Celebrity chef Nadia Lim is taking on takeaways which – in spite of nutrition, health and expense concerns – remain in demand by many Kiwis.
Lim and the My Food Bag team launched MADE this year – a product which comes already cooked to take yet another step out of preparing the family meal for the growing numbers of time-poor New Zealanders.
Lim says she took that step after a revealing survey of My Food Bag customers – people you'd think would be more likely to be health- and nutrition-conscious.
The survey showed 64 per cent – almost two in three – customers were having takeaways once a week or more, often because they were getting home late from work, Lim says.
Takeaways were defined not only as burgers, pizza and fish and chips but also newer developments like Uber Eats.
"We surveyed 369 customers and found 54 per cent of those people having takeaways once a week or more saw those meals as unhealthy – and 39 per cent said they were expensive," says Lim.
Those findings were backed up by the most recent (September 2017) Stats NZ probe into Kiwis' eating habits. That found 26 per cent of what is spent on food goes on restaurant and takeaway meals – up from 23 per cent in the same survey from 2014. Meanwhile grocery foods purchased declined from 37 per cent in 2014 to 34 per cent.
Lim suspects that gap has widened since the arrival of more food delivery services and says: "We know that modern family living means it's not always possible to get in the kitchen to cook dinner every night, so we wanted to offer customers a healthy, ready-made meal solution that's tasty— and easier on their pocket.
"Each meal is cooked by hand in a small batch so it's just like eating a My Food Bag meal – without having to cook it. They are the perfect solution for busy nights or weeks when you'd usually resort to beans on toast or a takeaway."
The My Food Bag MADE meals aren't frozen and are delivered fresh and chilled to your door, so Lim says they are nothing like "old-school" ready meals found in supermarket freezers: "They can be bland and overly processed. With MADE, we're out to prove that convenience, flavour and freshness can go hand in hand."
The range of 12 meals each week (you can choose from a minimum of four) includes meals to suit various tastes, household and dietary preferences – with four of My Food Bag's Fresh Start meals every week (below 450 calories) and at least two classics designed to please kids and the whole family.
"So far our most popular meals have been our comforting classics - Italian Beef Lasagne and Beef & Mozzarella Pie, but we've also seen our Singapore Chicken Laksa and our Fresh Start Beef Stroganoff rate really well with our customers," Lim says.
My Food Bag is one of the food success stories in New Zealand – growing from a concept to the third-largest food retailer in the country (after the two big supermarket chains) in six years. Along the way it has sold more than 50 million meals.
Lim's involvement has helped ensure an accent on health and nutrition and she says the fact most people surveyed saw convenience as the main reason for buying takeaways meant there was a gap in the market.
"What we are finding after our launch of My Food Bag MADE is that people are getting their meals delivered fresh and using them for dinners and lunches," she says. "With meals starting at $12.99 each, that is very competitive with sushi or takeaways – and we are also seeing people popping them in the freezer for eating later."
The MADE meals also use the same locally-sourced and free-range produce as in other My Food Bag products, they help families with portion control and the four Fresh Start meals are included with health and nutrition in mind.
For more information and to get 30% OFF your first box of MADE meals click here.