London foodies usually turn up their noses at the idea of food deliveries — probably because in the UK the term conjures up images of mass-market pizzas, greasy curries and egg-fried rice gone cold. But there’s a whole different world of seriously high-quality food deliveries out there. Already long-established in countries like America and India, the idea of artisanal, home-cooked food delivered to your door is only just beginning to take off in a big way here in the capital. Many of these businesses source top-quality ingredients from small producers, cook delicious imaginative dishes and cater for a wide range of dietary needs, tastes, allergies and budgets.
Food deliveries are ideal if you’ve had a tough day at work, are too tired, lazy or busy to cook, it’s too cold to go outside, or you can’t be bothered to chop up a whole load of ingredients. There’s no meal planning, shopping, cooking or washing-up involved, so it also saves time and energy. They’re a lifesaver, too, for people who’re elderly, disabled, housebound, ill… or just plain hungry. And you get to try out new dishes, ingredients and flavour combinations that you wouldn’t normally have thought of yourself.
Here we’ve rounded-up companies that deliver everything from humble Indian flatbreads, to elaborate meals prepared by chefs trained in Michelin star restaurants. Specifically we’ll tell you about those that bring to your front door...
Gourmet Home-cooked Meals
This is our favourite category, as it includes delicious restaurant-quality meals cooked by passionate people, often at home — with the added bonus that you get to support small businesses.
Where they deliver: currently northwest, west, southwest and central London
Delivery charge: £5 per day
Delivery times: 11am-5pm (days); 5pm-9pm (evenings)
Set up by a group of chefs, entrepreneurs and tech experts, this recently-launched company is helmed by Howard Beale, who follows a healthy plant-based diet. A team of chefs who’ve worked at restaurants including The Fat Duck, Nopi, Terre à Terre, Nobu and Maze prepare fresh, globally-influenced vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes every day. From the daily-changing menu, you can choose from one of the two main courses, one side dish and one dessert.
We recently tasted five dishes as varied as roasted root vegetables with heritage carrots, brussels sprouts and aji sauce, and smoked red pepper feijoada and corn cakes with molho apimentado. The food was imaginative, colourful, attractive and packed with delicious flavours and varied textures — and the standard was higher than in many vegetarian restaurants. The carefully-sourced, seasonal ingredients are mostly sustainable, local, organic and British. Many of the dishes are fully prepared; some need a few minutes in the oven. Allergen information, nutritional notes and a list of every ingredient used are clearly given. Everything is delivered by a courier in recycled chill boxes lined with thermal biodegradable and compostable sheep wool.
What: Pronto Paratha
Where they deliver: west and central London
Delivery cost: £8 in London; free in Heston, Hayes, Southall, Greenford, Langley and surrounding areas
Delivery times: 8am-4pm (pre-orders for next day taken between 4pm-8pm)
This unique new service delivers only parathas (Indian flatbreads — minimum order of six) with a pot of Indian pickle and soft drink. Former British Airport Authorities security officer Prabjot Sapal came home one day after a tiring day at work, and dreamt up the idea while eating his mum Nirmal’s aloo (potato) parathas. Mother and son then went into business together — encouraged by friends and family, who now help make deliveries — and have been approved by the local council and are qualified in food hygiene. The parathas come in traditional flavours like cauliflower, carrot, radish, fenugreek and paneer; plus contemporary ones (created by Prabjot and given the green light by his tasting panel of six), including cheese, mushroom, chicken tikka and minced lamb. Everything is freshly made to order without preservatives or additives, and delivered wrapped in foil inside a sealed box to retain the heat. Their website is launching in a couple of weeks, so it’s best to order by phone on 020 3397 7666 for now.
What: Home Cooking SE24
Where they deliver: SE21, SE22, SE24, and parts of SE15, SW2, SW5 within two mile radius of their HQ
Delivery charge: free
Delivery times: 5pm-10pm daily
If you live near the SE24 postcode, you’re in luck. Sicily-born, Tuscany bread chefs Giuseppina and Totò aim to introduce south Londoners to the best of Italian home cooking. They specialise in fresh hand-made pasta, gnocchi, lasagne and polpette (Italian meatballs); and their menu includes dishes such as savoy cabbage and hazelnut lasagne, free-range chicken stew and almond chocolate cake. There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options, and they also cater for people with allergies. Food is delivered on a bike and the business is approved by Slow Food London.
