MasterChef winner Brett McGregor joins Kiwi start-up on a mission to be the number one go-to dinner solution globally
If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that there’s no more universal question than ‘what’s for dinner?’
Now there is a solution to that pressing question, thanks to Christchurch-based millennials Toby Skilton and Elise Hilliam, who have created New Zealand’s first meal planning and food delivery platform, MenuAid.
The start-up launched in September and is solving the “What’s for dinner?” dilemma in a new and exciting way with weekly recipe inspiration, an automated shopping list and flexible shopping options.
Toby and Elise came up with the idea after finding themselves in a food rut where they kept looping back to a few select favourites or opting for takeaways. They spent hours each week flicking through cookbooks and online recipes to plan their menu for the week – and concluded there must be a better way!
So, they teamed up with expert chefs to bring their vision to life. They invited MasterChef winner, author and presenter Brett McGregor, as well as well-known food writer Helen Jackson, to come on board as shareholders and develop bespoke recipes for their weekly menu plans.
“With my background in nutrition, and Toby’s experience with creating innovative and disruptive technology businesses, we knew that we could create a solution that would provide the same level of convenience as meal kit delivery services, but would offer more flexibility and doesn’t come with the hefty price tag and mountain of plastic,” says Elise. “What we love about MenuAid is that it gives users more control over their waste profile.”
When people sign up to MenuAid ($4/week subscription) they receive five recipes each week, and it’s up to them to decide which ones to cook, and when. All of the ingredients required for each recipe are reconciled into a personalised shopping list, allowing the user the freedom to remove items they already have and swap out things they don’t like. They then have the option to shop themselves or have the items delivered to their door.
After winning MasterChef back in 2010, Brett has been working behind the scenes to develop a range of recipes for a range of NZ companies, including working as Executive Chef at the Strata Lounge at Auckland airport.
It’s his most recent move – stepping into the role as Recipe Developer and Brand Ambassador at MenuAid, that he has developed a newfound passion.
“When talking with other Kiwis about weekday meals it became obvious that many of us suffer from menu fatigue. I had no idea what the heck that meant until lockdown. It’s not easy for people to consistently come up with nutritious everyday meals for the family that have loads of flavour, are quick
and easy to cook and give a decent variety. When I was approached by Toby and Elise who had a very simple solution to a big problem, I just had to get involved,” says Brett.
With MenuAid there are two options; the ‘Balanced’ plan, which consists of five delicious recipes including one meat-free recipe – a great combination of proteins, vegetables and carbohydrates making it the perfect pack for a balanced lifestyle. The other option is the ‘VegeFix’ plan which contains five nutritious vegetarian-based recipes that can easily be adapted to vegan. This plan provides great variety and the meals are rich in protein, high in fibre and guaranteed to please.
Although the MenuAid team is starting with two menu-packs, they are in the process of building a system that will serve their members meals based on their personal preferences.
“If you don’t like mushrooms, MenuAid will learn, and you won’t get sent them mushroom recipes. If we see you are a big fan of lamb you will be getting more lamb-based meals. If you have allergies or are eating a vegan based diet your recipes will be tailored to suit that,” explains Elise.
MenuAid leans on a well-proven international model of meal planning and delivery that, until now, didn’t exist in New Zealand. In just six weeks, they have had over 2500 people sign up with thousands of their recipes being cooked each week.
“We can’t wait for more New Zealanders to try our affordable, nutritious and sustainable meal planning service, which makes mealtimes simple and enjoyable. We’ve had just great feedback from Kiwis already and we are on our way to realising our dream to be the next generation’s cookbook and go-to dinner solution globally,” says Elise.