Alexandra Hedin, mother of a 5, 7 and 9-year-old, has been cooking and entertaining her entire career. Already the author of recipe and entertaining book “Entertaining at Home” and the blog Weeknight Party Girl, as well as a lifestyle contributor to Q13 Fox in her hometown of Seattle, Hedin knows a thing or two about cooking for a crowd. Her latest culinary endeavor is Weeknight Society, a nutritious meal-planning app that launched last year and answers the ever-looming question: What am I going to make for dinner this week?
“I don’t always have time to sift through sites like Pinterest and plan meals and grocery lists every week. I wanted to create an app that took the guesswork out of meal prep,” Hedin says. Weeknight Society delivers an impressively comprehensive answer. Every Saturday, weekly menus are uploaded to the custom app, complete with beautifully photographed step-by-step instructions and a grocery list. Each recipe calls for seasonal ingredients found at a local farmer’s market or grocer, so you can take advantage of the freshest flavors of the season.
What really sets Weeknight Society apart are the convenience factors. “These recipes can all be completed in under 35 minutes and do not require a million ingredients. Also, thanks to the app’s aggregate grocery list that allows you to check off items as you shop, you are always prepared with a list of what you need on hand, for whenever you can make it to the store,” says Hedin. (That’s right—that means no more forgetting your grocery list on the counter.) So, no matter what your day brings, in 35 minutes or less, from prep to plate, you can cook an entire meal for your family.
Hedin talks with Mom.me about how her own family values shaped Weeknight Society and how she maintains the balance of working motherhood.
Describe the moment when you were inspired to create Weeknight Society.
You have no idea how many times I’ve heard other moms struggle over what to cook for dinner. It wasn’t until one of my son’s baseball games ended at 7:30 p.m. (at which point our kids were hungry and it was almost time for them to go to bed) that it dawned on me that I could create an easy, weeknight cooking solution. I have always loved cooking, and coming up with dinner recipes that were quick and easy was a new challenge for me. I started sending recipes and ingredient lists out to my girlfriends, and they told their friends, and suddenly more and more people were asking for new recipes. Soon I had such a big collection of recipes and clients that moving all my recipes to an app just made sense.
As a mother as well as the founder of Weeknight Society, how do you make it all work?
Everything is a balancing act—especially as a working mother! I’m so fortunate to be able to work for myself and make my hours work around my children’s schedule. Every day I’m working to perfect the balance of having a full-time job with three young children.
What sets Weeknight Society apart from other cooking and recipe apps?
Unlike other “mommy” apps, Weeknight Society places a large focus on teaching your kids to eat fresh, seasonal ingredients—not so-called “kid-friendly” options like chicken nuggets. My recipes are also designed to avoid cooking two meals every night—one for the parents and one for the kids. Each recipe is tried and tested at home with my family to guarantee they are user-friendly and kid-approved. I also make sure these recipes are easy and quick, so I can cook them with my kids and teach them about what they’re eating. I’ve found that when you take the time to cook with your kids, they’re more likely to eat what’s on their plates!
When did you first feel successful?
I feel successful any time I overcome an obstacle that feels unattainable. For example, years ago, landing a gig on a local television show felt impossible, but is now something I do on a pretty regular basis. Once I had some smaller achievements under my belt, aiming for larger things didn’t seem as intimidating. Every small move forward toward bigger dreams feels like a moment of success.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
I was raised to believe that there was nothing I couldn’t do—not because I was a girl, but simply because there was nothing I couldn’t do. I have two sons and one daughter, and I have raised them with this same philosophy. I don’t believe gender should ever restrict you from pursuing your dreams.
Has there been anything about creating Weeknight Society that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
Not long into the process of writing recipes for Weeknight Society, my family began experiencing some issues with allergens and food sensitivities. As I’ve learned more about accommodating allergies and intolerance, I’ve developed more recipes adaptable to eliminating gluten, dairy or nuts. I’m excited to see what I can do next to further support dietary restrictions, especially as they affect more and more families.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business or make their own app?
Network! I don’t just mean develop business contacts (although that doesn’t hurt), but make connections wherever you are. Some of the best people I’ve brought in to support the app and to build the business are connections I made at PTA meetings and school playdates.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
I know that I can’t do everything. There are a million things I want to do with Weeknight Society, but I’ve had to pace myself and my goals to make sure I can attend baseball games and school potlucks. I would love to be the mom who makes everything from scratch for every potluck and party, but the reality is that I just don’t have the time. I have brought cupcakes to Girl Scout meetings that were made from boxes and that I would have liked to have made from scratch—but I still made it to the meeting with the cupcakes, so I call that a win.
MORE: Unicorn Muddy Buddies
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon for Weeknight Society?
I’d also love to open a deli-style restaurant in Seattle, where customers can purchase fully prepared dinners, local ingredients or fresh vegetables. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.