Meals on wheels
We’re sure we can all agree that Dubai is the king of home delivery services, unlike any other place in the world. You can get your shirts washed and ironed, a flat car battery replaced or a last-minute magician ordered to a birthday party, all without leaving the house – and mostly at the click of a button or a swipe of the finger. At the top of the necessity list, however, is convenience food for busy families. Forget greasy takeaways, though; what's trending is nutritious, individually labelled meals, fresh fruit packages and even kids’ lunchboxes, all prepared for each day of the week and delivered to your door. Needless to say, there's a wave of calm washing over chaotic kitchens.
So, to find out if these ready meals are really as useful as they say on the tin, we decided to order in a few ourselves…
The promise: For busy households looking to save time from grocery shopping while still enjoying a wholesome home-made meal, DinnerTime ticks all the right boxes. It provides all the ingredients necessary to prepare the main meal fresh off the shelves along with easy-to-follow recipes.
The process: Menus are posted online a week in advance. Log on, place your order and wait for your box of goodness to be delivered on Sunday morning for the week. The menu tells you which pantry ingredients you need and how to prepare each dish. You can choose from a weekly box (four meals), quick and easy box (three meals), gluten-free box, paleo box, vegetarian box and a children’s weekend box. You can pay by credit card or cash on delivery and choose servings for two to ten people.
The taste: We chose the quick and easy box, which gave us tasty meals for three days. The recipes were very easy to follow, breaking down the cooking process into simple steps with pictures. The meat servings were generous and full of flavour, and the vegetables were fresh and crisp. We also received extra fruit treats – the dates were a big hit with our tiny diners!
The cost: Dhs240 for the quick and easy box. Prices go up to Dhs400.
The parents’ verdict: The convenience of limited dashes to the store made this an ideal option for us during a hectic week. The portion sizes were very generous, so we even had leftovers for lunch. It was a lot of fun experimenting with recipes that we wouldn’t normally try and the children enjoyed exploring all the containers, making dinner prep a real family affair. We did feel it was a little pricey for three dinners, but the recipes were so delightful, they offset all our qualms.
The kids’ verdict: The rice was really fluffy and I loved helping my mum cook dinner!
www.dinnertime.me (055 790 8733).
The promise: Offering a huge scoop of goodness across the city, Fruitful Day makes snacking on healthy titbits that much easier. Back in 2014, a few friends, tired of bemoaning the lack of wholesome sustenance in their workplace, noticed a niche in the market and went for it. Now, Fruitful Day is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of the city's residents, and its boxes of fruit can be seen at homes and offices across Dubai.
The process: The website and online ordering process are as fresh and straightforward as the fruit served. Create an account to get going, then choose between a Staple Box, with standard fruits like bananas, apples and oranges, or get adventurous with the Discovery Box, which offers up such goodies as cherries from the Middle East, bananas from the Philippines and peaches from Jordan alongside treats like mangoes, lychees and kiwi fruit. Depending on your needs, your box can be delivered from Sunday through to Thursday. You can pay
via credit card or cash, and will always get a call prior to delivery to ensure that you are home.
The taste: Falling over each other to get to the door, the kids took delivery of our Staple Box of goodness, which came nicely stocked with all our favourite fruits. The apples and pears were bright and shiny and the bananas not too ripened. We also got juicy grapefruit, delicious mandarins and a good-sized bunch of seedless grapes.
The cost: Dhs95 for the Staple Box; Dhs125 for the Discovery Box.
The family verdict: All week, teensy hands have been raiding the fridge and little mouths have been munching their way through the tempting produce. We could have done with some more apples as they were definitely the star attraction, while the grapes and oranges were a welcome addition to the lunch menu. With eyes firmly on the next delivery, the junior chefs have grand plans up their sleeves to whip up some colourful fruit kebabs.
www.fruitfulday.com (04 883 5851).
The promise: Hello Chef! takes its food seriously and delivers fresh ingredients and recipes for family meals right to your doorstep. Its aim is to help busy folk who don’t have time to shop or think about planning meals by creating a variety of recipes, including options for those who prefer gluten-free, paleo, low-carb or even vegetarian diets.
The process: It couldn’t be easier. All done online in less than a few minutes, there are no long forms to complete and only essential information is required. Delivery is always on a Sunday and orders must be placed by the Thursday preceding it to guarantee delivery. You’re given three time slots to choose from, and a call from the driver 35 minutes before delivery is immensely helpful – especially if you need to tell him not to ring the doorbell and wake up sleeping children!
