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Helping American Households 

Reduce Food Waste

My Role: 





Research, UX Design, Branding, UI Design

Figma, Photoshop, Whimsical, Google Survey, Usability Hub

October - December 2019

Interactive Prototype for a New iOS Mobile App

Solo Conceptual Design


IDEO's Human-Centered Design Process



People want to reduce food waste, but so often they find themselves throwing away produce that's gone bad, ultimately wasting food and money. 

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Environmental Protection Agency | Food Waste in America in 2019

My biggest inspiration stems from the concern about the environment:

How might we help people make simple lifestyle changes be more responsible about our consumption?


All-in-one kitchen inventory manager, combined with a shopping and cooking planner

Check Food Inventory &
Track Expiration Date

  • Update inventory by barcode scanner

  • Expiry Reminders

  • Household account to manage inventory with family or roommates


Automatically Add Items to the Shopping List

  • Auto list based on what’s expired or running low

  • Routine list for repetitive items

  • Share shopping lists with roommates or family

Find Recipes with What’s in Your Kitchen

  • Filter recipes based on preferences

  • Save, rate and share recipes

  • Add missing ingredients to a shopping list



More than twice as much food is wasted at the consumer level than at the retail level in the U.S:

Here are some major causes:



Source: "Food Waste in America in 2019: Statistics and Facts"  by RTS, 2019

I built the foundation of my research by reading through online articles, reports, and guides from American food and health organizations.​

The insights:

  • No one intends to waste food or gets pleasure from it, but life gets in the way: The purchasing habit, knowledge of food storage and safety, household routines, product packaging, and retailers' promotion ultimately attribute to the food waste in American households.

  • If we want to change people's mentality, we can relate to which can be beneficial to them -- Saving money is very beneficial, and saving time as well.


Three user personas were synthesized based on the user interviews and the insights below.

I used the personas to help me stay anchored on the users and avoid letting my desire for features trump user needs.

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Three user personas synthesized based on user interviews

My respondents were unaware of how much food they had wasted and the personal and societal costs they incurred as well.

I conducted a user survey and had 45 respondents ranging in age from 18- 55. They were selected based on the criteria: The eco-conscious, millennials, busy individuals, or low-income citizens. I supposed these people were more likely to try a kitchen inventory tool to reduce food waste.

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The insights:

  • People would like to be inspired to keep food out of the trash to save time and money.

  • Raising awareness or providing information to change behavior is not effective in the long term.

  • We need to offer practical solutions such as inventory tools, cookery classes, budgeting, planning support, and storage information on pack and etc. 


I found a gap in the market in providing an all-in-1 tool to generate reminders, shopping lists, and recipes based on food inventory.



Inventory, shopping & Recipe



Recipe & Meal Planner


Pantry  Check

Food Inventory

The insights from the SWOT Analysis of the 3 competitors:

  • Food inventory: No one is going to update inventory if it requires too much manual work.

  • Barcode scanner & AI recognition: a time-saver to add items to inventory and shopping list but not reliable.

  • Items without barcode: Pantry Check's online user community is inspiring -- users upload the information of an item and other people can also search and add them to inventory.

  • Family account: a great way to improve user retention.


Like Aryo, Sara, and Marisa, we can be a major part of the change with food waste.

The storyboards helped me identify key moments in the experience of how to reduce food waste through using the app. 

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3 storyboards based on user personas and the concept


The storyboards also revealed the key screens early in the product development process: Inventory, Shopping List, Recipe, and Setting. 

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  • Key user flow: Cook with my ingredients

Recipe options
  • Key screens on sketch paper: "update inventory" and "cook with my ingredients"


I mapped out the MVP solution in Whimsical to help me identify key actions within the app and the screens to focus on first.

Before moving forward to the high-fidelity designs, I found it really important that I had the MVP to test with the real users to ensure the usability and functionality of the app.

I invited three interviewees for the in-person usability tests so that it was easier to capture key insights, observations, and ideas on the fly.

  • I wanted to make sure the app users could add an item to inventory.

Aryo: "Use "+" to add...It's not very eye-catching, but I found it."

Sara: "I don't think I will use manual add if I have a bunch of produces without barcode. It's too much work to do."

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  • I wanted to make sure that the app users could check what to cook with the ingredients in their hands.

Marisa: "I like having options to cook with my I won't waste the leftover I used for other recipes."

Sara: "I can put the ingredients on the shopping I don't need to switch back to the shopping list to add."

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  • I wanted the make sure that the app users could invite other people to the family account.

Sara: "Shopping list and inventory update are no longer just my thing...Everyone in my family can edit them!"

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Two major improvements were made based on the user feedback.

  • Iteration 1:  Redesign the Inventory Screen

  • Iteration 2: Use "Look Up Items" to Add Items Manually



  • The last thing the users want to see is "manual work"
    ​Manual work is where some food management apps also stuck. My users helped me realize that the more automatic the process is, the more chances I can attract users. 

  • Building a database? 
    Adding items from the food library is quite a lifesaver; however, it can be a lot of work at the early stage. I'm curious to know if the online user community can play a big role in building up the database, and how to monitor the quality and safety of their uploads in the further steps.

  • Interviewing users after the tests inspired me! Even though the users could successfully finish a task doesn't mean there is no room for improvement. 


According to the user survey, the users would prefer a brand that is built around simplicity and smartness, with an injection of fun.

Inspiration: I chose to use egg as the icon because it is quite common in users' fridges and it indicates that the app is related to food. 

I did research in color theory to make sure I was picking the colors that represented freshness and joy to bring energy and motivation out when using the app.

style guide fridgee


High-fidelity screens established a realistic experience to encourage useful feedback in the future.

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GIF: Adding an item to inventory by barcode scanner


GIF: Cook with my ingredients

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Sample screens


Marketing Website




  • Deliverables
    In 6 weeks, I designed and prototyped MVP screens illustrating the concept of Fridgee! and tested them with 3 users.

  • Values
    I hope Fridgee!'s concept can help American families save money and reduce the amount of food going to landfills.  If I did launch this app, I would be looking at the conversion rate of family accounts.

What I would do differently​

  • Instead of guessing, I wish I could invite a developer into the project discussions from the start so that he/she can sniff out the feasibility of my solution. 

​What I learned

  • Research is ongoing. Be sure to explore every possibility and don’t stop trying until I get a crystal clear direction. 

  • Even though the users can successfully finish a task doesn't mean there is no room for improvement. By observing users' movements, facial expressions, and even mumbles, I was able to know how satisfied they were with the solutions. Many of the iterations came from the follow-up discussions with the users.

Thank you for reading! 👏🏻

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