I’m a fairly organised person at best (at least I’m a bit of a control freak), so I like to plan my meals out way in advance and usually do a big cook on a Sunday and again on a Wednesday to ensure I’m well prepped. However, when the lovely Hannah over at Nuba Health offered to cook AND deliver my lunches for a week I jumped at the chance of getting a little extra free time to focus on work and life rather than the kitchen.
Who are Nuba?
‘Let us do the thinking, whilst you do the eating’
That’s the drive behind start up business, NUBA health. A new food delivery company in Manchester aptly named after a tribe from the Nuba Mountains who live a completely subsistence lifestyle. Nuba delivers healthy, natural convenience food to your desk, door or gym. Whether you lack the time, knowledge or willpower that it takes to have a successful, consistent, healthy diet that continues 365 days a year, NUBA are there for you.
I actually had the pleasure of getting to know founder Hannah through twitter and soon got a feel for how passionate she was about supplying healthy, nutritious food to the people of Manchester. In her own words Nuba’s goal is ‘to help everyday people make a lifestyle change, or support healthy people with their longer-term goals’.
What about the food?
Like myself when I first got the healthy eating bug, many ‘clean eaters’ meal prep to save time during the week; this can often lead to eating rice, broccoli and chicken, day in day out, 5 days a week. However, on Hannah’s plan the menu is constantly changing in order to keep you on your toes, and on track.
I don’t eat meat, only fish and whole foods, so going on a healthy meal plan can be slightly uninspiring, with halloumi & salad usually making up the base of my meals, so I was pleasantly surprised when Nuba suggested they could still provide an exciting and, more importantly, varied menu for the week – they were even excited at the prospect of catering for me as they didn’t have any other non meat eating clients at the time.
Over the week I got to try 5 very different meals from Baked Salmon & Pesto Butterbeans with Spinach to Quinoa Falafels, Tabbouleh and homemade hummus. The meals were always super fresh and incredibly tasty I still needed to have an afternoon snack at my desk but other than that the meals were really satisfying and filling. Every meal had a great balance of healthy fats, protein and carbs, and Nuba will provide you with a full breakdown of the macronutrients to ensure that they fit into your day.
If I had to give any criticism to the meals it would be that some were slightly under seasoned, and not quite spicy enough for my tastes but with a little salt and pepper to taste that was easily rectified. I can appreciate that they have to cater for everyone, and I’m sure once you are on the plan you can specify your tastes to the team who comes across as highly adaptable.
The face behind Nuba…
After getting to sample Nuba’s meal delivery service I thought it would be great to get to know the director and founder of Nuba so we met up for a proper chat rather than a quick 30second chat as she was dashing about delivering meals – here’s what she had to say…
What did you do before NUBA and where did you get your inspiration from to go it alone in the health world?
Ever since University I’ve wanted to have my own business and always in food. I come from such a foodie family. The inspiration for NUBA really came when I moved back to Manchester 5 years ago which was such a positive move for my own health and I took control of my diet. I was surrounded by friends and family who either didn’t know how to, or didn’t have time to and so the idea was to help people like them.
Where do you get your inspiration for your ever changing menu from?
Haha. Everywhere! I’ll be watching Saturday morning kitchen and think “I wonder if I can make a healthy version of that”, I’ll see something on a menu, I’ll miss an old comfort food so make my own twist on it. For our corporate menu I’ve had the help of an awesome nutritionist and food scientist, so I can’t claim all the glory for those recipes!
Can you tell me a bit about your fitness regime?
Like most busy people it’s sporadic, or at least more sporadic than it used to be and I’d like it to be. Exercising puts me in a good mood and is so good for managing stress that I miss it as soon as I get too busy and make a conscious effort to fit it back into my week. I love the outdoors but am no good at road running, so I stick to weights in the gym. I like lifting weights as you can get a bit competitive with yourself, and I challenge myself more than I would on a treadmill.
What do you eat in a typical day?
I start every day with Porridge made with Almond Milk and frozen blueberries (from Tesco….they do the best frozen blueberries!). Even in the summer, I love porridge, and it fuels me through the busiest period of my day. For lunch I have a NUBA meal (bias!) which will usually be high protein, lots of veg, and a bit of carbs. As I spend a lot of time in the kitchen I tend to not want to cook in the evenings so will have a salad or something light. Breakfast and lunch are the main meals of my day.
What’s a ‘day in the life’ like for you?
I wake up between 3 and 4am, have my breakfast and get ready for the day. I am in the kitchen around 5am ahead of deliveries, and start preparing all the meals for the day. We cook through until around 9am, when everything then gets packaged up and ready to go. Deliveries – my favourite part of the day…seeing all my customers, hearing how they’re doing, which meals are their favourites and recently we’ve been testing out some new packaging too. By 1pm my day is done and I’m on to emails and business development. I usually hit the gym around 3pm (2-3 days a week) to take a break from my laptop. I work long days in the week, starting early and often working through the evening, but I have a rule of not working on the weekends, in line with my 80/20 ethos. Weekends are for relaxing and switching off.
What’s the most fun part of running your own business?
Hearing customers’ stories; the best bit by far is when someone goes out of their way to tell you that our meals have really helped. I am also quite sociable and very chatty, so I love networking and meeting new people, and building relationships with other people who share my ethics and are also supporting people to be the best that they can be. Some of my best clients are business coaches!
…and the most challenging?
You encounter a lot of obstacles and you can climb over them, work around them, or give up. I think the most useful skill is resilience, and as nerdy as it may sound, I read a book recently called Resilience by Eric Greitens. That book was great for making you realise that these things are normal, and that the most successful people are those who can handle the hard times and bounceback the quickest.
Any advice you’d give to someone looking to start a business in the healthy and fitness industry?
I would definitely support anyone who wanted to start a business in any industry. I have had so much support and there is an awesome community of startups and mentors in Manchester who have really helped me, so I’d do what I can to help others. With any business really, it’s just establishing that you have a market, what your USP’s are, and then testing the idea.
And finally, what does the future look like for NUBA?
I have lots of ambitions for NUBA, and the first was getting the meal plans live which we finally have! Woo! I would love to work with cafes and gyms, places that have an audience that might want to eat healthily and provide them with some local fresh, tasty options and show off that healthy food can taste great too.
It really was great meeting Hannah and chatting about everything from food and travelling to local fitness venues – it really is evident that London isn’t the only place where health and fitness is thriving. Hannah’s love and passion for health and fitness really does show in everything she does, she says;
‘The Nuba mountains logo also reflects your journey, it doesn’t matter whether you are a fitness pro or a total beginner, it’s your own personal journey and it’s starting that counts… one day I’ll climb my own mountain’