Our driver, dressed in a Hello Chef! shirt, was pleasant and delivered the food on time.
The taste: We ordered the family meal and received a well-organised box with meat and fish stored separately under four large, clearly labelled ziplock bags containing portioned ingredients for each day’s meal. We were pleased to see a range of meat, fish and vegetarian options, and everything looked as fresh as promised. The box also contained a recipe instruction sheet for each meal, and a step-by-step guide with photographs to putting together each dish. These can easily be followed by the most inexperienced
The kids loved the Italian beef sausage casserole and we rediscovered a family love of plump white fish fillets. The vegetables for end-of-the-week meals retained their freshness and we enjoyed the variety every day.
The cost: Dhs410 for four meals for a family of four.
The parents’ verdict: Hello Chef! is excellent value for money. The portion sizes were very generous, so we had ample left over for another evening. It’s a great time- and money-saver. We will definitely be ordering this again! Plus, it’s a no-brainer for when visitors descend and there are more mouths to feed (and no time to shop)!
The kids’ verdict: It was fun to try different meals and we even liked the fish, but we would like there to be pudding on the menu next time!
www.hellochef.me (056 648 0597).
The promise: Kibsons delivers a range of quality fruits and vegetables from every continent, from the ripest Indian mangoes to the sweetest Malaysian passion fruit. They specialise in exotic fare, pre-packaged and mini vegetables as well as micro herbs, and aim to carefully source the freshest quality goods at the best prices. You’d be hard-pressed to find a street in Dubai without one of its famous blue boxes stashed next to a recycling bin!
The process: This is the online version of a pick-your-own-fruit-and-veggies market, so you need to scroll through a rather extensive list and make your selections as you go. Each item is accompanied by an image (in case, like us, you’re not exactly sure what a mangosteen is), followed by a description and the cost per kilogram. Then, you have the option of selecting the weight or quantity based on whether the fruit or veggies are loose or pre-packaged. There’s a handy 'save to favourites' option to make reordering the same items much easier. You can also choose whether you’d like to pay by credit card or hand over cash on delivery.
Once you’ve registered, signed in and selected your shopping list, deliveries can be expected between 9am and 9pm. There are no deliveries on Fridays though. Or you can pick your items up yourself from the Kibsons stall at the Al Aweer Central Fruit and Vegetable Market in Ras Al Khor, for an authentic Dubai experience.
The taste: One word – wow! Having had mixed experiences in terms of the freshness of fruits and vegetables since moving to this part of the world, we were genuinely surprised to see our box filled with what was clearly super-fresh, high-quality fare, some of which were tagged at astonishingly low prices compared to the supermarkets. Perfectly picked berries that the kids practically fought over were devoured in minutes. The kiwi fruit was delivered at that ideal stage of not-too-hard but not-too-soft. Even the strawberries were pretty tasty and there wasn’t a bruise in sight on the bananas. Lunchboxes, snacks and desserts for the week were sorted.
The cost: Let us give you an example: Gorgeously ripe and definitely not mushy blueberries for Dhs9 a packet! Each order for home delivery must be for a minimum of Dhs100, but we reckon we spend way more than that on a particular fruit in
The family verdict: We will be making this part of our weekly shop. The quality, variety and price are pretty hard to beat, and the delivery options make it flexible enough to be convenient for last-minute orders and bulk-buying when guests are in town.
The promise: The aim of this company is to encourage children to appreciate healthy, clean foods by adding vegetables to sauces, eliminating additives, preservatives, sugar and refined products, introducing higher proportions of wholegrain and slowly crowding out junk – every parent's dream. With all the dishes prepared from scratch and fresh on the day, these lunches are hearty and wholesome, and flavourful.
The process: Parents and nurseries can directly get in touch with the company over the phone, by email or via social media. Each child is assigned a backpack with their name, meal option, location and school food requirements. These are delivered in temperature-controlled packaging, which is later collected at the end of the day so it can be cleaned and is ready to be used the following day. Children are encouraged to recycle and reuse, which is always an added bonus.
The taste: A typical lunch bag includes a variety of hot and cold breakfasts, from wholewheat multigrain vegetable sandwiches and toasties to sweet potato pancakes. There are freshly prepared, healthy hot lunches like wholegrain pastas, wholegrain baked nuggets or rice-based dishes with a veggie side and a sugar-free dessert. They also cater to children going dairy-free and there is the option of sandwiches and fruit or veggie crudités for an afternoon snack – ideal for children who stay at school longer.
