Focusing on reducing food waste

Re-Feed is an app to help the Urban Dweller cut back on food waste.

Figure 1. check out the prototypes


Food waste is one of the biggest, most solvable ecological issues we are currently facing. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US $680 billion in industrialized countries and US $310 billion in developing countries.

Food waste is a growing concern for a lot of people, it has a negative impact from a financial, environmental, and emotional standpoint.


The objective of this project is to help reduce the amount of food waste produced by individuals in an urban setting.


For this project, I decided to follow the 5 Planes of UX methodology. I determined this was the best course of action to help me focus on my goal as well as align my activities to address the user experience consistently.

I first approached this project in 2017 during my first UX course. I had 6 weeks to go through the entire design process. I initially focused on ways to help people stay organized, how to stay ahead of the food waste game, and created FoodQueue. Recently, I was given a design challenge regarding food waste and I thought it would be a great opportunity to dive back into this project to complete the UI process. It was a perfect occasion to measure my growth as a designer, and I was looking forward to diving deeper into the design of the app.


Defining user needs and business objectives

I conducted User Interviews with 3 participants. Each interview was roughly 40 minutes. I determined at the time that a lack of organization was the most prominent contributor to food waste. The participants were in the habit of picking up groceries on their way home from work without using a list. This meant they often picked up items they already had on hand, as well as forgetting essential ingredients for the dish they wanted to make.

Name & Occupation Shannon, Curriculum Development Aljimane, Project Manager Renee, Acupuncturist
Age group 35 - 44 yrs. 25 - 34 yrs. 35 - 44 yrs
Current Shopping Habits

Lives in between 2 grocery stores. Used to do more routine shopping,now picks up a few itmes on way home to round out a meal w the ingredients they currently have. Less likely to do full shop, usually 1-5 things at a time

Does shopping every 2-3 days to buy as often as possible so there ins't as much food waste. Is very intentional about food, plans meals out 2-3 days at a time, then buy things to prepare for these meals.

Commutes from downtown core to home in Etobicoke. Grabs groceries on the way often, stops at places they know have fresh produce.

How they stay organized

She does assessment of what is in house and then making a little list OR often ends up wandering the store trying to remember what was in the house and being very inefficient. Meandering for a really long time, second guessing what is at the house already.

They started using google calendars to plan out the week for meals and shopping sync with their live in partner.

They sometimes makes paper notes, but mostly tries to wing it in the store. Will oftern make post-it notes and stick it to their phone. Ends up buying duplicate items often

Current app use


Uses the Notes app. Organizes w live in partner.


Current Pain Points

Not being confidant about what food they have at home or how fresh it still is. ex: leaving work, knows she has asparagus, but unsure if it will still be fresh enough. Cooking for single person, struggles to figure out proportions of things to buy where she can make use of everything. Seeks out recipes where the leftovers will store well.

Sometimes the ingredients cannot be found, they get frustrated and forget about the entire recipe. Inconvenient to go to one location, some are pretty far away to get the better priced stuff. Significant distance between the multiple shops.

Often forgets what ingredients are in the kitchen already, which leads to buying multiple items. Can't find/organize favourite recipes ever.

Digital literacy




Utilizing the data I had gathered from the interviews, I constructed a User Persona to have a clear vision and let that guide my process.

Figure 2. Persona.

Defining functional and content requirements

Comparative/Field analysis.The comparative research showed that not many apps had the recipe and grocery list integration. They often had 2 of the 3 features needed for optimal organization and integration. All of them were quite easy to learn to use and had a thorough on-boarding process.

Interaction Design and Information Architecture

The Minimal Viable Product for Food Queue is an interactive grocery and pantry lists that the user can edit. Aligning with my persona and goals, I determined the features to be included needed to be:

  1. Shopping List:: this is an essential feature for the user to stay organized and know what they need to purchase. The list will be editable and searchable, which will be useful for the user to have Food Queue adapt to their needs.
  2. Recipe Integration:: having a space to store recipes as well as create shopping lists from them will be valuable in assisting the user in their organizational needs.
  3. Fresh Tips:: this feature will help the user ensure freshness of their food, which will help cut back on food waste. Ideally, there would be integrated directly in the shopping lists, which will make it easier for the user to store the food properly as soon as possible.

Defining the visual form

User Testing

After creating a clickable prototype, I did user testing with 2 participants. I asked them both to perform 3 basic tasks. One of the initial observations was that the Users where going directly to search when prompted with a task. As it was, the interface wasn't intuitive, there were too many options and routes to take. I realized I had been overzealous on my first attempt and the app became very confusing to use. As I had reached my timeline, I set the project aside until I could dedicate the focus to complete it.


Defining functional and content requirements

Time Constraints

As this was a design challenge, I had 72 hours to complete the project. When I revisited the data, I observed another pattern emerging in the pain points the interviewees spoke about. All of them organized on the go, and even with all the organizational tools they were already utilizing, there was still a lot of food waste. Given that the app is intended to alleviate stress, I focused in on what to do with the food before it became waste. From there, the app pivoted into a trading platform for food items and leftover meals.

All the people I interviewed previously envisioned themselves using the app at the grocery store or on the go. While the intention of the experience has changed, I realized many of the target audience will be using this app on the go.

Interaction Design and Information Architecture

Content Strategy

In order to simplify the experience, I went with a three icon menu bar at the bottom of the screen. This is meant to be accessed with one hand, using the thumb as the main digit, keeping the other hand free for your basket or cart. This also reduces cognitive-load, giving the user a very quick path into the different feeds. And allows for an easier on-boarding experience, an important aspect as many of the users are already dealing with anxieties about food waste.

Minimal Viable Product

I determined the key features needed to be:

  1. Food Feed:: the listing of items up for trade.
  2. Message Centre:: the user will need a space to communicate with the other user.
  3. Upload:: a quick and easy way to upload food into the Food Feed

Defining the visual form

For the aesthetic of the Food Feed, I followed the advice of Master Chefs; always give the food it’s respect. This is translated into the clean UI and light colours. The image of the food is meant to take centre stage and speak for itself, this also allows for the user to scroll quickly through the feed when looking for ingredients. As there was a time constraint, I started the palette and UI choices in conjunction with the wireframing.

Figure 3. some of the first iterations of Re-Feed

After working out the architecture of the app, I created high-fidelity wireframes to be used in the hi-fi prototype. As was determined by the brief of the design challenge, I created 3 User Flows using inVision. I determined the most predominant flows would be:

  1. Post an Item:: the key function of the app, it needed to be easy to accomplish with one hand.
  2. Make an Offer:: another key function, a simple means to make an offer on an item of interest
  3. Messaging a User:: giving the user access to the messages to set up meeting times and further bartering

Figure 4. again with the prototypes

Defining the visual style

When designing the colour Pallete, I went w Purples/Lilacs as the colour signifies abundance and pleasantries. I really wanted this experience to lend itself to the feeling of abundance. The type is easy to glance at and has a calming effect.

Every item or meal listed has a Food Card, where the user can get the relevant details about the item and start an interaction to trade. Many of the items being traded are perishable, gaining the users' trust is essential to them having a positive experience. The soothing colour scheme and nostalgic recipe card design speak to this. The Freshness Scale is meant to soothe the mind of the user, as well as convey important information quickly.

Style Guide
Figure 5. Style Guide.