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The Flying Developer

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08 Jul 2010
The Flying Developer Hates Mouldy Food

food in a Google calendarThere is a problem in our household. My wife and I have a terrible time keeping track of what’s in our fridge and more importantly, when it will go off. On many occasions we have bought meat, fresh veg or bread with the intention of eating it ‘soon’ only to find it has passed its best-before date by the time we want to eat it. It’s frustrating, depressing, costly and results in more meals at McDonalds than I’d care to mention. Clearly a better solution is needed.

My first thought (as a developer) was “I’ll write an app for it!”. My second thought, following close behind, was “Someone must have already written an app for that!”. Along these lines, I did a quick search of the android market and the iTunes app store (for my wife’s iPhone). Indeed, there are apps out there that let you track expiry dates on food. However, there were generally two problems with them.

  1. They cost money

  2. They were for single users only

The first point is self-explanatory, so I’ll expand on the second. One of the big problems in our apartment is when one of us buys food but forgets to tell the other what they got. This inevitably leads to us finding mouldy food that we didn’t know was there in the first place. Any solution to the problem must therefore allow multiple users to enter data separately.

This is when I had my third thought, which went as follows: “I don’t need an app for this at all!”. I realized that all the functionality I needed was already available to me through Google Calendar. Want to know when food will expire? Create an all-day event for it. Want to be notified when food is about to go off? Set an email or pop-up notification. Sharing is also trivial: As long as the events are in their own calendar, the whole thing can be shared with as many people as you need.

The idea is that I will be able to add items to the calendar using my phone as I put them in my basket at the store. That way I don’t have to assign any extra time to data entry than strictly necessary.

The proof is in the pudding (pun definitely intended) however, and I’ve yet to see how this new endeavor pans out. My hope is that it will help us reduce food waste and save us money at the same time. I certainly think that the idea is sound, the main point of failure (if any) will be me forgetting to add things to the calendar. I’ll have to see how it goes.


Thanks for reading! If you like my writing, you may be interested in my book: Healthy Webhook Consumption with Rails

David at 13:12

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