London-based meal kit company SimplyCook just closed a 4.5 million Series A funding round, led by Octopus Investments (via TechCrunch).
Rather than ship full meal kits a la Blue Apron or HelloFresh, SimplyCook focuses on the extras involved with making a meal: herbs, spices, and sauces. Each “kit” is shipped with recipe cards and whatever flavorings the meals call for.
But don’t think SimplyCook simply ships powdered flavorings you could just as easily scoop out of a jar yourself. The company says it creates its own flavor blends of different ingredients that take the form of pastes, oils, rubs, and stocks, in addition to dried herbs and spices. Flavorings are pre-portioned, as well. Customers need only add the whole food ingredients called for on the recipe card. The company also sells its kits in-store at retail outlets in the UK.
There are some folks who can glance at a shelf full of spices and create an amazing meal with them on the fly. Most of us can’t, and so a subscription service that exposes customers to more flavor combinations and tastes could appeal to a pretty wide swath of people. Because there are no proteins or produce shipped in the kits, the monthly price is a lot cheaper than, say, HelloFresh or The Purple Carrot. That in turn translates to less risk in the consumer’s mind about spending money on a meal kit service that may or may not line up with their tastes. And since SimplyCook ships non-perishable items, there’s less risk for both the company and the consumer: the former doesn’t have to worry about food spoiling in transit; the customer doesn’t feel pressure to immediately make the dish the day it arrives.
Stateside, there are many SimplyCook-like options. RawSpiceBar, based out of the Bay Area, is $8/month for three fresh-made spices and corresponding recipes. You can build your own spice kit based on your dietary needs and/or preferences, and from there get even more granular in terms of what you want in a recipe, be it casserole dishes, grilled items, or, of course, raw foods.
Spice Madam is more expensive, at $20/month. Each month’s box contains spices and recipes from a different region, plus cultural info about that part of the world and a music playlist. Plus, 5 percent of each box goes to charity.
SpiceBreeze also focuses on different regions of the world, including flavors for between two and four different areas in one box. The only downside to this one is that you get just two dishes per month.
As for SimplyCook, it’s only available in the UK right now, though this new funding round will, the company expects, “fuel international launches.”