A former truck driver with a passion for cooking has swapped life on the road for one by the stove - with the launch of her own vegan kitchen.

Auckland woman Natalie Richards is getting rave reviews for her new business Prep - an online service that provides fully prepared plant-based dinners and lunches.

Four months ago the 31-year-old was working long hours as a truck driver, delivering cars throughout the North Island.

Now she is making more than 100 meals a week and is already looking to expand from her Grey Lynn home-based kitchen.


"It is going amazingly well and the feedback I am getting from people telling me how great they are feeling is telling me I'm onto a good thing," she said.

"One of the best things is that most of my customers are meat-eaters, and they are loving the meals."

Richards started Prep after getting compliments for the vegan meals she would make before spending long hours on the road.

"I was working all the time and needed to prepare all of my lunches and dinners," she said.

Natalie Richards gets to work in the kitchen.Photos / Supplied
Natalie Richards gets to work in the kitchen.Photos / Supplied

"I'd go to the market in the weekend get all the freshest produce and prepare a week's worth of lunches and dinners."

After posting a few mouth-watering photos of burrito bowls, slow-cooked tikka and lemongrass curry online, a yoga instructor from a local studio suggested she make meals for some of the clients.

From there things got busy and with encouragement from her partner Harry McNiven, Richards realised she could turn her passion for vegan food into a fulfilling business.

"I had this lovely home in Grey Lynn but I was never there, I was always out on the road.


"Now I am up at 7am instead of 4am. I go to the gym and then I am cooking new exciting meals, which is what I love doing."

Richards' vegan offerings. Photo / Supplied
Richards' vegan offerings. Photo / Supplied

Prep meal prices range from $13.50 (with offerings including hearty lentil shepherd's pie, peanut lime chilli satay and lemongrass and ginger pumpkin curry), to $15.50 for healthy lasagne.

Delivery prices within the Auckland region range between $7-$15. A nationwide chilled-freight delivery system will be available soon.

Richards has created the perfect "vegan Big Mac" and can whip up a creamy, cheesy sauce without cream or cheese.

She buys local produce or gets fresh organic fare from her mum Sandy's Waimauku garden and kumara from her poppa.

All of her packaging is biodegradable and she buys in bulk or from markets which also reduces waste.

And despite the metre square kitchen she currently works from Richards has big plans for Prep.

"My goal is to produce delicious vegan meals for the supermarkets here and Coles in Australia."