Time-poor Foodies head back to their Cupboard

This morning was another sold out Leeds Digital Coffee Morning! January 2017 was our seventh, hosted by LightStart at Entrepreneurial Spark, Leeds.  As always, it was free coffee and pastries, relaxed – non-salesy networking, and taking another App idea all the way from a single line, to a well defined structure and strategy, on this occasion a useful recipe app idea called Cupboard.

After last month’s lacklustre coffee and pastry showing from a local caterers, we decided to step up our game and bring in new baristas on the block 200 Degrees.  They provided pastries, and on the spot ‘Chemex’ coffee skills to deliver cup after cup of coffee perfection.  The bar has been set seriously high!

After increasing the amount of tickets available to 50, we had another brilliant turn out, as well as moving up a floor into eSpark’s much larger event space.  Lots of great ideas, and lots of wonderful engaged participants.  Advance Warning – we’ve already booked out 2/3 of the tickets for next month, so if you want to get involved – we suggest you follow this link right away.

So, it’s with great pleasure we introduce you to… Cupboard, the recipe app for time-poor foodies.


All Recipe Apps are NOT baked the same

As anyone who likes to cook will know, there are a lot of recipe sites out there… and a number of very good apps.  There are recipe apps that link into your shopping basket when you buy your shopping online… there are recipe apps filled with Jamie’s, Gino’s and Marco’s.  It’s a busy marketplace… so why would anyone want to join it? Cupboard has a plan.

We’d all love to spend our evenings Nigella-ing around the house, throwing handfuls of things into bowls of other things – but as great as she looks doing it that’s probably not you… it’s definitely not me.  Myself and my partner crawl in from work, and spend most of our time making sure our little boy eats at least reasonably well before he goes to bed.  After that, the handful of items in the fridge have roughly 3 minutes to arrange themselves into something approximating a recipe, before the door closes and Just Eat makes another sale.  It’s not that we don’t love to cook, and certainly love to eat, but time and carefully planned ingredient lists are never on our side.

This is where the Cupboard app lives – in those moments where hungry people are frustratedly trying to assemble a meal based on the parameters of availability, use-by dates and pure effort required.

Start with what you have.

In order for Cupboard to help you, it needs to know what sort of things you eat regularly – and what you have available right at this moment. Setting up the app takes about 10 minutes – starting with basics such as dietary requirements, allergies etc.  When that’s complete, Cupboard’s primary interface is based on the three main areas in your kitchen – cupboard, fridge and freezer.  Click on each, and a ‘Tinder style’ left and right swipe interface lets you add in items you generally buy from it’s extensive database, and disregard everything else.  10 minutes later, and there’s a rough approximation of what your kitchen might actually contain after a proper shop.

Great, but now it’s near the end of the month, your fridge contains only an aubergine and a pack of salmon steaks that if it’s not eaten this very evening will be swimming into the bin.  Here’s where Cupboard will become your best friend… click to begin the recipe suggestion process.  If you have salmon and aubergine in your usual list, swipe right to them to make them the key ingredients in suggested recipes.  Anything you know you have none of, swipe left to take it out of the equation… and press go.

Cupboard returns recipes based on a match percentage – top of the list are all recipes including your key ingredients, with the highest matches including other cupboard and fridge items it knows you may have in your kitchen.  Items it doesn’t know if you have already – or which you might need to pick up on your way home if you are that organised – are highlighted.  Again, swipe left to get rid of things that sound overly complicated, or not what you fancy.  When you’ve found the recipe that suits what you have, click to read it – or better yet, watch a helpful video showing you how to make the thing.

Settings and Content


The other area where Cupboard is hoping to push things forward is in its content – both the quality of the recipes, but also how extensively they are ‘tagged.’  The recipe search engine is obviously extremely powerful, and it works by recipes and their ingredients being tagged with multiple different parameters.  This allows the app to become massively configurable for users who like that sort of thing – but still say useful and simple for those who prefer that.

Settings available include searching recipes not just by ‘country’ but by ‘theme’ – romantic meals, family feasts and party platters. Look at suggested variants of a recipe you like the sound of, to find the one that matches your tastes and meagre inventory. If you want something simpler, reduce the number of key ingredients in suggested recipes.  Not very experienced – there’s a setting for you… and because unlike some recipe sites we don’t assume everyone has a bain marie for their sous-vide – or even a blender – you can filter by the equipment required to prepare the recipe.

For those who desperately want to try something new, but don’t know their blanching from their sautéing, click on highlighted links in the recipe for a culinary thesaurus – complete with demo videos to help you have a go.  This type of community driven content is at the heart of your Cupboard – rate and feedback on recipes generated by other users of the app (fully moderated of course), and eventually maybe unleash your latest last minute masterpiece on the world!

Get back time… and use it to make lovely things to eat

The primary goal of Cupboard is both to reduce the planning required for meals – the main barrier to making delicious food, while providing inspiring recipes that match your real lifestyle.  Overall this helps reduce the amount of food waste generated by your household, and saves you money.

Over time, we have a number of inventive features to add – including voice searching, audio recipes and voice control for when your hand is in a bowl of flour and shouldn’t be swiping your smartphone.  Eventually, your app will learn what you like and don’t like – making its suggestions more and more relevant.

Just Eat cannot… will not rule our kitchen… it’s time to go back to your Cupboard and see what’s really in there!

As always… sound too good to be true?  Wondering why this doesn’t already exist?!

Cupboard is what you get when you take a bunch of lovely, engaged Leeds folk – fill them full of pastries and coffee, and use LightStart’s  interactive process to convert an idea into a strategy… even an entire business model! As always, thanks to everyone who came down, for getting involved and having SUCH great ideas in the first place.

LightStart’s process starts by capturing the ideas you have and the issues you want to overcome, prioritising them, and mapping them to focused outcomes.  These in turn inform the features, the features are prioritised into development phases, and the phases inform the overall launch strategy.  At the same time, we create a structure for the app and platform, choose the best monetisation strategy, and even move into interface design.

We always have fun running these sessions at the Leeds Digital Coffee Mornings – if you’d like to come along, it’s free and you can book a ticket here.

LightStart offers their proven process as part of their development lifecycle, as a standalone service – or via paid or free workshops.  You can contact us at ideas@lightstart.co.uk for more information, or visit lightstart.eventbrite.co.uk to find an upcoming event near you.