Where they deliver: Battersea, Canary Wharf, Farringdon, Herne Hill, Shepherd’s Bush, Waterloo, Wimbledon
Delivery charge: free
Delivery times: Vary according to the area — check the website
Founded by three friends, this global flavour-influenced meal delivery company is one of the oldest of its kind, having been set up around 18 years ago. A team of over 80 chefs freshly cook dishes as varied as pulled pork burritos, Lebanese chicken skewers, butternut squash burgers and Vietnamese prawn salad. Ingredients are sourced locally: their supplier Classic Fresh Foods gets its greengrocery from farms in Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent; the meat is supplied by Aubrey Allen butchers and Simson's Fisheries provides the fish. Comprehensive information about allergens is listed for each dish; and set meals for between one to six people are also available. Everything is delivered in recycled insulated boxes within 35-45 minutes, and they also deliver to offices.
What: Tiffin Planet
Where they deliver: most London areas and suburbs. Lunch: zones 1 and 2; dinner: zones 1 to 6
Delivery charge: included in the contract — check the website for their complex pricing structure
Delivery times: 10am-2pm (lunch); 4pm-10pm (dinner)
Daily or weekly tiffin deliveries — comprising fresh, home-cooked Indian ‘thali’ meals of dahl, vegetable or meat dishes, bread, rice and accompaniments — have been hugely popular within the Indian community for many decades. Visiting students who miss the taste of “back home”, or the elderly who can’t manage to cook a full meal like they once used to, frequently use one of the capital’s dozens of tiffin services on an ongoing basis. Tiffin Planet is one such prominent service. It delivers Gujarati and Punjabi lunches and dinners daily (for a minimum of seven days). If your idea of tiffins is a romanticised notion from the film The Lunchbox, you might be disappointed by the more prosaic yet practical plastic and foil containers used here, in small, medium or large sizes. You can choose ‘veg’ or ‘non-veg’ tiffin (or mix and match), inform them of any food allergies, and select the spice levels to suit your taste. The fixed weekly menu, which changes every Sunday and varies according to which part of the capital you live in, includes dishes such as chana masala, saag paneer, butter chicken and lamb keema.
What: Eat First
Where they deliver: currently east central London, east London, the City, Canary Wharf, Old Street and Finsbury; expanding to other areas
Delivery charge: free
Delivery times: Monday-Friday 11.30am-2pm; 6.15pm-8.30pm
With the USP of ‘lightning-fast delivery’ within 15 minutes — yes, 15 minutes! — this dynamic company was set up late last summer by city slickers Rahul Parekh, Humberto Ayres Pereira and Torben Schulz. They achieve the speed by positioning their riders with meals already loaded onto their bikes, with technology to instantly view and approve your order. You order lunch or dinner via their website or app, receive a phone call when the food is about to arrive, and meet the driver at the kerb. There’s a simple, daily-changing menu of two international dishes cooked by Michelin restaurant-trained chef Jane Tran, one of which is always vegetarian. Dishes may include slow-cooked ox cheek with roasted new potatoes, chorizo and chicken jambalaya, and Korean bibimbap. They source their meat from Tom Hixson butcher, and fruit and veg from the New Covent Garden Market. They use recycled packaging and cutlery and donate meals every day to charities.
Life, Fork & Spoon delivers quick-frozen restaurant quality dishes suitable for dinner parties, developed by celebrity chef James Martin.
More More More brings restaurant-quality chilled meals to be heated and eaten at home.
Grubworkz delivers high-quality gourmet sous vide meals.
Banquet In A Box delivers luxury frozen meals cooked by Michelin restaurant-trained chefs.
Chef On Board is a family-run company that delivers home-made ready-prepared meals, particularly suitable for families and new mums.
Bored of soggy sandwiches? Fed up of lunchtime queues at the local café? Then be the envy of your colleagues and try one of these superb weekday alternatives.
