bottom line.
But throughout the annals of product development, there are thousands of examples of food products that weren't the next big thing and were unceremoniously pulled from the market — most without even so much as a public mention. There are a host of reasons why new products don't last: the public didn't want it, the item didn't resonate with the brand, the company was too early or late in the product cycle, or it just didn’t taste good.
“The established company has a mandate to innovate. It’s a very, very complex task to innovate when you are have very core products like ketchup, or ice cream or pasta,” Sophie Ann Terrisse, senior adviser with brand management firm 26FIVE, told Food Dive. “By expanding their line with ideas, recipes, marketing moves that are not authentic and true to the customer culture that they have created, [the product] will ultimately fail.”
To be sure, the pressure to innovate and create products that not only hit the market but resonate with consumers' pocketbooks is immense. New food and beverage product introductions in retail outlets have trended up since 2009, with 21,435 items debuting last year — the highest number in nearly a decade, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service.
With so many products making their way to the marketplace, failure is inevitable. Data analytics company Nielsen estimates only 15% of consumer packaged goods launched in the U.S. are still around two years later.
Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies how products, ideas and behaviors catch on, told Food Dive companies in most cases should let failed products go quietly without drawing much attention to them. But internally, executives should review why the mistake happened and find ways to make sure it doesn't happen again.
“Some sort of failure is inevitable," Berger said. "The question is how large those failures are and how much you learn from them. Better companies still fail but they fail small and quickly and learn from it."
There are hundreds of thousands of products that have met their demise during the last few decades. Here are six of the most memorable . or should we say unmemorable?
1. New Coke
In 1985, PepsiCo's share of the U.S. cola market was nearly 30% and the beverage maker was threatening to top its bitter rival Coca-Cola. Desperate to end the slide, the Atlanta-based beverage maker replaced its iconic, closely guarded 99-year-old formula with New Coke — which the company claimed had a smoother, sweeter taste — in April of that year.
But just 77 days later, the company brought back old Coke under the guise of Classic Coke. The reason for the decision was clear: Only 13% of soda drinkers liked New Coke. Angry fans launched campaigns, collected signatures and started hotlines to force the company to bring back the original soft drink. ABC news anchor Peter Jennings even broke into daytime soap opera General Hospital to tell viewers Coca-Cola was giving into public outrage and slumping sales to bring the original soft drink back to store shelves.
Initially, PepsiCo benefited from the disaster, but those gains soon faded after consumer enthusiasm was restored with the return of Coca-Cola's familiar drink. More than 30 years after the product's debut, Coca-Cola has downplayed the launch not as a disaster but as one of the best things that ever happened to beverage maker.
"Thirty years ago, we introduced New Coke with no shortage of hype and fanfare. And it did succeed in shaking up the market. But not in the way it was intended," a Coca-Cola spokesperson told CBS News in 2015. "When we look back, this was the pivotal moment when we learned that fiercely loyal consumers — not the company — own Coca-Cola and all of our brands. It is a lesson that we take seriously and one that becomes clearer and more obvious with each passing anniversary."
26FIVE's Terrisse agreed that New Coke wasn't a complete failure for the soda manufacturer.
“That was a total unintended perfect creation coup. They got more mileage of the pure consumer adoration of the product than they would have with a new product anyway,” she said, while adding that it's difficult for companies to do this. “How do you transform disaster into a huge opportunity?”
The marketing blunder is widely cited today in business schools as an example of how not to introduce a new product to the marketplace.
2. Tropicana Orange Juice
When an attempt at changing a favorite consumer brand like Coke fails, many companies have no choice but to acknowledge the mistake publicly. PepsiCo learned that the hard way, too.
In early 2009, PepsiCo rolled out a new carton design for its popular Tropicana orange juice as part of a broader effort to improve the marketing for some of its biggest brands. The company ditched its recognizable orange with a straw sticking out of it on the package in favor of a design with a large glass of juice and the words “100% Orange.”
Just six weeks after its debut, PepsiCo scrapped the redesign and went back to the classic look. Consumers were complaining it made the product look generic and made it hard for them to differentiate the kind of juice that was inside the package. Another likely reason for the abrupt change: Tropicana sales plunged by 20% after the packaging overhaul, costing the company millions of dollars, according to AdAge. Minute Made, Florida’s Natural and other orange juice brands all recorded double-digit unit sales growth during the same period.
