MealPrompt is a mobile app that helps busy individuals cook more frequently by providing quick and easy-to-follow recipes that can be accomplished in under an hour. With MealPrompt, users can input what they have in their pantry and get recommendations for simple meals using only a few fresh ingredients so they can stay economical and keep costs low.


Problem Space


Despite the numerous benefits of cooking regularly, like eating healthier meals and saving money, many people struggle to make cooking a regular habit in their daily lives. This can be due to various reasons such as lack of time, lack of knowledge on how to cook or plan meals, lack of motivation or interest in cooking, or simply feeling overwhelmed by the task.

👋🏻 From our user survey, the top 3 main reasons that prevent respondents from cooking more frequently were lack of time (76%), lack of motivation (68%), lack of knowledge or skills (28%), and high cost of ingredients (20%).

As a result, individuals may rely on eating-out options or pre-packaged meals, which can negatively impact their health in the long run.

👋🏻 From our user survey, 64% of participants cook several times a week, and another 28% cook daily.

Therefore, it is essential to identify ways to encourage and motivate people to cook more habitually to improve their overall well-being.

Research Insights


According to recent research, it can be seen that a majority of people cook at home more than a few days a week, with a majority reporting cooking dinner more than other meals.

But, some participants found it challenging to cook more frequently due to lack of time, knowledge or skills, motivation, and the high cost of ingredients.


Many individuals use various resources like cookbooks, recipe websites or apps, Youtube, and meal delivery to aid in their home cooking. However, numerous participants have yet to utilize meal planning tools or apps to assist with meal planning.

Cooklist and My Fitness Pal are the most commonly mentioned among those who have. While some found Cooklist overwhelming and expensive, others appreciated the app's concept.

Meanwhile, participants value My Fitness Pal for tracking their macros but find the manual tracking process exhausting and inconvenient.

One User Interview reported following reputable influencers that aligned with their healthy ideology.


On average, participants spend 1-4 hours on meal planning and grocery shopping per week, with most spending 1-2 hours. Most participants feel satisfied and accomplished after cooking a meal, but some feel worried about the mess or stressed about cleaning up after cooking and eating.

User Interviews (4):

  • I picked up on a pattern that most people were cooking very basic dishes and nothing that needed too many ingredients.
  • Most referenced that they received a lot of their cooking from online, while some who had the cooking talent already would “throw something together”.
  • Some people used whatever they had, and had a decent idea of what to cook, while others followed recipes.
  • All reported it as a cost-saving instead of eating out, physical and mental health benefits.
  • Almost everyone cooked five days a week with grocery shopping once a week.
  • Some interviews reported being motivated by media like TV shows and social aspects in tandem with cooking.

Landing on the Solution

Problem Statement:

How can we encourage people to cook more habitually to improve their health and well-being that address the barriers of time, cost, and cooking expertise?

Proposed Solution:

Based on the problems and needs of saving time, money, and expertise, something that could do the following would be great. This solution would not only be able to show a user what they are cooking but also be simple to follow recipes and an accountability tool that can keep a user on track to form cooking as a habit.

  • Use only a few ingredients. (i.e., simple meals like Pasta, Rice + Chicken, and Fish)
  • Input what you have in your pantry
  • Provide quick, easy-to-follow recipes that can be accomplished in under an hour.


User Story 1: As a busy professional, I want a cooking app that helps me save time by providing quick and easy-to-follow recipes that can be prepared in under 30 minutes.

Definition of done

  • The cooking app provides a variety of recipes categorized as quick and easy.
  • Recipes have clear instructions and estimated cooking times of 30 minutes or less.
  • The app includes a search/filter functionality to easily find time-saving recipes.
  • Users can mark recipes as favorites for quick access.

User Story 2: As a budget-conscious eater, I want a cooking app that suggests affordable recipes and helps me plan meals to save money on groceries.

Definition of done.

  • The cooking app suggests recipes based on budget-friendly ingredients and meal plans.
  • Users can set a grocery budget, and the app provides recipe recommendations within that budget.
  • The app offers options to substitute ingredients to accommodate different budget constraints.
  • Users can track their savings and compare costs between homemade meals and eating out.

