I always get really annoyed at myself when I throw away food.
For me, wasting food is like slapping nature in the face. It is just disrespectful to all the majestic, sacred, beautiful energy that nature has put into designing and producing that food, in the hope that we might nourish ourselves with it.
And with the United Nations estimates that roughly 1.6 billion tons of food are wasted globally each year, which accounts for about one-third of the total food produced, you can see that food wastage is a big problem for all of us.
The UN estimates that global food wastage has a carbon footprint of roughly 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases each year. They also calculate the global economic cost of yearly food wastage to be around $750 billion, and that’s not even including fish and seafood.
So clearly, for the sake of our environment and our economy, it’s imperative that we start finding ways to reduce our food waste. And while a great deal of food is wasted during production, transport, and by shops and grocery chains, we can still make a difference at home.
That’s where handy little apps like the NoWaste app can help. NoWaste is an app for iPhone and iPad designed by iOS developer Kasper Hjortsballe with the simple mission of helping people reduce food waste at home.
Read on for a full review of the NoWaste app and all of its features.
What is the NoWaste App?
The NoWaste app is designed to help you reduce food waste at home with minimal fuss.
The app allows you to keep track of the food in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. You can set the expiry dates for all your food, receive notifications when food items are soon to expire, and also record your shopping lists, meal plans, and keep track of how much food you are wasting, and what types of food you are wasting the most.
The app also allows you to join communities to share your stats with others for added motivation and provides you with data about your food waste progression.
The app has some other pretty nifty features too, but not all of these features are available with the free version.
Should I Use the Free NoWaste App or Go Pro?
With a lot of apps these days, there is a free version, which gives you access to just about enough of the app to pique your interest, and then there is a super-expensive version that unlocks all the features you actually want.
With the NoWaste app, this is not really the case. If you download the free version you will still be able to track whatever food you have in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, as well as make shopping lists and meal plans. So all the basic features are there.
But the thing is, the pro version will only cost you $5.99 PER YEAR (not per month) and it comes with all sorts of genuinely useful features like a barcode scanner, expanded food lists, and the ability to synchronize your profile to all your devices.
Most importantly, the pro version will send you notifications before food items expire, a feature not available on the free version.
So for what amounts to slightly less than $0.50c/month, I would highly recommend going with the pro version. But of course, you can play around with the free version first to see if you actually find the app helpful.
If you do choose to go with the pro version, here’s a look at some of the useful features you can expect to find.
NoWaste App: Top 8 Features
These are some of the features and benefits we found most useful.
1. Easy to Use
The primary purpose of the NoWaste app is to help you cut down on food waste, and for me, the app makes this as easy as possible. Everything is laid out clearly, kept simple, and organized well. It is easy to add food items to the app, and quite simple to organize and keep track of them.
Although maybe a little confusing at first, with a little playing around the app becomes quite clear and easy to follow. If there’s any feature you can’t figure out how to use, there are some super-helpful video tutorials built into the app. These tutorials are accessible through the app’s homepage and they explain in detail how to use all app features using clear visuals and a clean voiceover.
So you should be reducing food waste in no time with minimal hassle.
2. Expiration Date Notifications
For me, the expiration date notification system is probably the most useful feature on the app because I’m always forgetting stuff.
Instead of having to click into the app every time you want to check what food is expiring soon, you can set up the app to notify you. The app allows you to choose how many days’ notice you would prefer.
I went with two days’ notice, so I get a nice little reminder on my phone two days before any of my food is about to expire. This way, I can make plans to use the food in enough time before the expiration date. As I am often quite busy and forget to check the app (or my fridge for that matter!), this feature has helped me save quite a lot of food.
3. Barcode/Receipt Scanner
When you are entering food items into the app, it is possible to just type the name of each item one-by-one. For example, you can type ‘banana’, and usually the app will recognize what you are typing and will give you the option to add that food item to one of your lists.
But if you like, you can choose the ‘scan’ option. Just by holding your phone over an item’s barcode, the app will instantly find the exact item in question and allow you to select it.
I’ve been using this great app for three weeks now and so far, it has never failed to recognize a barcode and find the product in question. If the app ever does fail, you can manually enter in the details of that product and save it to the ‘barcode database.’ Then next time you scan that particular product, the information will be recognizable. Another handy feature.
You can also use the scanner to scan your entire receipt and it will bring up all your items at once. To be honest, I haven’t used this feature much, as I prefer to scan each item individually just to make sure that all the details (expiration, date, etc.) are correct before I add each product to my inventory. But the receipt scanner could be a very handy time-saver if you do choose to use it!
