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Cooking Up New Ideas: 5 Must-Know Start-ups for Foodies

As foodies know, one of the most wonderful things about food is that it gets reinvented all the time as chefs bring fresh ideas and recipes to the table.

But the very way we eat is rapidly changing, too, thanks to a new breed of food entrepreneurs with a hunger for innovation. These folks are hard at work launching a new crop of food start-ups and are about to shake up the food world by tackling a range of problems—from finding dining companions to feeding hungry people in need.

Make sure to keep an eye on these five start-ups that are poised to change the future of the way we eat.


This social networking start-up combines the joy of dining with the joy of making new friends. The site connects you with people in your area who have similar interests and brings everyone together for a group meal at a local restaurant—think Argentine food with fellow travel enthusiasts or “Writers Over Wine.” Each meal is served family-style, which adds an extra layer of social connection to the experience. And you pay for the meal, tax, and tip in advance, which eliminates the hassle of divvying up the bill at the end.

Grubwithus is a great option if you're new in town, or even if you’re simply looking to make new friends with similar interests.

What you eat affects how you feel, but unfortunately, it's not always easy to figure out which foods are making you feel energized and which just make you feel blah. Thryve aims to change that with its meal-tracking app. You log what you eat by taking photos and entering ingredient and portion size details, and the app uses that info to helps you pinpoint a pattern of physical and mental responses. (For example, that you feel sluggish when you eat carbs in the afternoon or that having a piece of fruit on any empty stomach makes your stomach upset.) Thryve is also a great tool for helping to recognize food sensitivities. It’s like a having a personal food coach in your pocket!


NatureBox is the Birchbox of the snack world. When you subscribe, you pay $19.95 per month and get a shipment of assorted healthy snacks, all sans high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or trans fats. The 4-6 ounce packages are great for grabbing on the go and bringing to the office to help you avoid an afternoon vending machine raid. It's kind of like getting a monthly visit from the Easter bunny, minus the sugar crash.

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What could be better than getting a coupon for a delicious meal at a local restaurant? How about getting a good deal and helping to feed a hungry person in need at the same time? Each time you use a TangoTab coupon, the company donates a meal to a local food bank or hunger-related charity. As an added bonus, when you redeem your first coupon, the site ups the ante by donating two meals. Now you have the perfect excuse to indulge in a night out at your favorite restaurant. (Note: TangoTab is currently only available in NYC, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Oklahoma City, but many more locations are in the works.)

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Revolution Foods

The phrase “school lunch” usually conjures up images of Sloppy Joes, drab-looking mystery meatloaf, and lifeless produce. But Revolution Foods wants to change that. The company—based in Oakland, CA—brings fresh, healthy meals, healthy vending machines, and food education to students in 600 schools in 20 cities across the U.S. By building its meals around fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains, Revolution Foods helps kids just say no to high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats by shunning all artificial ingredients. Satisfying dishes like vegetarian pasta alfredo with fresh butternut squash give kids the energy and brainpower they need to tackle algebra, science, and history classes.

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Tell us! What are the coolest food start-ups you've discovered lately?