Healthy ready meals founder fights scepticism

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mini nom nom's meals went on sale last Friday (August 7)
Mini nom nom's meals went on sale last Friday (August 7)

Related tags: Food

The founder of a healthy ready meal start­-up has spoken of her fight against scepticism from some sectors of the food manufacturing industry.  

Mini nom nom’s chilled meals, which are completely free of added salt, sugar and other additives, went on sale at Selfridges and online supermarket Ocado last Friday (August 7).

Founder Lisa Sohanpal said it had taken two years to develop the innovative children’s and adult world meals which include Moroccan tagine, Indian curry and Malaysian laksa.  

“There was scepticism from the industry that I had to challenge and fight. The first response was ‘an Indian curry with no salt ​– forget about it, it’s not going to work’,”​ she said.

“Just because it’s never worked before, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t work. Just because something doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist.” 

‘Chef’s recipe to commercial recipe’

Mini nom nom’s worked with a spice expert and tried out many different versions of the meals in order to create the right flavours without using salt.

She said: “Not only was it a challenge to convert from the chef’s recipe to a commercial recipe, but also to make sure the flavours were consistent through the shelf-life.”

She said the company had made its own bespoke recyclable pulp board trays and used a film that ensured a secure seal.

The ready meals have been manufactured by the Gulam Noon-owned Bombay Foods’s site in Middlesex and the start-up is currently securing “high value accounts”.

Lord Noon was the founder of Asian food manufacturers Noon Products, which was acquired by Kerry Group in 2005.

In the future, the meals will be served on-board airlines and through Virgin Active Health Clubs as well as at supermarkets, retailers, nurseries and theme parks.

‘Healthy convenient options’

After being inundated with interest from abroad, Sohanpal said she feels that the company can “lead the way” ​in creating innovative, healthy meals.

She said: “It’s moving in that direction where people want healthy convenient options and are also willing to pay more for it.”

Mini nom nom’s range was developed to educate children and parents on healthy eating, as well as cuisine from other countries.

Sohanpal came up with the idea because as a busy working mother, she struggled to prepare healthy and interesting meals for her children.

She said: “I thought, ‘I wonder what other parents are doing? How is everyone else managing this?’” 

The founder has three employees at present but she hopes to hire two or three more workers in the immediate future as the company grows.

Mini nom nom’s has global ambitions and hopes to expand to the Middle East and North America further down the line.

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1 comment

Is it still healthy?

Posted by Lauren,

While I think this is definitely a move in the right direction, just lowering salt, fat and sugar is not enough to make something healthy. Unfortunately, a lot of vitamins are destroyed when food is microwaved.

I definitely think you can and should have "healthier" ready meals. However, the industry should be careful not to mislead consumers into thinking that these low calorie, low-salt ready meals can replace fresh food.

Altogether though, I think what Lisa Sohanpal has done is admirable.

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