In the US 30–40% of the food supply is wasted. Food waste from households represents about 44% of all food waste in the US and is generated because of a lack of awareness, undervaluing of foods, confusion over label dates and spoilage.
By reducing food waste through buying appropriate quantities, storing foods properly and cooking what is needed, consumers can save money, reduce the amount of food thrown away, conserve energy and prevent pollution.
This project started as a project for my Interaction Design course, but having completed the project it’s a topic that I’ve become passionate about.
My goal was creating a mobile app that helps people reduce food waste.
I started my exploration by conducting research on how people plan meals and how they feel about food waste. I conducted user interviews with a variety of people from different background, including students, singles, couples and families.
- People all try to reduce food waste.
- People are looking for ways to preserve food.
- People have different standards for keeping and throwing away food.
- People have standard recipes they use to finish leftover ingredients like veggie omelet, pizza, soup or salad.
The user flow of the app was to ask people to plan meals by setting their preferences first: They would select 1. the period; 2. the number of people; 3. ingredients they like; 4. information about allergies and 5. style preferences. After hitting search the participants would select the recipes of their choice and put all ingredients on their shopping list. Next to this the app offered a separate page with preservation tips.
Design and Testing
To develop one cohesive vision of how the app was going to look, I developed several storyboards and wireframes. I conducted user testing on the first set of paper prototypes and discovered that users liked to have a quick suggestions option for recipes next to filling out all preferences.
After developing the digital prototype I conducted more user testing both in person and remotely while recording the participant task on the screen and their vocal reaction with usertesting.com. Testing with participants remotely resulted in valuable insights. Participants in the remote testing setting talked more openly than participants that were interviewed in person, this may be linked to the absence of an interviewer.
I discovered that people liked the app because it enables them to buy exact quantities and it made grocery shopping more efficient. Although the participants liked the preservation tips, the connection with the food waste theme was weak. I also noticed that all participants wanted to go use quick suggestions immediately instead of setting preferences manually.
To establish a stronger connection with the food waste theme I changed the user flow and started by asking the user to submit their leftover ingredients. After hitting search the users found preservation tips and quick suggestions for recipes that they could edit afterwards.
The final product is an interactive experience that allows the user to search for recipes and preservation tips for leftover ingredients. The app generates a list of recipes and preservation tips based on preferences. It gives a description of the recipes and the users can select the ingredients for their shopping list. This shopping list comes with suggestions for where to buy based the list of items price and location and it offers a link to order the ingredients online. Experience the live prototype below.