After days of consuming home-cooked food, are you craving to eat some lip-smacking restaurant meal but can’t step out because of COVID-19? Don’t worry. Now, you can enjoy restaurant-style food at home.

From pizzas to burgers to signature starters to main course, be it Indian or Continental, cook at home and surprise your loved ones with your talent!

Prominent restaurant chains and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are there to you with their DIY (do-it-yourself) meal kits. These kits come with pre-portioned ingredients to recreate a restaurant-quality meal at home.

Punjab Grill, Smoke House Deli (SHD), Tres, YouMee and some of the QSRs like 1441 Pizzeria, Faasos, and Burger HQ have started raking in moolah through these kits. Recipes, ingredients and instructions are included.

Chef Vineet Manocha, Vice President (Culinary), Lite Bite Foods, which runs restaurants under the brand Punjab Grill and You Mee, said: “DIY kits are primarily for people who enjoy cooking. Most of us are still working from home, but, on most days, are left with limited time and crave for restaurant-style food. DIY kits bridge that gap. It takes away the hassle of arranging gourmet ingredients, chopping, cleaning, etc., and saves a lot of time.”

“With step-by-step instructions, one really can’t go wrong. We realised that many of our patrons are still reluctant to order in pre-cooked food but are quite comfortable trying DIY kits. Knowing what’s going in the dish, the option of cleaning raw materials again and ultimately cooking a meal yourself gives that extra confidence to the customer,” he added.

These kits are delivered through food aggregators such as Zomato and Swiggy.

No-No to Dine-in

Though lockdowns have been eased in many parts of India, people are still reluctant to eat in a restaurant. In many states, dine-in services are still not allowed and about 40 percent of India’s restaurants are shut.

August 17 is the 147th day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown.

This has led to individuals and families dining at home all the time, and a deleterious effect on the restaurant and F&B industry. According to a report by CRISIL, India’s organised restaurant business will see a 40-50 percent plunge in FY21 revenues.

So, it comes as no surprise that there is a bump in orders for DIY meal kits.

Chicken Oregano Burger or Pizza?

Smoke House Deli has received a “phenomenal” response for DIY kits, particularly for its signature chicken burger and Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with tomato olive Puttanesca.

The Chicken Oregano Burger Kit (pack of 2 patties), SHD’s signature chicken burger, is priced at Rs 450.

The Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with tomato olive Puttanesca, cooked ravioli + puttanesca sauce + chopped onions and garlic in oil + grated parmesan cheese costs Rs 550 (portion for 2).

SHD delivers DIY Deli across Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Chandigarh. It has also introduced Artisanal Home-Made Pastas (Home-made goodness), SHD Grilled Vegetable Lasagne or the Chili Crusted Cobbler, Fish and Chips, to name a few.

Faasos’ DIY kit offers Indian delicacies such as kadai paneer rice to Italian favourties like Penne Arrabiata. These kits range between Rs 280 and 350. According to Joshi, the response for DIY kits has been robust.

Delicious North Indian meal DIY kits from Punjab Grill starts from Rs 325.

D-I-Y Pizza Kit from 1441 Pizzeria comes with artisan pizza dough, a plethora of vegetables, authentic sauces, and cheese along with meat for non-vegetarian alternatives. The price of the kit starts from Rs 145.

“Since the ingredients are pre-proportioned, the kit can be assembled within 20 minutes. DIY kits have been widely accepted. In terms of demand, our regular consumers have shown more faith towards the kits,” said Krishna Gupta, Managing Director, 1441 Pizzeria.

If one compares all the prices of these DIY kits with the restaurant price of the same meal, the restaurant menu prices are almost Rs 50-100 more than the kit price.

Most restaurant owners agreed that the demand has been robust for DIY kits but they did not share the sales numbers.

Why shouldn’t kids have fun, too?

Not only adults, even kids can have some fun. TRES, owned by Lite Bite Foods and SHD, has designed DIY kits for kids as well. So, mommies can take a small break from the kitchen and dads can now spoil their ‘bachas’ a little more.

On kids’ DIY kits, Chef Jatin Mallick, Chef & Co-owner TRES, said: “We got a phenomenal feedback for our Father’s Day special DIY Steak box. Many people enquired about the DIY box even after that, but it was a limited offering. Such an overwhelming response encouraged us to add the DIY meal kits to our delivery menu and we introduced an option for kids too.”

Junior DIY Deli from SHD is only available in Mumbai now. It is a set of simpler, kid-friendly DIY kits which serve Market Vegetables or Chicken Sausage & Onions Pizza or Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

Most restaurants plan to continue selling DIY kits even after the pandemic is over. “Smoke House Deli will continue to deliver these kits even when dine-in restaurants open up, as they have proved to be a huge success and the trend will continue for a long time. It is here to stay, given that the pandemic isn’t over yet. The plan is to add more and more DIY options to the menu in the coming months,” Jaydeep Mukherjee, Brand Head, SHD, told Moneycontrol.

Bored of dining in, can’t dine out? DIY meal kits show the way out

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