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Old 10-30-2009, 04:58 PM   #1
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Random Meal Generator Website

Hi, everyone :) Haven't been here in a while, so I hope everyone is doing well :) This is "kind of" an off topic post - but it's also about food, so I hope it's in the right place.

Aside from loving to cook, I also do website work (yes, I'm going somewhere with this :P). I graduated from culinary school a few months ago, and because of this I get a lot of people at my work asking me "what should I make for dinner tonight?". My wife and I also have this discussion just about everyday. So, I was thinking if there was a website that would give dinner ideas at the click of a mouse, that would be great. That led me to think "hey, I should make that!". So, that is my plan. The idea would be basically - two options "instant meal" - where someone who doesn't want to do any real cooking could get a random suggestion like "tacos from a box" or "frozen pizza". Those ones will be simple. The second option, however, will be an actual meal - main, starch, veg(all randomized so the same chicken could have multiple starch and veg combinations) or one pot meals like chili etc. What I would like to ultimately have is, with each menu suggestion, a link to a recipe to make that item.

Now, the reason why I've rambled on to all of you fine folks is that I'd LOVE some suggestions on individual parts of the plate - MAIN, STARCH & VEGETABLE, or one pot meals like chili, and any links to recipes online that you've tried and loved. If anyone here can help out with suggestions, that would be great!!!

Thanks for any and all suggestions - also if you have suggestions on improving my actual concept I'd love to hear it too :)

Adam

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Old 10-30-2009, 05:27 PM   #2
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How about a section for entertaining? You could have subsections for formal sit down dinner, brunch, buffet, etc.
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Old 10-30-2009, 05:31 PM   #3
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That's a really good idea. Thanks! :)
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Old 10-30-2009, 06:03 PM   #4
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There are only about a million recipes posted here already.

What are you looking for that you could not find by reviewing those??
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:05 PM   #5
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Not sure what you mean. I, obviously, could just look around and try to find a bunch of food and ideas/recipes, I was just asking for any help anyone wanted to offer. If not, that's fine too :)
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:58 PM   #6
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Adam, what a cool idea! OK I'll give you a few ideas.

Chicken cacciatore - pasta - caesar salad

Creamy lemon chicken - pasta - green salad

Cornflake chicken - oven roasted potatoes - coleslaw

Parmesan chicken - rice - green beans

Pork tenderloin - baked potato/rice - greek salad

Pork skewers with lemon and rosemary - rice - grilled zucchini

Beef stroganoff - egg noodles - green salad

Prime rib roast - roasted root veggies(potato, carrot, onion, parsnip) - caesar salad

Garlic cod - wild rice medley - committee salad

Parmesan sole - pilaf - greek salad

I'll edit in links to these recipes or post the recipes for you later. These are all in our regular "rotation"
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:09 AM   #7
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Here is a whole thread of TNT awesome chicken recipes.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:40 AM   #8
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Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic - All Recipes

The above recipe has been whipped up in my kitchen many times. Prep time is so quick and cooking is quick too - serve with a side of rice!
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:08 PM   #9
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It's a great idea. I can't tell you the number of times I've wondered while raising my family 'what should I make'.....looking for inspiration reading numerous cookbooks, seeing what is in season, what is on sale and reading on the internet. And I do think you need quick cooking and regular non quick cooking because there are families that do only one kind and others that do only the other kind.
A couple months ago I put my son in charge of making lunches and my renter in charge of dinners--after 2 weeks, they had the same sentiments 'what should I cook?' I ended up typing out a page and a half of ideas they could rotate over a week or two. Now they are much more involved in menu planning and grocery buying but it's still a struggle for them.
Good luck in your endeavor and send us the link when you get the site up and running, thanks for the inspiration.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:15 PM   #10
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I would recommend that you contemplate using the exisiting resources on the web.

Perhaps you just need a search engine that would take the parameters input by the user.... chicken, beef, oriental, quick, low salt, etc..

and then return some of the millions of existing recipes already on the internet, by
providing links. Might be easier.
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Old 10-31-2009, 03:20 PM   #11
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Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I'm glad that others think this is a good idea too :)

GrillingFool, that is kind of my intent. It will be random dinner suggestions with links to recipes that are already out there somewhere on the internet. The only real "work" is gathering a list of recipes that are out there, then building the framework of the program. With the recipe suggestions above, it's already starting to fall into place.

Thanks for the recipes and if anyone else wants to jump in with more please feel free :)
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:05 PM   #12
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actually, the concept is a tall order - similar to cookbook / recipe software - sounds sooooooo simple, but isn't.

not everyone is a foodie with anchovies to zebra jerky in the pantry.
selection criteria: poor / medium / well stocked larder - even spices can be a sticky point for specific regional / ethnic dishes.

not everyone is familar with the plethora of recipe terms and has all 'the gear'
selection criteria: experience & knowledge of cooking; available hardware.

not everyone even wants to create a 35 ingredient dish; larder aside
selection criteria: simple / medium / complex recipe

preparation time varies widely
selection criteria: quick / medium / all day prep time
and how does that work for weekends when one might have more time to cook?
of course, some folk have to work weekends and may have Monday off.... something to configure, no?
same for simple to complex dishes - sometimes you might want, sometimes not.

food budget - not everyone will be happy to see live lobster show up on the list
selection criteria: cost
"but on payday we treat ourselves to steak." configure paydays.....

food allergies / sensitivities... biggie there
high/low/medium fat (and others) dietary restrictions... another biggie

the kiddie-factor - one can encounter resistance to 'dishes' - sight unseen . . .

the left-over factor: project then randomly generate good use for projected leftovers . . .
if one does a meatloaf for Monday, don't need anything for Thursday - example.
configure: family size; relate to: recipe size

the cookie monster: keep track of what was selected, do not randomly suggest prime rib every week.
[sigh] it happens!
plus carry over left-overs from last planning session, as may be interrupted in time . . . i.e. session one on Monday but session 2 on Wednesday for a 're-plan'

perhaps the biggest issue is going to be 'classifying' the recipes (don't forget copyright issues..)
in addition to
cost
allergy
dietary
size
preferences
kiddie factors
one can find very simpe to very complex recipes for "the same dish" - it might be a simple matter for the program to suggest lasagna - if the program is going to present a recipe, there's thousands - starting with "open a can of . . ." to
"milk the nearest goat and make a good cheese . . ."

of course, the user might then try Recipe Nbr 1835687 and intensely dislike it - so there's 'user input tracking' for future exclude/include.

sounds like fun.
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Old 10-31-2009, 04:19 PM   #13
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Wow! Thanks Dillbert, for that in depth post. To create a program like you have suggested would indeed be a tall order. I'm thinking simpler, and easy and quick for the user to use. If you get "prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes and glazed carrots" but aren't a fan of carrots, I'm going to make it so you can random just the carrots again and get another suggestion. It won't be without flaws or faults - ie. suggesting the same main or side(s) two night in a row, but with a click of the mouse the user can random that selection again. My main goal is to simply suggest ideas for people who can't think of an idea for dinner(and provide links to corresponding recipes). After the beta version is done, I will probably look into incorporating upgrades that will take into account some of the things you mention above though. So, thanks for the suggestions :)
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:55 PM   #14
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looks like very fun. Will give it a try
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Old 11-03-2009, 04:27 PM   #15
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That looks like a great idea. Good luck with it!
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