Hypothesis: A Smarter Way To Shop

 My girlfriend and I live together, and a couple that lives together shops for groceries together. It’s easily one of the most straining, annoying experiences we share. She’d corroborate, trust me.

Groceries

She is the healthy one. She tends to buy items – kale, ginger, etc. – for their health benefits. I sincerely appreciate that influence in my world, because I’m somewhat the opposite. I’m much more concerned about taste and enjoyment than spending plenty of time on this Earth. (“If something has to kill me, I at least want to pick what it is” is a favorite saying of mine. Death by steak char sounds like a great way to go, but I digress…)

Naturally, we have a hard time balancing these two approaches. Meal suggestions from one are often met with a grimace from the other. Happy mediums are hard to come by in our household.

We do occasionally find them, though, and when we do they’re glorious! It takes a lot of experimentation for us. We spend an inordinate amount of time trolling online listicles of the “10 best crock-pot chicken meals” and other recipe-related internet flotsam. If we stumble upon a recipe that works for both of us, we tend to cherish and revisit it.

Feature: As a user
I want to add and save my favorite recipes
So that I may easily create a meal plan I am familiar with

Feature: As a user
I want to check off meals for my shopping trip
So that I may print a shopping list

We buy with the best intentions. We’re Heinens shoppers; For those unfamiliar, Heinens is a “high-end” grocery chain in the Midwest similar to a Whole Foods. We’ll spend a premium on what we perceive to be better products, and yet we find ourselves throwing produce out time and time again. We might shop once every 2-3 weeks, which is far too infrequent if you want to be eating real food on a regular basis. We tend to plan meals around that schedule. Things get increasingly frozen and processed as we get further from grocery day. If I had to guess, I’d say we throw away about $15-20 worth of food per trip, or about 8% of what we buy. I feel guilty for that.

Feature: As a user
I want to plan meals on a calendar
So that I do not waste food

So, as any self-professed tech nerd would do, I look for a solution online. I find a few services that claim to be able to turn a list of recipes into a shopping list, but none of them really work. They’re either too expensive (scale, anyone?) or they lack key features that need to exist. For example, many services I found didn’t take my pantry into account. I already have food, so why not help me use it?

Feature: As a user
I want to add the contents of my pantry
So that my shopping list does not include items I already have

Feature: As a user
I want meal suggestions based on what I have in my pantry
So that food does not sit so long in my cupboards

Now, let’s throw preconceived notions out the window and enter the ridiculously optimized (and cool) segment of the show. If I have this list, can I not tie it to the store itself to make my life even easier? If fresh peanut butter is the only item I need in aisle four, let’s just blow through it and pick that item up.

Feature: As a user
I want my shopping list aisle-by-aisle for my grocery store
So that I may finish shopping faster

Why am I even shopping?

Feature: As a user
I want my groceries waiting for me at the store
So that I do not have to waste time shopping

Since I have a background in content, my mind instantly shifts to the wealth of recipes one would build over time having multiple users using this product.

Feature: As a user
I want to receive recipe suggestions
So that I may discover more recipes to use in my plans

I could keep going. (We’ve said nothing of the value of this data to grocers and their suppliers and brands, or how widespread adoption creates an incredibly powerful marketing channel.) The possibilities are profound. Amazon Fresh and other similar services revolutionize how we physically buy groceries but do little to address the real pain point, which is how we decide what to buy.

 
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