Wednesday, April 13, 2011

task avoidance, and why this $10 organic free range chicken better taste delicious

For the last few months, my good friend Kristin and I have been exploring a business idea for online meal planning. Our vision was delicious meets netflix meets the dinner table - an easy recipe bookmarking site that takes your uploaded recipes and gives you recommendations for what to make for dinner that week.

Last Friday, we found a website that basically does that already. We knew the market for online meal planning was crowded, but we had thought our approach was unique. Our venture disbanded that afternoon and I signed up for a free 30-day trial with this other website. Since we're no longer in competition with them, I'll tell you the name: So far it looks pretty good. I'll be using it for the next month and I'll give you a full report at the end.

With one business venture at a close, I now find myself coming back to an earlier work plan that I titled in my Google Docs as "Library Evaluation Master Plan". Dum dum dummmm! Except that "Library" and "Evaluation" are less sinister than they are quiet, unassuming, and maybe a little dull. The Master Plan, at a high level*, is a plan for creating an online tool for librarians to be paired with evaluation mentors to evaluate their programs and services so they can understand outcomes, impacts, and areas for improvement.

I'm really excited about the project, and think it has a lot of potential. But every time I come around to working on it (read: every time Genghis takes a nap), I find myself doing anything other than. (Erin's thoughts: Gee, that calendar needs to be updated. Don't we need to turn our mattress on a regular basis? And when was the last time someone mopped this floor?)

One of my more successful procrastination techniques this week has been couponing. I have been attempting couponing for several weeks in an effort to cut our grocery bill by about 30%. I organized a coupon box, checked out online coupon strategy resources, made meal plans based on sale/coupon combinations, and only used coupons for items I actually purchase. The result? Well, at a high level, it has been a complete failure. At any level, really, it has been a complete failure. I've probably saved a total of $10 for putting in 5 hours of my time. And that $10 I saved just got sunk into an organic free range chicken I bought yesterday because I thought it was on clearance for $2.15. That was actually the savings price - the chicken cost $10, originally $12.15. I didn't have a coupon for it, but I wouldn't have bought it if I hadn't been in super-frugal money saving mode.

And now that I've procrastinated another 45 minutes, I think it's time to get to work (don't say that out loud, or Genghis will wake up).

P.S. Does anyone know how to cook a chicken?

*I have found the phrase "at a high level" invaluable for skirting questions and feigning knowledge. Example: "Erin, can you use your vast wisdom about everything to enlighten me on the current debate about the national budget?" "Well, at a high level, it really comes down to balancing fiscal responsibility and government services, with both sides reaching across the aisle."


Brady said...

I trust Mark Bitmann with my life:

Simplest Whole Roast Chicken

amydear said...

Yeah, I've been contemplating couponing, but I don't really eat many of the foods that are on sale with coupons. So I'm not sure it's worth my time. I hope that chicken turns out! I got suckered into $5.00 potatoes that were mis-marked, and I didn't have time to return them. They'd better be good!

Megan said...

Could you make the recipe site for free (with advertising revenue) or could it somehow be make into a cell phone app?
As far as coupons go, I usually spend more than I save because I buy things that I normally would not have bought otherwise. I think that the coupon people also shop a lot at Walgreens and CVS and they buy a lot of pre-packaged food, but I could be wrong.
Good luck with your Master Plan!

Brittany said...

Coupons don't really work for us either. It's just not worth it.

Is it a whole chicken? Cause my fav way is get our your broiler pan, line the bottom with potatoes, carrots and onions. In a bowl mix butter, salt, and sage then rub in under all the skin of the chicken. Put the top on the broiler pan, place your chicken on that. I think it cooks for at least 60 min, maybe closer to 90 in a 375 oven. By-the-way costco sells organic chicken and ground beef and its very reasonably priced.

The Lunds said...

Try this! Or any recipe on this site. I spend hours reading recipes from here. I'm a little obsessed you could say.

Dawn said...

Thanks for debunking the coupon thing. HOnestly, who has time for that?

You crack me up though.

Erin said...

Thanks for the chicken tips! My mouth is watering.

I must give credit to the grocery store I shop at most frequently, Kroger, for their savvy coupon strategy. They mail me about 15 coupons each month, customized to what I buy most frequently. They sometimes include freebies (bag of carrots, carton of eggs) and they are usually for the store brand. What I've found most often with coupons is that the store brand is usually cheaper than the name brand with the coupon. Sometimes even when the name brand is on sale.