Food feature: Tiffin Time

Food Feature Ttiffin TimeWith careful consideration given to the nutritional content of meal, so that each is packed with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, fats and carbohydrates required for a balanced diet, Tiffin Time offers a healthy solution for workers looking to fuel themselves at lunchtime. We spoke to founder Katie Garden (pictured, right).

Designed to keep blood sugar and glucose levels stable throughout the afternoon, Tiffin Time replaces complex carbohydrates, refined sugar and saturated fats with wholegrains, vegetables and legumes. Whether it’s a vegetarian or meaty option, these well-rounded and nutritious lunches help maintain concentration throughout the day and reduce the likelihood of that all too familiar lethargic mid-afternoon slump, which lowers productivity and increases the chances of unhealthy snacking. Founder Katie Gordon explains, “The aim when I set out was to get good food to people who are in offices. There’s all sorts of foods, so they can try something a little bit different, but also eat well too.”

Although her foods are not specifically designed for people with diabetes, all the principles behind it are along the right lines for a diabetic diet. She says, “The aim is for a natural slow release of energy through my foods, it’s better for everyone’s blood sugar levels. Food is served in healthy portion sizes, it’s predominantly vegetable-based so you should not need to snack later. You may even have enough energy to go to the gym after work.”

Most of the meals are dairy free and all gluten-free say will also hope helping people with those dietary restrictions. “Lunchtime is often a struggle if you can’t eat those things. Also we use a lot of whole grains and brown rice, which is to avert insulin spikes even in non-diabetics. The other aim is to include a lot of fibre, which makes you fuller for longer and leads to less snacking.”

Garden used to work in the city of London where she says she tended to eat on the hop. Trying to eat healthily, often she found that salads were oversized and not very fresh, nor would she be full later, so she’d end up snacking, and she put on weight. Taking a career break, Garden got the idea for starting Tiffin Time when on a trip to India.

tiffin-time-healthInteresting trip

Looking back, Garden says, “I didn’t expect to be doing this! Food wasn’t massively important in my childhood we didn’t have a lot of fresh foods all much that was home-cooked when I was a child. I started cooking for myself, and then friends, partly to save money when I was working in London. I did a trip to India for five months where I saw the dabbawallas in Mumbai who collected millions of hot meals from people’s wives every day and delivered them by bike to their place of work by lunchtime. I thought, if they can do it in that chaos, why can’t I give it a try? Initially, I started a festival business selling crumpets with wonderful toppings. I saw a lot of world food being presented, way more than just burgers. I discovered I loved cooking for the people. I’m totally self taught, it’s just been a massive passion really.”

Garden is also anti-packaging, although it’s possible to get food to take away in takeaway boxes, or people bring their own reusable vessel or buy their own tiffin tin and use that. If they order and need it delivered it will be delivered in a Tiffin Tin by bicycle. “The tins are a great compartments keep the food warm air reusable service a packaging,” she says. People are rethinking lunch. She adds, “I get a lot of people who get through the door and expect to see sandwiches. So they have to change their idea as to what lunch can be. Regulars come in and will try anything that’s new. It’s all fresh and locally sourced. They may not need to cook an evening meal if they’ve had an interesting world-food lunch, or some buy at lunchtime and take the food home to have for dinner.”

Garden plans to expand with another outlet in Bristol, then another branch somewhere else in the south-west, potentially Bath. She says, “It does need to be a city with a cycle network, we don’t want to have to leave a carbon footprint by using cars or vans. I doubt I’ll end up in supermarkets, partly because we would end up having to use packaging, however there may be a possible delivery system of frozen meals.”

Garden greens
tiffin-tins-in-the-shopGarden is currently studying for an Association for Nutrition Level 4 Online Nutrition Course qualification. She says, “It is well documented that being sedentary all day long is not good for our health and well-being, so it is important to have a break at lunchtime, eat properly, chat to colleagues and move around; even 15 minutes of gentle exercise can help get the brain re-engaged.”

From curry and quesadilla to shepherd’s pie and Spanish stew, Tiffin Time’s weekly changing menu takes inspiration from all over the world, all leftover food is channelled into local initiatives that deliver it to those in need. The use of tiffin tins means that there is minimal waste, as they are washed each night and reused. Each Tiffin Time meal is split between three tiffin tins, with a meaty or veggie main, accompanied by two side dishes, such as salad, vegetables and brown rice. The meaty option costs £6.50 and the veggie option costs £5.50, delivery is 50p and the tins are collected on the next delivery round.

Tiffin: a light midday meal or luncheon. In the period of the British Raj the custom of afternoon tea was supplanted by the local Indian practice of taking a light meal which became known as tiffin. In parts of India, such as Mumbai, the word mostly refers to a packed lunch of some sort. In Mumbai, it is often forwarded to them by dabbawalas, sometimes known as tiffin wallahs, who use a complex system to get thousands of tiffin-boxes to their destinations. The lunch boxes are themselves called tiffin carriers, tiffin-boxes or just tiffins.

This news item first appeared in Desang Diabetes Magazine, our free-to-receive digital journal. We cover diabetes news, diabetes management equipment (diabetes kit) and news about food suitable for a diabetic diet. Go to the top of this page to sign up – we just need your email address.

Open publication

Desang Diabetes Magazine is our free-to-receive digital journal (see below). We cover diabetes news, diabetes management equipment (diabetes ‘kit’ such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring equipment) and news about food suitable for a diabetic diet including a regular Making Carbs Count column. We just need your email address to subscribe you (it really is free, and you can easily unsubscribe should you wish to).
Sign me up!
Open publication
Buy a Desang kitbag

See our range of kitbags