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Meal for 5 [Updated and added experience maps: 14/08/2015]

Meal for 5 is a simple app concept based on the idea of reducing food waste and promoting healthy home cooked meals.

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar

Written by

Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it inspire the end user to lead a healthier life?

Meal for 5’s target audience is people who can’t or won’t access healthy food options. It inspires people by letting them be a part of a movement to avoid food waste and help them reach healthy food at a reasonable price.

The app’s main idea is focusing on eating as a social activity and bringing people together by offering cheap but healthy meals. The app offers users 5$ meals that are home cooked with fresh ingredients.

The main inspiration was to avoid food waste. It is a well-known fact that fresh food and is thrown away by supermarkets everyday due to abundance, expiry dates or poor deliveries. Our solution is buying these wasted ingredients from the supermarkets and we ask our users to cook and serve them.

It is a 5-step process:

1st Step, we contact the supermarkets each week and understand which seasonal fruits and vegetables they have and what other ingredients can they provide this week.

2nd Step, we list the ingredients of that week and ask our users to offer a menu with dishes using these ingredients.

3rd Step, menus of our users are listed in the app and everyone who are willing to pay 5$ for a healthy home cooked meal makes a reservation on their table.

4th Step, when a table gets 5 or more reservations then it is a date! We deliver our cooking users the ingredients for free and they start cooking their menu.

5th Step, Guests arrive and enjoy 5$ healthy meals and it is an extra income for our cook. They share photos of their table and rate the cook.

So the idea is making a meal for 5 for 5 $ each!

We believe that the social aspect of our idea is what makes it worthy. Eating is a social activity and people love to gather around a good meal.

We have already contacted a manager in of one of the large supermarket chains in our country and get insight on how they handle food waste. The first comment was that the problem is not only limited to disfigured fruit or vegetables but also everything that is being sold. Every item has an expiration date on them and supermarkets cannot sell items with close expiry dates. Fresh meat and bread is thrown away everyday because they cannot sell it the next day.  They have special campaigns on the evening and try to sell them with reduced prices. But still some amount of it is thrown away. After this interview we have decided to go on with our initial idea of getting the ingredients from the supermarkets.

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

An early experiment we are planning to do for the next step is to create a Facebook event in which we will be the cook and ask everyone on our list to come join us for a 5$ meal. And ask them to evaluate their experience and share photos on the event’s page. With this experiment we will try to understand: - If people are willing to pay money for this service - What would be the experience of the cook hosting people in his/her apartment - What are the effects of social aspect of this event?

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to connect with from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea?

We believe that we need to understand the distribution process in detail. How will we contact the supermarkets? At which step will we get the ingredients and deliver them? How can we reduce the cost so that our cooks can earn more money?

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

Evaluation results

15 evaluations so far

1. Can you see this idea fitting into your daily life?

Yes, I think so - 33.3%

I'm not sure - 40%

No, I don't think so - 26.7%

2. Do you think this idea will help people lead healthier lives?

Yes, I think so - 46.7%

I'm not sure - 33.3%

No, I don't think so - 20%

This inspired (1)

COOK GOOD

25 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Joanna Spoth
Team

Asli, I love the updates you've incorporated into your idea, especially the user scenario. This idea rocks.

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

Thank you so much for your support!

Photo of Justin Bean
Team

Hey Asli, great idea and congrats on making it to the Refinement phase! I recently went through the Refinement phase of the Financial Empowerment Challenge, and the OpenIDEO team recommended that I reach out to you to share my experience and help guide you through the process. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions - I’m excited about your idea, and happy to share my stories, my experience with OpenIDEO and my process during the Refinement phase, or be a sounding board to discuss your idea!

Some initial thoughts after reading your submission:

1. I love the in-person social element of the app, how can it be more "social" in tech terms? It would be awesome if users could share their recipes with pics from their meal to give others ideas for how to use ingredients, even if it was just an easy link to Insta, Pinterest, or Facebook - especially if it was a group from which you could share to your community.

2. How can you use the data from people's recipes for operations/influencing suppliers? I'd imagine if you have high demand for certain healthy choices you could influence suppliers to provide even more healthy, sustainable, or organic ingredients.

3. I love the cook ratings! How else could you elevate these users and empower them through the app?

4. A user map showing the full experience would be great, this guide might be helpful: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/5c28e26a-ba7f-44f4-859b-e82658264287.pdf

Best of luck and feel free to connect if you'd like to discuss!

Best,
Justin

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

Thank you Justin for your suggestions. We will definitely consider making the app more socially connected. We believe that this idea would work best with social sharing, because it is about creating an eating healthy experience.
I believe that to refine our idea and make it more detailed we do need a user experience map so we can clarify the whole journey. We are currently working on that.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Insightful provocations Justin. Asli, we're glad to hear that you're working on an Experience Map. Looking forward to the next update!

