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Ask HN: Does this exist? If not, why not?
8 points by travisfischer 2149 days ago | hide | past | web | 10 comments | favorite
tl;dr: Does the mint.com of food exist? If not, why not?

I'm a firm believer that great products solve real life problems and pain points. One of the largest pain points in my wife and my daily lives is meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Their are a whole bunch of inputs including budget restrictions, dietary restrictions, nutritional information and personal taste which go into the process. It is as lot of work to manually balance these different inputs and come up with an optimal grocery shopping/cooking plan.

I want a product that I can give all of these inputs to and it then gives me a list of recipes that I can drag and drop into a meal plan. I can manually input my own recipes from books that I have purchased. I can modify existing recipes to fit my diet/budget needs. This custom meal plan then gets automatically turned into a set of grocery lists with optimal shopping dates for ingredients that are perishable and calculates estimated costs. It could also suggest ways to modify my meal plan to make it more healthy, cheaper or both. What I want is the Mint.com of food.

I know there are a bunch of good food related sites out there but it doesn't seem like anyone has brought it all together in the way that mint was able to do with personal finances. Can anyone point me to the closest thing to this that currently exists? If it's not out there someone should build it, cause if it was built correctly, it could be tremendously successful. I know I would pay a subscription to this service if it was built correctly. The list of ways to extend a service like this are endless once you have a nice API and data set.

I would love to build this myself but I'm not currently in a place where I have the time/resources to undertake such a project. Maybe if I can find enough support for the project I would make it a priority or I would be happy to cheer on/support someone else who could solve this problem for me.

All Mint.com really did for 90%+ of people is display pretty charts of their finances in a completely automated way. The "big idea" they had of helping people transform their financial lives was mostly bullshit and never realized IMHO.

It was really: enter your bank account credentials and get instant visualization of what you spend your money on. Useful, but hardly life altering for most people. "Wow, I spend a lot on eating out. I should cook at home more."

If you really want to be the Mint.com of food you would create an iPhone app that OCRs your restaurant and grocery receipts and displays cool charts of what types of food you eat. "Wow, I eat a lot of unhealthy food, I should cook at home more."

I suspect the solution to the problem you've identified doesn't look anything like Mint.com. The startups that are delivering pre-made meals are probably closer to the mark.

It should be possible to affordably deliver quality food to people's houses on a bi-weekly basis. You could take into account all requirements you specified.

You get a package, open it up, drop the meals into a pot/microwave and instantly get a fresh healthy meal. That's the only real "drag and drop" solution.

Fair enough critique of Mint. What Mint did for me was track all of my different incoming and outgoing money and display them in the a very pretty, intuitive and easy to understand way. You are correct that the product I'm describing is a lot more complex than Mint.com. The comparison I made was based purely on the fact that the visualization mint gives me transformed my financial life in the way I would hope this product would transform my eating life.

Also, the product you described is interesting but it has serveral problems. One, it's going to be more expensive than doing the shopping on my own and keeping cost down of my food budget is one of my primary goals. Two, being able to shop locally at Farmer's markets, etc... is going to be important for a lot of users including myself.

Anyways, thanks for the feedback. You do make some good points about Mint and why it's not a 1 to 1 comparison.

My wife uses Kraft sometimes and when you select some of their recipes you can say add it to your shopping list. It then breaks it down into categories like, dairy. of what you would need but that's about it. I guarantee you if something like what you are asking about existed my wife would use it in a heartbeat but she has not found anything yet.

Cool. Thanks for the feedback. The way I'm envisioning this product working would be super slick. Also, super expensive to build. :) I'm sure someone will do it sometime if there really is a demand for it.

A lot of the (paying) dieting sites offer similar functionality. Because of the way the dieting industry works (sign up in January, drop out 2 months later), the focus is usually not on improving the UX but on improving signups, so I don't think any of them are very good.

I've used DailyBurn.com for much of what you are talking about, as far as tracking what I eat. But I haven't used the specific mail planning feature as I am not a paid member.

DailyBurn does have a lot of what I'm desiring. I might have to give it a go. I've heard a lot about it but figured it was a lot more about exercise with some healthy eating built in rather than managing my food life. Maybe it has some of the tools I'm wanting.

"if I can find enough support for the project I would make it a priority" -> it tends to work the other way round :)

Check out this site: http://www.livestrong.com/

Thanks. I am familiar with livestrong and it is definitely a super valuable resource. Not quite the smooth drag and drop simplify my life product that I'm envisioning but certainly a fantastic resource for working towards a healthy life.

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