Foodie Dice puts luck (and wisdom) into meal planning.
Chicken, green beans, and sweet potatoes. Santa Rosa sisters Liz and Sarah Downey were getting awfully tired of dinner. Chicken, green beans, and yams. It was healthy, it was balanced, it was deadly boring. Chicken, green beans, and sweet potatoes…
So they did what any adult siblings who love to cook and eat well would: They got out the dice and rolled for dinner.
“We actually put Post-It Notes on them,” Liz clarifies with a laugh.
One die had a protein Post-It, another a vegetable, another a starch, and so on. Lady Luck began to smile upon their end-of-day meal.
And she’s smiling again as the sisters take their homespun idea the extra step—by producing laser-cut wooden cubes for sale known as Foodie Dice.
The Downeys launched a Kickstarter campaign for Foodie Dice that hit Kickstarter’s front page, made its newsletter, and basically just went nuts.
Hoping to raise a modest $7,500, the Downeys instead have raised over $98,000 and have some 2,600 backers. That means that they also have a lot of dice to produce, package, and ship in time for Christmas.
Locally made and laser-engraved, Foodie Dice come packaged in “upcycled” glass bottles that are thus saved from the recycle bin.
There are five primary dice—cooking methods, meats, carbs, herbs, and such “bonus” foods as bacon—and four seasonal ones. Choose your seasonal die and then roll the rest to lay out the bones of your meal.
Cook it as straightforwardly as chicken, greens, and sweet potatoes—or use your roll to create something that uses those ingredients in a new and surprising way.
However you do it, the sisters hope that your choices are organic and sustainable. They know they’ll be in season.
Like a meal plan itself, Foodie Dice have evolved.
“Some of the things we started out with, like cheese, we ended up taking off,” Liz explains. “We wanted to have cheese on everything because cheese makes everything better, but we found out that’s not always true. That said, you’d think that with 186,000 combinations, we’d end up with stuff that wasn’t very tasty together, but it really hasn’t happened yet.”
Sarah is the self-described “right brain” of the operation, having every one of the 186,000 food combinations the dice provide carefully logged in a spreadsheet; Liz has harnessed the left brain, with some 13 years of food design experience.
“It takes a lot of faith,” Liz says of their decision to launch a product made from a fit of culinary boredom. “We questioned it up until we launched it. But we really wanted to do something together. It meshed our interests. For me, it combines food and design; for her, it was food and the challenge of putting it together and figuring out how to make it.”
The two are a good team, and have been able to swiftly reschedule their day jobs to handle the massive interest their hobby has garnered.
“We had all of these ideas for stretch goals when we started,” Liz says, “and that was assuming we hit $10,000 or $15,000. But because we’ve had so many orders, we’ve had to figure out how to scale up our production.
“Now that we have that figured out, we’re going to add international shipping, add a vegetarian option, and then we’ll start adding some fun stuff that people have requested— like dice for dessert and fall foods.
“That’s the great thing about having the Kickstarter audience,” she adds.
“Now we know what people are looking for.”