I started this service because I’ve struggled with nutrition all my life -- with obesity, the threat of my long family history of diabetes, and with getting adequate protein as a vegetarian in the United States. I’ve never had the time to consistently cook all my meals, and it’s hard to know the nutritional value of food you’re getting at restaurants unless you stick to salads or chain fast food (which is required to have nutritional information but is routinely off by 20-40%). Even if you know the nutritional values of the food you’re eating, attempting to log all your meals and snacks in a journal or an app like MyFitnessPal can be a massive time-sink and mental load.
‘Complete nutrition’ products like Soylent and Huel were appealing for relieving the physical and cognitive burden of dealing with nutrition all the time, but I perceived two major issues with them:
1) They taste absolutely terrible. These products are a massive step backward from thousands of years of accumulated culinary experience, and I don’t believe that most people are willing to forgo the pleasure that comes from eating real food three times a day, even if some kind of meal replacement is the right choice for their health. The biggest issue with diet plans and nutrition studies of all kinds is pervasively low adherence -- it just isn’t possible to get most people to consistently eat food that doesn’t taste good.
2) The retail versions of these products are not particularly customizable. Different people have different nutritional needs -- certainly calorically, but also in terms of macronutrient proportions. A female weightlifter and a male endurance runner have different bodies and different goals, resulting in different optimal nutritional profiles. Feeding them the same one-size-fits-all meal replacement is a mistake.
I stated Pashi to provide a real-food based nutrition service that tastes great but still retains the desirable characteristics of things like Soylent. The long term vision is to usher in a world where people can eat real, tasty food that is seamlessly customized to the specific nutritional profile they desire.
I initially soft-launched Pashi as a producer of entire meals with fully customizable calorie counts and macronutrient proportions, but this seemed to confuse people and didn't get very much traction. As a result, we’ve scaled back the focus to one of the most popular, customizable, and easily explainable foods on our menu -- Saag. If this gets some traction, we’ll introduce more fine-grained nutritional customization and more menu items depending on the feedback we get from our users.
I’d love to get the community’s thoughts on this and answer any questions here or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, I've seen your response to this point elsewhere which seems to be, but those restaurants won't provide the macro nutrient breakdown or have different options for proteins. Just in the dishes provided around my house there's chicken, lamb, tofu, cheese, beans. The only thing missing really is seitan. And if I'm ordering from the same place consistently, can't I figure out what the macros are by asking the chef for an ingredient list? One and done.
I wish you all the best, and I actually love this idea but I can't make this work in my head. To me this just seems like a new, order only, expensive Indian place opened up near me. If you could reduce prices to at least meet brick and mortar restraunts then I'd consider using your service occasionally if it tastes good.
It's possible but the burden of doing so means most people would abandon it after a few days.
$12 is too expensive as many here have opined. Having said that, you can’t make a profit..never mind break even at that price point on a never-frozen, always fresh, delivered to doorstep stand alone perishable $12/order item.
I have done this model with ghee before. And it’s was only one ingrident: butter and it was made in a commissary kitchen/permitted/licensed shared kitchen. And I could make large batches as it was not perishable.
With rent, insurance, packaging, delivery, CoG, labour and other expenses, you will have to sell a few hundred per week on one end and several thousands per month just to get over the hump.
I know this. I have lived this. Freeze it. It’s not so bad. It’s actually a good thing for perishable food.
I know UK is not your market, but here is a comparison of the first two grocery store own-brand saags I found:
£1.65/$2 - https://groceries.morrisons.com/webshop/product/Morrisons-Th...
£2/$2.43 - https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/293944759
Perhaps you don't get as much protein with these though.
(Incidentally why is everything obsessed with protein these days? Seems like every food you buy now says "source of protein!" Or "contains protein!)
Speaking of which, I think I know what I'm having for dinner tonight.
Currently available alternatives:
1) go to the nearest Indian restaurant and get it fresh when you need it.
2) use a food delivery service and get if from your favorite Indian restaurant
3) use a frozen variant found in many grocery stores.