The cost: Prices vary between Dhs22 and Dhs32 per day, per child. Parents are charged only for the days their child attends nursery or school and generally do not ask for a minimum quantity for delivery, provided the location is broadly within the delivery route.
The verdict: Lisa John, principal at Dubai's Paddington Nursery, says: “Our nursery is very multicultural, so we love that we are now offering a variety of foods. We believe introducing children to different foods at a young age is the best way to develop their taste buds.
“Our children love eating the same foods and Leela's Lunches makes lunchtime more social and enjoyable. It also supports us in educating and sharing the message of the importance of nutrition with both children and parents. I'm very happy with their service. I highly recommend it and would love to see more nurseries doing the same.”
The promise: Catering to the discerning tiny tummies of the nursery and pre-school set, nombox provides a balanced daily meal delivery service directly to nurseries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The founders are mums themselves and know only too well the 6am lunchbox struggle and how difficult it is to find the time to prepare nutritious and appealing meals every day. A nombox takes the challenge out of feeding time, giving kids the chance to try a variety of snacks, vegetables, fruits and sandwiches to help them grow, learn and develop. Each nombox menu is rigorously assessed by a state-approved nutritionist and includes a healthy assortment of foods.
The process: It’s all action in the nombox kitchens early each morning as meals are whipped up for the day. Nurseries can order on a weekly basis and the refrigerated trucks make their deliveries first thing to ensure the food is perfectly fresh. Orders are placed online via a simple form. The nurseries signed up to the service are part of the drop-down menu, making it easy for parents to see which ones serve nombox.
The taste: Each nombox contains four perfectly portioned items: a snack, a main lunch, side item and a healthy dessert. Twenty percent of the menus are inspired by the region, so the little tots get to discover more flavours and understand a bit of the culture. The food is then presented in child-friendly boxes to excite the kids and encourage them to gobble up whatever is in them.
The cost: Each box costs Dhs29 per day, per child.
The verdict: Susan Roberts, nursery manager at Redwood Montessori Nursery, tells us the presentation and portion sizes are just right for the children and that they really enjoy sorting through all the little pots, making snacking and lunchtime happy adventures. “The quality of food is excellent, with a healthy variety and inventive options like savoury muffins and raspberry apple oat bars.”
Yum in a Box
The promise: Yum in a Box delivers nutritious meals for two- to five-year-olds and six- to ten-year-olds, directly to their nursery or school. The meal options include breakfast, lunch and snacks, and come in playful boxes – adorned with colourful characters – containing activities and games alongside the food.
The process: Nurseries and schools liaise with parents, who choose from a set menu to order their child’s meals on a weekly basis, so there is no need to commit to and pay for a whole month or term. The nursery or school then emails Yum in a Box with their order, which is delivered, fresh, around 7am each morning.
The taste: Nicola Heyday, manager at Jumeirah International Nurseries, says: “I've ordered Yum in a Box along with some of the teachers and we found it to be healthy and delicious. There is a great variety of food the children seem to enjoy. They also find the packaging very easy to handle, as Yum in a Box also provides a great all-in-one-style set of cutlery.”
The cost: Dhs18 per day, per child, for lunch and a snack. Dhs22 per day, per child for lunch, a snack and piece of fresh fruit. Dhs30 per day, per child for breakfast, lunch, snack and fresh fruit.
The verdict: Jumeirah International Nurseries believes Yum in a Box is fantastic value. “I absolutely recommend Yum in a Box,” says Heyday. “Their flexibility, professionalism and friendly service are faultless and the children often say the meals are yum!”
www.yuminaboxuae.com (050 158 3564).
Perhaps you’re already a dab hand in the kitchen, or have the family meals sorted. But there’s more to Dubai’s home delivery scene than ready-made meals and snack boxes. You name it, you can probably order it to your door – from grocery items to beauty products and even a big pile of books. Here are a few of our favourites…
Boxes of tricks
Discover all that is great in the world of beauty by trying out a selection of luxury fragrances, lotions and potions, all presented in your very special box of glamour.
Dhs100 per month. www.glambox.me (04 455 8699).
Fire up kids’ imaginations with a monthly supply of hands-on art and craft projects. Help them discover the world around them in exciting ways, with a new theme each month.
Dhs99 per month, plus shipping. www.kenzibox.com (055 774 3745).
Encourage the love of reading with a new story each month carefully chosen from the best national and international publishers. Each box comes with an activity book and surprise gifts throughout the year.
Prices vary. www.kitabox.ae.
