Saving money and reducing food waste – there’s about to be an app for that.
It’s been no secret what my wife, Barbara, and I have been up to over the last year and a half. For those who don’t know us, we’ve been developing an app that’ll help reduce food waste and save the average family around £700 ($1,000) every year.
Unlike most most app developers who seem to feature so often in the press we are not in our teens or early 20s. We’ve a young family and this is a bit of a career change for both of us.
We’re often asked why we made such a radical career change. But the answer isn’t as straight forward as you’d imagine. Becoming a family tech startup isn’t something we intended, it just happened.
The project began one lunchtime after we discovered that the meal I’d been looking forward to all morning was, in fact, out of date.
We had some premium ham to use for sandwiches in our fridge and we were under the impression that it was still well within its use by date. I’d also saved some egg custard tarts for desert. Please note that egg custard tarts, though relatively inexpensive, are one of my favorite treats. Anyway, neither the ham or the tarts were safe to eat and ended up in the bin.
Naturally Barbara and I were quietly furious about throwing lunch away and resorting to eating slices of toast and butter for lunch.
Later that day we had a purge of everything in our kitchen that was out of date. We started on the fridge and found bottles of forgotten condiments, a mummified lemon, an unopened packet of cheese three months past its use by date. But our freezer was the worse with two ready meals, two packs of top quality sausages, a box of fish fingers, fish cakes, meat, chicken fillets, a home made lasagna, some unrecognizable stuff in foil. Some of these things were years out of date! And in the cupboards there were forgotten packets of ancient pasta and rice, flour, dried fruit and the list goes on. We filled an enter bin bag with old food.
We both felt utterly ashamed. As a child I’d been raised to finish food on my plate because there were starving people in Africa. I guess as a consequence of this i have always tried to minimize wasting food on my plate. But I’d never really thought about the food we waste that never actually made it to my plate.
In the discussion that followed I mentioned there was probably an app to help stop food waste and that’s where it all began. We spent quite some time looking for an app that’d help us but we couldn’t find one we liked.
“Okay,” I promised, “I’ll make one.”
“Great,” said Barbara, “is that something you can do?”
“I don’t know,” I replied, “but how hard can it be?”
I soon found out. Over the following year we became embroiled in the process of app development.
It’s been both a rewarding and, at times, frustrating process, particularly through the beta testing when we’ve been torn between perfection and getting our app out there sooner. Developing an app is certainly far more challenging than either of us anticipated! Especially when it’s been self funded. But over the period we’ve been supported and spurred on by family and friends. We’ve also made many new friends along the way, especially the team of genius coders who’ve gone beyond the call of duty to turn our designs into a working system.
Little did we know how our lives would change as a result of chucking some sliced ham and two egg custard tarts.
We now realise that we’d been living in a cloud of ignorance. We had a vague idea that landfill sites are being used to dispose of wasted food. However, it’s only since we began this project that we discovered how shockingly massive the problem is. It’s a fact that the food wasted by the richer countries would feed every starving person on the planet, it contributes to one tenth of the greenhouse gases and uses up massive resources including land and water! When we started we had no idea how important our app idea would become and it’s potential has become our biggest motivation.
It’s fair to say that the project has become a passion and an obsession.
And we are now close to releasing the first version of the app to the world at large so it’s a very exciting time for us.
But it won’t end with the launch. We’ve a massive challenge ahead to spread the word about our app – because without users it won’t achieve its objectives. We’re continually improving the app, listening to feedback and adding new features. We’ll also be working closely with the food and retail industry to develop phase two of our app that will make it even faster to use and the most integrated smart kitchen app available.
We are proud to be doing our bit and ask everyone to help by trying to reduce food waste. Obviously we want everyone to download and use our app. But just being more mindful of the amount of food we waste will make a difference and save you money.
What am I saying? …Get the app and start saving as soon as it’s out!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC for their assistance and kindly allowing us to use their new Kirkcaldy store where we took so many of the wonderful photographs of the fresh foods that feature in the app. We’d like to thank the store staff for making us feel welcome and for all their help. The results have really bought the app to life.