We step into the UCOOK kitchen, South Africa's first meal kit delivery service. Picture: Instagram (ucooksa)
Ready to cook meal kits has become a big food trend which is said to grow even more in popularity in 2019. 

In South Africa, in particular, meal kits have become very popular and while most services are online based, retailers have as also jumped on board by launching their own brands which customers can get off the shelves. 

The convenience is what makes meal kits a favourite amongst many. 

The box contains all the main ingredients you will need to make the dish with perfectly measured portions.

UCOOK is South Africa’s first meal delivery service launched four years ago and currently feeds up to 100 000 South Africans a month.

The business started in co-owner, Christopher Verster Cohen’s mother’s garage in Newlands and has since grown into other parts of the country, including Durban and Johannesburg. 

It might seem easy once the box is delivered to your home, but a lot of planning and preparation goes into making the perfect ready to cook kit.

I recently visited their kitchen which is located at the warehouse in Maitland.

The area is a lot smaller than what I anticipated, but this modest space is just where their team of chefs need to work their magic. 

The team spend weeks putting together the right recipes and finding the right ingredients, depending on the season, of course, to pack and deliver the best box to you.

Chef Deon Huysamer says it takes close to two months to prepare the perfect box for their customers. 

“We have a cycle which moves from department to department. Our whole process from coming up with an idea, costing it, testing it and retesting it if we need to make any changes, getting it approved by finance and going through the marketing process is about a seven-week process between the time you receive your box and us thinking what’s going to go in it. Ideally, it’s one week to make a box,” says Deon.

Some of the things for the chefs to take into consideration when preparing the menus include products that are in season, what customers have in their kitchens as well as the combination of ingredients and dietary preferences. 

On average, Christopher says UCOOK delivers up to 20 000  boxes a month and while the business still continues to grow, Christopher says they have exciting new things in store this year. 

The brand has become more flexible by allowing subscribers to change their menu plans by either adding or dropping meals from the menu.

"This year we’re offering our customers different meal options - either 2, 3 or 4 meals in your weekly box. It helps with people that might eat out more often and don’t want ingredients sitting wasted in their fridges," says Christopher.

In June UCOOK hopes to launch a range of frozen meals which will come in three categories depending on your preference. The brand also hopes to launch  into a retail space where customers can buy their products in-store.  

Perhaps the best news of all is that the brand plans to partner with different wine estates and suppliers this year to offer e-commerce customers the perfect wine pairing with their dinner-kit choices.  

Christopher says they want their customers to experience dishes with perfectly paired wines in the comfort of their own homes.

* Special offer for IOL readers. 

The first 300 new users will get 30% off their first UCOOK box. Use the code #IOL_UCOOK to claim your discount. 

Place your order  here