Pals turn healthy meal advocacy into growing business venture

By Jose Santino S. Bunachita |July 22,2018 - 08:45 PM

Diet in a Box staff prepare the meals inside their commissary kitchen. (Top photo) Chime Bell
Osabel, co-owner of Diet in a Box.

DIET IN A BOX

In a world where busy people can get cheaper food in as fast as a couple of minutes, eating healthy has become harder and harder to do.
Fast food chains can be found in almost every corner. It’s quick and it’s cheap. But it’s not healthy.

To make healthy food convenient, Chime Bell Osabel, 29, and Angelo Amadeus Go Moreno, 31, decided to establish Diet in a Box in 2015.

“Diet in a Box is anchored toward putting life to our advocacy: Revolutionizing the way people perceive healthy meals. We have an executive chef that does not sit on his laurels – he constantly loves to evolve his meals,” Osabel told Cebu Daily News.

Osabel is the business development and marketing specialist while Moreno or “Chef Bibo” is the executive chef.

With Diet in a Box, customers can choose a certain diet plan which could include all meals from breakfast, lunch and dinner; or only for breakfast and lunch; or lunch and dinner for five days.

But what appeals to their customers is the convenience – these packed meals are delivered right at their doorsteps inside brown paper bags. They can just store the other meals in the fridge and reheat it right before their next meal.

Diet plans

Diet in a Box has three different categories of meal plans: Calorie Counted diet meal plan that is customizable depending on your body’s calorie requirement; a Keto-Go diet meal plan which is low in carbs; and a Lean Machine diet meal plan which concentrated more on protein content.

For their Calorie Counted plan, a five-day package with three meals a day range from P2,300 to P2,700 while a five-day package with only two meals a day range from P1,500 to P1,900.

On the other hand, a three-meal package for the Keto-Go is P2,800 while a two-meal package is P1,800. For the Lean Machine, a three-meal package costs P3,500 while a two-meal package is at P2,800.

Customers can also request for a specific delivery time between 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Right now, they only deliver for free within Cebu City. For farther areas like, Pit-os Talamban, Labangon, Pardo or Mandaue City, they could still deliver but for an additional fee of P50.

They do not deliver yet in Mactan Island although Osabel said they have been planning to expand their operations in the neighboring island and put up a second commissary there.

How it started

Trips to the organic farm of Chef Bibo in Aloguinsan sparked their plans to establish Diet in a Box more than three years ago.

Osabel recalled that he used to hate eating vegetables. But Chef Bibo, who has been his friend for a long time already, decided to “revolutionize” his vegetable dishes, making it more appealing and tasty for even the pickiest of eaters.

“So that’s how it all started. I posted a photo of me eating vegetables online and my friends in the city got curious because they all know that I’m not into greens,” he recalled.

“Back in the city, I was raving about my experience with the vegetables and I started bringing Chef Bibo’s home-cooked meals at the office. Everybody loved it, they wanted me to ask him to prepare meals for them too,” he added.

They had their first five clients from the corporate office of the company where Osabel used to work as a global leadership trainer.

The duo only set aside P9,000 as their starting capital in March 2015 and had been cooking the meals in the kitchen of Osabel’s house in the Sanchez Compound in Banilad, Cebu City.

They used the money for kitchen requirements, delivery and miscellaneous expenses.

Since then and until now, they have been sourcing their ingredients from Chef Bibo’s 16-hectare organic farm in Aloguinsan and sometimes from some neighboring farms.

Growing the business

Just a few months after they started, the business partners had decided to invest in setting up a bigger commissary for all of their orders.
They opened a 350-square meter kitchen just beside Osabel’s house.

They currently employ 41 people – 21 kitchen staff, 15 drivers, and five admin staff.

The commissary starts to get busy at 12 midnight until around 5 a.m., right before they start their deliveries at past 6 a.m.

Like any other business, Osabel admitted that they had to go through a lot of struggles especially when they started. A graduate of secondary education at Cebu Normal University, Osabel spent seven years in the corporate world.

For a time, he had to juggle both his corporate job and managing Diet in a Box. He recalled having to entertain calls from their customers while he’s still working in his day job.

Four months into this kind of set-up, he finally decided to quit his corporate job and focus on the business.

On the other hand, Chef Bibo, who used to be a nurse at Velez Hospital, also had to be the one to personally deliver the meals after he cooks them.

Both of them had to be really hands on when they started. And they also saw unprecedented increase in demand from their customers.

Fortunately, they were able to scale up their business. Right now, they have set a limit of only 350 customers a day as this is the ideal capacity for their kitchen. But they are also not closing their doors in possible expansion plans.

Looking back, Osabel said the business had been good, aside from the need for them to limit their customers.

Some of their clients when they started in 2015 had continued to be with them until now.

Most of their clients are people working in hospitals, athletes, local celebrities, and people in politics, among others.

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