‘Supporting health goals, with convenient nutritious food!’ That’s the ethos behind Nuba Health, a Manchester-based lunch service delivered to your desk, door or gym. Focusing on clean eating and natural nutrition, Nuba is about good honest food, catering for your tastebuds and health, all made using ethically sourced fresh produce.
With plans to launch snacks and ‘5-a-day’ coming soon, the premise is based on a ‘build your own lunchbox’ made up of key components to choose from: protein; side; sauce and delivery options. From the site, it’s good to see an imaginative variety of foods ranging from baked salmon to quinoa, a chilli side dish to tempeh – something for all tastes by the looks of it!
Working from home in the city centre, I was lucky to try out a working week’s worth of lunches delivered to my door. I was sent a list of what I would receive on each day and at what time beforehand, which was good so I could plan my day and food around that. How did I find my Nuba experience? Read on to see what I ate and my verdict!
MONDAY – Chicken, Green Queen & Kale Hummus
So, day one and when my lunch was delivered, I was pleasantly surprised with the very generous portion that awaited me. As someone who loves breakfast and dinner but sort of by-passes lunch in terms of amount and creativity, this was going to be an enjoyable and almost luxurious experience, having it all prepped and ready to eat!
Although there was a lot of food, I would have liked the quinoa to have more seasoning; black pepper and mixed herbs perhaps, plus the hummus could have done with more flavour. I never add or cook with salt so it’s not like my tastebuds are used to it – just a little more ‘oomph’ to the taste. However, as a balanced meal, the components worked well together and it kept me full all afternoon so I can’t complain about that!
TUESDAY – Thai Turkey Burger, Calorie Crush, Homemade Guacamole
This was a winner, I thought the elements worked better together and it seemed like a more complete meal. The burgers were succulent and meaty, although I would have perhaps liked more seasoning or stronger flavours like coriander/chilli coming through. The guacamole was spot on, and in my eyes, exactly how it should be: mild but tasty, chunky and the perfect level of creaminess. Coupled with the simple but delicious roasted peppers, asparagus and rocket, I really enjoyed this on a busy lunchtime!
WEDNESDAY – Baked Salmon, Squash, Lentil & Apple Salad, Coconut Apple Slaw
Plenty of salmon, cooked beautifully – thick, chunky and generous. I really enjoyed the lentil side dish, with a good portion of roasted squash and apple which added some nice natural sweetness. Likewise the coconut and apple combination in the slaw worked really well, however I felt like something was missing to bind it together. I usually hate coleslaw or anything with mayonnaise, so maybe a bit of natural yogurt would bulk it out and bring the side dish together. But overall, this got the thumbs up!
THURSDAY – Turmeric Beef Mince, Chilli Heatwave (no wheat), Chunky Tomato Salsa
A particularly colourful combination this lunchtime. I’m a big fan of turmeric so it was nice to enjoy beef coated in this wonderful and vibrant spice. The bean side dish provided a nice sauce while the salsa was a nice touch; very fresh and all combined together well. Again, decent portions and tasted like I’d cooked it myself. Could have been a bit more of a kick in the chilli heatwave but that’s just my preference!
FRIDAY – Tempeh, Stirred not Fried, Coconut Apple Slaw
I must admit, I’d never tried tempeh and wasn’t sure what to expect…MY GOD. It was absolutely delicious! Tasty, meaty, substantial, a really satisfying texture – basically, it went beyond what I expected – even to the point where I’m going to experiment with tempeh myself in future! So, the rest of the meal – the same comments for the coconut apple slaw, but the accompanying vegetables were perfect. A great end to the week!
- Quality of ingredients: Everything from the meat to the vegetables, were spot on. None of this cheap crap in there! I feel this kind of justifies the cost…
- Generous portions: The meals kept me going all afternoon until dinner time later in the evening; usually I get a bit peckish around 4pm.
- Option to personalise: All of the food from Nuba is cooked to order on the day of delivery, so if you have an allergy or dislike they can alter any recipe for you. For instance, the Chilli Heatwave usually includes bulgar wheat but this was removed as a result of my wheat intolerance.
- Eco friendly: The Nuba team are very eco conscious and aim to reduce their carbon footprint, hence the bicycle delivery.
- Focus on locality: Most vegetables are grown within 30 miles of Manchester and picked within 48 hours of eating it, helping to optimise nutrition while re-investing in the economy by supporting local farmers.
- Nutritionally balanced: ‘Balanced, healthy eating is essential for everyone; dieting is not’. This quote from the website sums Nuba up – it’s not about eating lettuce leaves every day, but being able to enjoy nutritious, convenient food to keep you going during your working day. The make-up of each Nuba lunch box ticks those boxes so you can be assured you’re getting a healthy dose of goodness!
- Availability: Although this is listed as one of the positives, because the service is only delivered in Manchester city centre, this is restrictive. It will be interesting to see if the company extends this over time.
- Price: I’m used to lunch costing next to nothing and lasting a few days, so the actual price per day is quite a big jump, and a price I wouldn’t be able to part with on a daily basis. Personally, it would be something I’d order as a treat once every so often, rather than a regular part of my working week. I guess this is where Nuba is aiming at the higher-end market; for professionals leading busy lives but conscious of what they are eating, especially when the usual option is a sandwich, pasta pot or other high carb, stodgy offerings, this is perfect!
However, something to add about the pricing: The site doesn’t advertise it yet but there are volume discounts built in. The meals can be spread over a 3 month period for delivery, so you don’t have to have 5 consecutive days etc. This helps to make it more affordable as a lifestyle choice, rather than just a treat – good to know!
I’d like to say how much I admire founder Hannah for her enthusiasm, creativity and passion for setting up something like this. Having the pleasure of meeting her in person and chatting about the industry, city and state of health in general, Hannah’s story is pretty inspiring and when you see what goes into the work behind the scenes, you really do appreciate it! I’m keen to see how Nuba develops in the future – for now, watch this space!