Yamay provides a simple way to discover delicious recipes that minimize extra time, effort and unnecessary grocery shopping to enhance cooking experience. 

This is a story of how I thought of a recipe app that would fit more to people living busy and efficient lives these days.


my role

My goal for this project was to reduce frustrations when finding recipes and provide more efficient cooking environment. This is a personal case study project as a UX designer. I used Sketch, Adobe Illustrator and InVision for main tools. 



I felt very inefficient when I had to buy more ingredients to cook certain dishes even though I have plenty of other things in my fridge. I wanted to know if this is my only frustration or others feel similar and if I could seek solutions.

I targeted users in my position - millennials living alone in a big city. I conducted multiple in-depth user interviews to people age around 25-30 living in New York City, London, and Seoul. Also, I tried and analyzed few other recipe apps in the market such as Yummly, Kitchen Stories, and Haemukja.


"What is the main reason you cook?"




"Where do you mostly find inspiration for cooking?"


Competitive Research

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Kitchen Stories: The app is visually polished, it has lots of high-quality videos and images. Users can search recipes by occasions like birthday, or movies nights, menu and also by ingredients. It has wide range of recipes.


Yummly: When the user first opens the app, it leads to some questions like food allergies, disliked food, cooking skill level, preferred dishes. Then it will recommend personalized recipes. When using searching, it provides filters. The recipe's information like ingredients, nutrition, and recipe directions are on a different page which was a bit annoying. Also, I didn't feel customized recommendation matches the dishes I like.



People are less likely to cook because using ingredients effectively is difficult

Cases :

  • Busy people cannot use all the fresh ingredients on time and end up throwing them out
  • Some people have a lot of ingredients in the kitchen but they still don’t know what to cook
  • Unexpected grocery shopping tends to stop them from cooking (and they would rather order food)




I was able to get some valuable insights through various research and user interviews. Lots of existing recipes show flawless cooking environment and perfectly prepared fresh ingredients(which most of us do not have). However, most of the time people just take whatever they have in the fridge and cook as quickly as possible just to eat one meal. Especially busy people living alone feel these gaps between the recipe and the reality more often. The turnover ratio for fresh ingredients is much lower than a big family house, so they have less chance to have clean, diverse ingredients. 

Many of the available recipe apps will find the recipe first, and it is users' role to prepare the right ingredients. Even though you search recipes based on components, you will get results of recipes just simply including the component. Therefore users' frustration would not go away since they don’t have all the ingredients they need when following recipes. In this phase, lots of users would give up. 

To reduce their frustration, I thought the gap between the recipes and the reality need to be overcome by providing a more flexible recipe that focuses on fast and easy cooking, using ingredients that users have, giving alternative options and customization.

Need to overcome the gap between the existing recipes ad the reality by providing more flexible recipe app.





Lonely Laura

Age : 28      Occupation: Project Manager      Location : NYC       Behavior : Laura is a busy woman working 9 to 6 living alone in NYC. She always thinks about cooking after work but ends up with ordering food. However, she doesn’t really like delivery food, and in fact, fresh warm Italian dishes are her favorite.


Goals & Needs : She decided to cook by herself today but doesn’t have any idea what to cook. She wants to know what to cook with limited ingredients she has, preferably easy and fast ones.

Pain Points : She forgot again to stop by a grocery store after work and have limited ingredients at home. She bought tomatoes two weeks ago, but most of them are rotten because she bought too much and couldn’t finish them on time by herself. Thus she is reluctant to buy fresh vegetables because similar things happen often. She has a ripe avocado in the fridge but doesn’t know what to cook with it. She knows it’s the right time to eat it, and if she misses this time, she will end up throwing it away again. 


Shopping Shayne

Age : 37      Occupation : Engineer      Location : NYC      Behavior : Shayne lives with his wife and two kids. This family loves to do grocery shopping. They go to the store once a week. As they walk along the aisle, they put things in the shopping cart whatever they want to try.


Goals & Needs He recently bought fresh vegetables, seafood, Asian spices, and some meat, which is more than he actually needed. He decided to use ingredients all up before they go to the grocery store again.  

Pain Points : After he got home, he started organizing things and realized he bought too much. The kitchen doesn’t have enough room for all the ingredients but cannot think of any good recipe for his family. Even though he has so many items to use in the kitchen, he just started cooking frozen meatballs as usual.



Yamay has two main workflows in the app. One is registering user's own kitchen in the app, and the other one is searching for a customized recipe.


Task: Register user's own kitchen information


Task: Find a recipe based on what you have in kitchen at the moment






Creating New Kitchen

Users can create a new kitchen in the app by filling out some information. They will choose ingredients from the optios in categories, or they can search for specific items that they are looking for. They can also put detailed information such as types, brands, or the amounts by tap and hold. This feature is optional. 

Once they have their kitchen, they can find customized recipes based on the existing ingredients. They can post their own recipes too. 


Search & Filter

Users will see the list of recipes they can cook immediately. If they are not satisfied with the results, they can use the filter to get the better result. They can adjust difficulty, time, filter out the items they do now want to use or search for dishes using their favorite ingredients.


Alternative Ingredients

This is one of the key features in Yamay. The user can look up the alternative ingredients. For example, if you don't have mayonnaise at the moment, or you just don't like it, press long on the item to see what is possible to use instead. When you choose yogurt for the alternative, the recipe will be adjusted based on the change. 


Step by Step Recipe

Once they choose the right recipe, they will follow simple instructions step-by-step. They can tap on each instruction to see the visual process and get the feeling of accomplishment. They can also save the recipe for later using "bookmark."


Sidebar Menu & Create Page

Sidebar menu will appear whenever user tap on the hamburger icon on the top left corner.
Users can post their recipe on the "My Kitchen" page. They will upload the pictures of the food, name, ingredients, and descriptions. Time, difficulty and other information are optional.