People have a hard time remembering what food they have in their fridge, keeping track of the due date, and figuring out what meals to make from it.
This results in a lot of wasted food, which causes frustration, and negative impacts on the environment, and our wallets.
Market Research- Understanding the root of the problem
I wanted to learn more about why food waste happens, why so many people have this problem, and the negative effects it has on the world. In my market research I found that in the United States, approximately one pound of food per person is wasted each day with the average American family of four losing $1,500 in wasted food each year.
This was my AHA moment
I knew I wanted to help people waste less food, thus helping our already badly hurting environment, but this statistic helped me realize that helping people save money should be the utmost importance of this app. It would still help the environment, but saving money would be the factor that draws people in more than anything else.
To better understand how other products handled these problems, I analyzed the 3 most popular food waste apps and read reviews from real users to find successes and pain points.
A common pain point users have with these apps is that they are not able to see what they have in an organized way, when it will go bad, and what they can do with their food before time runs out.
Being able to see a monthly estimate of the money saved by saving their food is a valuable feature that adds incentive
A fair amount of food waste apps are not available in the USA which is very ironic since we waste the most food
My target audience are people that buy groceries on a regular basis. I interviewed 5 participants of different demographics, and asked questions to understand their grocery shopping/ cooking habits, and explore how they perceive the value of the financial impact of their food waste.
Most participants go grocery shopping a few times a week, instead of just one thorough shop because they don’t do very much planning before entering the store.
Most people eat out AND grocery shop a few times a week
Everyone gets tempted by impulse buys at the grocery store
Repurposing leftovers or taking them to work for lunch the next day is the most popular thing to do with leftover food
Most participants have no clue how much money they waste in food each month
Identifying the Ideal Persona
My interviews helped me realize a big factor in food waste is people simply buy too much food! Based on this research, I made what I believe to be the ideal persona that would be interested in an app like this. Chase is a person who cares about the environment and saving money. He’s tired from work and sees cooking as a chore he doesn’t want to deal with and ends up wasting food. He wants to change these habits but doesn’t know where to begin.
Identifying Task Flows
Based on previous data, I built the task flow for the main users of the app while trying to be concise and simple. The flow depicts a user signing in, adding food to their fridge list, and then looking for recipes based on those ingredients. This helped to define essential features and possible paint points of the app.
With all the knowledge I had gathered from my research and interviews about how to minimize the food waste problem, I started sketching out ideas for the app. I wanted to solve pain points my interviewees expressed such as, the inability to see all the food they have and its expiration dates, and take the stress out of grocery shopping and cooking.
My lofi wireframes came together in Figma to show the general idea for the interactions between pages.
filtered recipe search engine - filter recipes by diet, cuisine, ingredient, etc.
recipe box - save recipes here for easy access
Categorized lists- grocery lists and categorized lists for pantry, fridge, and freezer to easily see what you have on hand
I wanted the app to have a playful feel. I implemented illustrations and icons to achieve this as well as vibrant eye-catching colors.
I designed the logo with the apple and the cash to illustrate that the main purpose of the app is to save money by making the most of your food.
Set backs and finding a new direction
As you can see in the above low fidelity wireframes, I had an idea for there to be a “leftovers filter” in the search engine. I loved this idea and wanted it to be a focal point of the app because it would help people figure out what they can do to repurpose specific leftovers. In my research and personal experience, leftovers get thrown away if they weren’t super delicious or exciting.
As I got further into the design process and thought about my prototype, I realized how hard it would be to make enough filters for that idea to work. It wasn’t very realistic because every meal ever created would need to be added as a filter option. I had to give up on this idea and lean harder into the money saving aspect.
Usability Testing + Problems and Solutions
For my usability testing I asked users to switch between their different food lists and search for recipes using the filters and add them to their recipe box. My participants had no problem performing the tasks at hand and were able to figure things out pretty quickly.
They did provide me with valuable feedback that I was then able to synthesize into successes, pain points, and solutions. Some notable pain points include:
There needs to be a visual aid on the homepage to show users there is urgency that they have food items that will soon expire
Some text had underlines that need to be taken away because they caused confusion by making users think that they were clickable
Recipe page needs to be cleaned up and important information needs to stand out more
Major improvement in my design
Final designs for fridge rescue
The prototype I built allows the user to get the full experience from the app. I created flows to login, filter and search for recipes and save them, browse shopping/ fridge lists, and go to their profile to see the impact the app has made on their wallet.
I went into this project trying to solve a problem that I had experienced personally. It was helpful to have that firsthand experience because it was easier for me to empathize with the user. I learned so much about peoples behaviors toward food. As well as small visual aids, like the clocks signifying food going bad, that make an app like this more successful and it was fun to see the before and after changes.
Add feature for users to scan their grocery receipts to instantly add food items to their fridge list and save time
Add feature for users to find out where they can donate food in their area so they don’t have to throw it away
Keep iterating and testing!