Revealed: Meal kits dubbed the biggest trend of 2021

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Dubai - Hassle-free cooking experiences to be the mainstay for brands as families continue to prepare and eat homemade meals

by Purva Grover

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Published: Fri 15 Jan 2021, 4:40 PM

In 2020, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. As we fed ourselves and the families, we also kept our anxieties in check. Our cooking abilities were put to test, and almost everyone we knew baked sourdough bread, experimented with long-simmering stews, and Instagrammed pictures of onion biscuits.

According to a survey on consumer behaviour in the UAE during the Covid-19 outbreak, 63 per cent of respondents expected an increase in the time allocated to cooking. Traffic on cooking websites burgeoned and the great recipe exchange grew stronger on WhatsApp groups and Pinterest feeds. Yes, quarantine cooking made meals prepared at home the new normal — a trend that in 2021 is not only likely to boost our confidence in the kitchen, but also expand the market of local offerings for hassle-free cooking experiences.

“Although Dubai is a city of foodies, who love to eat out and order in top-quality food delivery concepts, cooking at home will continue with help from delivery restaurants,” said Rowan and Ziad Kamel, founders of Go! Cook, a “cook it yourself” delivery-only concept that includes all Go! restaurants’ ingredients.

In the UAE, the Cook with Marks & Spencer (M&S) range of convenient ingredients saw a 28 per cent spike in December 2020, while sales of their home-baking products — including flour, nuts and chocolate chips — are up 80 per cent compared to March.

“People have tested their ability to cook. It is also a bonding activity between family members; something they feel proud about achieving together,” said Mohammad Nassar Al Refaee, CEO of NRTC Fresh, which supplies produce from local and international farms to UAE residents.

Rowan and Ziad added that that the movement has got men interested in cooking as it has become easier and more fun. “Men are finding the joy in cooking again without all the prep work.”

Earlier this month, Spinneys launched a meal kit delivery concept under its SpinneysFOOD label. The service for UAE customers supports the demand for convenient and nutritious home cooking options.

Also, just launched are Carrefour’s “Cookit Yourself” boxes, which come packed with pre-portioned fresh ingredients and step-by-step chef-inspired recipe cards (under 30-minute cooking for two) designed to encourage people to cook. The boxes are available online and in-store at selected stores across the UAE and offer customers the choice of seven different balanced meal options.

M&S is working with chefs like Nick & Scott, Chris Baber and Kirk Westaway, and creating easy weeknight recipes to help those getting into cooking for the first time.

NRTC’s upcoming digitalised cooking show would soon offer consumers new recipes using fresh fruit and vegetables.

Mohammad highlights freshness, variety and ease of ordering as the deciding factors. “Irrespective of the price, freshness is priority.” At NRTC, their focus is on new items in season; fresh suggestions to create recipes with old ingredients; and making the ordering process as easy and rewarding.

The duo from Go! Cook agreed that it is quality ingredients that matter. “Also, cooking made easy is our focus i.e. we do all the prep work, which means less cleaning, less shopping around for ingredients.”

“Other than that, speed of delivery is a deciding factor. You can decide what you’d like to cook last minute and have it delivered to you within 30 minutes and cooked in less than 15,” they added.

Why people are going for meal kit deliveries

>No need to spend hours at grocery stores to shop for ingredients

>You can decide what you want to cook at the last minute and have everything you need in 30 minutes

>A good opportunity to take your cooking skills to the next level

>It’s a chance to explore new but tried-and-tested recipes

>Cooking can become a family bonding activity

>Impress friends with Instagram-worthy meals you whip up yourself

>You get to feel like a winner for making something delicious from scratch

Purva Grover

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