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Expire: The App That Reminds You When Your Food Is About to Go Bad [Update 10/15 - Website Addition]

"Expire" is an app that catalogs food expiration dates and reminds you when food is about to expire.

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Have you ever purchased food at the grocery store, then completely forgotten about it because it sat in the back of your pantry? Next thing you know, you are cleaning expired food out of your fridge or pantry. “Expire” is an app aimed with reducing this type of food waste.

After grocery shopping, simply take your phone and scan your receipt. Our hope for “Expire” is to catalog product names and their corresponding expiration dates, and remind users before their food goes bad. Each user can program how often and when reminders will be sent. If the food item is without an expiration date (such as fresh fruit) the user will manually input the product. "Expire" will offer an expiration suggestion based on pre-programmed information related to how long the food will typically last.

Additionally, the app will have a section called, "My Pantry." In "My Pantry" the user can easily see what food they purchased and its expiration date. Once the user finishes consuming the food, they can remove it from "My Pantry" so reminders will not be duplicated. This section of the app is helpful for grocery shopping, as its aim is to prevent users from accidentally buying food they already have at home.

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Possible Expansions:

The information above describes a minimum viable product; however, there are many areas of possible expansion the “Expire” team is interested in pursuing.

  • Recipes: “Expire” could offer possible recipes based on the food in a user’s “My Pantry.” Also, “Expire” could suggest recipes based on how ripe it knows a food is, referencing the expiration date cataloged in the app. For example, if “Expire” noticed you had avocados close to expiration, it could send you a recipe calling for ripe avocados.
  • Personalized Coupons: Since “Expire” knows your purchase history, it could track your most commonly purchased items and then send you coupons and/or sales alerts for these items at your local and/or preferred grocery stores. 
  • Beyond the Expiration:
    • Freezing Food- People will often freeze their food to make it last longer. However, during our customer discovery, we found that many people do not know how long these products will last in the freezer. "Expire" could have an option for freezing food that changes the expiration date based on typical shelf life of that product in the freezer. 
    • Shelf life After Expiration Date- Often times, food will actually last longer than the expiration date says it will. "Expire" could offer up suggestions for how long a product typically lasts after the listed expiration date. 

Customer Discovery:

Throughout the past week, the "Expire" team surveyed and gathered feedback to gain a better understanding of what people would like to see in the future of food-related notifications.

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To collect data we used Survey Monkey, which generated 120 responses. Additionally we conducted roughly 70 in-person surveys. Based on these surveys we synthesized the following information:

Roughly 80% of people are interested in receiving reminders about when their food is going to expire (online survey):

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The results of this question proved our main assumption – people want food expiration reminders. This validation is extremely encouraging.

Additionally, we found a significant amount of food waste is attributed to people forgetting to eat it before expiration.

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After conducting in-person surveys, the “Expire” team synthesized participant comments and suggestions.

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We found 4 key features people want from the “Expire” app:

  • Quick and Easy Input of Items Purchased
  • Coupons/Discounts
  • Recipes
  • Digital Shopping List

We analyzed the combined data from the online and personal surveys to determine what additional features people would like to see in “Expire”. The following graph displays these results:

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Survey demographics:

While most survey responses were collected from people in Richmond, VA, many survey responses were received from outside the region: California, New York, Oregon, and Tennessee.  Additionally, a wide age range was surveyed as shown by the following distribution:

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The “Expire” team has recently been brainstorming and testing various layouts for our app.

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We have made many changes from our original design based on feedback from those who tested our initial prototype.

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The following video portrays the basic layout we have decided on for now: 

Customer Journey:

Our team envisions that "Expire" will change people's behavior when it comes to grocery shopping and food consumption. When people go to the store, they will check the "My Pantry" and "Shopping List" sections of the app. This will allow them to see what items they already have at home and what items they need to purchase. Once they finish checking out, users will be able to scan their receipt and their purchase information will be cataloged in the app. When a user's food is approaching expiration, "Expire" will send a notification. Then, they can use the "Recipes" section of the app to find a way to cook the nearly expired item!

Check out this short video that illustrates our idea of the "Expire" customer journey. 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I have conducted surveys, online and in person, to gain a better understanding of consumer need and interest surrounding food notifications. Here is a link to the survey: View our survey results at:

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I have never developed an app before so I would need guidance in this area. Also, digging deeper into customer discovery and understanding the problem further would make a large impact on the future success of “Expire”.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a full-time undergraduate student majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). At VCU, I am also enrolled in the da Vinci Center pursuing an undergraduate certificate in Product Innovation and apart of the Innovate Living Learning Program. Additionally, I work for the Science Museum of Virginia as a STEM Ambassador.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day - 1 month

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

I would point out numerous items in her fridge that are expired or near expiration. Then I would tell her that "Expire" is an application that would send her notifications when her food was going to expire. This way, she wouldn’t forget about the food she purchased, and end up wasting it because it has gone bad.

How is your idea unique to the space?

Similarly released apps require individual entry of each item purchased. Based on customer discovery completed thus far, this is too much of a time commitment for most users. "Expire" is unique since it allows the user to scan their receipt, instead of each item separately. Furthermore, "Expire" aims to have additional features, such as possible recipes in "My Pantry" and personalized coupons, which would set "Expire" apart from the pack.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

In order for "Expire" to be able to scan receipts and recognize this information, partnerships with grocery stores would be necessary. Grocery stores would benefit from being involved since the personalized coupons and discounts section of my app would be a form of advertisement and revenue generation for them.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

After the launch of "Expire" we plan to distribute surveys to our users. We hope to see "Expire" save money and reduce food waste.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

My team and I hope to begin to develop a minimal viable product and continue to develop "Expire" after this challenge has ended. We want "Expire" to become a reality.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Muhammad Nawaz

What a good idea. I like that it saves money and eliminates waste. It helps my wallet and helps the environment.

I can picture my wife and I entering our recently purchased food into the app when we get home with relative ease. I know this is something we would most definitely download and use.

Now if you can just make an app that gets my son to stop putting the empty milk carton back in the fridge we will be set!

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