Another week, another meal plan (this one was recommended to me by a friend via WhatsApp), however, this time I'm reviewing a meal plan by a company that doesn't describe itself as a meal-plan provider – they prefer "better food delivery provider".
That company is Faba, a brand new start-up in Singapore (they started to deliver meals only a couple of weeks ago) co-founded by 2 entrepreneurs, Sean and Alex. Faba occupies an interesting niche among food-delivery companies in Singapore: all their recipes are 100% vegan (no plant-based meats) and they flash freeze their meals, a method I've only seen employed by one other company, Umami Chefs.
A couple of days before I received my meals, I spoke to Sean and Alex about their experience, how Faba started and the philosophy behind the business. I'll publish my interview with them next week but, suffice to say, hearing them speak so passionately about their recipes got me excited – let's see if the meals matched the hype.
Faba offers only 1 option, the "Plant-Powered Bundle", which includes 6 meals. There is currently no way to customise the bundle, but I am sure we will see more options for size, dietary requirements etc. in the future.
I went ahead and ordered 1 Plant-Powered Bundle: 6 meals per week for S$88 (S$14.67 per meal including free delivery).
You can choose to make a one-time purchase or "subscribe" to automatically receive meals every 1, 2 or 4 weeks (more on this later). The rest is straightforward enough: pick a Monday or Thursday to receive your meals, add special instructions, checkout and pay. Once I completed my purchase, I was sent an email confirming my order.
Here are my observations and opinions on some specifics that contribute to the overall experience: user experience and customer service, packaging and delivery, and cost and rewards.
User experience and customer service
Faba's website is lightweight, which makes it both easy to understand and use. The homepage features a large "order now" button, which takes you to the page where you can order the Plant-Powered Bundle. From here, you can browse other pages that feature each of Faba's 6 recipes alongside their ingredients and nutritional information. The checkout process is easier than most purely because there are so few options available at this time.
I won't criticise the website's simplicity nor the lack of customisation because the company is so new, however, do note that if you're after the granularity other companies offer, I'd recommend looking elsewhere.
My only criticism is the "subscribe" option, which reads "delivery every 1 week, 2 weeks or 4 weeks". If I select "delivery every 4 weeks", it isn't clear whether I would receive 1 launch bundle every week for 4 weeks or if I would I receive 1 launch bundle in 4 weeks.
It would also be useful if the Plant-Powered Bundle page gave an "at a glance" view of the nutritional information rather than situating this on separate pages.
Packaging and delivery
My meals arrived early on Monday morning in a large cardboard box, which was lined with insulation (I later learned that this is made from recycled cotton). There is only 1 delivery of meals per week, which is one of the benefits of flash-frozen food.
Faba's packaging feels more ... I'm struggling for the right word ... "hip" than other companies. It looks and feels like a ready meal from an up-market store like Marks & Spencers with bright, eye-catching colours and designs. The trays are made from recycled paper boards with plastic in-liners and everything is recyclable.
Each meal displays a full list of ingredients and nutritional information, as well as cooking instructions and a short description of each meal's concept that is full of personality.
Cost and rewards
Faba's price per meal is S$14.67, which makes them one of the most affordable companies in Singapore. However, do note that this bundle only contains 6 meals, whereas most meal plans come with at least 10 (2 per day for 5 days). If this bundle were increased to include 10 meals, the $88 price tag would rise to around $146.70.
Faba does not currently have any rewards or a loyalty scheme. If you want S$15 off your first order, you must be sent a referral code from someone with a Faba account, which I think is quite awkward and should just be a referral code. If you want a referral code, message me on Instagram and I'll send you one fast!
At a glance
When I spoke to Sean and Alex, they made clear to me that Faba is not a fitness brand and that they are not targeting individuals that focus on calories and macros. That makes this review trickier for me as I do often focus on calories and macros and this topic commonly forms a large part of the blogs I write. So, I will preface this review with a caveat that I will deprioritise the numbers on this occasion and appreciate Faba's meals more for their flavour and creativity.
Full-day calories and macros: 503kcal, P20, C25, F40
Tofu Tikka Masala:
This was great-quality tofu that had a good texture (I think it was smoked).
The vegetables – pumpkin, red pepper and carrots – were chunky and well-cooked.
The sauce was packed with flavour, I could really taste the masala and coconut.
This felt like highly indulgent comfort food but I wish the fat wasn't so high (40g of which 20g was saturated fat).
I was left wanting more and would like to see this meal bulked out with a serving of rice or something similar, which would add around 200 calories.