“We heard our customers and we listened,” a Tropicana spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal in 2009.
3. Life Savers Soda
Sometimes new products succeed because they fill a void with consumers. The Life Savers Candy was developed in 1912 by chocolate maker Clarence Crane who wanted to find a sweet summer snack that wouldn't melt in the sweltering heat. The candy was a hit. But the same cannot be said for the Life Savers Soda that hit the market seven decades later.
While the drink — served in a cylindrical bottle decorated with the same red, yellow, green and orange stripes as the candy wrapper — fared well in taste tests, it failed to catch on with consumers in th 1980s who thought it would be too sweet and was like drinking candy from a bottle.
4. Sun Chips
PepsiCo found itself with yet another marketing disaster on its hands when its Frito-Lay division introduced a biodegradeable bag made from plants instead of plastics for its Sun Chips line. The environmentally friendly product was introduced in March 2010 after four years of research, but sales soon began to tumble. While the company’s mission was well-received, the loud, grumbling noise of the new packaging was a major distraction for consumers who said it reminded them of a jet engine or a lawnmower.
Disgruntled consumers posted videos making fun of and lodging complaints about the new bag. It even spawned a Facebook group called “Sorry but I can't hear you over this Sun Chips bag." Sun Chips later discontinued the packaging, but with its image pegged to environmental sustainability, the snack maker went to work developing quieter sustainable packaging that debuted in 2011. The new bag received a more favorable response from the public.
5. Colgate Lasagna
Colgate introduced its infamous toothpaste in a tube in 1896 and the popular dental product became synonymous with teeth brushing ever since. But not everyone remembers the company behind the toothpaste introduced a line of frozen meals in the 1980s in the hopes that people would eat the company’s Colgate Beef Lasagna before with brushing their teeth with Colgate toothpaste. Unsurprisingly, the frozen entree concoction failed miserably with the public.
“Most people don’t want their lasagna to taste like toothpaste. It doesn’t mean that Colgate couldn't make a really tasty lasagna that’s delicious but most people don't see it that way," Berger said. “There is a great phrase — don’t sell what you can make, make what you can sell — and I think that really frames it well.”
Today, the lasagna lives on as part of an exhibit in Sweden called the Museum of Failures — a collection of about 80 products, some of them food and beverage items, that never took off. Colgate didn't want the product featured in the museum so the founder had to create a replica of the original packaging to display.
" When the Museum of Failure was written about in the international press, a legal representative from Colgate called and sternly informed us that nobody at the company recognized the lasagna," according to the museum. "Either Colgate has a bad memory, or the Museum of Failure got pranked by some branding consultant who started an urban legend years ago."
6. Purple and green ketchup
Tomatoes are sold in seemingly every color: green, purple, yellow, orange and the famous red, with consumers not afraid to experiment and try new varieties at the store or their local farmers market. But shoppers have come to expect ketchup made predominately out of tomatoes to come in one color — red — with one company, H.J. Heinz, selling more than 650 million bottles of the condiment each year.
heinz ez squirt colored ketchup
-I hate ketchup but I remember wanting to like it so bad when these came out
-so weird pic.twitter.com/IP66lfeRcP
In 2000, Heinz introduced EZ Squirt with a kid-friendly nozzle in “Blastin Green,” “Funky Purple” and even a mystery color. Unlike some other product failures, this one initially appeared to be a success for the Pittsburgh-based ketchup icon.
Each new color the company rolled out resulted in incremental sales volume, according to a story by Fast Company, with the new products especially popular with children. Overall, more than 25 million bottles of colored ketchup were sold, pushing Heinz’s market share for ketchup to an all-time high of 60%. But sales later softened as kids grew bored with the product and parents, tired of seeing half-consumed bottles sitting in their fridge at home, were reluctant to buy another one. After sales continued to fall, EZ Squirt was pulled from the shelves by January 2006.
Learning from failure
Analysts who follow the food industry say successful companies often benefit from knowing when to reward failure. Take Google, which pays employees to give up on projects that just aren't working rather than waste time and money hoping they'll turn around.
But w ith the huge number of products hitting the market each year and the pressure on food and beverage companies to innovate, this can be hard to do — making further big-name failures inevitable.
