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An Idea That I've Had

I've been thinking about something, but I really don't know how to make it
happen, and I'd definitely need some help, so I figured that I'd write about
it here to see if I could get some feedback.

I've got my recipes page, and that's great for those times when I feel like
going all out and actually making real food. But, living alone, sometimes I
don't want anything huge, so I get a lot of frozen things, or boxed meals.
Before I moved here, I used to get my groceries delivered from Peapod. One nice thing about their web site
is that if you click on the product name, often times you can get the
preparation instructions. Unfortunately, not all of their products have
instructions. Often times I can get an idea of how to make something by
choosing a similar product, and that works most of the time.

With my new grocery store, they don't have any sort of product information
like Peapod does, and they told me when I asked about it that they had no
plans to expand. So, many times when I do my shopping, I go back to Peapod
to see if they have either the product I'm interested in or a similar
product so that I can figure out how to prepare it. I've gotten a lot of
instructions that way.

The other thing I do is to scan the back of the box to see if the
instructions can be read. The problem with this though is that, from what
I've been told, the printing on these boxes and packages is often in a
different color or a unique font. Although scanning technology is incredible
these days, and I can make all kinds of settings changes to my Kurzweil 1000 that really makes the
information more readable, but I'm finding more and more that although I'm
able to get the information about calories and whatever, It's still not
really reading the actual preparation instructions accurately.

I've mentioned this before to people, and I've gotten responses like, "Oh, I
just use my CCTV. Not sure why the scanner isn't picking things up." For
some reason, comments like that really bother me, and it's probably really
stupid of me, but it almost feels to me like those with enough vision to
read with magnification are somehow trying to rub it in or whatever. I know
it's crazy, but whatever.

My solution many times has been to scan the package as an image file and
email it to my dad so that he can read me the instructions. Then, if it's
something that I want to use again, I'll write things down so that I won't
have to bother him to read the same thing over and over. This isn't a
perfect solution, especially if he isn't around when I want to do food prep,
but it's definitely been a help.

But anyway, that brings me to my idea. I know I'm not the only one who gets
frustrated with this kind of thing. I also know that in some respects I've
got it better than others because I've got my dad to read for me, even if it
is across state lines. But, what do we do when we want something and have no
way of getting the information? Guessing is always an option, but for me, I
don't always like doing that because there's the risk of really messing up
my food, and then I'm stuck with nothing. So, what's the solution?

My idea is to create an online searchable database of products and their
information. I'd like to see something where you could search by brand or
product, and then if there are multiple sizes, also have the ability to pick
which product you actually want information on. I want to be able to make it
so that if the actual product isn't listed, something similar is. But, there
are a few problems.

First, although I know HTML, what I want to do goes way beyond web page
coding. I've got access to several options I'm sure through my hosting
provider, and I want to check into those, so that might be the least of my
problems. The next problem though is to get information entered. It would
take me years to enter things in as I get them. I'd like to set up some way
for others to submit things to be entered and help me expand this project.

At this point, this seems more like a dream than anything else, but I'm
curious to know what others think. I know that here in the US, and I think
Canada too, use much more prepared foods than they do in other countries, so
I'm not sure how useful something like this would be outside of North
America, but I could be wrong. If something like this already exists, I'd
absolutely love to know about it. But, what do people think? Any ideas of
how to make this happen? If you're not an LJ member reading this, please
still feel free to comment. I screen anonymous comments, but if you let me
know who you are in the comment, I'll pass it through. I really want to get
people's thoughts and ideas on this.