Sophomore student creates app to help college students cook

Tamica Jean-Charles/Entertainment Director

At 19, Leila Adaza has surpassed many of her peers by creating her first mobile application.

Adaza, a sophomore computer science major, created Pocket Meals: an app that allows users to type in ingredients and cook meals with the recipes provided, including its nutrition facts. Users can also save and schedule their favorite recipes into the built-in calendar.

Adaza, who lives on campus, knows what it’s like to cook on a budget. She wanted to offer students in similar situations the opportunity to create meals while on a budget.

“I didn’t want to be a super chef. I didn’t want to be a cook that needs all the ingredients to prepare a really sophisticated meal,” said Adaza.  “I just wanted [something] simple to make.”

The app launched back in August of 2018 and since then, it has been downloaded by close to 400 individuals in the U.S. and a few from other countries such as Taiwan, Korea and Lebanon.

Many college students suffer from food insecurity due to lack of food knowledge, Adaza says, and she wanted to create something that would aid students in those situations.

Adaza attended a summer boot camp at Make School, a recently accredited college near Silicon Valley, where she spent six weeks taking courses on mobile development.

Leila Adaza at the Make School Summer Academy for mobile development.

“From beginning to end, it was my own project. A lot of thought got out into it,” said Adaza.  “It’s a really simple app, but it’s an app I’m really proud of.”

While publishing the app was a test in itself, getting it into the Apple App Store was a different challenge, said Adaza.

Before an app is featured in the app store, it must be reviewed by an Apple App team. Pocket Meals was rejected three times before entering the market due to metadata errors, or minor issues that don’t abide by Apple’s guidelines. Adaza originally thought it was because of her Application Programming Interface, the access point that supplies the recipes to the users, which she had to fix after each rejection.

“I [had] to revert back to my original API since that’s the one I liked the most and it had the most relevant information,” said Adaza.

It turns out the app icon was the cause for the rejection, which Adaza said was due simply to the file type used for the image.

“It was nothing wrong with my code, it was really nit-picky things,” said Adaza.

Since the birth of Pocket Meals, she’s released an update in December, which lets users schedule meals further than just the current month.

Adaza is the sole developer for her app. Since she’s no longer at the Summer Academy and the only one among her peers who have app knowledge, she leans on the internet for further guidance.

“This time around it’s much more of a motivational thing for me to have something to show,” she said.

In the future, Adaza hopes to add features such as allowing users to input their own recipes, tailoring recipes for specific diets and making the app available in the Android App store, which requires a separate coding language. She already has begun work on the updates but has run into a few bugs. She hopes to have the updates completed by the end of the semester.

“I enjoy having something outside of school, plus I use it myself and it’s a fun thing to have on my phone,” said Adaza. “It makes me feel really nice going on the app store and seeing ‘Developer, Leila Adaza.’”


Pocket Meals is available for download in the Apple App store.

As for now, Adaza is preparing for her internship for Bank of America for their Global Technologies team, in which she will be placed into one of three of the teams: website, software or mobile development.


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