5 local meal delivery startups that will have you eating healthier

Posted on March 4th, 2016

Fifty-one percent of South African business owners have admitted to working more than 40 hours a week, often compromising on other aspects of their lives. This is according to a survey conducted by Sage.

It’s no surprise then that many entrepreneurs find themselves reaching for takeaways or junk food for lunch and even dinner after a long day. This is despite the fact that the importance of maintaining a healthy diet are well-documented. In fact, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a bad diet can put an individual at risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as burnout.

Food delivery and meal delivery startups that have emerged over the past 5 years are cashing in on the desire for time-strapped individuals looking for healthier alternatives.

Food delivery startups deliver already prepared food while meal subscription services usually deliver meal kits with recipes and pre-measured ingredients for clients to cook.

In the US, the meal subscription industry is estimated to be a billion-dollar industry. Technomic, a food-industry consulting firm, estimates that the meal subscription service segment of the market will grow to between $3 billion and $5 billion over the next 10 years based on current adoption rates.

The South African market

With the success of meal services internationally, the trend is slowly gaining traction in South Africa with more diverse and more specialised startups popping up all over the country. With varying dietary preferences, these startups are filling the niche.

SME South Africa speaks to five subscription meal startups to find out how they are bringing healthy and more convenient meals to the offices and homes of individuals who have hectic schedules.

Sumting Fresh

About: This Johannesburg-based startup is the brainchild of two friends, Andrew Leeuw and Hezron Louw, who were brought together by their love for food. The two launched the company in 2012.

The gourmet street food catering company made a name for themselves at fresh food markets around Johannesburg offering customers something different from the traditional street food offerings.

Ideal for: Both young and young at heart entrepreneurs who enjoy eating something different and experimenting with the latest trends in food.

Where to find them: They deliver daily around Johannesburg

What to expect: They have a weekly menu with daily specials and also standard options. Expect ready to eat meals like goujon chicken, beef, exotic sandwiches and bagels with different fillings.

The menu ranges from fish dishes such as smoked salmon bagels served with various fillings like cream cheese, tomatoes, capers, and lumpfish caviar. Another menu highlight is Cuban bread stuffed with roast pork, smoked ham, lettuce, parmesan cheese and pickle barrels.

Pricing options: Meals are paid for a week in advance. The total depends on the food option one chooses. Prices range from R60 to R120. All meals are paid for upfront.

The Doorstep Chef 

About: The Doorstep Chef has been around for over 6 years. It was launched by Leanor Abels who has experience working in the food industry, both nationally and internationally.

The Doorstep Chef was launched after Abels spotted a gap to provide nutritious and affordable meals to families in South Africa.

The Cape Town-based startup, offers the convenience in the form of healthy meals delivered on a daily basis to homes and offices.

Ideal for: Busy individuals who enjoy home cooked meals without the hassle of having to prepare it themselves.

Where to find them: They deliver daily around Cape Town.

What to expect: Healthy freshly prepared food. Their menu changes weekly. Standard offerings include chicken, lamb dishes, burgers as well as low carb menus which include low carb cauliflower fried rice, low carb mash. All their meals are served with a side salad and vegetables.

Pricing options: Prices range from R250 to R1300, depending on the number of people being catered for; the portions sizes, the frequency of the deliveries and the menu type – whether a standard or low carb menu.


About: Launched in 2014 by Christopher Verster Cohen, Klaudia Weixelbaumer and David Torr, Ucook is an online startup based in Cape Town. Ucook gives clients who love food but don’t have the time to search recipes and run to the shops, an opportunity to cook and enjoy gourmet meals.

Each week, nine nutritious meals are crafted by a team of chefs then posted on the Ucook website. They offer soft subscriptions which mean there is no lock in and customers are able to pause and resume their subscription at will.

Ideal for: Health conscious but busy individuals who are looking to improve their cooking skills but are strapped for time.

How to reach them: They distribute from their head offices in Cape Town but have plans to start delivering in Johannesburg.

What to expect: Ucook’s menu features a wide range of international cuisines. A third of their weekly menu is dedicated to meat-free meals. For those looking for meaty options, they do offer options for meat eaters like their spiced pork chops. You can also expect at least two vegetables as a side such as sweet potato, carrot salad and steamed greens.

Pricing options: Their prices range from about R50 to R90 a meal depending on the number and frequency of meals ordered.

Servd Fresh

About: Servd Fresh is a Johannesburg-based startup launched in 2009 by Bridget Van As and Robert Hope. They originally started out as a healthy meal home and office delivery service catering for people looking to lose weight or are simply looking to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Interested customers subscribe to a meal plan best suited to them on the website, thereafter they start receiving meal deliveries.

They offer healthy meal deliveries to individuals who are constantly on the go. They provide a convenient way of maintaining a balanced healthy low-fat, low-gi diet.

Ideal for: On-the-go individuals looking to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

How to reach them: The delivery days are area dependent.

What to expect: Servd Fresh takes a sustainable and balanced approach to eating. This means no food groups is excluded. Try them for homely, nourishing meals like rice and chicken. They do also offer a weight loss package as well. They provide a four-week rotational menu which is updated each season.

Pricing options: Their pricing is standard, dinner only options are R1120. Lunch and dinner starts at R2240 and their weight loss packages starts from R3580 to R4220, which includes three meals and two snacks daily.

Pantry Box

About: Pantry Box is an online ingredient delivery service launched by Michelle Nadine Ballot and James Ballot in 2014. They offer customers pre-portioned and packaged ingredients in the exact quantities required along with step-by-step recipe cards, enabling customers to prepare the food themselves.

Ideal for: Busy but family orientated entrepreneurs who enjoy preparing food themselves but don’t have the time for meal planning or grocery shopping.

How to reach them: They offer delivery to the greater Johannesburg area, Midrand and Pretoria. They are in the testing phase for introducing the service to other areas such as Welkom, Witbank and Brits.

What to expect: They offer eleven meals on their site each week with options fitting into one of three dietary choices – namely, low carbs high fat; fit or gourmet. The menu also contains combinations of protein options such as their butter chicken curry served with almonds, ginger and cardamom and for vegetarians, mushroom and vegetable bolognaise.

Pricing options: Their boxes are priced according to their portioning. Each box contains four meals portioned for either two, four or six people and the prices are R695, R1045 and R1400 respectively.