Spinning Meals App: Big Announcement and a Stunning Coincidence

Spinning Meals IconTomorrow my blog makes its biggest splash to date: I’m launching the Spinning Meals App! A good one, carefully crafted for busy families who eat. You’re going to love it, but first let me tell you how it came about.

Four years ago I went on a men’s conference with Don Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) as the featured speaker. I was in a difficult place as a food writer, glad to be writing freelance for The Oregonian but stuck with a well-crafted book proposal that no agent or editor would “bite.” Enter Don, talking about crafting your family’s story.

The Story Of Your Life

Million Miles In A Thousand YearsBlue Like JazzFilmmakers had approached him about making Blue Like Jazz (largely autobiographical) into a movie. But they had to “edit his life” to be good enough for film (too boring? Awkward…) so this would be a based-on approach, not true story. Learning the well-developed story theory of Hollywood (and novels, etc), and asking how to make his life “better,” he got skilled at recognizing meaningless storylines in real life as well as good ones. He challenged us to make our families’ lives more epic, based on the principles of a compelling story: be a relatable person with a meaningful purpose, and relentlessly overcome obstacles to achieve that. These are transforming ideas, which he has since written in his Million Miles book which I highly recommend but can’t begin to cover in this small space.

Saturday With Don

Paper Scroll on Easel with "The End" at bottom

The app launch is just the beginning, but to make a great story, start with The End in mind!

Saturday afternoon we had recreation time, and I asked him to chat about my writing predicament. It took a pair of…courage, to ask – he’s kind of a big deal. He’s also a great guy and was willing, so off we went with a group for a round of Frisbee golf and semi-public introspection.

That conversation freed me to let go of (postpone?) the dead-end book idea, and explore other paths, one of which was the idea of the ultimate simple cookbook for busy families. It would be a collection of ultra-fast healthy recipes you can repeat with confidence, which would include a spinner in the back to randomize the week’s meals. This would bring my writing interests closer to my young family, and we would develop it together essentially, a team project.

Better Than A Book?

Well, the app store now lets developers build cardboard spinners in thousands of more elegant ways, and lets content and functionality blend seamlessly. So the book idea split into a blog and an app, each of which has been a labor of love for me and the small team which has come alongside.

The app Spinning Meals launches tomorrow, on pi day (3.14), initially available for iPhone (iPad compatible). It plans your meals and creates your grocery list. It’s a joy to use, and a powerful tool to help families keep cooking real food at home despite the time pressures all around us. It’s not yet packed with recipes, that part of the vision is still in progress. Look for lots more info tomorrow.

This Coincidence Took My Breath Away

Do you believe a coincidence is just that? Do you agree that good things take time?

From that conference in 2008, the film Blue Like Jazz will finally premiere one month from today, April 13. It looks good, and much of it is true, I’m sure.

My own journey’s length? I looked it up today to measure the labor of love since that first seed of an idea sprouted. The date of my talk with Don? Pi day, 2008.

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Posted in Cookbooks, Food Articles, Philosophies, Spinning Meals, Techniques
17 comments on “Spinning Meals App: Big Announcement and a Stunning Coincidence
  1. Kim says:

    Congratulations, Ryan!! I already thought pi day was pretty cool, as we’d celebrate it at school in class when I taught. What a cool coincidence! Now you know it’s all good and all will work out. So happy that your app is going to be up and running tomorrow! Congrats!

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      Thanks Kim – you’ve been such a great friend and supporter of the blog, it means a lot to me. Pi day rocks – do you think our kids are old enough to start appreciating it?

  2. KaK says:

    What a great story and I am excited to see the app tomorrow and try it out. Way to stay focused on this and help others who feel time pressure during busy life moments!

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      Thanks so much Kim, it has meant a lot to me to have my Nike foodie peers giving input here and there to my many questions (when does Spring really start, etc.) which have helped immeasurably! You’ll see them in the app – you are a part of it! Glad you liked the story.

  3. Kevin Mapes says:

    Our family is heading to the beach for 3 days. Having an app plans our familiar, dietary need specific recipes, with shopping lists is awesome. Open the app, spin the dial, and our entire menu and shopping list for the trip is on our device. Once at our vacation spot our cooking instructions for our favorites are right there. It’s so easy.

    • Avatar photo Ryan says:

      You must be really connected to get an advance copy of the app there my friend. ;^) Thanks for putting it through the paces during beta tests, very helpful…and for being a beta tester for Cobb Salad and Chicken Burritos. Somebody has to take that risk…

  4. Mark says:

    How did I miss “pi day?” What a great geeky concept! 🙂 Best of luck with the app, my friend. My phone isn’t smart enough to use it , but I think it’s a great idea. You know, Ryan, I remember when you were just getting started writing for the Oregonian. Glad to say “I knew you when.” It’s been a good story line since. Thanks for posting this one. I have a lot to think about.

  5. This is exciting news Ryan! Congrats on the big launch–and can’t wait to give it a spin 🙂

  6. Great thoughts here Ryan. I so enjoyed reading about your journey in coming to where you are today with these ideas. So cool. I haven’t read a ton of Don Miller but I have read Blue Like Jazz awhile ago and I do follow him on FB (love his status updates)….really neat that you went to this conference. I don’t think things happen by accident and I do believe good things take time. They start with a seed of though and grow with passion and dreaming big. I’ve had many seed ideas for some big things in my life and I know that they are still to come…this is a meantime for me while I savor every moment with my kids while they are young but I have some big ideas for the future. In the “meantime”, I’m enjoying my running and silly little blog. This app of yours sounds awesome. I will share and hope to use it when I get a real phone. 🙂

    • that would be …”a seed of thought”…not though

      • Avatar photo Ryan says:

        We have loved watching the journey you “run” over there in your family and on your blog, and the parallels between us were pleasantly shocking from day 1 (girl girl boy, same ages, etc). More importantly we’re boldly going after the fullest possible life and trying to make meaning not money (well a little money doesn’t hurt) which is the great thing about successful blogging endeavors, the impact you can have. Amanda your family is one in a million and we’re proud to be running along this road with you!

  7. How exciting! Congratulations! It’s funny what happens sometimes when we just take one little step. What a great story. I found you on voiceBoks and was very interested in your site when I saw that you deal with healthy family eating and the “vegetable challenged” since we have one of those in our family! Great to find your site and great to learn of your app. I look forward to reading more. Thanks.

  8. Cathy B. says:

    I can’t get an iPhone…please please for Android? 🙂
    Love to have meals planned for the week, really helps with my Sunday morning shopping date with my partner. As well as the busy days of the week. Looks great, hope to be able to get it soon…

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