UX Case Study:

Ending Your Food Waste Now


Most Americans don’t think about food waste until they have to clean out their refrigerator. Found is the cream cheese, green salad or yogurt that they blamed someone else for eating.

America produces far more food than it needs and waste even more. To such an extent that our landfills are now becoming an environmental disaster. 

This project will explore solutions that would empower users to address their impact on this serious local and now global issue.


A serious environmental one. According to the NRDC [an organization founded in part to advocate and make America’s water & food systems more efficient and less wasteful], 40% of the food produced in this country is never eaten. That translates into roughly 133 billion pounds of food totaling $161 billion in 2010 alone (source: USDA).  American families lose as much as $1500 per year.

Food waste accounts for 19% of landfill waste, which directly contributes to the production of greenhouse gases.
— Forbes

As part of their message is to raise to awareness about our dwindling resources and effects of this waste on our environment. The NRDC have been searching for new ways to combat this crisis. This affects 1 in 8 Americans who struggles to put food on the table. 


The challenge is to create a “super food-saving” grocery consumer in 60 days.

The premise for this project will have to be simple. To be successful users will have to adopt new habits, which requires setting realistic goals and expectations for them.

Finding the best way to increase consumer efficiency

From this I can make a few hypothesis statements like.

  • Can teaching users to cook reduce waste? ie: No more burned biscuits in the garbage

  • Improving how these groceries are currently managed and organized, users may be better able to control their food waste.

  • Gamifying a solution may further engage and encourage users to reach their goals. This would include rewarding the user for positive behavior.

  • Users sharing their experiences on social media would invoke a sense of accountability.

  • Informing users with food expectancy guidelines and recall information. This can also help further reduce unnecessary waste.

  • Demonstrating the environmental and financial benefits of reducing food waste. Users will be more likely to adopt this strategy.


  • Make it fast, easy and accessible to everyone.

  • Notify users of impending food losses, and the impact it may have.

  • Give users ability to view their food inventory.

  • Give consumers tools to track spending habits and losses due to food waste.

  • Increase consumer efficiency in less than 60 days.

Role: User experience design, User interface design, Rapid prototyping



The kickoff started with sourcing current data provided by NRDC, USDA, and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as well as articles on food waste. 

I wanted was to further examine the challenges posed by food loss. Statistics, and demographics was the beginning. I also researched the organizations that not only contribute to food waste, but those that help to fight against it. With this information I was prepared to interview 12 participants, and surveyed an additional 121 online.

[On average]1.2 pounds of food per person per day,[is wasted] with a retail value of over $1.40.


How familiar are you with the impact of food waste in this country?

60% of Participants did not know not only the impact of food waste, but that America ranked the highest globally. 

Do you currently find it difficult to manage a food budget with the increasing cost of food?
10 out of 12 found it difficult to manage the food cost. Participants also cited more shopping trips because smaller packaging is making it harder to stretch products last as long.

How much of your food budget would you estimate end up in the trash?

40% of participants admits to throwing away up to 30% of their food budget on food that either spoiled or expired.

What would you say contributes to forgetting or not consuming food products before the expiration date?

Busy lifestyle was the #1 answer, followed closely by ordering fast food. Many participants either take their work home or travel for work. That led to them forgetting about their food.

The online survey results seem to mirror much of the research data that I collected. These where the top results from 121 participants.


  • 51.2% Produce

  • 38% Dairy

  • 30.6% Meat


How often would you say you throw out expired goods or produce?

88.4% of them have thrown out food between 1-3 times a week, but surprisingly 48.3% of them were interested in helpful food disposal practices.




  • Most participants stated they “hated” wasting food

  • They wanted help to stop wasting money on throwing out food

  • Wants more information on product date labeling, and kitchen inventory


  • Reduce greenhouse gases in landfills from users preventable food waste.

  • Make the experience easy, pleasurable and sharable, not a chore.

  • Save the user some money by reducing food loss.

  • Help users make better choices before throwing out any food.


Chrissie represents the target user from the data that is available. She is a busy 32-year-old freelance creative consultant, living in Los Angeles.

Between a part time job, friends and traveling for freelancing gigs… there is just no time to prepare home cooked meals. She tends to eat out most of the time, and much of the groceries that she does buy end up in the trash… especially her fruits. 

