With both MealPal and MealFix promising to revolutionise our lunchtimes – we put them to the test to see which is best.
The premise is pretty simple. Pre-order your lunch from a wide range of restaurants and skip the queue when you collect. Both options require you to ‘preload’ an amount onto your account but more on that later.
In many ways it’s the antithesis of Deliveroo/UberEATS etc because it encourages you to actually LEAVE the office and perhaps try something completely new. We discovered areas we weren’t familiar with (despite only being a short walk from the office) as well as restaurants that we hadn’t realised did take-out lunch.
Let’s delve deeper into how each option works…
So what is it?
Originating in the US, this app reckons we can save as much as £620 a year. Covering Soho and the Square Mile, members buy a bundle of 12 or 20 lunches at a time, each priced at either £4.39 or £4.79. You’ll then have a month to use your credits, after which it will automatically renew. These can be redeemed daily (Monday – Friday) at one of more than 150 restaurants in the City and Soho such as Tapas Brindisa, Eat Saigon, Walter & Monty, Fat Bear and many more. You simply choose and reserve your lunch from the day’s options of specially-prepared dishes showcased via the app and website, then simply skip the queues and pick up your freshly-prepared meal at lunchtime – all pre-paid for through MealPal. ‘The Kitchen’ opens at 5pm and closes at 9.30am and you can’t see what’s on offer outside of those times. Once you’ve enjoyed your lunch you’re encouraged to rate it and advise whether it was a small, medium or large portion, which will help other uses decide when they come to pick.
The variety. Each day you’ll find one dish available at each restaurant – we got a bit of a crush on healthy fast food chain Crussh and cured our hangovers with juicy burritos from Poncho 8. It was quite exciting waiting to see what would be on the menu each day and the free app was really easy to use.
So what is it?
A lunchtime subscription club that gets you 20 – 40% off menu prices – allowing you to manage your lunch budget. You buy credit to use for the month – choose from 5 meals per month (4.99 per meal), 10 meals (4.50) or Every Weekday (£4). You can also buy additional credits if you run out.
Subscribers are presented with a list of curated meals for collection at a time slot of your choice, from selected local restaurants for instant takeout. Focusing on Soho for now, the choice is smaller but still plentiful with many new restaurants being added all the time. You can order up to 10.30am on the day of your lunch, to keep things pretty flexible.
That you can look ahead to see what’s on the menu all week. The menu is updated every Sunday for the week ahead, giving you the flexibility of either visiting the site once and booking the whole week or checking back more frequently. Island Poke, Absurd Bird and Melt Room are some of the highlights. You’re also able to choose multiple meals, great if you’re eating with friends.
Tip – turn the automatic emails off, they get a bit annoying!
We’d like to see both apps offering a breakfast pick up time for the restaurants that are open that early – allowing us to grab our salad with our morning coffee – handy for those days where you know you’re back to back in meetings. Having said that it really is a great excuse to leave the office. We found ourselves super excited for lunch each day!
It’s also a really fab way for restaurants to recruit new lunch trade. I had a delicious posh pasta dish with a green salad on the side from Obica Mozzarella bar one day – a restaurant I would never have known did take out and wouldn’t have presumed would be in budget even if I had.
Why not try it for a month and see how it goes? Subscriptions can be cancelled at any time so try both before deciding which is best for you. One thing is for sure, it’s gotta be better than a bank statement full of Pret.