caregiver . designer . engineer

Real Meal


Real Meal


Reducing waste in
frozen food packaging


Fully Recyclable Components

Cardboard Lid (top)
Paper Seal (middle)
Plastic Bowl (bottom)


More Food per Package

Real Meal (left) contains approximately 615 Calories worth of food, while the two Healthy Choice meals (right) add up to 550 Calories.


No Secondary Packaging

Where’s the box? You may be wondering. Real Meal doesn’t come in a box, it doesn’t need one. All cooking, nutritional, and marketing visuals are on the cardboard lid, which also serves to protect the paper seal from being punctured and can be used as a tray on which to carry your hot meal.


Real Meal Design


Project Brief:
Redesign a consumer packaged food in a way that helps consumers minimize waste in frozen meals and savory foods.
Kraft Heinz Company
Christy Zhang
8 weeks


My Roles

Experience Architect

I designed research interviews to attract participants and afford my team opportunities to learn about various aspects of the user journey in context.


I created several low-fidelity prototypes, which explored user-product interactions, materials, aesthetics, forms, and new value-creating concepts. These prototypes provided a quick way to elicit feedback, both verbal and nonverbal, from consumers.


Skills Used

- Ethnographic research
- User testing
- Low fidelity prototyping
- CAD modeling/rendering
- Mechanical design


Thoughtful Research


We recruited users for research interviews by offering a free frozen meal. Users were presented with a variety of frozen meals to choose from and prepare as we conducted our interviews. Not only did this facilitate the recruitment process by giving users an incentive, it also allowed us to observe and discuss the users’ behavior as they selected and prepared their frozen meals.


Leveraging the Tangible

A Look Inside

I made:
A stripped down version of a Smart Ones meal, which had no external packaging beyond the food container, and direct visibility of the food contents.
To learn:
How users feel about being able to see the actual frozen food. How they react to minimal packaging.



I made:
A pair of shallow rectangular containers with connected lids to allow for reduced packaging in mass storage/transport.
To learn:
How users feel about tearing off the containers they want at the store. How they feel about rectangular containers


I made:
A deep, cylindrical container with tabs for handles, one of which can be removed and combined with the seal to form an eating utensil.
To learn:
How users feel about packaging that serves multiple functions. How they feel about cylindrical containers.


Even Heating

I made:
A cylindrical container with a tube at the center to arrange food away from the center for more even microwave heating.
To learn:
How important even heating is to users. How they feel about unused space and an obstruction in their container.


Design Principles

Our research showed us that the following are the things that users find most important about frozen meals.


Our target user buys frozen meals to save time and it’s very important that they be able to store a few meals in their freezer with ease. Their frozen meal should be easy to cook and store.


Our user is buying frozen meals to replace a home cooked meal, and 300 calories or less is not gonna get the job done. Their frozen meal should be in meal-sized portions that feel like a real meal.


Our user cares about nutrition, which is why they buy frozen meals rather than vending machine food or fast food. They choose frozen meals that are as healthy as the food they prepare themselves. Their frozen meal should convey freshness and be made of nutritious ingredients.