Samuel West, director of the Museum of Failure, said none of the companies contacted by the museum wanted to be associated with the endeavor.
"The companies cannot hide these failures," West told Food Dive in an email. "I thought the most innovative companies would take the opportunity to show off how progressive and transparent they are and collaborate by donating items to the exhibit. Wrong. Failure is much more sensitive than I originally thought."
BASF is a German chemical company and the largest chemical producer in the world to boot. It had revenues of $9.2 billion in 2019, a significant increase of 27% over 2018, though the total revenue for the company was nearly $70 billion.
CNH is an Italian American, and is only 8 years old but derived nearly $11 billion in agricultural revenue in 2019, out of a total of $28 billion. And even this was less than 2018, when they managed to earn $11.7 billion. It has several agricultural brands and manufactures combines and tractors, harvesters, seeders and sprayers among various other equipment.
So Can You Really Win A Fast Food Sweepstakes?
In a post-McDonald's Monopoly world, the odds have actually gotten better.
It was the 1990s, when Wendy's Stuffed Pitas, Taco Bell's BLT Taco, and Pizza Hut's Big New Yorker reigned supreme. They were the glory days of fast food&mdashyou know, before a million-dollar Monopoly scam sullied them. That scam, executed by former police officer turned fraudster Jerome Jacobsen, is the focus of McMillions, HBO's new 6-part docuseries by executive producer Mark Wahlberg about how one man epically rigged McDonald's famous Monopoly contest. It's a sordid tale that served as a turning point for fast food joints everywhere.
The new doc delivers a follow-up to Daily Beast's account of the mess, which the site blasted to its readers nearly three years ago. TLDR: Jacobsen, at the time the head of security for the third-party marketing firm that printed McDonald's winning Monopoly pieces, stole said winning pieces, disseminating them to a network of people who'd give him a cut of the cash prize.
But how did we get here&mdasha place where an ex-cop could, over the course of 12 years, hand friends and neighbors million dollar winning tickets from a hamburger joint? And how did we, and McDonald's, bounce back?
The goal of McDonald&rsquos, and restaurants like it, has always been to get more customers into their stores.
To get to a million dollars, you first have to go to an even more innovative promotion: the combo meal. The goal of McDonald&rsquos, and restaurants like it, has always been to get more customers into their stores. &ldquoFor companies to really stay profitable, they need their base to turn out,&rdquo says Adam Chandler, author of Drive-Thru Dreams. One of the first efforts was the &ldquoTriple Threat,&rdquo a burger, fry, and drink sold together as the first combo meal by Burger Chef, a now defunct Indianapolis-based burger joint that also pioneered the kid&rsquos meal. The idea was to get customers out by &ldquogiving you the sense that you were getting a deal,&rdquo says Chandler. But while it started with food, it wasn&rsquot long before companies realized that prizes, and even cash, could generate the same kind of buzz.
And as completion grew, so too did the give-outs and consumer cash-ins&mdashbut this didn&rsquot always happen without incident. Ahead of the 1984 Olympics, McDonald&rsquos launched a promotion promising free Big Macs, fries, and drinks when American Olympians medaled. There was only one issue: When the Soviets pulled out of the games that year in political protest, far more Americans medaled than the company anticipated, which meant they had to give away far more burgers. Some Mickey D's locations reportedly even ran out of the classic hamburger. &ldquoThere have historically been times when companies took a huge bath on these huge promotions when they backfire spectacularly&rdquo says Chandler. And yet, companies often deemed that the buzz the promotions caused and the consumers they brought into stores were worth the continued risk. That's, in part, why McDonald's began their popular Monopoly game, where customers collected board game pieces for prizes like burgers, fries, cars, and even $1,000,000 in 1987.
When companies like McDonald's set out to create such promotions, they looked for things that could reach, and interest, the greatest number of their consumers. &ldquoSomething like Monopoly&mdashwhere its familiar to a consumer, they know what it is&mdashthere is a certain level of excitement, you know how it&rsquos played, and it's fun,&rdquo says Chandler. Monopoly didn&rsquot need any explaining, the game pieces were familiar, and in many ways, it was the perfect game for the era. According to Chandler, &ldquoIt really is a reflection of the mainstream.&rdquo
In the '90s, with Wall Street soaring, Zubaz pants walking down the street, and the dot com craze making the whole country buzz, the idea that buying a carton of fries could earn you a Dodge Viper or a million bucks, well, that seemed right. The idea that Rich Uncle Pennybags, or more realistically, a massive multi-national corporation, could make you ultra-rich at random was more palatable. &ldquoIt was sort of fun, we weren&rsquot as critical,&rdquo says Chandler.
