MenuAid raises $1M to solve the ‘dinner dilemma’ with AI

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Molly Long
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MenuAid, a New Zealand technology platform with a mission to solve the ‘What’s for dinner? dilemma’, has received a $1M investment from foodtech seed investor Sprout.

Launched in September 2021, MenuAid provides users with “highly personalised recipes” and “smart shopping lists”. Money invested by Sprout will be used to further refine this offering with AI.

Using AI to produce dinner suggestions alleviates the “hassle of planning” while still offering opportunity to “enjoy the fun of cooking”, according to the company.

Additionally, using smart technology can help subscribers better plan their eating and thus minimise food and packaging waste.

MenuAid subscribers currently receive five recipes every week devised by professional chefs to be simple to follow, along with a shopping list which is customised to reflect individual preferences for certain foods and brands, dietary and nutrition requirements and the number of diners.

Users can remove items they already have in stock at home, swap out ingredients they don’t like and tack on other food products which they might need for the rest of the week.

These products can then either be delivered to the home through MenuAid’s supermarket partners, or subscribers can do their own shopping at their preferred outlets. The latter option in particular, the start-up says, is a great way to support local businesses.

The money from Sprout will be used to introduce further personalisation elements to the platform, according to the company.

This will include teaching AI to better understand dietary requirements and individual’s brand preferences. More technical staff members will be hired to achieve this, as well as a marketing team to boost MenuAid’s user base to 100,000 in the next 12 months.

“Our goal is to make mealtimes simple, more affordable and enjoyable for consumers who value convenience but want to reduce packaging waste,” said MenuAid Co-Founder and CEO Elise Hilliam.

Hilliam and fellow Co-Founder Toby Skilton say the inspiration for MenuAid came from their own “food rut”, caused by busy lifestyles. Though both considered themselves to be passionate about food, being time-poor had them opting for take-aways or the same few recipes every week.

While meal delivery services have been available for some time, Hilliam and Skilton said they are often prohibitively costly and unsustainable in many cases. In contrast, both MenuAid’s subscription options – ‘Vege Fix’ (vegetarian) and ‘Balanced’ (meat-eating, but with one meat-free meal a week) – are priced at $4 a week.

Warren Bebb, Investment Manager at Sprout, said: “MenuAid is solving the ‘What’s for dinner?’ dilemma in a new and highly scalable way that has the potential to itself become a staple in every kitchen.

“We were impressed by the founders’ insights into consumer food trends and positioning of MenuAid as a strategic partner to supermarkets and other food suppliers. With the addition of AI, personalisation will be a key driver of growth.”

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