Eat Healthy for Less!

An easy way to plan your cooking and groceries for the week

Problem: Food is Expensive

  • Most people in the U.S. spend a significant proportion of their total income on food
  • This proportion is even higher for the working poor and people in danger of becoming homeless
  • Most diet guides don't focus on how to save money
  • How can I save money on groceries?

Problem: Diet is Important for Health

  • Diet changes are among the most effective ways to treat many illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes
  • Patients often have a hard time following their doctor's instructions
  • How do I achieve my nutritional goals like low sugar or high fiber?

How My Mom Taught Me

  • Plan dinners every night for the week
  • Capture the ingredients needed in a shopping list
  • Get groceries for the week
  • Optionally: Plan dinner sizes in order to have leftovers to take for lunch
    • Dinner sized to supply 75% of target daily calories
  • We assume you can handle breakfast
    • Many people happy to always have the same thing for breakfast
    • No need to make it complicated

Eat Healthy for Less!

  • Lots of people never learned this stuff
  • Even if you know the basics, it can be hard to figure out how to cut costs or eat healthier
  • The Eat Healthy for Less app asks you some questions about your goals and guides you through the menu planning process



  • Core data sets
    • Base ingredient prices
      • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Adjust price estimates by region -- coming soon!
      • U.S. Census Bureau
    • Recipes
      • Yummly -- recipe db includes nutrition info
  • Technologies
    • Linux / Apache / Sqlite / Python / Django
    • HTML5 / Bootstrap / jQuery

Interesting Problems

  • What is an "optimal" menu?
    • Balance health vs. cooking time
      • Within weekly budget
      • Subject to dietary constraints
      • And variety constraints (don't reuse same meals)
    • We can make the balance tunable but haven't yet
    • The "health" part is a huge argument!
      • Right now we assign a pretty arbitrary "health value" for each recipe
  • How do we find the optimal menu?
    • Clearly an NP-hard problem
    • But N is small and near-optimal is ok
    • We use hill-climbing with random restarts


Eat Healthy For Less Presentation - Google Hack for Change 2013/06/02 - Google Slides