Posted on 11/22/2022
Tags: Food, Parenting, Tools
With a toddler at home, we've come to rely on DoorDash as a quick way for the adults to eat tasty food.

We're lucky to live in an area densely packed with restaurants. Despite the wealth of options, we often struggle to choose when dinnertime arrives.

My spouse and I will end up naming restaurants, taking turns rejecting options one-by-one. On some days, nothing sounds good. On some days, we're exhausted from a night of interrupted sleep and lack the energy to pick. Often both.

I got the idea to make picking a restaurant more mechanical on the hard days.

At first, I considered building a web app with a database and a nice UI for listing restaurants and saving our history. I spend most of my non-work hours taking care of the baby, exercising, or doing chores so even a simple side-project takes months and comes at the cost of precious sleep hours. I needed a lower-effort way to test the idea.

I realized I could make this tool in a shared spreadsheet. I used Numbers on iPhone/iPad and shared the sheet with my spouse using iCloud. Google Sheets could've worked too. Spreadsheets are a great low-effort way to solve problems without writing code. I bet a lot of software engineers underutilize spreadsheets.

Here's how it works:
- Add a row for every restaurant
- Have a column for the last time we ate there
- Have a column for each person with an estimate of how often they are willing to eat at each particular restaurant
- Have a column to note any restaurants someone is actively in the mood to eat at
- The sheet calculates a recommendation for each row:
    - Too soon: neither person is ready to eat there again
    - Let's eat (green): both people are ready OR someone is in the mood
    - Maybe eat (yellow): one person is ready
- At dinnertime, peruse the green and yellow rows to pick efficiently

Grab my example sheet to create your own.