Two Meal Planners Walk Into a Google Hangout….
Photo by: Lola Ojabowale, Refolo
Refolo and Ends+Stems are two meal planning companies providing a similar solution to busy folks – deciding what’s for dinner and having a smart plan before you shop is HARD and draining. Each company’s focus is on a different type of home cook. Refolo is plant based, inspired by culinary legacies of people of color.
Refolo is plant-based, inspired by culinary legacies of people of color. It aims to help people take back their health through plant-based eating.
Ends+Stems has an omnivore option for folks who want to eat meat and has a specific mission to reduce household food waste. Recipes all have notes for making substitutions and ideas for adapting them for picky kid eater since many subscribers are young families.
Founders Lola (Refolo) and Alison (Ends+Stems) met via an online platform connecting women in tech. Aside from building meal planning solutions, both women are solo-non-tech founders and are bootstrapping their respective companies. Needless to say, they have a lot in common.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get into the meal planning space?
L – My journey in food started in 2017. When my dad got sick, he and I both drastically changed our diets. We struggled to adapt his favorite meals and recipes to versions that he could eat. We’re Nigerian, and finding food that resonated was hard. After that, I started learning more about food and got a certificate in plant-based eating and started working on Refolo.
A – I started my first culinary business as a personal chef in 2005 while I was in culinary school! I’ve been helping busy families eat dinner since then but in many various forms. I had a cafe/catering company that was also a meal delivery service for about 5 years, which then led me to reducing food waste. I started Ends+Stems to help people reduce stress at dinnertime AND to inspire them to pay attention to reducing their food waste as an easy environmental action to take.
What type of customers love your service?
L – We typically help people who have a health-motivated reason to eat plant-based and before changing their diet and cooked cuisines from the global south, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
A – Ends+Stems is loved by busy people with kids to feed! We certainly have empty nest couples, and younger singles, but families feel the pressure of putting food on the table at a specific time each night and there’s a lot of concern about making it healthy. Because of this, there’s a section on every recipe called “Kids Corner” where we give you ideas for easily adapting the meal for kids who are just learning to eat (aka they’re picky!). If you have school aged kids, we’re for you!
What are some of the benefits of meal planning?
A – From a reduced food waste standpoint, it’s everything. Studies have shown that most people don’t grocery shop with a list and that most people cook by following recipes. Deciding on your recipes in advance, then making a list, checking what you already have vs. what you need, will result in the more streamlined shopping and reduce impulse purchases that tend to go to waste.
L – Agree with the above! There are both time-saving, financial, and health benefits to meal planning. According to analysis provided with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cooking two more meals at home instead of eating out, saves families almost $1000 a year!
Name your favorite recipe.
L – I’m a fan of anything with spice. One of my favorite Refolo recipes is our cauliflower Jollof. Jollof is a one-pot rice dish popular in many West African Countries, and it’s straightforward to make.
A- I love anything over rice or quinoa. I also love bold spice blends and anything stewed. One of my most popular Ends+Stems recipes is Egg Roll in a Bowl.
Alison, your company helps people reduce food waste, why is that important?
A – Many folks assume most food is wasted on the farms, or in grocery stores, but actually the largest percent is wasted in our own homes. Food in our landfills releases carbon dioxide and methane – aka greenhouse gasses – which drive climate change. We’re buying the food, then wasting it which is bad for our wallets and the planet. On the other hand, this means that every single person who has thrown away edible food this week, can take action right now to be more sustainably minded.
Lola, your company helps people transition to plant-based eating, why is that important?
L – There are tons of benefits to a plant-based lifestyle especially for health. At Refolo, we’re really focused on helping people incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their daily eating which 9 out every 10 Americans don’t get enough of. Many of the diseases we face are from chronic disease (7 out of the top 10 leading causes of death), which a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help prevent. Although the federally recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is 5 servings a day, research shows that getting 10 servings can reduce your risk of death by 31%. All to say, there are many good health-related reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Lola, Refolo Alison, Ends+Stems