User Story 3: As a beginner cook, I want a cooking app with simple recipes, step-by-step instructions, and video tutorials to build my cooking skills.

Definition of Done

  • The cooking app offers a dedicated section for beginner cooks.
  • Recipes in the beginner section have detailed step-by-step instructions and visual aids.
  • The app provides video tutorials for essential cooking techniques.
  • Users can track their progress and unlock achievements as they try new recipes and improve their skills.

User Flows/Mockups

Landing Page:

  • Users land on the MealPrompt website or app.
  • They are presented with a clean and intuitive interface showcasing the key features and benefits of MealPrompt.
  • Call-to-action buttons prompt users to sign up or log in.

Onboarding Process:

  • New users go through an onboarding process to set up their profile.
  • They provide information such as dietary preferences, cooking skill level, and ingredients they commonly have in their pantry.
  • Users are given a brief tutorial on how to use MealPrompt.

Home Screen:

  • After onboarding, users are taken to the home screen.
  • The home screen displays personalized recipe recommendations based on the user's profile and pantry ingredients.
  • Users can browse through the recipes, filter by dietary preferences, or search for specific dishes.

Recipe Details:

  • When a user selects a recipe, they are taken to the recipe details page.
  • The page displays the ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and estimated cooking time.
  • Users can easily customize the serving size and see the adjusted ingredient quantities.

Pantry Integration:

  • MealPrompt offers a pantry integration feature.
  • Users can manually input the ingredients they have in their pantry or integrate with popular grocery apps to automatically sync their pantry inventory.
  • The app highlights recipes that can be prepared using the ingredients in the user's pantry.

Cooking Assistant:

  • As users follow the recipe instructions, MealPrompt provides a cooking assistant feature.
  • It guides users through each step, providing timers, reminders, and helpful tips along the way.
  • Alerts users about how much money they are saving and continues to motivate with additional followup notifications.

Meal Tracking and Feedback:

  • After cooking a meal, users can track their meals and provide feedback.
  • They can rate the recipe, leave comments, and save their favorite recipes for future reference.

Future Steps

  • More user research
  • Build out the product with UX and Software Engineer
  • Create a database of easy-to-cook recipes
  • Partner with grocery stores.


Product Manager Learnings:

Eric Chien

Focus on the User: I realized that it was more effective to focus on the people who did cook rather than trying to address the barriers of non-cookers solely. Sometimes it’s not about creating an entirely new experience but enhancing existing ones. There are likely problems there!

User Research Rocks: Conducting user research and digging into the data gave me awesome insights into what target users want. This helped me shape MealPrompt to better serve busy professionals, budget-conscious eaters, and beginner cooks. Surveys are a great baseline, but the real fun is in the user interviews. Using Otter was also really helpful in recording and transcribing so that I could have great conversations genuinely and gather more insights than if I were to fiddle around on my keyboard. I know more about some people's cooking habits that others may never uncover!

It’s Iterative: Nothing is set in stone. You are just creating something usable every step of the way. Gathering peer feedback during the peer reviews showed me the importance of iterating and continuous improvement in product development. Getting feedback from peers during the peer review process of my Product Spec was super helpful.

Embrace the Process: Co.Lab has taught me a lot about embracing the process versus focusing purely on the results. Having something done is better than making something completely perfect the first time.

Communication is Key: My internal communication used to be 💩. This opportunity to present the product spec and convey its value proposition concisely and compellingly highlighted the value of being much more contextual in my language, ensuring clarity and less assuming that people know what I’m talking about. It’s also been very refreshing to ask nothing but open-ended questions without an agenda, which was always different in sales and recruiting roles. Never discount the power of “Tell me more about that!”.

Be problem-first: I’ve always been a big sharer of things that interest me, and would always spend time building tools and sharing them with others in hope they would use it. I would get discouraged when they didn’t. This Co.Lab Sprint has shifted my perspective on finding the problem first versus trying to start with the solution to fit the problem that might not even be there. Building MealPrompt provided an opportunity to learn and utilize new tools for problem-solving.

Designer Learnings:

Developer Learnings:

Developers Learnings:


Full Team Learning