Full-day calories and macros: 514kcal, P17, C82, F16
Chickpea and Eggplant Tagine:
This meal was much more substantial and filling due to the inclusion of bulgar wheat.
It didn't taste as flavoursome as Monday’s meal, but I still enjoyed it.
Again, great to see chunky vegetables, this time it was sweet potato and celery.
Full-day calories and macros: 483kcal, P22, C68, F40
Chipotle Burrito Bowl:
I heated this meal with some trepidation as Mexican is my favourite cuisine, but I was not disappointed.
The chickpeas, black chipotle beans and potatoes gave great texture to the meal with some fantastic flavours.
The star of the show was the “Fabacado Smash”, guacamole made from mashed edamame beans; it's just as creamy and flavourful as avocado-based guacamole.
The meal could have perhaps had a little more spice, but that's always my preference.
Sadly, this was a low-calorie, high-fat meal that did leave me hungry afterwards.
Full-day calories and macros: 572kcal, P22, C77 F23
Once heated up, this meal made my apartment smell amazing.
It was great to see them use an uncommon pasta and, while it was good quality, it was still quite hard and chewy once reheated in a microwave.
The bolognese was amazing; it had such a strong taste of tomato and olive and such a great mince-y texture. Honestly, this was a better bolognese than I recall eating as a meat-eater!
I’d never had vegan cheese, but the “almond parm” was really good.
This was the best meal I ate all week (but that Fabacado Smash is damn good!)
Full-day calories and macros: 319kcal, P11, C38, F14
Mac & Greens:
Another very low-calorie meal, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on what you’re after – I was still hungry after I finished.
The textures from the crunchy broccoli and firm macaroni were satisfying.
The sauce was watery and didn’t have much flavour.
This was an underwhelming meal after the epic bolognese on Thursday.
Full-day calories and macros: 401kcal, P24, C61, F9
Smoky Chilli Bowl:
There was indeed a real smoky flavour to the meal which, when combined with other spices, gave the chilli a nice heat that wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy.
I'm still impressed that there is no plant-based meat in Faba's meals, the chilli tasted and felt just like a meat-based chilli.
Similar to Monday, this meal could have been bulked out with a carbohydrate, such as rice or a wrap.
Full-week calories and macros: 2,792kcal, P116, C351, F142
Average daily calories and macros: 465kcal, P19, C59, F24
Sean and Alex have created a quality brand with vegan recipes that generally taste as good as they look. There's an uncommon amount of invention in their recipes – the "Fabacado Smash" and bolognese made from lentils, mushrooms and walnuts spring to mind – that are truly worth the price of admission. Add to that a clear commitment to sustainability in their ingredients, delivery method and packaging and I can see how many will be drawn to giving Faba a go at least once.
Having said that, Faba is not for everyone. Putting aside the common stigma attached to vegan-food providers, Faba will often be put in the same bucket as meal-plan providers, and this is where they may marginalise themselves. I'd argue that the main consumers of meal plans are those that want to gain or lose weight or maintain a certain lifestyle, which necessitates a certain focus on calories and macros.
Put simply, with my personal goals and active lifestyle, I couldn't order from Faba again because I have to seek out so many calories and macros elsewhere each day. To be specific, I still needed to consume an average of 152–153g of protein each day after my Faba meal to hit my protein macro.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed Faba and would recommend it to a friend, especially if you prioritise flavour, price and/or sustainability over calories and macros – let me know what you think of that amazing bolognese!
Here are a few changes Faba could make to improve its offering:
Take a look at the amount of fat in your meals. I know you don't focus on macros but the fat is high in some of your meals and that could afford to come down a little.
Offer a discount when people subscribe. A rewards or loyalty scheme may or may not be in the business plan for the future, but for now, give a little discount to those that do choose to repeat their order over 1, 2 or 4 weeks. Currently, there is no price difference between a one-time order and a subscription.
Bulk out some meals. I felt that a few of the meals I received were more a part of a meal than a full one. For example, the Rigatoni Bolognese felt like a full meal, whereas the Tofu Tikka Masala needed something extra to make it more substantial.
Choices, choices, choices! This is more of an ask than an issue: can we get some more recipes up in here? Most of the meals I received were great and I look forward to seeing more from this creative and exciting start-up.
Meal variety ⭐️☆️☆☆☆
Plan options ⭐️☆☆☆☆
Packaging & delivery ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ease of use ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐☆
Next week, I'll follow up my review of Faba with an interview with the co-founders, Sean and Alex, to whom I had the pleasure of speaking recently. If you'd like to keep up to date on the workouts I do and the meals I receive, you can follow me on Instagram.