4) cook yourself, which is not hard, but we can ignore it in this context.
What is the difference/ unique value prop from the above options?
I really wish you success, since I'm sure/hoping you have other things on your roadmap, but am not convinced this is a sustainable business model at the moment.
It is a very nice website though.
I've never once gotten food poisoning, or even felt like the conditions in the restaurants warranted being worried about it. If your local places are commonly serving contaminated food the problem might be your locale, and not the cuisine.
Anyway, good luck with the business, but it would be great if you promoted the more accurate definition of saag. "spinach _or_ other greens" instead of "spinach _and_ other greens".
I'm not sure if it was always there or done as a response to you.
I'm always looking for ways to algorithmically optimize my meals, and currently Chipotle and their app does the best job of enabling this in a standardized way (can pretty easily get nutrition info and hook it into other apps) , but it ends up being pretty boring on a routine basis. Something like this, with an expanded product line would be really useful.
-Srasa Kitchen (Southeast Asian): https://www.srasakitchen.com/
-Bibimbowl (Korean): http://www.thebibimbowl.com/menu.php
I'm sure there are others, but these 2 are my tried and true favorites.
Not even trying to be funny, this is exactly the type of service I have always wanted (down to the choose-your-protein options).
I really hope that there is a lot of demand (though I fear there may not be?). I will surely be a long-time customer.
Other than that, the site looks great!
Bonus points for simplifying down to an MVP, and S(pinach)aaS has a really good ring to it for the SF HN crowd.
Am also looking forwards to non-spinach options! (I'm allergic)
First, $12/pound is too expensive. Yes, I know you've got delivery and other costs, and it's best to start high. But know you'll need to reduce the price over time.
Second, consider pitching this to the keto market. Spinach + fat is a great keto item. It's really hard to order keto-friendly takeout. Might fill a niche.
We do have a keto-friendly variant (Classic Saag Paneer), and we'd love to make inroads into the keto market. Would to love to hear your thoughts on how we might do that -- feel free to email me at email@example.com
I have no affiliation and I’ve never even heard of Sagg in my life, but it seems interesting.
On the other end, there's pouches available on Amazon for ~$24 for 60oz (6 10oz packets), which is about half the price, and also deliverable. Hard to say what attention to nutrient content might have been involved, but regardless, this is a good bet regarding how low the pricing can get.
The only old world, pre-wheat Punjabi main course meal that is seriously tasty. It is nutritionally rich as it originated as a farmer’s meal while being easy to make.
Good luck serving saag to the world.
I have never seen seitan saag offered at any restaurants near me, but I love seitan. I even prefer seitan to meat, despite being a meat eater. I try to eat mostly plants, and I cannot digest lactose, so I usually order vegan chana saag.
The quality of these dishes does vary widely from establishment to establishment, despite sharing the same basic construction.
If you want a more oil-based Saag, take a look at our Saag tofu, which is dairy-free.
As an aside, clearly not everyone is gonna be within their target market, but there is a place for ones who pander to specific palates like these. Live and let live, I guess.
I feel you. I am from the South of India and we had greens everyday. Quick and easy.
1. have you considered partnering with farms? Especially indoor farms that focus on lettuce but can also grow Asian/Indian greens.
2. How do you think you will scale?
3. How did you arrive at that pricing?
If you would like to chat, my email is = handle at gmail.
I'd stay away from this service until it gets more polished.
update: I e-mailed customer support and Soham replied. I'm grateful for the reply.
If you are going for a classic vibe, then just have an Indian man in classic Indian clothing doing something classically Indian, or just stirring a pot or something. An arcade machine is not an association readily made with food.
You are being sold 500 calories worth of food for $14. That means that for an average, moderately active human, the cost of eating a diet of this is ~$52/day.
Yes, it is good macro-nutrients (probably). Yes, you're not going to eat this 4 times a day. Yes, it's vegetarian so you get your signaling points.
But this is a $52/day niche meal service is targeted at rich (sub)urbanites living in a bubble of abundant VC money and giant tech. Just be clear about what it is.