4. Grocery List
Before using this app, I used to write down my shopping list in the notes section of my phone, which works fine I suppose, but it can be difficult to read at a glance. This method also involves manually deleting each line of text on the list as I move through the store.
With the NoWaste app, the shopping list is nice and clear, with graphics next to each item so it’s easy to see what you’re looking for. And once you’ve picked your items off the shelf at the store, you can move them straight into your fridge, freezer, or pantry inventory lists in the moment with two simple clicks. This makes it super easy to keep track of exactly what you’re buying and where it’s going.
5. Meal Planner
If you like, the app also gives you the option to input your favorite meals and then spread these meals throughout your calendar to keep track of what you’re planning to eat each day. It’s perfect for the meal planner in your life.
I haven’t really used this feature much as I’ve always been one for eating what I’m in the mood for at the time, but I’m sure plenty of meal preppers would find this feature useful.
Simple, but essential.
The app allows you to access your NoWaste account from all your iOS devices. So if you’re using one phone for work and another for personal use, or if you’re just chilling on the couch with your iPad and wondering what to have for dinner, you’ll be able to see what food needs using.
7. The Power of Data
It’s amazing what a little data and a few statistics can do to keep us all on track, and the NoWaste app is great for that!
After you’ve been using the app for a few weeks, it will start providing you with nicely presented numbers about how you’re progressing with your food waste management and whether you’re improving or not. I find this data to be very effective at keeping me in check.
This helpful app shows you what percentage of food you have eaten for each month, and more importantly, what percentage you have allowed to expire. Using neatly presented graphs and charts, the app also compares your statistics with the statistics of other users. Nothing like providing a little healthy competition for some added motivation!
And if that’s not motivation enough, the app also displays a monthly estimate of how much money you have saved by minimizing your food waste. This amount is calculated by comparing your food waste against national averages.
But the data I have found most useful is regarding the specific food types I have allowed to expire. The app provides overall used/expired percentages specific to each food. So for example the app shows me that from the 4 times I have purchased bananas, I have eaten them 100% of the time. In the three weeks I’ve been using the app, spinach and bread are the only items I have had to throw out.
I probably wouldn’t have realized this without the app. As a result of this, in the last week and a half, I have not purchased any spinach or bread. And you know what? I’m not missing either of them at all.
I feel like the app is already helping me stop buying what I don’t really need and focus on the stuff I’m actually going to eat.
8. Make it a Group Thing
If competition is your thing, the app allows you to join specific groups like NoWaste North America, for example, or create your own groups with family and friends who are also using the app.
These groups act as a kind of league table, showing everybody’s food waste statistics and ranking the most successful members.
For people with a competitive edge, this is surely an effective way to convince folks to cut back on their food waste.
It must be noted that the data will only be accurate if you’re honest with the app. When it comes time to remove an item from your inventory, you have the option to select either ‘eaten’ or ‘expired.’ So of course it’s possible to trick the app and bump up your statistics but really, why would anyone actually do that?
NoWaste App: Limitations and Improvements
I don’t have much bad at all to say about this app and I think it’s a great idea. But nothing is ever perfect. There are two main things I would love to see improved.
The first one is to do with adding meals to the app. At the moment, to add one of your favorite meals to the app, you have to manually enter the ingredients yourself.
This is a great feature if you want to add some custom meals or personal recipes, but I would love to see a feature where you can select a recipe from some sort of database and it would bring up the meal for you, recipe included.
This way, if you’re not sure what ingredients are actually needed to make most meals, you could download the recipe through the app. The app could then tell you which ingredients you already have in stock and which ingredients you need to buy. You could then add the missing ingredients to your shopping list, all using the same app! I think this would be a fantastic feature.
The other improvement I would suggest is to provide a non-iOS version of the app. Currently, you cannot use the app if you don’t have an iPad or an iPhone, meaning millions of people out there are unable to use the app to reduce their food waste.
By providing other versions of the app, the collective food-saving potential would skyrocket.
NoWaste App: Our Verdict
All-in-all, I think this is a brilliant app.
It’s easy to use, it’s super cheap at only $5.99/year, and it really does help for cutting down on food waste and saving money. In just three weeks of using the app, it has already more than paid for my yearly subscription.
I would highly recommend the app to anyone interested in minimizing their food waste, and I have already recommended it to friends and family.
Without a doubt, it’s a ‘5 fully-eaten stars out of 5’ rating from me.
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