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Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters Mobile App

 

In June 2017, Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, in partnership with Savvy Apps, launched the Cooking Matters Mobile App (CM App), a resource for meal planning and preparation. 

 
 
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THE CENTER'S ROLE:


 


The Center aimed to evaluate the CM App’s ability to help low-income users make positive changes with regard to recipe use, shopping list development, and meal planning. Pre/post assessments were collected to determine the extent to which correlates of dietary behaviors related to app subject matter and functions changed over time after using the app, while phone interviews helped to gain an understanding of users’ meal planning and preparation habits, as well as their experience with and perceptions of the CM App. 

 
 

THE FINDINGS:


In this evaluation, among a mainly low-income population, meal planning, shopping list development, and food purchasing behaviors appeared to be based on habit and influenced by family preference and food costs. 

  • Survey participants were highly confident in meal planning, but only sometimes planned meals before grocery shopping. They highly valued cooking well-balanced meals at home, but were less confident in their ability to cook meals at home.
  • Interviewees generally did not consider themselves to be meal planners, were comfortable with grocery list development and usage, and prepared quick and simple meals that they knew their family would eat.

 

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See what we discovered.

 
 

THE RESULTS:


The findings have shown that early users of the CM App, much like other apps of this nature, may engage and/or are motivated to engage in healthier behaviors. Along with assessment and interview findings, several key recommendations emerged for consideration in future versions and evaluation of the CM App, including:

  • Evaluate future version of the CM App for usability and relation to changes in behaviors (such as fruit and vegetable intake)
  • Consider making changes suggested by interviewees
  • Tailor to audiences of varying levels of confidence in and attitudes toward meal preparation, grocery list usage, and meal planning
  • Market CM App as tool for participants of Cooking Matters courses
  • Incorporate "Meal Concepts" into recipe feature to help users learn how to substitute foods, reduce food waste, freeze ahead, add more fruits and vegetables into meals and snacks, etc.
  • Incorporate “how to” videos for recipes or “Meal Concepts,” such ideas to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into meals and snacks, to increase user confidence
  • Consider ways to encourage users to update app and/or be notified about improvements
  • Consider whether to continue the meal planner and/or grocery list features or reallocate resources to other app features, such as the recipe feature

Since over 77% of Americans own a smartphone and 64% of smartphone users live in households earning less than $30,000 per year, there is potential for broad reach of mobile health technology, which includes using mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes among lower income populations. Because few apps of this type have been scientifically evaluated, lessons learned may be highly valuable to future versions of the CM App, as well as potentially contribute to the development and evaluation of other evidence-based dietary behavior apps.