Meal planning is a great way to both cut down on food waste and make preparing dinner a simpler task, but inevitably there are extra portions of ingredients that don't get used and end up going to waste, plus our busy lives don't always allow time for detailed planning. I've been thinking lately about how great it would be to have an app that could just scan the contents of my fridge and pantry and tell me what to do with them, ideally in the form of quick recipes.
A new app called Foodfully comes pretty close to that solution with just a bit more work than pointing your phone camera at the fridge. Creator Brianna McGuire wanted to do something about the 20 pounds of food waste the average American tosses in the trash every month, which wastes money and the resources that went into growing and transporting that food. To cut back on waste, the app keeps track of the food you buy from the store and offers recipes using the ingredients you have and alerts you when items are about to go bad and need to be used quickly.
Users can take a photo of their grocery receipts, link grocery store loyalty card accounts, link to Instacart accounts or just manually enter their grocery list to let the app know what food they've bought. The app then suggests recipes using those ingredients and whenever a recipe is used, those items are deleted from the inventory.
The app keeps track of food freshness using a database that predicts the shelf and fridge life of foods. McGuire previously studied the diseases that cause food to spoil in graduate school and created the database with her co-founder. The app alerts the user every two to three days about food freshness so that they can plan meals to use ingredients before they go bad.
Users can let the app know what items from the grocery list are eaten regularly for meals, like oatmeal, so that it doesn't come up in the recipes. You can also delete items manually when they're eaten through voice command or swiping them off the list.
Foodfully is set to come out at the end of 2015 and is currently in beta testing. Based on the testing, it could help people cut their food waste by as much as 50 percent.