But we weren&rsquot as primed to appreciate the irony of a massive company giving away a million dollars through an early twentieth century game with the premise of illuminating the pitfalls of greed and capitalism.
And sometimes, when you roll the dice, you land on &ldquoGo to Jail,&rdquo which is exactly what happened to Jerome Jacobson when his fraud ring was discovered by the FBI with help from McDonald's. When asked about the Monopoly scandal, a McDonald&rsquos spokesperson said, &ldquoNearly 20 years ago, the head of security at a third-party agency and a highly sophisticated criminal ring deceived and betrayed McDonald&rsquos and its customers by stealing high-level game prizes in connection with various McDonald&rsquos sweepstakes promotions. Our commitment then and still today is to our valued guests and maintaining their trust.&rdquo
Whether it was the chicken or the egg, the Monopoly scandal came at a time of transition for the fast food industry and the country as a whole.
Whether it was the chicken or the egg, the Monopoly scandal came at a time of transition for the fast food industry and the country as a whole. &ldquoFast food was coming under fire culturally,&rdquo says Chandler. In addition to the scandal, films like Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation raised questions about the industry, popular opinion on the brands began to waiver, and a stacked deck against consumers in a promotion didn&rsquot help. &ldquoThe sense that everything is rigged against the consumer, there is an erosion of trust in large companies,&rdquo says Chandler.
McDonald&rsquos did its part to try to alleviate the scandal, &ldquoFollowing an extensive FBI investigation and prosecution of the individuals responsible for the deception and crimes, McDonald&rsquos took several actions including terminating the third-party vendor connected to the individuals responsible and giving customers the opportunity to win back every dollar that had been stolen through two subsequent giveaway promotions. We also created an independent promotions task force to develop and implement a new blue ribbon protocol for promotions that is still used today. Since this time, McDonald&rsquos has successfully brought back numerous new promotions offering customers the chance to win millions of dollars in prizes,&rdquo said a spokesperson.
While some of those nationwide promotions and big prizes do still exist, many companies turned to more regional, smaller advertising, going back to prizes of burgers and Cokes rather than sports cars. It was harder to get burned. &ldquoThe legacy of the Monopoly scandal is looking at how risk averse these companies have become&mdashno one wants to be embarrassed,&rdquo says Chandler. And as the '90s ushered in the 2000s, great odds of winning a free burger became far more appealing than slim odds of a million-dollar dream. Localized promotions appeared at sporting events where a certain number of points or a strikeout led to a free taco or fries. Though, these did invite their own, far smaller, controversies, like fans booing their own team for failing to earn them a taco.
But even without the Monopoly scandal, it&rsquos likely the fast food promotion world would still have undergone some of the same massive changes. Just like all other industries, fast food has had to figure out how to deal with changing media. The goal of their promotions has always been to reach the largest audience and get as many people into stores as possible, but large nationwide campaigns don&rsquot grab the same number of eyes they once did. &ldquoIt's inefficient to have a national campaign the way they used to. People aren&rsquot consuming anything like they used to,&rdquo says Chandler. Going local helped accomplish more targeted advertising, but as the world has moved into the digital age, so too have our free burgers and fries.
As the '90s ushered in the 2000s, great odds of winning a free burger became far more appealing than slim odds of a million-dollar dream.
It's far easier and more efficient for companies to target you on social media or convince you to use their app by promising a free sandwich, much like Chick-fil-A did a few months ago. But Chandler says the greatest reflection of the time we are in, and how companies promote themselves, was a teenager from Nevada named Carter Wilkerson who tweeted at Wendy&rsquos "How many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?"
"They said 18 million, which was impossible," Chandler says. "It wasn&rsquot a giveaway, it was a challenge. And it was stroke of genius." The post eventually went viral, and while Wilkerson didn&rsquot get his 18 million retweets, he did get more than 3 million retweets, appearances on The Ellen Show, and untold free advertising for Wendy&rsquos. And in the end, he got that year of free nuggets.