That’s your opinion, I personally think it tastes great and haven’t had issues drinking it over the past 4 years. Given that Soylent has continues to grow signals that other consumers agree (investors also agree given they’ve raised $50m led google ventures).
Also your product costs $12 per 500 cal (vs. $2.42 for 400cal for soylent) which is a huge selling point for people that drink soylent (it’s affordable, convenient and better than most fast food alternative)
I would definitely try this saag as a service(alas, I live in NYC), as a healthy alternative to food I already love eating. Meal replacements are definitely not covering that niche for me.
And I've tried mulligatawny soup at one of those places and been really disappointed.
But there is an Indian/Pakistani restaurant near me that has lentil soup I really liked and in fact that's what inspired me to start experimenting at home as I was afraid they would go out of business.
Some months ago I made lentil soup and through sheer luck, happened on a combination of spices and other ingredients that made it really, really good. Unfortunately I didn't take good notes, and I'm not sure how to recreate it.
So what I'm saying is lentils can be anything you want, it's all in the execution.
Indian food in the United States has, IMO, fallen into the same trap that Mexican food has. You get one or two items (e.g. chicken tikka masala or burritos) that represent a small region of the source country and that's about it. Or maybe you'll get some more unusual regional stuff and then half hearted burritos.
So what I'm saying is lentils can be anything you want, it's all in the execution.
Apropos of nothing there's a co-op restaurant in Sydney named "Lentils as Anything". It's named after an Australian band but hey it works here too ;)
In terms of price, food is expensive to make (especially in the Bay Area), but as we scale we think we can leverage automation to bring the price down to $6, which is not as cheap as but in the same ballpark as Soylent.
Your statement that it’s “affordable” is valid only the sense that it’s cheaper per calorie. Declaring it “better” without qualifiers is, to use your own words, “your opinion”, and declaring it “convenient” presumes that it is nutritionally valuable to all, which in my case and in this founder’s case, it cannot be for flavor or digestive rejection reasons.
Please take more care when declaring your opinion not to misrepresent it as fact. Evangelizing a competing product in a Show HN isn’t going to earn you much favor to begin with, and misleading people by stating opinions as fact will only undercut your message further.
Do you deliver yourself, or are you using a delivery service?
By the way in re. your comment below -- the Saag Tofu is vegan and free of animal products.
How are you planning to scale saag as a service?
I am tempted to ask after looking at your profile, is the cooking/portioning/packing done by a robot? is that your secret sauce behind scale up possibilities?
All the best! looks tasty...
I would love to understand how you produce the product currently (are you outsourcing to a local commissary and if so, how are you controlling the quality?) and how you intend to scale the business.
It's been mentioned here multiple times that the idea is equivalent to a restaurant which offers delivery followed by comments suggesting the difference between your service and a traditional restaurant is that you offer "fully customizable calorie counts and macronutrient proportions". How do you ensure consistency? How would you handle competition?
Best of luck!
The thing with keto is that you have to stick to it. Current price at $12 feels more expensive. I appreciate the delivery, packaging, and other costs, but I think people would appreciate a better value over time.
I think Blue Apron has nailed this. There are bigger variants to pick from, often cheaper, and appeals to keto and other dieters alike.
In my local asian grocery store, they stock a lot of vacuum packed Indian meals, all of which have nothing "dodgy" in the list of ingredients, and all of which are actually really good - they cost the equivelant of around $2.5 each.
My local Indian takeaway restaurants sell saag paneer for around $4 USD.
Hope I get a chance to try this in LA before too long. :)
If you can make the pricing more competitive with local delivery (which would also have more options) and figure out how to ship like Blue Apron I think I'd happily sign up. Even more so if there were additional meals added, but for an MVP to test the idea this is great.
Mustard is Sarson, if my Hindi isn't failing me.
All 3 variants listed are fabulously unhealthy coming in at 500 calories per serving.
If you want to pitch this as a tastier product and pursue that angle, that's one story but pitching this as "healthy" is quite flawed.