Monday, September 12, 2016

Generating menu ideas with a simple Excel spreadsheet

I have often found it difficult to plan menus for our house. So I thought I'd try randomly generating menus, and I'm excited about the results. We've been using this system for about 3 weeks, and here's what I've learned:

  • The most important thing here was to make a list of entrees that we actually cook at our house. That alone is a great resource for planning new menus.
    • "Aaron likes lists, and solving a problem with a new list makes him happy" isn't really anything new. But this is the first time I've tried to make a relatively comprehensive list of meals.
  • We're trying to plan our weeks more tightly. It's ok if we change the plan mid-week. But I'm finding it more useful than ever to have a plan for the whole week.
  • This is of some use in avoiding letting food we buy go bad before we cook it, but only if I stay on top of that issue.

I'm only talking about dinners here. I tried to find the lowest-tech way I could do this fast, and also something that would keep whatever data I generated in a common format. So, here's what I did:

  • Made a list of meal options in one column of an Excel spreadsheet
  • Inserted random numbers in the next column, using "=RAND()" in each cell.
  • SORT the list using the column of random numbers as the sort key.
The sort trick isn't my idea, I got it from searching on ideas for how to randomly sort rows in Excel. 
That's it. I made it slightly fancier by writing a macro to do the sort and tying that to a key combo, but really I didn't do that until I had it for a while. 

Each week I sort the list and then take the top 10 or so options and pick the actual ones I feel like making, freely throwing out stuff we ate recently or that sounds too involved for this week. 

At first I thought I would be generating a list of 5 or 10 items,but sorting the WHOLE list and then just taking the top few items works fine. If I hate most of the top choices, I can just go deeper in the list.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Could you use JavaScript to make links that both rickroll and provide the original link as well?

I was thinking that it ought to be possible to use JavaScript to create a link that takes you to a rickroll youtube page, but also provides the original desired link in some fashion. That is, you get rickrolled, but then the actual link you thought you were clicking on is available to you.

But, I'm not quite sure how to approach that, and I don't find anything like that in a Google search, so I'm putting it out there lazyweb style to see if anyone else knows how to do this.