The Happy Box
Never be bored again with this box of interesting activities and exciting challenges for the whole family. Every month a new package of surprises is delivered to doorsteps across the UAE.
Dhs250 for a month's subscription. www.thehappybox.ae (050 504 2850).
If you need alterations or mending done, 800 Tailor will collect your clothes and bring them back. It’s neat, but make sure you leave plenty of time as they book up fast.
Prices vary. www.800tailor.com (800 824 561).
An excellent option for dry-cleaning without going out. This company is reliable and will pick up and drop off your clothes when they're fresh and ready.
Prices vary. www.champion-cleaners.com (800 4556).
Get your geek on
This is one of our absolute favourite services, being nerdy about words and all. Choose from a selection of books of any genre, and get them straight to your door. There are free deliveries and returns, no late fees or due dates, and even a members' programme so you can get involved with children’s storytime sessions too.
Prices vary. www.bookish.ae.
This centre offers holistic reading materials in the form of books, ebooks, audiobooks and more. If the thought of peeling yourself from your sofa to borrow books is too much to bear, download e-content to your device or have old-school paper books delivered to your door. Perhaps get some motivational reading materials while you’re at it. (Boom boom.)
From Dhs100 per month for 12 months. www.reademption.com (04 321 2521).
Imagine getting farm-fresh vegetables from organic farms across Europe. There’s no need to worry about your fruit and veggie shopping anymore – just place your order and relax.
Greenheart Organic Farms
Now imagine getting amazing produce from authentic organic farms in the UAE. That’s exactly what Sharjah-based Greenheart does, delivering a range of different boxes to your door. Oh, and it offers free delivery on orders above Dhs130, plus next-day delivery to most areas in Dubai!
Koita Milk serves up fresh, creamy, organic milk from the rolling hills and lush pastures of Italy, as well as packaged coconut water. One word: delicious.
Organic Foods and Café
Enjoy the fresh taste of the farm and get all those hard-to-find products. Shop across all your favourite categories, from baby to grocery and everything in-between and don’t even get off the couch. The shop offers a range of delivery schedules for all the emirates.
www.organicfoodsandcafe.com (04 338 2911).
Health and beauty products, magazines, electronics as well as groceries are offered and you can save your trolley for future trips.
If you’re from the UK and missing home, chuck a few Tesco goodies in your virtual shopping basket. And, if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’re always looking to update their in-demand stock. Let them know and they’ll try and source it for you next time.
It has an easy interface and a wide product range, from bakery to baby goods and specialist dietary foods, with frequent offers.
Our furry friends
Dubai Pet Food
This site will deliver nearly any resource you require to keep your pets alive. That includes items for cats, birds, fish and even reptiles. Get free delivery on orders over Dhs100 and same or next day delivery in Dubai and Sharjah. There’s never a need to panic about being out of pet food again! Bingo.
The company has a comprehensive list of products on sale and available for home delivery (if your order totals more than Dhs100). Whether it’s a scratching post for kitty or gourmet feed for your birds, it will ensure all is sent directly to your door.
Pets in the City
Specialising in keeping pooches as pampered as their owners, Pets in the City’s bright pink mobile grooming van is on the road all over Dubai, six days a week, keeping your pet in tip-top condition.
Try out some of the best mother and baby products on the market. By ordering a Mama’s Box, you get the perfect products for your stage of pregnancy, enabling you to give you and your bump the royal treatment.
From Dhs215 per box. www.mamas-box.com (056 759 7741).
You can even get eyelashes delivered! This site specialises in fashion lashes made with either synthetic fibres or mink hair. There is no minimum spend and delivery takes two days.
From Dhs37. www.pinkygoat.com (052 251 8653).
Bamboozled by all that’s on offer in the spas of Dubai? Let Zanedo do the research and provide you with a monthly sample box to help you learn about the best beauty products and brands in the Middle East.
www.zanedo.com (04 368 0926).
House of Queen B
Beautiful, iconic skyline prints, handmade leatherwear and distinctive Emirati family characters on canvas are delivered by British-born artist and UAE resident Belinda Freeman.
Find quirky, personalised gifts and homeware that scream 'made in the UAE'. Try to resist not shopping for yourself while you’re at it!
Despite its name, this pharmacy actually has branches across Dubai. Not only can you order medication and vitamins, but if you find yourself house-bound with no cash on you, it’s not a problem, because you can pay with your card.
www.marinapharmacy.com (800 7427 6229).
