You are at your office and the clock ticks your lunch hour. You get out to nearby eateries, but you are confused looking at the menu. You doubt their quality. Sometimes, this confusion leads to not having anything and other times you simply munch on the same substandard thing every day, boring… You wonder what if there were weekly or monthly meal plans.
Bivek, who runs a cloth shop at Naya Thimi, Bhaktapur, says he gets troubled at lunch hour every day as there are not many eateries that serve quality food with varieties. But, he does not have any alternative to going to the same place and ordering the same dish.
If you are like Bivek, there are some potential solutions now thanks to newly established meal plan sellers in Kathmandu. These individuals, groups or companies are providing their customers with varieties of quality food along with saving their time. Delivering different food items as per the selected meal plans over a week or a month, they are becoming a part of Kathmandu’s new business world.
Why does Kathmandu need periodic meal plan sellers?
Realising the need for organised periodic meal plans, Tummy Truck says it began offering its food delivery services in 2019 to cater for people like Bivek.
“Since many office-goers lack quality food service around them and have limited time for lunch, the need for specific meal plans was realised. As a result, the number of such services is increasing lately,” says Kritika Shah, the founder of Tummy Truck, a meal plan seller.
The idea of Tummy Truck came to Shah’s mind from her own troublesome experience she went through while working in an IT company in Lazimpat.
“Every day, I along with my friends used to have trouble searching for the eatery that is affordable and hygienic,” says Shah. “Within a limited time, we were supposed to complete our lunch, but sometimes, we would spend the entire time in the course of searching the appropriate place.”
Kamal Tamang, the owner of another meal plan selling company Tiffin Batta, also agrees with Shah. He says the lack of reasonable places for food has encouraged people to use their services.
Tamang lived in Japan for 13 years. There, he had a habit of eating healthy and quality food. But, after he returned to Nepal, he did not find places that would serve healthy food, especially during lunch hours. So, he decided to come up with Tiffin Batta.
What do they offer?
Some of the food items in a Tummy Truck package include chicken roll, aloo chilli and salad, rajma, rice, pickle and salad among others.
Tummy Truck says its monthly meal plan costs Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,000. It serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, and all of them are prepared in their own kitchen based in Nakhipot, Lalitpur. There are altogether seven people in the kitchen including professional cooks, chefs and helpers.
According to Tamang’s Tiffin Batta, all of the food is prepared under the supervision of a nutritionist and it is prepared by professional chefs in the kitchen based in Pepsicola, Kathmandu.
Tiffin Batta mostly sells weekly meal plans that cost Rs 2,065 to 3,150. Tamang accepts the service is expensive. “But, it’s the quality and material we use in food that makes the service relatively expensive,” he tries to justify.
Tiffin Batta has around 150 periodic meal plan buyers, and Lama says most of the customers are from the medical, aviation and banking sectors.
Shah, who resumed the service after a gap of two years due to the pandemic, echoes him. She has around 100 regular customers now.
Both of these services are operational every day except Saturdays.
What do customers say?
Both Shah and Tamang claim their customers are happy and satisfied with their work. The reviews and comments on social media justify their claim.
“The food quality they provide is the most attractive part of their service within a supportive and reasonable price,” writes Prasai Pukar in the review section of Tummy Truck’s Facebook.
Kyokushin Pradhan, in the same section, writes, “Much much better than I had anticipated”.
There are many other such comments that have praised Tiffin Batta too.
“It’s already been nine months since I started to have Tiffin Batta’s meal and I’m really enjoying it,” writes Bhakta Budathoki, a doctor at B&B hospital. “Thank you, Tiffin Batta! For maintaining the overall quality, hygiene of food and also for taking care of us.”
Likewise, Vabesh Thapa, an employee at e-Sewa, writes about Tiffin Batta, “Tiffin Batta’s food’s quality and portion are really satisfying to me”. He further adds, “Taste of food is awesome and I would like to recommend Tiffin Batta’s food to all of my colleagues”.
But, what are the challenges?
While most of the customers seem happy, there are moments when the customers vent their ire at such meal plan sellers. The most common case is when the food is delivered late.
Shah says the major challenge of her team is to deliver the food in a specified time. “VIP motorcades are also one of the major obstructions to the timely delivery of the service. If the food is not delivered on time, it will be cold and taste bland.”
To keep the taste of food, Tummy Truck use heat and leakage-proof tiffin boxes, she says.
Tamang of Tiffin Batta says he has also faced similar challenges, but the biggest concern for him is to maintain hygiene. He believes a clean kitchen and professional workers enable the company to deal with the issues.