What: Lunch Box London
Where they deliver: individual orders: central London, Shoreditch and Lambeth; group orders: all over London
Delivery charge: free
Delivery times: Monday-Friday before 1pm
Set up by chefs Naomi Twigden and Anna Pinder who first met at the Leith’s School of Food and Wine, this new company delivers stylishly-packaged lunches to offices. A team of professional chefs work with a nutritionist to devise healthy, balanced weekly menus containing fresh vegetables, beans, protein and whole grains. The menu, published each Friday for the following week, consists of a choice of two dishes (one vegetarian) plus a snack for £8.50. Dishes may include grilled chicken with freshly made satay sauce, or mixed vegetable quinoa paella; and snacks range from raw energy balls to Marmite or chocolate popcorn. Order by 10am, and your lunch will be delivered in recyclable packaging by a bicycle courier by 1pm.
The eco-friendly company uses local suppliers and, wherever possible, British seasonal ingredients. The fruit and veg come from Pavitt’s Produce and nearby Old Paradise Yard Community Farm, the fish from Southbank Fresh Fish, and the meat is supplied by local PJ Franklands & Sons butchers. Snacks are sourced from small companies and start-ups. Currently only group lunchboxes and sharing platters are available, but their individual order service is launching around mid-March, and their new website will go live early March with new menus.
What: City Pantry
Where they deliver: numerous central London locations, from Bloomsbury to Shoreditch
Delivery charge: free
Delivery times: as per individual vendor
Set up just over a year ago, this online catering marketplace ‘curates’ food from street vendors, pop-ups, catering chefs, restaurants, delis and bakeries, and delivers to centrally located offices. Choose a pre-prepared catering package from a vendor that’s priced per head (from around £5/per person) and it will be brought to you directly by the vendor, a courier or a taxi in thermal delivery bags. Dishes include French lunch crêpes from Blue Pudding Catering; pasta, drink and dessert package from Gino D’Acampo’s My Pasta Bar restaurant; and 1-876 Arawak Grill’s Caribbean cold buffet. Ideal for team breakfasts, office lunches and catering requirements for meetings, the website can also be used for hiring chefs for dinner parties, finding wedding caterers and discovering a range of street vendors for private and public events.
Bring Me Lunch is a large marketplace of catering companies who deliver individual and group office lunches.
Kudos Delivered specialises in breakfasts, lunches including sandwich platters, and afternoon teas for office groups.
Office Serve has a good choice of breakfasts, lunches, salads, sandwiches, desserts and soft drinks.
Berkeley Catering is an office catering company that also delivers group working lunches.
Beani Bar does breakfast, lunch, sandwiches and buffet deliveries in central London.
Pure delivers healthy breakfasts and lunches to central London and the City.
Pronto brings healthy lunches and dinners to central London offices.
Diet And Health Food Meal Plans
This is currently the largest category of home deliveries in the UK — if you’re on a diet or have simply resolved to eat healthily, the choice is absolutely mind-boggling. And if you have allergies or special dietary requirements and eating out is too much of a hassle, these companies will cater to your needs.
What: The Pure Package
Where they deliver: all London postcodes within M25 (and beyond)
Delivery charge: free
Delivery times: packages left on doorstep between midnight and 6am
Set up around 12 years ago, Jennifer Irvine’s luxury bespoke healthy meal delivery service was one of the first of its kind, and has been a hit with celebrities ranging from Derren Brown to Hugh Jackman. It delivers daily a personalised menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. Whether you’re aiming to detox, lose weight or increase energy levels, a team of experts draws up your bespoke programme tailored according to your height, weight, lifestyle habits, food preferences, dietary needs and allergies or intolerances. The menus are centred around balanced healthy eating based on scientific research at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition, and not on any gimmicks or faddy diets.
Gourmet dishes cooked by a team of chefs include coconut-infused wild rice and mango breakfast pot, spiced kingfish with black bean salsa, and smoked chicken, wild mushroom and artichoke terrine. Ingredients are seasonal, ethically sourced and local — often from the nearby New Covent Garden Market — and many are organic, free-range and wild. The packaging is recyclable and the deliveries are carbon neutralised. The programmes are sold in 10, 30 and 90 day batches, and work out around £30 to £60 per day depending on what you order (including ongoing support from nutritional therapists). The company’s younger (less expensive and equally attractive) sibling is Balance Box.