Chrissy User persona.png
Chrissy user journey presentation.png


Chrissie lives a busy lifestyle and wishes that she had a reminder to check on her perishable food items.

Chrissie wishes to manage her food items better. 

Chrissie spends too much on take-out food to replace groceries that had already spoiled or expired.

Chrissy doesn’t know how much food loss is impacting her budget.

Framing the problem around consumer habits seem to be the most logical start because they buy the food products.


Can a phone make a kitchen smarter?

Most of us have seen the Samsung newest smart refrigerators. These appliances are just too pricey and only serves a few right now. Smart appliances served as the inspiration for the experience that users should have in this solution, “I have a smart kitchen”.

How might we help users reduce food loss?

How might we encourage users to change their habits?

How might we help users manage and organize their groceries?

How might we make saving food a pleasurable experience, and not a chore?

A brainstorming session followed,  designing features focusing on the users current pain points, goals and habits. 

These features where wide in scope, ranging from helping users learn how to cook to locations of their nearest food bank. Another important feature addressed the one thing that everyone seemed to have in common while grocery shopping, a receipt from the store for the food purchases. By using an API for the supermarkets, the inventory can be collated from these receipts. 

Many notifications/reminders/recalls are set on an algorithm based on user data and from USDA on (foods with highest loss rate) fastest or most common spoiling or expired items. 

Many of these ideas were great and wishful, but needed to be narrowed down for an MVP. I went back to the hypothesis statements and initial takeaways to help me prioritize the features and the platform to be used. I used MOSCOW to classify the features from the brainstorming session.

MOSCOW For FoodFightr.png


  • Make it fast, easy and accessible to everyone. Use a mobile phone or tablet platform.

    Use gamification to engage and encourage users.

  • Notify users of impending food losses, and the impact it may have. Inventory notifications generated by algorithms based on products, USDA Food loss rate, and dates purchased.

  • Give consumers tools to create inventory and track spending habits. Scan barcode on food products and grocery receipts to collect data for users inventory. View inventory, create shopping lists, and set shopping budgets.

It takes about 66 days to make a behavior a habit.

User flow chart starts with on boarding

FoodFightr Check Tracking User Flow.png
FoodFightr Scan Receipts  User Flow .png


FoodFightr Scan Products User Flow .png
FoodFightr Reminder notification User Flow .png


The refrigerator is the most recognizable item in a kitchen. I wanted to incorporate a kitchen feel. Following the initial smart fridge inspiration, it was a great place to start. 

PAPER Sketches

Food Fightr Top Pic.png

Testing started with uploading screens to the Marvel app. There were 2 different refrigerator skins developed for A/B testing. The first was a 50’s style top and bottom fridge/freezer and the second was a more modern stainless steel split side by side style. Of the 15 participants were tested, the initial results where positive enough to move to the next step.

  • 100% were in favor of the stainless steel design.

  • 60% of users prefer to see the nav bar on top.

  • 80% of users enjoyed the function of the App.

FoodFightr Bottom Pics.png


FoodFightr Mid-Fi Artboard 1.png

During testing of 12 users, 80% had trouble either seeing or reaching the nav bar. 100% of users complained about the swipe feature to open the fridge and freezer. It either didn’t work, or it opened other feature on their phone which quickly got annoying.

FoodFightr Mid-Fi Artboard 2.png




FoodFighter Hi-Fi Artboard 1.png


There where a few changes made on this version based the mid-fidelity usability testing results. The top nav bar was moved back to the bottom, this made room for the logo on top, and put features within thumbs range. This was done for two reasons. The first was to make the main features more accessible. The second was to make one handed use easier, many of these users may either be shopping or another doing activity with the other hand.


Consumers where overall happy with their experience with the app and what it does. Most users felt that the app functions were simple and straightforward.

The functions of the app addressed many concerns without being overly cluttered. The app did what it set out to do, and it addressed many of the consumers pain points.


Showing the economic impact to users was just a motivator, a call to action to take on the local, and global implications of food waste. This app was designed to blend the overall effects of food waste from both a financial and environmental standpoint.

To capitalize on users saving money, the next steps would introduce a supermarket comparison API so that consumers can shop for the best prices of commonly bought products, alerts for their favorite items on sale, and improved accessibility features for those with disabilities.