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What's for dinner?

By Jann Malone
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Publication date: October 31, 2007

Michelle Jenkins and Susan Aprahamian had a problem you'll understand instantly if you're the menu planner at your house.

"We were in a rut with our meals," Aprahamian said. "We both put dinner on the table for our families every night."

Their first solution? A supper swap that involved fixing dinner for the other's family once a week. That worked because they lived nearby in Richmond's West End.

"The 5 o'clock hour was superhectic, with everyone scrambling to get something on the table," Jenkins said. "We found this helped us plan what we were going to fix for the upcoming week. It helped us get organized and saved a lot of time."

Soon, their friends wanted in. "They said they never knew what to fix or what was in the refrigerator," Jenkins said. "That's how this idea was born."

That would be their Web-based menu-planning and recipe business, You've Got Supper.

Here's how it works: The two women provide weekly dinner menus and a choice of five main-dish recipes, often with a couple of sides.

You select the recipes you want. You get those, as well as a grocery list that includes only the ingredients needed for your chosen recipes. That grocery list is organized by category.

Their recipes, which they have tested and designed to make quick and easy, will bust you out of the usual chicken nuggets, spaghetti and fish sticks rotation. Their Maple-Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Apples, for instance, calls for just eight ingredients.

Subscribers pay $40 for six months or $52 for a year. As a subscriber, if you shop at Ukrop's and spend more than $25, you'll get $1 off your groceries. If you shop there each week, that makes an annual subscription free. A trial week is free, too.

You'll find more at their Web site, youvegotsupper.com.

They listen to their customers, so they know that they'd better include a chicken recipe every week and that Tex-Mex is very popular.

Many recipes suggest more healthful substitutions. They've tested the recipe that way, too.

You still have to do the shopping and the cooking, but they've done what many busy cooks think is the hardest part: choosing recipes and making grocery lists.

"Our No. 1 goal is to help simplify people's lives, to make one of their jobs a little easier," Jenkins said.

Really, though, it's all about organization.

"If you're organized, you plan your meals and you've got the food in your refrigerator," Aprahamian said, "it's not very time consuming to make meals and put them on the table."

Neither woman is trained as a cook, but both come from cooking families. That means they started You've Got Supper with a large collection of family recipes.

"These recipes are pretty easy, so you don't need a formal background," Aprahamian said.

Jenkins and Aprahamian met as students at the University of Richmond, where they studied business.

Now in their mid-30s, they left their corporate jobs to raise their families. Jenkins, who worked in medical health-care sales, has two children ages 6 and 5; Aprahamian, who worked in commercial lending, has three, ages 9, 7 and 4.

They launched You've Got Supper about six months ago, after another six months spent creating it with the help of a Web designer and a program developer. It is not a franchise.

Their goal is thousands of subscribers; now, they have several hundred, a third of whom live out of state.

They benefit from You've Got Supper, too: less stress fixing dinner and more time with their families. One thing hasn't changed, though: They still have pizza night once a week.

Their husbands get a say in whether a recipe should go into their database. "We've had many meals that haven't made it," Jenkins said.

While they do cut their kids some slack at mealtime, even they are trying a lot of new foods.

Something else is happening: "All our kids are grading my meals," Aprahamian said. "Nothing gets in that isn't an A+."

Contact Jann Malone at (804) 649-6820 or jmalone@timesdispatch.com.

Media Contact:

Michelle Jenkins
michelle@youvegotsupper.com
Phone: 804.512.4303