So fear not: The landscape has changed. but life-changing prizes are still out there.
Meal planning is the single-most powerful thing you can do to save money and reduce your household’s ecological “food-print.”
People who meal plan make fewer trips to the grocery store, spend less money on food, waste far less food, eat healthier, and enjoy the peace of mind of knowing what’s for dinner after a long, busy day.
When you plan your meals, you’re essentially creating a food waste reduction strategy. You buy only the foods you need for the week, all accounted for in the corresponding recipes, and then you eat them according to the plan you’ve created. When you stick to your meal plan, everything gets used up, with little to no waste!
As an added bonus, one of the greatest benefits of meal planning is that it can help you be healthier. Whether you are trying to lose weight, manage allergies, or control a health condition, a meal plan allows you to easily prepare the right kinds of food to meet your goals.
A meal plan can be as simple as writing down exactly what you are going to eat every day for a week, and then buying only those foods that will cover your plan.
But if you are like me, maybe you find hand writing a meal plan with the same old dishes every week to be a bit tedious. Or maybe you find creating a shopping list with exactly how much food you need for the whole week to be a bit of a logic puzzle, too. Fortunately, technology has made meal planning easier than ever!
My favorite whole food meal planning apps include:
RealPlans is the meal planner I use the most because it has some unique features not found on any other meal planners out there.
RealPlans is a totally customizable app that allows you to choose recipes from a huge library of over 1500, kitchen-tested Paleo, Primal, Keto, AIP, Traditional, Vegetarian, Whole30, Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free recipes AND you can also import your own favorite recipes into the planner, if you like. You can choose recipes by season, meal, ingredient and more.
If you need to adjust serving sizes or modify ingredients to suit your needs, it’s as easy as clicking a button. So if you have friends with food allergies coming for dinner one night, and the kids eating at grandma’s on another night, the app allows you to customize your plan and adjust your recipes to accommodate!
Once you’ve selected your recipes, your plan is neatly laid out day by day (with one main cooking day and minimal time in the kitchen). From there, the app generates a detailed shopping list that loads directly into your smartphone to save you time and money.
No other meal planning app I’ve found offers all of this in one package. There’s a short learning curve to customize things just the way you like, but RealPlans will revolutionize your kitchen.
RealPlans offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
20 Dishes has five different meal plans to choose from: Paleo, Gluten-Free, Paleo Autoimmune, Classic and Vegetarian. You can change your meal plans or mix and match recipes from different meal plans anytime you want. You cannot import your own recipes, however.
Once you’ve selected the meal plan of your choice, 20 Dishes then offers you over 200 recipes to choose from. They are continually adding to these recipes on a weekly basis to give you more options and variety.
Once you’ve picked your meals, then you’ll automatically be given the appropriate grocery list so you’ll know exactly what you’ll need. All meal plans and shopping lists are fully customizable based on dietary needs, allergens, etc.
Once you’ve chosen your meal plan, picked out the meals you want to eat for the week, and gathered all your items from the grocery store, they also give you a clear food preparation plan with videos that show you how to prepare a week’s worth of meals in under an hour. Then, on your meal day, you simply reheat your prepared meals or cook your dishes in under 30 minutes.
I love the 20 Dishes meal planning app because it makes batch cooking so simple that, even on really busy days where you might be tempted to eat out, you can easily enjoy a home-cooked meal instead. If you’re new to whole food cooking or batch cooking, the tips, videos and support in this program can really help you out!
All 20 Dishes memberships come with free meal planning support and a 7-day free trial.
Plan to Eat
Plan to Eat is an online recipe organizer that takes all of your recipes and puts them into one place where you can plan, cook, and share them anywhere on any device. You can bookmark favorite recipes from the web, build meal plans, create shopping lists, and more.
Plan to Eat is my favorite basic meal planning app. It doesn’t come with any recipes, recipe substitutions, batch cooking plans or other bells and whistles you have to do it all yourself. But it is the least costly of all the meal planning apps out there.
You get a 30-day free trial for signing up.
Now you’ve got four powerful tools to help you fight food waste, save money and get healthier!
Thanks for doing your part to keep your good food out of the landfill, so we can all breathe a little bit easier.