Recipe spinner

I’ve been pretty good about meal planning for the last year or so, and I feel like we are eating waaaaaaay better food for it. Not nearly as many nights of “loaded nachos” or chili mac and cheese. I usually sit down on Saturday or Sunday morning and pick out 3-5 meals for the week, then make the shopping list. It’s so much easier for me to cook dinner at the end of a long day if I don’t also have to figure out what to cook. This separation of “deciding” and “doing” is one of my new mantras in life. Keeps me from second guessing myself during the doing for self-doubty things (like writing), hateful things (like exercising) and takes the stress out of making dinner.

I really don’t like making decisions, though, and most weeks i have a mental block about what meals to choose. I sit down with my little notepad and it’s as though I’ve never cooked a meal in my life! I get a lot of recipes off the interwebs, and my 3 ring binder was really overflowing (along with the stacks of paper stacked next to it), so over the winter I started loading everything into the Paprika recipe software. It’s got decent features like tagging and importing recipes from a built in (clunky) browser. but the interface is pretty clunky. It takes way more clicks than it should to edit recipes, and the clicks are all over the screen (“save” button is nowhere near “edit”, so I’m always hunting for them), and the “create from webpage” doesn’t work on most blogs (seems geared towards big sites like But it suffices.

My biggest problem with it has nothing to do with the software, but with a “feature” of my personality. I loathe digital browsing. When I see a giant list of anything on a computer screen, my eyes just roll back up into my head and I give up. So I wrote a little python program to “spin” my recipes. Yep, I’m that nerdy!

First I made a list of recipes that my family actually likes (that I could remember…). There are 63 so far. For each one I have the name, the source, and the cuisine in a CSV file. The program reads them in, then lets me choose a cuisine. Right now it spits out all the recipes in that category, but I’d like to add an option to spit out a random subset. Even fancier would be a random subset that hasn’t been cooked in a certain time period, but that would require me to track what I’m cooking, which might be too nerdy even for me. I also want to be able to add new recipes and append them to the CSV file.