Jane Delaney '84

Major Christian Education

Favorite Course

Christian Education
Favorite Professor Craig Williford


Jane Delaney's journey to becoming the owner of a successful small business does not look like anything this Christian education major would have imagined.

After graduating from Bryan in 1984, Jane moved to Washington, D.C., for an internship with a group that started crisis pregnancy centers. She remained in D.C. for a year and a half, during which time she returned to Bryan for a weekend to visit friends. The same weekend, her former boyfriend and fellow Bryan alum Kevin was visiting campus as well. Their reunion lasted far beyond that weekend, and they got married in 1986. After their wedding, they moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, and Jane became the director of a crisis pregnancy center while Kevin went to seminary. "I was directing one of the largest crisis pregnancy centers in the country at the time," Jane explained. "About 350 clients came through our doors every month. I recruited and trained volunteers and counselors. I did a lot of training and writing, and I was counseling all the time."

Jane (right) with her sister and vice
president of E-Mealz, Jenny Cochran

 
After five years in Texas, Jane's husband went into the ministry and they began moving around the country. Over the next several years they lived in North Carolina and Ohio, finally settling down in Birmingham, Ala. During this time, Jane and Kevin had four children, who now range in age from 13 to 21. She was a full-time mom but continued to volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers. "My family is always my first priority," Jane said. When her youngest child entered kindergarten, Jane decided to re-enter the workforce. "I hadn't worked full time in 18 years. My skills weren't very marketable so I decided I needed to be creative," Jane said.

Her inspiration for E-Mealz grew out of her frustration with the difficulty of pulling off dinner for her own family. The development of E-Mealz is discussed on her website:

One week would be semi-sane with 'a scribbled-down meal plan on a napkin lost in the bottom of my purse,' and then the next would be sheer chaos. But she was committed to making her family life ordered around an evening meal where everyone could decompress and come face to face with each other.
 
Jane's search convinced her that all she needed was a simple system to un-complicate getting the family around the table enjoying a delicious and kid-friendly meal. She became intentional in finding that tool for her family, remembering that her mom fed her large family well on a very small grocery budget with a weekly meal plan of her own creation. In looking for a system online that would eliminate the hours and hours of work meal planning requires, Jane found that all of these services were either oblivious to her budget, required using coupons, did not have a consolidated grocery list, had lengthy and complicated instructions, or had recipes that her kids boycotted. She couldn't find any weekly plan coordinated with her grocery store's current sales to maximize her grocery budget.

In 2003, Jane began the arduous process of creating a unique meal planning service that could incorporate all the components she was looking for into a "simple and good" system. Her sister, Jenny Cochran, came alongside Jane and the two gathered an amazing and talented team of meal planners and writers - all wonderful family cooks. Jane and Jenny share a vision for inspiring other families to connect at dinnertime, strengthening that crucial bond and making a simple tool available to them. The internet proved to be the perfect medium to provide these instantaneous menus to other moms.


Jane with her E-Mealz Staff
 
"We took baby steps. We built the website, advertised using word of mouth, and started a checking account with a crumpled $5 bill," Jane said. For just $1.25 a week, E-Mealz members have access to easy recipes with concise directions and a corresponding grocery list that members can print and take with them. According to Jane, "E-Meals is the tool for meal planning, food budgeting, grocery shopping, coupon shopping, and getting the family together at dinnertime.

"We now have 23 menu options, but we started off with just two," Jane added. She also now oversees a staff of 20, which includes editors, proofers, price checkers, and writers.

The ultimate goal of E-Mealz and its core belief is reflected in the statement Make Time For Family.  Both Jane and Jenny write and speak about the importance of family, the value of sitting around the table for dinner, and other family-centered topics.