Oven, er, machine scheduling

I couldn’t help thinking about OR when planning Thanksgiving dinner this year. So many things need to go into the oven, yet they need to be cooked for different times at different temperatures, and there are oven capacity limitations. In addition, some things can be made ahead of time (like pie) and other things can be cooked at a slightly different temperature than the recipe calls for. To top it off, there are uncertainties in cooking times. I cooked two Thanksgiving dinners this year (a vegetarian dinner for me, and a traditional turkey dinner for my husband), so I needed to do a little optimization in the kitchen. (My faux-turkey was so-so, but the winners were the vegetarian Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy and the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie).

Then there is also the day-after-Thanksgiving OR problem of how to best utilize leftovers. I cooked and pureed a bunch of yams, and I’ve been enumerating all the possible sets of combinations of recipes in my head ever since.

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