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Online restaurants: Customised ‘healthy meals’ are a click away

health and fitness Updated: Oct 04, 2015 10:06 IST
Manoj Sharma
Manoj Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

TLC prepares and delivers its meals from its kitchen in Okhla in New Delhi. (Saumya Khandelwal/ HT Photo)

Mayank Dube has been trying to shed kilos for the last few months. He knows that he has to cut his calorie intake by half if he wants to achieve his target weight. But since he lives alone and depends on his office canteen for his breakfast, lunch and dinner, it seemed like a distant dream.

“Bringing tiffin from home is not feasible. The office canteen’s food is pretty oily and options are limited,” said Dube, an IT professional working at an MNC in Gurgaon.

But a few days ago, while browsing the internet, he came across ‘online restaurants’ that provide “customised healthy meals”. They also offered consultation on nutritional as well as calorific requirements.

He immediately ordered the meal of his choice online, and in an hour his dinner was delivered to his office desk.

“Dieting is so much fun if your diet food is just a mouse click away,” said Dube, who has since introduced his colleagues and friends to these new online food destinations.

In the last few months, a new brand of online restaurants has come up that claim to offer “gourmet meal options” for those who wish to strike a balance between healthy lifestyle and their busy schedules.

These new online gourmet food destinations — Eatonomist, InnerChef, TLC Kitchen etc, which operate in south Delhi and Gurgaon — offer various calorie-controlled cuisines to suit taste and weight.

Eatonomist, for example, which calls itself “a gourmet meal planner”, allows you to specify the number of calories, preferences and cuisines and the time of your delivery. Co-founder Anisha Dhar too used to work in Gurgaon and found herself stuck between celery and yogurt. She used to wonder if there was more to healthy food than bland and limited options that most restaurants, including the one at her office offered.

“The mushrooming takeaways around the office hardly offered healthy options. So, we thought it would be a good idea to open an online food destination that offers meals that are both healthy and tasty,” said Dhar, who quit her job and founded Eatonomist with her friend Nupur Khanna in November.

The response, she said, has been encouraging. “We have about 1,200 registered users on the website, including top executives as well as youngsters in the 22-26 age group,” said Dhar.

InnerChef is another such online platform that claims to specialise in paninis, pastas, salads, snacks, desserts, etc. It uses an app, a website and an IoT (Internet of Things) device called Hunger Trap. One can stick the device on a fridge or a work desk and scan it using a phone’s QR code reader. It will throw up food choices based on past preferences.

InnerChef currently offers ready-to-cook recipe kits and ready-to-eat combo meals in Gurgaon and south Delhi. Interestingly, about 40% of its orders come from housewives.

“These days housewives have active social lives and are busier than working women,” said Rajesh Sawhney, who co-founded InnerChef in April. “We have been growing 100% month-on-month, and will soon be launching 10 new kitchens across Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.”

Meals being packaged for dispatch at the ‘InnerChefs’ kitchen in Gurgaon. (Abhinav Saha/ HT Photo)

TLC Kitchen, meanwhile, claims to combine diet delivery and fine dining. It offers flash frozen, ready-to-heat-and-eat meals under four subscription-based programmes — weight management, healthy heart, diabetic friendly and calorie controlled. A two-week weight management plan costs about Rs 7,000. In fact, a large part of its clients are those pursing weight-loss goals in Gurgaon and south Delhi.

“I realised that people were going to dieticians, but not following the recommended diet. Our meal programs are designed to help busy individuals meet their weight management and wellness goals. Our team of nutritionists even offer advice before a customer subscribes to our meal plans,” said Tarani Kapur, a textile designer who launched TLC last year.

Most of these new online food destinations have their own kitchens and delivery systems. TLC’s kitchen, for example, boasts a team of 25 people, including chefs and bakers. “Chicken tikka masala and brown rice biryani are our most popular dishes,” said Kapur.

For many like Prerna Verma, a busy software professional who loves to cook meals at home, ready-to-cook meals which come with chopped ingredients and recipe boxes are great time savers. “Since I have long and odd working hours, I don’t know when to call a maid. But these new online food services have made my life easier. Now, I can have a home cooked meal in minutes,” said Verma.

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