Photo of Lillian Kivel
Team

I think this is a great idea and an interesting twist on the problem statement. By focusing on reducing food waste, people may be more engaged because they are doing something for the greater good than simply eating healthy for themselves, so great way to bring a new lens. I would recommend reaching out to a new start up in Oakland, CA called Imperfect (http://www.imperfectproduce.com/home). They are committed to reducing food waste and may have ideas on buying direct from local farmers who often cannot even get their goods sold to markets because they are not "pretty" enough. I think you could also consider a "takeout" option, which although may not help build community in the same way as eating together, it could allow busy working parents to grab things to take home to their families.

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

Thank you Lillian for your suggestions. We will definitely consider your suggestion but we believe that this idea should focus on eating healthy together and not forget the social aspect of eating.
I quite liked the idea of buying from the farmers directly, I think it is even a better approach than buying from the supermarkets.

Photo of Alper Yaglioglu
Team

Hey Aslı,

You're on to something great! To echo John's comment, you could flesh out your idea with a quick experince map. Here are some useful examples:
http://www.openideo.com/open/e-waste/concepting/neighbourhood-e-waste-champion/
https://openideo.com/challenge/renewable-energy/ideas/powertype-a-user-experience-map
https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/b672d809-2fa6-4081-be64-26430343928a.pdf
https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/ideas/the-savings-card/comments#comments-section

Photo of John Primmer
Team

Hi Asli
I really like this idea, it's hitting on some very important points. This idea has the added benefit of bringing new people together which is great for well being.

As a similar thought of using food as an important factor for real experiences, I created an app concept to offer a service to busy city dwellers who are looking for company outside of their workplace. My insight to this self initiated project is a feeling that using technology whilst eating is hugely justifiable when you consider that it is often distracting people from the fact that they are lonely. Not trying to make this is a plug, but more the fact I love what you're all doing and I'd really like to get involved some how/ fuse the ideas
Check it out here: http://www.johnprimmer.com/eat-up/
Thanks, let me know!

Photo of Lea Balcerzak
Team

Hi Asli,
I found myself reading your project when someone directed me here after reading about my idea, and I really do like it, especially how it focuses on creating cost-efficient meals. With your focus on the number 5, I was thinking it could be interesting to challenge the chefs and cooks to make meals with just 5 ingredients as well. I know that healthy cooking can sometimes be extremely daunting as recipes call for obscure ingredients. Reducing this number could maybe encourage more people to try the new, healthy recipes in their own homes as they would seem more accessible and easier to recreate!

Photo of Rachel Miller
Team

I think adding a simple and social element to healthy, fresh cooking is a great idea. There is often a disconnect between food sources and what we are eating. Maybe this is something that could be incorporated into the idea? Instead of arriving to a plate of food already prepared, those gathering might benefit more from seeing and experiencing the cooking process. You could make the ingredients for similar recipes or other simple recipes available for purchase as well, encouraging users to continue using your service as well as promoting healthier lifestyles by cooking at home.

Good luck!
-Rachel

Photo of Edgar De la Cruz
Team

Hi guys,

I think a great solution you propose, beyond contributing to the issue of the difficulties they have to buy food about to be wasted I would ask how this idea communicates and what other benefits have to use the app? for example, to be meals for 5 persons, as an individual I have the opportunity to meet 4 new persons, sometimes healthy eating is not an issue strong enough to attract someone to use an app but eating healthy and meet new people doing it could be most relevant, the social interaction always attracts and sum.

My second question / proposal is: what if the menus are weekly? for example making the week of Italian, Mexican or Korean meal (most of these meals are balanced and healthy) this type of strategy could also make it more relevant the application and they would generate more influx of people.

One issue that I think has to be resolved is where the food is served? You are thinking about creating a big hub where people gather or cook in their own homes? if the answer is the latter would have to find a way to get someone to stop strangers to your home or perhaps the solution is that meals are only 5 friends and justification is to eat healthy and spend time with friends.

Great idea and success.

Photo of samrat sankhya
Team

Very sticky idea, very cool. Have you found any data (%) related food items thrown away from the supermarket. I got stuck on when thinking If they're now waste then what??

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

Thank you for your support on our idea! I saw some articles related to food waste, but the data changes from region to region and it also differs depending on the season and kind of fruit or vegetable.
We were inspired by French supermarket chain Intermarche's idea: http://itm.marcelww.com/inglorious/ Inglorious Fruits & Vegatables.

