How ChatGPT planned my meals and ordered my groceries 🛒
And what it means for the future of e-commerce
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Today, I’m sharing one of the most mind-blowing (and useful) things I’ve done in ChatGPT.
I’ve already shared this a while ago on my Instagram, but a lot of you have asked for a step-by-step tutorial. Plus, I’ll share my thoughts on what this experiment means for the future of e-commerce.
I hope you find this helpful and try it out yourself. If you do, send me the results!
Can ChatGPT help me solve my biggest problem?
Balancing a full-time job, making almost-daily videos, writing a weekly newsletter, and trying to maintain a social life has made me neglect my personal health way too many times.
I buy groceries without fully planning what I want to eat for the week, and I often end up with random ingredients that I can’t make anything with.
Somehow, Uber Eats conveniently detects my misery and offers me a 40% discount on my next five orders… for the third week in a row.
When ChatGPT released the Instacart plugin in March, I asked myself: can AI save me from my bad habits and stop me from making excuses?
The answer was a resounding yes.
It created a meal plan for me (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and put all the ingredients I needed in an Instacart shopping list that I could order immediately.
I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process if you want to try it out for yourself.
Step 0: Setup
You can follow this tutorial even if you don’t have ChatGPT Plus. Just skip Step 0 and use the alternative method I shared once you get to Step 3.
To use the Instacart plugin, you’ll need to be a ChatGPT Plus user (which costs $20/month). To enable plugins:
Click on your name in the bottom left
Open Settings & Beta
Enable Plugins under Beta features
Now, go back to the main page and make sure you have GPT-4 selected at the top and select Plugins.
Then, you’ll need to enable the Instacart plugin. If you don’t see it, you’ll need to install it from the Plugin store.
And…….. you’re all set up!
Step 1: Create a meal plan
I started by writing a prompt that included some of my food preferences:
I want you to act as my personal chef. Create a 5-day meal plan for me based on my preferences:
- I like lebanese, mexican, and thai food
- I don't eat fish and pork
- I like having eggs for breakfast
- I want to avoid fried or processed food
Output the meal plan as a table
It gave me my first draft:
Not bad for a first attempt, but it was too focused on my preferences for Lebanese, Mexican, and Thai food.
You can describe the adjustments you want to make and create another meal plan. It maintains the initial preferences you provided and the first meal plan it created in context, so you don’t need to repeat yourself.
I wanted more variety in meals:
The meals are only lebanese, mexican, or thai. Can you give me more variety from outside these cuisines?
And it made adjustments so I can get a nice spread of international dishes:
Call me Mr. Worldwide.
Step 2: Get the recipes for each
While I know how to make some of these meals, I don’t know how to make all of them.
So, I just asked:
Can you give me the recipe for each meal?
Output the result as a table.
If you want more detailed instructions, you can ask:
Can you give me a step-by-step recipe for each meal?
Output the result as a table.
Step 3: Order all the ingredients at once
If you’re good to go, you can now create your shopping list with the Instacart plugin:
Create a shopping list for these meals using the Instacart plugin
Clicking the link will open a new tab with all the items loaded and ready for checkout.
Double-check that all ingredients are there and remove what you already have
Adjust quantities for your desired serving size
You can switch brands for each item using the “Show alternatives” option under each item
When everything is good to go, you can add all the items to your cart and have them delivered from your favourite store.
Alternative option (without Instacart)
If you don’t want to use Instacart, you can still tell ChatGPT to output all the ingredients in a shopping list. It will neatly organize everything for you based on the different sections/aisles:
Can you give me the shopping list and organize it by category?
When you go to the grocery store, you can use this as your list.
Thoughts on the future of e-commerce
I’ve been a UX Designer for 6 years and worked on many e-commerce experiences, so discovering this new mode of interaction to shop online felt magical the first time I tried it.
It was radically different than the online shopping experiences we’re used to, for a few reasons:
Collaborative: even though I didn’t get the meal plan right from the first try, I could easily add more instructions (in plain English) to make adjustments without losing progress or starting over. I also didn’t feel left alone to figure things out, I had a personal shopping assistant to help me.
Goal-oriented: I used to buy groceries in isolation without thinking of all the different things I wanted to cook that week. In ChatGPT, I could shop based on my goals and preferences rather than my typical product-oriented search.
Easy: instead of hunting down recipes based on my unique preferences from different sources, ChatGPT did the hard work for me and gave me options. It was just so easy.
E-commerce companies have an exciting opportunity to reimagine their online shopping experience with AI assistants, especially for complex sales that require buying multiple items at once. Some examples I can think of:
Furnishing a new home
Buying a new wardrobe
Finding tools and supplies for a home renovation project
Finding a combination of skincare products
The way I like to think about it: AI assistants can help recreate that sensation of being helped by an expert when visiting a physical store. We have someone helping us find the right items based on our goals, we can ask them questions, and easily check out all the products that we want.
This reinforces the ideas I shared in a recent post on how AI will shape the future of digital products and experiences:
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