Trying to keep the family on the New Year health diet? Munchbox will send a box of six healthy snacks, including nuts and dried fruit, for you all to graze on. You can subscribe and they’ll send you a box every month, every week or even every day if you want, for Dhs60 a box of six servings, which should help keep the biscuit cravings at bay.
www.munchbox.ae (800 686 24).
Keen on healthy and raw eating? This UAE company will deliver all you need, including ingredients and equipment such as masticating juicers, Vitamix blenders, vegetable spiralisers and nut milk bags. Zucchini noodles are a go!
The sweet stuff
Cakes, macarons, luxury tea, boxes of delicious chocolates – this artisan, home-grown brand will deliver it all to your door. This is the perfect go-to when you’re stumped for gifts (or simply craving something tasty and sweet).
www.cocosia.ae (04 395 0977).
This bakery delivers to customers all over the city in under 90 minutes. And it can create pretty much anything you want – once they made a Chocolate Potato Chip cake! (We’re not even joking – you know you’re intrigued.) You can choose from the standard range of delicious sweets and treats on offer, but for those conscious of their waistlines, there’s also the HealthyMoo line. And fret not, it also has options that cater to all kinds of allergies and dietary needs.
The Hummingbird Bakery
We’re not sure how sensible it is to have cupcakes delivered to your phone contacts, but the options from The Hummingbird Bakery are truly irresistible and, well, you never know when that craving for some smooth and rich red velvet might strike, right? Place a minimum order of Dhs130 and then try not to spend the next 24 hours obsessing over how early your cakes will arrive – and how you’ll stop yourself from eating them all before the kids get home! (Because you know they’ll be gone in minutes otherwise.)
At your service
Azur Spa on Wheels
This spa offers a home service with a treatment list that includes hair styling, nail care and more. You can even book a ‘sparty’ for any of your friends who also don’t fancy leaving the house for a manicure. Tomorrow? While the kids are at school?
www.azurspa.com (04 447 5284).
Fancy hosting dinner but don’t have the energy to cook? You can use this new service to get a chef delivered to your door, who will do that bit for you, so all you and your friends need to do is enjoy. We bet they’ll be impressed.
Jim Will Fix It
For household issues requiring servicing and repair, you can call in this maintenance company whose philosophy is a reassuring promise of “one call, one visit, job done”.
Dhs100 call out charge; from Dhs200 per hour. AC servicing from Dhs350 per unit. www.jimwillfixit.ae (800 349).
Too tired to clean the house? Yeah, us too. So, ring an expert to help you out – the trained cleaners from this company come highly recommended. They also help out at parties and offer babysitting services, as well!
www.mimaidsdubai.ae (04 361 9416).
Need your nails done but don’t have time? Glam Nails has your back. It offers everything from organic pedicures to gel and acrylic nails at home – and why not throw in a massage while you’re at it?
Take the stress out of booking a taxi by using this reliable local car service. Once you’ve created an account, you can use the app to book a vehicle to pick you up. It uses GPS to plot your location and the app also has a handy fare calculator.
Free. Available on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows devices. www.careem.com.
Use Fetchr to send or collect anything, anywhere, in the UAE or the rest of the region for that matter. Schedule the pick-up of an item you want to ship by taking a photograph of it and indicating a collection time within a 30-minute window. The sending or collection of packages start from a flat fee of just Dhs30.
Free. Available on iPhone and Android. www.fetchr.us.
They say its goal is to “free people from tasks that must be done and are not fun”. Our ears instantly pricked up. Turns out, it’s an innovative, easy-to-use mobile app for ordering groceries in Dubai and receiving them in 30 to 60 minutes, depending on location, with instant or scheduled delivery. Say goodbye to those mad, post-school dashes for the milk you forgot to get earlier with the army in tow!
Free. Available on iPhone and Android. www.instashop.ae.
Deliveroo delivers food from a carefully curated list of restaurants around the city, including Café Bateel and Magnolia Bakery. It charges Dhs7 for delivery, and orders usually only take 30 to 60 minutes, so, if you’re craving cupcakes, you’ll get them quickly! All you have to
do is tap in your desired goods on the menu in the easy-to-use app, and hey presto, they're all yours.
Free. Available on iPhone and Android. www.deliveroo.ae (04 275 3539).
Download the app and order from more than 100 restaurants across town such as Gustronomy, Taqado, BurgerFuel, Pinza, Sushi Art and The Hummingbird Bakery, seven days a week. The app will use your location to determine which restaurants are available to you, flash up a menu when you select one and then you just have to choose your dishes. There's also no minimum order.
Free. Available on iPhone and Android. www.ubereats.com.