Here's a paragraph from an article about foodwaste in UK:
"Around 200,000 tonnes of the 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK every year comes directly from stores, as a result of expiry of use by dates, product recalls, breakages, and products being taken out of the chill chain."
Here is the link:
http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2390792/supermarkets-tally-up-food-waste-bill

Photo of samrat sankhya
Team

This is a very nice piece of information.

Photo of H Mack
Team

I really like this idea, it's highlighting an awful problem- but I wonder about where exactly you can get the food from? Do you mean you want to buy up all the food that is discounted at the end of the day and purchasing the food that isn't pretty enough- these both seem like good ideas.
In the writing before the 5 step process you say that you want to use the food that supermarkets throw away- I'm not sure about this as a source. In the UK for example some supermarekts are so worried about being sued by people who eat out the bins..then get sick..then sue them...that they pour bleach on the food, or just lock the bins..It would be interesting to see if it was possible to interrupt the system so that instead of

1 broken egg>entire box destined for the bin>box of 11 good eggs in the bin
to
1 broken egg> 11 eggs removed from box, set aside> 1 bad egg in bin

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great discussion, Asli, Hannah and Samrat. Asli, be sure to incorporate any feedback & new thoughts into your actual concept post to acknowledge your idea is evolving through these collaborative conversations. Plus you might add folks who are helping build your idea through our OpenIDEO Teams feature: http://bit.ly/oi-teams (You can update your entry at any time by hitting the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post.) Looking forward to seeing where things go!

Here's another useful tip: Whenever you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update 08/03: User Scenarios" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Brigitte
Team

You may want to check out Doug Rauch's new grocery store that sells produce that would normally go to waste in an affordable grocery store: http://dailytable.org/about-us/our-story/

The logistics seem to be the major challenge here. Where will the food come from, how/when does it get to the cook? How do you ensure the cook has enough for all interested people? How does this work for families with 6, 10 or more people? I think for many families, eating a dinner together as a family is important, but how will everyone fit?

Have you considered a potluck model, where everyone brings a dish? Is there a role for "buying in bulk" to reduce meal costs?

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congratulations on making it to the Refinement Phase of the Healthy Lives Challenge Asli!
We thought the community building aspect of your idea is very strong - there is a lot of potential in the notion of bringing neighbors together around the dinner table over fresh conversations and recipes.

In the Refinement Phase, we’d love for you to think more about what type of users might be interested in becoming a cook in the Meal for 5 program. In addition to the extra income, what incentives might motivate the cooks to host these dinner parties on a regular basis? Also, it might be limiting to source ingredients only from the discounted/ throw away food sections. Instead of using discounted produce from supermarkets, what other food sources might you use to provide cheap and wholesome ingredients to users? How might you integrate Meal for 5 into existing neighborhood programs/ platforms such as EveryBlock? https://www.everyblock.com/ In the upcoming weeks, we're looking forward to how you can prototype this dinner sharing experience with real users in your local community!

We also think your idea could work well in tandem with these two ideas: Swap-a-Box: http://bit.ly/1Sbkeob and Mom’s Cooking - http://bit.ly/1VLMgFO Given collaboration is the name of the game here at OpenIDEO, we hope you might reach out and collaborate to grow each other's concepts!

Photo of Lauren Johnson
Team

Love this idea, especially on the heels of the most recent episode of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" where he talks about food waste. This is a great variation on the potluck dinners my friends would hold, when we were all just out of school and living in Chicago.
A good target market to beta test this would be near a college campus with a strong off-campus housing community, or anywhere with an existing common social network in close-proximity, where the options for "home-cooked" food are limited.
Once a database of offered menus starts to develop, you could offer suggestions to cooks based on previously submitted menus, or a "tips for working with (fill in the produce)." This might be especially helpful for ingredients that are less common.

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

Thank you for your feedback. College campus networks are a great place to test this idea. I also believe that working people also would use this type of service. As someone working full time at an office I would love to have some home-cooked lunch once in a while.
I loved your idea on suggestions to cooks or maybe even recipe sharing between users using could be a feature of the app.

Photo of Jessica Ferraris
Team

I really like this idea - however, I'm a little unclear about the dynamics: you offer both the food and the help of a professional cook to your users?

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

No, the idea is that the cook is also a user of the app. The cook gains some money and spends nothing for the ingredients. And people get to eat healthy& cheap meals.

Photo of Jessica Ferraris
Team

That's interesting! Are you thinking of a feature that allows those who want a cooked meal to choose their cook as well?

Photo of Asli Deniz Ozakar
Team

That's the idea, the users who wants to eat healthy cooked meals can choose their cooks, try out new cooks, etc. We are thinking there would be a rating and a feedback system for cooks.