Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It's DinnerTime everyone!

This blogs loves mumtrepreneurs, women with initiative and creativity and overall, unique and interesting business concepts that make all of our lives a little easier.

And I have had the pleasure of testing (and enjoying) one of these concepts for the past month:

The idea is simple: four meals per week, delivered to you door. 

With a twist: all ingredients are fresh, local when possible, top of the line... and uncooked. 

So basically, you receive a gigantic box, filled with your grocery shopping for the week, and a set of recipes on how to prepare four delicious meals, using these very ingredients. The recipes are always varied and creative, and each box contains one meat-based, one chicken-based, one fish-based and one vegetarian meal. All doable in, wait for it, thirty minutes only!

Now as a mom of two very young children, with a husband who works long hours and travels a lot, and no nanny, going to the grocery store requires intensive planning, which almost always ends up unattainable. 

So many times, especially when I am stuck at home with one or both kids sick, have I found myself unable to find anything to cook in my fridge.

Also, I quickly run out of ideas on what to cook, so even if I am at the supermarket, I never know what to get or always end up missing ingredients.

Well for a month now, it has never happened!

And that thirty-minute rule is golden! I have no time to waste during the day and being able to complete an entire meal in such a small time is perfect.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

My box is delivered every Sunday and sustains me for a the whole week. We usually go out on weekends, so to be quite exact, it is enough for the five weekdays. I have opted for the 4-people box, but there is also an option for 2 people. And my gluten free friends, rejoice, there also are special boxes for you!

Photo: R. Abouzeid

I will be completely honest, I have skipped some meals. Some recipes I have found to be too "exotic" for my kids (although looking absolutely mouthwatering to me), I have modified or tweaked a little to adjust to my children's taste. 

But what matters to me the most is that never, not once, in that entire month have I found myself unable to cook a meal at home. Every time I walked in my kitchen, I knew there would be enough ingredients for me to follow one of DinnerTime's recipes or improvise something if I felt like it. 

Photo: R. Abouzeid

And that is why, I feel I should share with you this wonderful business concept that will change your life if, like me, you have little time to spend in the kitchen, grocery shopping or browsing the net for new, exciting recipes.

I have had the pleasure to speak with Anette Lind, co-founer of DinnerTime to learn more about this wonderful venture and how it came to life.

Photo: R. Abouzeid

So, who is Anette?

I am from Stockholm, Sweden and moved to Dubai in 2009 when my husband got a job here. We have two kids. I studied Economy and Marketing with professional background and experience in Finance, Marketing and Sales.

I always loved food, to cook yummy meals! And now I am more interested in healthy food, what we actually eat, where it comes from, preferably organic.

Since we found out that our son is gluten and dairy products intolerant, and with an active triathlete husband, we changed the diet completely for the whole family.

Anette Lind
Photo courtesy of DinnerTime

What led you to the DinnerTime concept? How and why did you think of it?

I always had a dream to have my own company, and I have a lot of business ideas. I was on my way to start a business in Stockholm just before we decided to move to Dubai and all the calculations were ready. I came to Dubai and realized that the life here is hectic, people are busy. The mums are busy driving to school, picking up, after school activities, play dates and I thought that this popular Swedish concept would work here: to help all busy people in Dubai to be able to eat home cooked meal without the hassle of grocery shopping, looking for recipes and plan the week.

How many people are part of your crew? Can you tell us who the key players are please?

Kanika is our Chef, Cecilia is the PR and Marketing Manager who joined as a partner and the lady I started the company with, Karin who is our lady in Sweden and handles IT and Customer Service Manager. We recently we hired a lady in Abu Dhabi who will be in charge of that market.

The team
Photo courtesy of DinnerTime

How did this adventure begin and how well was it received by the UAE? 

We started the company in fall 2011 and we deliver all over Dubai, and now soon in Abu Dhabi as well. In the beginning we delivered to friends and the word spread. The challenge was to explain the unique concept that was new to Dubai: that you get the raw ingredients plus the recipes, but you have to cook. But wow, people here in Dubai loved it! It is a really open minded atmosphere here.

How difficult was it to launch your own business? Did it help that you started in the UAE rather than in any other place? 

I took some time to find the right set up, we started up as an off shore company with an local agent. Easy, fast and not so expensive. Since April 2013 we have an LLC company. I think for new ideas and unique concepts Dubai is the right place to start a business in. Open minded, multicultural, positive, growing, developing.

What is the average number of deliveries you make per week? Do you have many regulars (subscribers)? 

Around 200 per week, most are subscribers.

Do you have any plans to expand in the region and beyond? 

Yes, we are starting up in Abu Dhabi. First delivery in April, so exciting! And yes, we have plans to start up in other regions as well.

How do you create menus? Are there specific food groups that are always included?

It is a set menu every week, well balanced diet with food from all different food groups, which makes it healthy but without counting calories. Every week you will get a chicken, fish, meat and vegetarian, pasta or a soup dish. The customer will get 4 dinners, which is 16 meals for a family of 4.

Do you take into account food allergies or diet specificities should you clients request them?

For the gluten intolerant we have the Gluten Free food basket.

How do you come up with the recipes? Do you do testing and tasting before you decide which dishes deserve to be introduced and are there any classics that are always included? 

Our fabulous chef creates the menus according to our manual. All the dishes are test cooked and tasted before presentation. Sometimes we do have classics and the favourite recipes will be presented again, otherwise there are new recipes created every week.

How does DinnerTime operate?

You can order online on our website, by email or phone. We deliver all over Dubai, and soon in Abu Dhabi. Recently we launched our web shop so it is possible to pay online with your credit card or you pay cash on delivery as usual. 

How does DinnerTime differentiate themselves from the local competition? 

We cover the whole everyday week [whereas competition offer a single meal per box]. You get the food basket on Sunday including all the ingredients you need to cook four dinners. The well balanced diet with food from all different food groups makes it healthy without counting calories. With DinnerTime you get the good variation of food and it makes life easier, just decide which recipe you want to cook, open the fridge and start cooking. In 30 minutes you have dinner on the table. You do not have to worry about what is for dinner tonight. The week is covered! Home cooked meal without the hassle of grocery shopping, looking for recipes and plan the week. Simply served with love!

Do you organize special events our readers can attend? 

We do attend different events like the Tavola cooking event recently and we do events at companies who invites us: recently Explorer, different communities, coffee mornings, schools, fairs, markets and other gatherings. The latest was in Times Square, Family's Day Out, Mother and Baby Club on March 21. 

What does the future hold for DinnerTime?

We are growing, we are expanding. Abu Dhabi in April and pretty soon you will see DinnerTime in other regions as well.

In one word, if you were:

A dish: A salad

A color: Green

A shape: A triangle

A song or music composition: Happy

A film: Eat, Pray and Love 

A book or literary piece: The E-Myth

A famous character (real or fictional): Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray and Love

Mamma Mia+Jad

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