If you’ve ever tried cooking dinner for a group, you know that coming up with something that everyone is excited about can be a bit of a challenge. Dinners at my house typically involve one person coming up with three things they would enjoy eating, and then the other person (or persons, depending on the night) choosing what they would prefer from those options.
It’s not a perfect solution. There are certainly times where person number two ends up eating a dinner that they’re not exactly stoked about, but it is a quick and dirty way to make a dinner decision that everyone has some sort of input in.
This week, The Food Network added a new feature to its Facebook bot called Meal Match. The press release they sent me joked that users could “swipe right on their dinner decisions.” I laughed at the idea at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I think it’s actually kind of brilliant.
To play, you just need to “Like” Food Network on Facebook (Click Unfollow when you do if you don’t want to see daily posts from them), and then message the page with the phrase “Play Meal Match.” The bot will respond and launch the game.
With Meal Match, you pick a category and then send the game to your dining companions (sending has to happen within the Messenger app, not on Facebook’s desktop website). For instance, I selected “Fall Weeknight Dinners,” as my category, but there are also options like “Easy Slow-Cooker Recipes” and “Top 50 Tailgating Recipes.”
Image: Food Network/ Facebook
You’ll be shown 10 recipes, and given the option to give each a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Your dinner guests will get the same options. Once you’ve all answered, then you’ll get the results sent back to you, letting you know how many matches the group had. So, while you might not have suggested tacos on your own, the game can help you discover that everyone in the family would be excited about having them for dinner.
It’s not perfect. I can’t eat seafood, and a few of the options given to me were things that I literally couldn’t eat for dinner. If everyone else was down for shrimp and grits, I still wouldn’t be making it. I wish there was a way to set a few preferences in the game, or even do a digital version of my “Pick from the three options” plan, except with 10.
That said, if you’re trying to come up with a dinner solution for your family or a group tailgate, it can a quick-and-dirty way to potentially make things a ton easier.