2017 Update: Lean By Design Is No Longer In Operation
Six months ago Natalya and Xavier, co-founders of Lean By Design (also LeanXDesign)’s future co-founders, found themselves running around town to 4 different supermarkets, wet markets, various butchers and an even larger selection of health food/specialty nutrition stores in order to grocery shop for the carefully planned meals they were cooking up, part of a renewed commitment to themselves to focus on their macro intake. Not only was the process extremely time-consuming, with food shopping taking up several hours every week, it was inconvenient (some products were available online, many shops’s had inconsistent inventory) and was expensive!
Natalya, who had lived many years in the US and the UK, was shocked by how much it cost to buy good quality meat and fresh veg. She also realized that in order to ensure no food went to waste, a great deal of planning needed to go into meals. With her new fitness meal regimen, her and Xavier were eating multiple meals a day- part of their routine is regular refueling- and that meant even more painstaking meal prep. On top of everything, they were weighing their food to guarantee their macro levels and their protein intake were perfectly balanced. In the midst of all of this cooking and planning and prepping and weighing, they had a Eureka moment. Surely, they weren’t the only fitness junkies in town struggling to stay healthy and eat clean, high protein, responsibly-sourced meals? They talked to their gym friends, who talked to their gym friends and everyone agreed a healthy meal delivery service geared towards lifters and athletes would find much demand. Half a year later, with Lean By Design serving 50 clients a day and growing, seems they were right.
In terms of what’s always available, Lean By Design’s food ethos is centered around delivering 3 to 5 meals a day, with caloric totals from 1, 200 calories to 2, 800 calories depending on your requirements, and with a goal to hit certain macros with every dish. They still weigh all the food before it goes out and are especially concerned with ensuring the protein levels are reached. There are low-carb options for those who want it. All the meals are MSG-free, preservative-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. They can absolutely cater to gluten-free clients, even going as far as specifying they can have the food prepared in a totally uncontaminated kitchen. Here’s what they don’t do: snacks and breakfast. Most of their clients either eat their own breakfast (Lean By Design offers recommendations and ideas for easy-to-make high protein breakfast) or they start their day with one of Lean By Design’s meals, which are not your typical breakfast foods- they delivery by 9.30am each morning so there is no timing issue. On the snack front, they believe it’s best to refuel with a balanced meals, hence their staggered multi-meal approach.
They have trainer packages that have proven to be popular at a few gyms around town (co-founder Xavier is a certified personal trainer). As Natalya helpfully points out, who better to have as your brand ambassador than athletes themselves, who have no choice but to be serious about their nutrition and health, lest it affect their training? This has been a real boon to Lean By Design’s marketing efforts. they also have corporate packages with priority pricing and group rates depending on how many people participate. But overall, the bulk of their client base is busy office goers who are fitness-driven and don’t have time to focus on meal planning and grocery shopping but very much want to eat healthy, balanced meals on the regular.
What immediately stands out about Lean By Design is their service. They are wholly focused on bespoke options and personalized attention. Clients consult with nutritional consultants and menus can be planned to suit every need. For example, they don’t focus on vegans but have many plant-based clients, who are very happy with the startup, thanks to the team’s constant yearn for feedback and their willingness to adapt based on customer comments almost immediately. Natalya still hand-delivers many of the meals in order to make sure she can connect with her clients face-to-face, bugging them for feedback on everything from dishes to packaging to add-ons. In fact, they realized a sustainable approach to packaging mattered to their clients a great deal so they implemented a pick up schedule for the used plastic containers, which they then recycle. They also are test-driving their new Lean By Design fridges at designated pickup-points (mostly gyms/fitness studios) so clients can conveniently grab and go. They plan to focus heavily on the South side, where they see a lot of unmet demand.
So what’s on the menu? From Poached Salmon With Garlic Aioli Vinaigrette to Organic Gluten-Free Turkey Meatloaf to Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Pulled Pork to Vietnamese Style Shredded Chicken Salad, there’s a gourmet twist to the macro goodness. Ingredient-wise their produce hails from Europe and local organic farms in the New Territories. Meat and seafood are from Brazil, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. They are constantly working to improve their selection.