Thanks so much to those of you who filled out the ShopCookEat survey. You were a diverse bunch, with a vast array of eating, cooking, and shopping habits, with one constant thing in common: me.
I will not be launching ShopCookEat in the format described in the survey, which was a weekly newsletter with Jess-written recipes, cooking tips, and a shopping list for the week’s dinners. However, I will be updating my blog on a regular basis with recipes that will hopefully inspire you to cook.
Here’s how I made my decision:
1. You’re all control freaks. No, really, you are (it’s okay, I am, too). About half of you have reservations about relying on someone else to pick your meals for you. There are a lot of things you don’t like, and although as a whole you’re willing to substitute the things you hate with things you like, you seem hesitant. Of those without reservations, almost all said they’d love to eat dinners JESS picked out and wrote recipes for. While this was flattering and ego-boosting for me, it underscored something important: according to you, people want to make their own dinner decisions.
2. It’s 2006. There was a direct correlation between respondents’ age and their willingness to pay good money for a newsletter (the older, the more willing). But I don’t think this was simply a matter of income. The younger and (I’ll blatantly stereotype here) more web-savvy voiced concern that paying for something like ShopCookEat sort of seems passé. Why would you pay for something that might eventually come your way for free? (Or, more to the point, if I create something that becomes popular, someone else will quickly provide similar online content on an ad-based site for free.)
3. You simply didn’t report the problems I thought a weekly grocery list might solve. In general, people don’t seem bothered by how much food they waste (if any at all), and although you often have to run out last-minute for missing ingredients, you don’t seem to mind going to the grocery store and you don’t really want to spend more OR less time in the kitchen each day.
The most ideal application of this idea would be a build-your-own-weekly-dinners website, whereby one could pick out recipes for an entire week (based on how long the ingredients for given recipes last), press a button, and presto! have a shopping list come out the other end. Those that want comfort food get comfort food, those that panic at words like udon and pho and sorrel can steer clear. Although I believe I could create recipe content targeting people who are vegetarians, want to cook for their kids, want to eat healthy foods, etc., the problem with this is obvious: I am a cook and a writer, not a software developer. And although I agree that it would be fairly straightforward to hire some IT folks and develop a website that could handle this, it’s not how I want to spend my time. At least, not now.
However, the goal of ShopCookEat, if you remember, was to get people to cook. And based on the survey responses, almost all of you want to cook more: more often, with more recipes, and with more creativity. Many said that inspiration, not organization, was the problem. To that end, I’m still a gamer.
And okay, I’ll admit, the other goal of ShopCookEat was to build a platform to stand on. I would love to write a cookbook someday. But without a restaurant or a Food Network show or a flashy retail business, I don’t have the kind of popularity that gets cookbook writers good deals with publishers. ShopCookEat is/was a way to build that platform, so that when my proposal-writing days come, I’m a more recognizable figure in the food world.
Here’s the plan: I will keep writing recipes. Lots of them. You can use them as a supplement to the cooking process, rather than a substitute for it, which is what many of you said you’d prefer to do anyway. Heck, I’m thinking of writing one recipe per day for all of 2007. (What do you think of that?) I’ll post them here, on my blog, and you can gather them up on a weekly basis when you’re in need of some inspiration, or else have them emailed to you as I post them. I might even make you a few grocery lists, if you’re lucky. (Hint: check back later this week, and check earlier posts for recipes.) On hogwash, you can write me with questions, tell others about your cooking experiences, and then spread the word about my blog and my recipes, so that I gain a little bit of a web presence outside the sphere of much-appreciated but not-quite-sufficient Jesslovers. Plus, you can subscribe (see upper right), which will undoubtedly make you feel web-savvy if you aren’t already (use the RSS feed for extra credit).
For vegetarians, I offer my apologies. I think you deserve great recipes, and I will sometimes write vegetarian recipes, but I cannot be all things to all people and, frankly, I’m a hard-core carnivore.
So for now, ShopCookEat is a no-go. I will most likely continue to pitch similar ideas to bigger kids on the block, like PCC (in Seattle) and/or Whole Foods. To those of you who were ecstatic about the idea, I thank you and I’m sorry. And to those of you want to write software for free in the future, and/or have nutritional information software to hand out, do call. Anytime.