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MealForge 

MealForge is your kitchen co-pilot to conquer mealtime challenges by organizing meal schedules within your household, smart shopping lists, and curated recipes to foster healthier, more sustainable eating routines.

Timeline:

Nov 23 to Jan 24

Team Member:

Simran(Product Designer)

Responsibilities

UX Research, Ideation, User Interviews, Usability testing, UI Design, Prototyping

Background

The Sunday ritual was familiar Grocery shopping: meticulously planning meals for the week, carefully crafting a grocery list to avoid waste. Yet, by Wednesday, reality intruded. Work deadlines loomed, motivation waned, and carefully planned meals faded into memory. Often, a forgotten ingredient or an impulse buy at the store meant dinner devolved into frozen pizza or takeout – left feeling sluggish and guilty. As a student, the stakes are even higher. Skipped meals led to battling fatigue, all while stretching a limited budget thin. 

Project Goals

  • Addressing decision fatigue caused by an overwhelming number of recipe options.

  • Reducing food wastage through efficient meal planning and utilization of ingredients.

  • Simplifying meal preparation amidst time constraints and coordinating cooking responsibilities within households.

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The Process

Empathize

Ideate

Design

Test  

Prototype

In-depth interviews, secondary research, and competitive analysis provided valuable insights into user behaviors, preferences, and existing pain points. These findings guided the design process and feature prioritization, ensuring that MealForge caters to the specific needs of its target audience

Recognizing the Problem

1. Empathise

KEY POINTS

Choice Overload

Bombarded with so many options, finding recipes that are quick, healthy and budget-friendly options feels impossible, this abundance becomes paralyzing, leading to decision fatigue and ultimately, ordering takeout, sacrificing both nutrition and savings.

Reduce food wastage

40% of food in the US gets thrown away annually, often due to poor planning and lack of recipe utilization; analyzing the amount, and remembering why those items were bought, Identify user behaviors that lead to food waste (e.g., buying too much, poor storage, unrealistic portion sizes).

Eat healthier while managing Time

Navigating dietary restrictions, allergies, and personal preferences while ensuring nutritional balance can be overwhelming. Between work, errands, and family commitments, squeezing in meal prep feels like an impossible feat. Coordinating cooking and shopping in a household can be another layer of complexity.

Organize cooking with your household members

Explore the challenges of coordinating meal planning and cooking responsibilities within households, Analyze how existing solutions facilitate collaborative meal planning and cooking (shared calendars, grocery lists, recipe sharing). Mealtime becomes a logistical nightmare, creating tension and resentment instead of joyful collaboration.

Understanding the market

Identifying competitors was a straightforward process. I began by conducting a simple Google search for "meal planning apps" and also drew from my own experience using similar apps. Following Jamie Levy's approach outlined in her book "UX Strategy," I aimed to identify both direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors are those individuals or companies offering the same product or service, targeting the same customer base, with the goal of acquiring or converting their customers. Indirect competitors, on the other hand, provide something similar to what I offer, albeit in a different form or aspect of their product or service.
Competitive Analysis of the various platforms helped me understand the features I can focus on and problems I can iterate on. 

Pantry inventory tracking to manually or automatically update pantry items with quantity to reduce overbuying.

Grocery delivery services for seamless ingredient ordering directly from the app, with reminders for placing orders in advance.

Virtual cooking sessions like video chat integration during cooking sessions for remote household members.

Smart search filters for ingredients, dietary restrictions, cooking time, cost, meal type, and cuisine

Community-Driven Ratings for recipes creating a users feedback loop for content improvement.

Hands free cooking with hand recognition to move onto the next step and start timers for specific steps.

Interesting Features

2. Ideate
During the ideation phase, various opportunities were explored to tackle the identified pain points. Through techniques such as affinity mapping and feature brainstorming, key features were conceptualized. These included meal planning tools, recipe discovery functionalities, community sharing features, and grocery list management capabilities. The ideation phase aimed to create a robust and intuitive meal planning platform that caters to diverse user needs.

Understanding what to priortise