I’m thinking that the perfect tech app for the up-to-date New Depression kitchen would be a recipe cost calculator.
It shouldn’t be too hard to build a database that contains:
- the ingredients for the family’s most commonly cooked meals
- the quantities needed for the recipe
- the quantities in which the ingredients must be purchased
- an average cost for the ingredients
A basic html/php interface would allow you to:
- select a meal from a searchable drop-down
- do a one-time exclusion of any of the ingredients from the total if you already had them in the pantry
- handle basic substitutions (say sausage for hamburger, etc.)
- allow you to enter a one-time or permanent price modification (to account for sales or price increases)
Of course, it would be optimum if there were a readily accessible and continuously updated dbase of grocery store average prices out there that you could periodically download but I doubt such a thing currently exists.
Thus when it came time to plan menus for the week, you could use the tool to get a more precise sense of how much everything is going to cost before you get to the grocery store. I’m always amazed when I do a one-off trip to see how much a basic meal can run you…
Such a thing may already exist. I don’t know; I haven’t checked yet. But it sure would be cool if it did…
I wouldn’t mind having a program like that. The best program that I’ve found so far is my own brain. It appears to be capable of weighing these things on the fly so I pick up specials whenever I see them. But it means mentally keeping track of what I have in my basket and what I still need. It doesn’t do, however, to plan complex meals that way.