Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Pizza Matrix

Even during the period of building cohousing (rather than the soon to be joy of living in it!) the members of Camelot Cohousing have been very focused on food.

It's just that, well, while we were running the business we could not really concentrate on nurturing each other through our food. We had to focus on "being fed" so we could pay attention during the long meetings, especially Monday nights when people are racing to a 7:00 pm meeting after work. Now throw in food allergies and picky eaters and you have a recipe for potential food organization disaster.

Thus was the Pizza Matrix born.

The pizza matrix is an excel spreadsheet. On one of the sheets I maintain a master list of every cohouser and their likes and dislikes for pizza toppings. Likes and dislikes are weighted. Allergies are weighted more heavily.

So in the example above (click on the picture for a closer view) Cameron is allergic to shellfish. Toppings that are fish get a -5. He also does not eat pork, so all pork products get a -1. He does like mushrooms and peppers, so those get a +1. Anything his is ambivalent about is left blank, for a score of 0.

1) When we hold meetings, people let me know whether or not they will be coming to a meeting. I copy and paste all the user information into a different sheet I call the "smaller grouping sheet" and delete the lines for the members who are not coming. I then total up what each topping "scores". This tells me what kind of toppings I should order when I go to order. The toppings with positive numbers should be ordered, the toppings with negative numbers should not.

2) Now, the color coding and the number of pizzas to order. Men, in general, eat more slices of pizza at a sitting than women. I usually assume:
3 slices per man
2 slices per woman.
Children, eat depending on their age.
1 - 7 year olds tend to eat 1 slice.
7 - 12 year olds tend to eat about 2 slices.
13 - 17 year olds tend to fall under the amount of pizza of their sex.
18 - 25 year olds (not kids, but bottomless pits of food needs) 4 slices (we don't have any of these at the moment).

So on the smaller grouping sheet I then count how many men we project to have at the meeting, how many women and how many kids in each slice bucket. Assume 8 slices per pizza, and you now have a good idea how many pizzas to order.

3) When you go to place your order, you now look at the totals line for each topping to get an idea of what kinds of pizzas to order (because you already know how many pizzas you need from Step two. Last night, for example, we needed to order 12 pizzas.

1 lg Veggie no onion
3 Cheese
2 Pepperoni
1 Hawaiian
1 Chicken Pesto
1 Chicken garlic
1 Meatball
1 Meat lovers

Now this method is not fool proof. For one thing, you will need to be sensitive to the "Meat-atarian" to "Vegetarian" split. Some folks don't like vegetables getting in the way of their meat. Some folks don't eat meat at all. Fortunately, in general if you like vegetables on your pizza, you usually don't mind vegetarian pizza so much. So last night, although we only had one vegetarian there, I ordered a whole pizza, but because onions scored so low, I just make sure that the vegtarian pizza has no onions. We had 2 slices left.

The 3 cheese pizzas are really for the kids. There was only 1 slice left.

If people fail to show up to the meeting and also fail to let you know they are not coming, then you can over order, which is what happened last night, we ended up with an entirely uneaten pepperoni pizza. The people who like pepperoni happened to be the people who did not make it to the meeting last night and who also did not let me know.

But the end result which matters is, everyone who is eating has something that they CAN eat and there is enough food to feed everyone, a key point when you are feeding your neighbors.

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