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SunBasket Meals: More Than Just Regular Plant-based Meals


Hectic schedules and busy lifestyles don’t give people a chance to prepare their meals, so they are pushed toward unhealthy eating habits.

Working people and students often skip meals or eat takeout foods because it is a faster and handier option than searching markets looking for organic meals. Those who are vegans find it even harder to buy and consume the best organic food because not all restaurants and snack bars offer vegan meals.

Luckily, Adam Zbar, Justine Kelly, Tyler MacNiven, and George Nachtrieb recognized the need for a health food service when they launched SunBasket in 2014. SunBasket is a food delivery service that provides fresh, organic, and mouth-watering ingredients and simple recipes for each meal.

The story of these 4 bright minds is one for the books. Keep reading to learn all about SunBasket, and their vegan, vegetarian, or other meal kits!

Written in the DNA

Born in 1969 in Washington, D.C., Adam grew up in a career-motivational family. His father is Dr. Zbar, a popular cancer scientist, and his mother is Dr. Michell Lynn Arnow, who works as a practicing psychologist. Even Adam’s grandfather was an entrepreneur and cable and communications pioneer, so it looks like success is written in Adam’s DNA.

Adam joined Pomona College and studied economics, but later, he entered UCLA’s School of Film, Theater, and Television and got an MFA in Film Production. He started his career in management consulting in Los Angeles, but soon he tested the waters in a digital media company. He gained experience in the online booking business, developing modern mobile media applications and running some of the best platforms, and even launched a wine delivery service.

Adam enjoyed running his wine and cheese delivery service, but soon he realized that the market for a healthy food delivery service had higher potential. So, in 2014, Adam contacted Justine Kelly and pivoted his business to grow into SunBasket, a brand that ships organic ingredients and meal recipes.

All-Star Team-Every Company Founder’s Dream

Justine is a highly experienced chef that had been preparing meals in San Francisco for 25 years. She began her career at the Red Cat after Charles Phan noticed her in 1996. Charles hired her at his Slanted Door restaurant as the pastry chef.

In 2007, Justine became a chef de cuisine and executive chef at Rooftop. She even appeared in Iron Chef America in a Season 7 episode. Justine became a very popular and ideal candidate for co-founder and executive chef at SunBasket, and Adam knew that.

Tyler MacNiven is a good friend of Adam and the third co-founder of SunBasket. He holds a Bachelor of Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tyler is a person who truly appreciates his family – he considers SunBasket as part of it, so he gives his best to its success.

The fourth but equally vital co-founder of SunBasket is George Nachtrieb. Gorge holds a BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University, graduated with high honors, and is a winner of the prize in the category outstanding student film prize, Frank Capra Prize.

He has a rich working experience as a producer, but he became a co-founder and director of the brand and product content of SunBasket.

The SunBasket Menu Expansion

Adam was happy with the number of customers. Still, they decided to target more groups, offering solutions for people on every type of diet, such as paleo and vegan, and catering to futuristic tastes.

Although SunBasket offered their customers an option to return the packages, Tyler discovered that most of the packaging ended up in a landfill. He decided to prevent that practice and came to an idea to offer their subscribers to recycle the products at their homes.

Slowly but surely, the company was turning into a giant in the food delivery industry. It went from 100 employees to 400 in 2016. In the years that followed, the SunBasket menu grew to expand the company's market. Justine and her team created recipes for new moms as they have to eat healthy meals, but they are busy with their babies.

A New Player in the Food Delivery Market

SunBasket showed up in 2014 as a new player in the massive subscription delivery game with a mission to help people learn to cook and eat healthy organic food. The company attracted lots of customers as the top-rated chef Justine developed all the recipes for the food cooking kit.

Additionally, the quality of ingredients that this prepared meal service offers is impressive, as its kits include seasonal, organic ingredients.

Customers were excited to have ideas and ingredients to cook healthy and tasty dinners. They continue to use and recommend SunBasket services repeatedly since they want to try new recipes, killing the monotony of weeknight meals.

If Food is Medicine, SunBasket Menu is the Prescription

As the son of a doctor who researched cancer, Adam knew the power of healthy food and wanted to give people a chance to live longer. The company partnered with the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association.

In 2018, SunBasket started creating recipes with the assistance of the American Diabetes Association that are low in sodium and sugar and high in fiber. Their focus was to help people with diabetes to manage blood glucose levels and to eat tasty food at the same time.

Meal Kit Player Turns Into Full-Service Meal Delivery Company

Covid-19 changed eating habits, and SunBasket enlarged its offer. In 2020, the company started carrying a mix of meal kits, snacks, pantry staples, dairy products, meats (traditional and plant-based), and heat-and-serve meals. Thus, it became a full-service meal delivery service.

Today, vegan meals are extremely popular. Not only do vegan people order them, but many who aren’t vegans also enjoy their taste. Headquartered in San Francisco, this top-quality prepared meal service isn’t afraid of its competitors like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and DoorDash. Currently, SunBasket pricing starts at $9.99 per serving. Furthermore, the praiseworthy SunBasket customer service ensures the company remains a real friend to everyone – vegans, new moms, busy people, and people who need a special diet.

SunBasket Financials

Starting with the funding in September 2015 and finishing with January 2020, SunBasket went over 9 funding rounds, raising a total of $143.1 million. Thirty-five investors fund the company, and the most recent ones are Sapphire Ventures and Relevance Ventures.

SunBasket raised $4.5 million in 2015 and $11.62 million in 2016. Those were significant sums for a starter round and Series A funding. Series B and Series C were equally productive and brought $15 million each round, but the most significant funding happened in January 2018.

That year, SunBasket raised $42.8 million due to Series D and opened distribution centers on the East Coast and Midwest. The following year, SunBasket earned $30 million in Series E funding.

Right now, SunBasket is still a private company, and there are no indications for a following funding round. In 2019, this company had a post-money valuation of around $500 million to $1 billion.

SunBasket Future Plans

SunBasket will continue meeting various health needs and dietary preferences and providing consumers with delicious, organic food options every day. Delivering meal kits, pantry items, and ready-to-eat meals, SunBasket plans to keep offering meal kits for people who prefer slicing, chopping, and preparing meals themselves.

The company intends to expand its ready-to-cook product line and add hundreds of new items to its meal kits. Using a modern system, SunBasket is well-prepared to take their business to the level they wish, and they feel confident and ready for years to come.