Easy dinner kits will instantly turn you into a gourmet chef
The best thing about this supper kit delivery service is that it liberates you from having to do a daily food shop, writes Andrea Nagel
Every weekend I make the same promise to myself: get that library of cookbooks off the shelf and update those culinary skills.
Every weekend, thanks to cricket matches, ballet recitals, binge-watching and the like, I fail. And so, come Monday, it's back to chops and mash with two veg, roast chicken and potato on Tuesday, spaghetti Bolognese on Wednesday and so on ... week after week. And then the family's chorus: chicken? chops? again?
I really fell for UCOOK in a big way. There were lots of reasons: the novelty; the convenience; the presentation; the lack of waste.
But perhaps the best reason I got hooked was not having to set foot in a grocery store every day. There are thousands of people who feel the same.
UCOOK is a dinner kit delivery service that offers a choice of meals from nine seasonally inspired recipes that change each week.
They deliver all the ingredients you need to make three of the recipes you choose, enabling you to create gourmet meals at home.
If you need a pinch of turmeric for a particular dish, then that's what will be neatly packed into your box, so that you don't have to waste a thing or buy packets of produce to use only a leaf or two.
The recipes are created by a team of top chefs and are categorised into groups like Health Nut, Easy Peasy and Veg.
David Torr, 27, launched the service in 2014 with Christopher Verster Cohen and Klaudia Weixelbaumer. Now a millionaire, thanks in part to UCOOK, Torr was voted by his copywriting peers at Red and Yellow Advertising School as "most likely to end up in prison".
Torr got the idea for UCOOK from a service in London called Hello Fresh, the biggest home-delivery cooking service in the world.
''It made sense to start something like that in South Africa, where Woolworths does so well - even in an economic recession they're booming," he says.
''People in the LSM 7-10 market spend a lot on food relative to what they earn," he says. They don't have enough time to think up new meals every day, shop, prepare and cook.
The business, which launched out of a garage in Newlands, Cape Town, started slowly but has grown by more than 2000% and now includes Johannesburg and Durban.
''We did no marketing because we were so confident that there were a lot of people who would appreciate the service," says Torr.
UCOOK also tries to provide meals that are made with as much organic produce as possible, supporting small purveyors and farming projects, keeping their menus seasonal and homegrown.
"UCOOK allows you to reignite that family cooking dynamic, where everyone cooks and then sits around the table and eats a meal together," he says.
Torr's right. Both my children, 10 and 8, who'd never expressed any interest in helping me cook dinner before, were intent on taking over the process.
The ingredients for each meal come in a paper bag with instructions - beautifully printed on a menu card for you to file - easy enough for a child to follow.
And just to keep you going, each recipe ends with the motivational message: ''Well done chef!"
• This article was originally published in The Times.