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Bringing your homemade lunches to work can be a healthy and inexpensive alternative to splurging on that steak joint down the street.

Unfortunately for many overworked office drones, time is in short supply – preparing food beforehand can prove to be too much of a tedious and time consuming task; sure they can always resort to packing easy-to-make peanut butter jelly sandwiches daily, but that is going to get stale real quick.

Meet Hong Kong-based (but incorporated in the US) hardware startup Prepd. It has a neat crowdfunded solution that might just convince even the power executive to abandon his daily pork ribs – a design centric, lightweight, eco-friendly and highly customisable lunchbox.

e27 speaks to Chris Place, Co-founder of Prepd to learn about the product and his plans for it.

You mean even a simple lunchbox can be innovative?

It all started when veteran industrial designer Place was experimenting with his diet and trying out a 30 day paleo challenge. This involves a very specialised food plan, and therefore most of his meals had to be prepared at home and packed in lunch boxes.

During that process he discovered that the design of the conventional plastic lunch boxes ran counter to his goals. You see, a change in dietary regiment usually does not just involve a change in food consumption – it also involves a change in lifestyle.

“For me investing in a lunchbox was a sort of non-verbal promise to myself that I was going to change the way I ate and start a new behaviour,” says Place.

He believes the function of a lunchbox goes beyond being a transportation box for food; it is a device that facilitates nutritious eating choices. When you take that box out everyday, you are taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

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Place then sat down with Co-founder Will Matters, also an industrial designer, to work on Prepd Pack.

“Prepd was born out of a simple goal – To make healthy living easier and more enjoyable through good design. Will Matters and I are both Industrial designers and very much into our health, so we know the challenges of working long hours and trying to look after ourselves,” says Place.

Matters has had extensive in the startup framework, and is currently running RUBIX, offering design-focussed solutions for tech products. This philosophy of design-excellence also forms the core of Prepd Pack’s unique selling point (USP). Place takes charge of the design process while Matters focusses on product development.

By their knowledge of best design practices working closely with nutritionists and “meal preppers” , the pair came up with a lunchbox in a form of a slim and lightweight bamboo case.

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Within the case are several removable modular leak-proof Tritan (BPA-free and impact-resistant) containers. So not only is it eco-friendly and food safe, it also means that users can plan and prepare customisable meal plans well in advance. Being able to select the size and the quantity of containers a user requires for each meal also reduces food wastage.

To top it off, Prepd Pack comes loaded with a set of magnetic cutlery and a set of chopsticks and chopstick holders.

Users can opt to purchase an additional sleeve to keep the hot food insulated, which also comes with a cold pack system.

Being smart about your food choices

Beyond building a well-designed lunchbox, the Prepd Co-founders aim to be deeply involved in promoting healthy culinary choices to its customers.

It has developed an app available on the iOS and Android,  offering recipes designed specifically to fit the modular containers of the Prepd Pack. Each recipe displays the nutritional value and preparation time for each meal; it also connects with Health Kit on the iOS to tabulate your health and fitness levels.

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There’s also a community function within the app so you can share photos of your food or your own curated meal plans with other users.

Future goals

Currently the product is crowdfunded entirely on Kickstarter. It has been proven to be a smash hit–with over 11,000 backers funding it to the tune of over US$1.26 million with 31 hours on the clock; far, far exceeding its humble goal of US$25,000.

“We [Place and Matters] have some amazing backers, we occasionally get messages from backers explaining how they are going to use the Prepd Pack and how they have needed a solution like this for a long time. Others have strict dietary needs and allergies which require them to take their own food everywhere they go and cant wait to get hold of the Prepd Pack,” says Place.

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With the success of the campaign, Prepd is focussed on manufacturing, shipping the product, and developing the app.

It is also planning for strategic hires in the future and are in discussions with major offline retailers to carry the product. Place also says there might be other products up his sleeve.