Mealplana allows you to use a meal plan spreadsheet interface– similar to working on an Excel sheet. Any food/recipe entry you add to the plan is queried in a database on the background. This results in nutritional information being calculated for you as you type.
Why is this a good idea? Well, certain aspects of user interface design are debatable, but, in general, most people would agree on the following:
- Ease of use
- Speed (i.e. instant feedback, no loading screens)
- Efficiency (i.e. fewer clicks for common actions)
- Relevance of information displayed (i.e. showing the right data at a glance when needed, and nothing else)
- Customisation (i.e. adapting the interface to suit different types of users)
Mealplana achieves the goals above with its spreadsheet interface.
Advantages of a meal plan spreadsheet
Ease of use: You probably already know how to use a spreadsheet, from previous experience using Excel. You can click in any cell and type, copy/paste, drag & drop, get relevant cell autocompletion as you type, etc. You can even forego your mouse and use your keyboard to work on the sheet directly.
Speed: We have combined our 6+ years of relevant software development experience, plus some of the latest software frameworks and backend infrastructure to ensure the software is performant. You will get results as you type, without any tedious confirmation screens or menus.
Efficiency: Mealplana is designed to minimise clicks and repetitive actions. Typing in a spreadsheet or search box to query the database is much more efficient than having to open separate menus/screens. You will feel the difference as you start creating some meal plans/recipes.
Relevance of information displayed: We strive to provide quick data at a glance when it’s needed, and to hide it when not relevant. For example, as you query for a food item (i.e. “avocado”) you will see multiple options, which database they come from, their energy/macros, and other details.
Customisation: We have a wealth of settings available, and plans to extend them, so that you can customise Mealplana to your needs. E.g. query only regional databases, customise the meals of the day, number of days in a plan, etc
Once you add foods and recipes to a meal plan, you can head to the macronutrient section and see:
- The overall energy and macronutrient content of the plan
- The breakdown of macros/energy per ingredient or recipe
- The breakdown per 100 grams for each ingredient
You can see the screenshot below for an example
Additionally, you can also head to the micronutrients section to see:
- The overall micronutrient content in the plan (which micronutrients are displayed can be customised in the settings)
- The breakdown per ingredient
- The breakdown per 100 grams
Below is an screenshot example
Now, it’s important to remember that nutritional data is calculated automatically as you add entries to the meal plan. You don’t have to waste any time querying numerical values separately in a database, or manually calculating anything. Mealplana takes that hassle away.
Presentation for clients
One disadvantage of a spreadsheet is that it doesn’t look that great when shown to clients. A meal plan spreadsheet is great for data entry and manipulation, but most people would rather read a nicely formatted document for data consumption.
Mealplana allows you to export your completed meal plan and recipes as a neat pdf document. This allows you to share a professional-looking plan with clients. The pdf contains your logo, the plan/recipe, and macronutrient and micronutrient analysis.
At the time of writing this article (October 2021) Mealplana has just been released, and the pdf export option is relatively basic. Going forward, we plan to add multiple templates to choose from when exporting, as well as simple checkboxes to select exactly which sections you want to export.
Overall, we are working to make creating a meal plan as efficient and fun as possible. After a plan is completed, we want to provide the option to export it as a professional-looking document. Ultimately, our goal is to allow you to exceed your clients’ expectations.
We also plan to add a shopping list to the plan, a section for additional comments, relevant formulas (e.g. BMR, BMI) and more. Feel free to subscribe to the Mealplana blog or follow us on social media if you want to know when we add new features.
Consider signing up for a 7-day free trial of Mealplana by clicking here if you want to try the spreadsheet interface by yourself.