What: Diet Chef
Where they deliver: all over London
Delivery charge: Monday-Friday free; Saturday £9.95
Delivery times: courier will inform you by text or email on delivery day
The UK’s largest diet plan delivery company brings you no-nonsense meal packages that include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack for each day of the week; though you’ll have to add fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy yourself. The calorie-counted, portion-controlled meals, to be eaten at home or work, are designed by a development chef in collaboration with a nutritionist. They’re slow-cooked sous vide-style, so you don’t need to keep them in a fridge or freezer, just store them in a cupboard. There are hundreds to choose from, including strawberry porridge, tomato, pepper and cheese pasta pot, pork meatballs and berry oat biscuits. The food is delivered in a plain box, and is ready to heat and eat in three minutes.
What: Raw Fairies
Where they deliver: specific postcodes broadly around central London
Delivery cost: £39.50 — but check their website for their complex pricing structure
Delivery times: Monday-Friday, 7am-9am
Well ahead of its time, this luxury raw food and ‘cleansing’ service was set up around eight years ago. It delivers a daily menu of gourmet raw dishes that may include courgette noodles with broccoli, parsley, spinach and green olives with red pepper sauce, or parsnip tabbouleh with pine nuts, sumac and sun-dried tomato dressing. There’s a wide range of juices, too. Everything is free from meat, fish, dairy, wheat, gluten, potatoes and refined sugar; and only organic ingredients are used. Note that the food is not suitable for nut allergy sufferers or people with certain medical conditions.
The Detox Kitchen delivers healthy meal packages including high-protein and vegan.
Nutrichef provides healthy meal plans without dairy, wheat, refined salt and sugar.
Radiance Cleanse delivers juices and coconut water, and promises ‘curated cleanses’ and even a ‘juice concierge’.
Real Food Delivered Daily is an ‘organic lifestyle company’ that delivers healthy food on a daily basis.
Muscle Kitchen brings personalised nutrition programmes to help you build muscle and lose weight.
Rejuv Gourmet offers bespoke healthy meals from Rejuv Physio and Nutrition group.
Body Chef delivers a huge range of diet plans, including halal.
Nosh Detox delivers health food and juice programmes, including sugar- and yeast-free.
Total Diet Food gives you personalised diet plans developed by chef and nutritionist.
My Food delivers diet plans including calorie-controlled and vegan, popular with TV celebrities.
Mealtek has bespoke diet plans for a wide range of nutritional needs.
There are times when only a takeaway will do — but what’s the point in paying a delivery company to pick up your restaurant meal, why not do it yourself? Because they deliver from famous — or a much wider range of — restaurants that you might not otherwise have access to, if you only relied on those boring fliers that are posted through your letterbox.
Where they deliver: most London postcodes
Delivery charge: £2.50
Delivery times: During restaurant opening hours between midday to 11pm
Founded by William Shu and Greg Orlowski a couple of years ago, this premium service delivers food from local independent and chain restaurants to your home or work. Using “proprietary technology and logistics platform” (which sounds mighty impressive), they can usually deliver in around half an hour. Staff pick up the food and bring it to your front door on their smart delivery bikes. Currently on their list of high-quality restaurants are Brindisa, Busaba Eathai, Cay Tre, Princi, Andina, Barnyard and more.
What: Room Service
Where they deliver: all over London
Delivery charge: between £4.99-£6.99, depending on your location and overall cost of your order
Delivery times: varies according to restaurant times
One of the oldest restaurant deliveries of its kind, Room Service has a large number of famous as well as little-known local restaurants on its list. These include Planet Hollywood, La Porte Des Indes, Kenza Lounge, Boho Mexica, Delancy & Co and many more. You place your order via their website or app, and the food is delivered within an hour.
Hungry House brings you restaurant deliveries ranging from sushi to halal dishes.
Dine In delivers from a large number of restaurants ranging from pizza to fine dining.
Just Eat is a popular company that delivers from an absolutely enormous number of local takeaways.
Meal 2 Go is part of the Just Eat Group, and focuses on pizza, Chinese, Indian and Thai.
Curries Online delivers Indian takeaways and helps a charity.
Takeaway.com allows you to order pizza, Indian or kebab… with the option of paying by bitcoin. Yes, the food delivery world is full of surprises!
Have you tried any of these food delivery services? Do you know of any truly excellent ones? Tell us in the comments below.