Showing posts with label Meal kit delivery service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meal kit delivery service. Show all posts

Good Food meal kit delivery 2021

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve used a meal kit company – a service that delivers all the ingredients (except staples like oil, salt, and pepper) required to create a hearty meal in about thirty to fourty five minutes. When the pandemic hit, these services became even more popular, a promise for families to continue to get gourmet meals without venturing into supermarkets. As I started to get junk mail and magazine inserts promoting a huge array of companies, the intrigue set in… how have they changed since I’ve last used them?

First off, I tried Good Food, one of the newer entrants established in 2016 and claims they are Canada’s #1 meal kit delivery company.

Meal Choices and Pricing

With a choice of 18 recipes each week, it’s a company that has the least options. Somehow it didn’t hurt my experience as I found their pictures and descriptions more enticing, even with a smaller selection it was difficult to narrow it down to three. They try to help the process along with various filters (easy prep, low carb, family style, brunch, excluding certain ingredients, etc.) and when all else fails, they also sell ready-to-eat meals, combine and dine (a sauce that gets added to rice or pasta), and even a host of grocery items.

Prices are in the middle of the pack at $11.95 a serving (assumes 3 meals per week for two people) or $72 a week. Although, they do have a fair number of recipes with premium ingredients, which tacks on a supplementary cost that can raise the final box total.

Customer Service and Ordering

I was a little miffed that I had to call in to cancel my service (most allow you to manage this online), but they were quick to answer and cheerfully cancelled the subscription without giving me a guilt trip. Punctuality may be their downfall as out of the two weeks I used Good Food, the second delivery didn’t arrive during the stated 12-hour window (8am to 8pm) and finally came at 9pm. I’d suggest your delivery the day before you need the meals just to be safe.

I did enjoy the text notification feature where they let you know the box is on the way (at about the hour out point) and you can then click the link to track the van in real time. It’s a good option for those living in condos or those who don’t like having the box sit too long at the door.

It’s the only company that delivers 7 days per week in my area (Toronto) and if you pay $9.99 a month, you can skip managing ordering each week and just get them to deliver the next day whenever you desire. In most major cities, you can also pay a one-time $6.99 fee for next day delivery as well. This makes it great for individuals who find it difficult to place an order ahead of time or need to travel unexpectedly.

If you do sign up for the weekly subscription, you can pick recipes for the next four weeks and skip deliveries up to three months in advance.

Ease of Cooking

Maybe it’s the recipes I chose, but I found most required at least three pieces of equipment - a sheet pan for baking something, a pot, and a frying pan. Luckily, those who cook in my household don’t need to do dishes.

Their sheet pan meals cut this down to one item - the only problem is their recipe calls for a large restaurant sized sheet pan. For those who have large ovens you can easily rectify this by purchasing a new high lipped pan. But for those with an older oven *raises hand* or live in a condo with smaller ones, good luck fitting everything onto one sheet pan. I sensed it already after seeing how much more space my chicken and potatoes occupied compared to the recipe card.

In the end, I prepped the veggies on another sheet, but had to guess how much additional cooking time to add using two sheets. Using the higher range of the cooking time worked perfectly. It did mean the chicken probably lost an extra infusion of flavours but the potatoes turned out crispier than they otherwise would have been as well. So, all in all, a win.

The Taste Test

I really enjoy their spice blends, which adds tons of flavours to the meal. Each recipe generally also incorporates a sauce/condiment and a fresh garnish (green onion or parsley) so put together makes for a tasty dish with many layers of flavours.

A great example of this is the smoky BBQ spiced pork chops with potato and bean salad where the pork chops and salad both use the spice blend. The meat also gets finished in a sweet smoky BBQ sauce and the dressing for the salad combines creamy mayonnaise, more of the seasoning spice, and a thick zesty vinaigrette. The final finishing of fresh scallions in the salad gives it a burst of freshness and has become a side I’ve recreated for other nights.

Even the rigatoni alfredo is enhanced with lovely marinated artichokes that helps give the otherwise creamy sauce a nice hit of acid.

Environmental Factors

All the spices, condiments, and herbs does come at a cost – Good Food uses way more plastic than other delivery companies. It probably doesn’t help that they put ingredients in bags that are much larger than necessary, like these green beans that end up only occupying a third of the packaging.

Conclusion

If only Good Food wasn’t so plastic laden, they would have been my top choice of the three I tried in 2021. Yet, I can’t get over all the waste that’s created, especially if this is a service that’s supposed to be every week – god help our planet.

While my finished products don’t necessarily look as good as their stylized pictures, it nonetheless tastes like a gourmet creation. Good Food, just know that potato and green bean salad has left a mark in my recipe repertoire. 

If the above has intrigued you, sign up and try a week for yourself. Goodfood is offering Gastro World readers $40 to go towards their first two orders for new customers. Just click on this special referral link to go to their website.




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Is That It? I Want More!

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One Kitchen has you covered for breakfast


Let’s be honest, I’m LAZY when it comes to breakfast. Nevertheless, since it’s the “most important meal of the day”, I’ll eat breakfast, but what I consume is pretty routine and boring: on weekdays a staple of peanut butter toast or cereal (with berries thrown in on occasion). On weekends my effort goes up a bit – scrambled eggs or pancakes sometimes make their rounds. Don’t get me wrong, I love breakfast dishes! But, it takes a while to get my creative juices flowing, so throwing together an extravagant meal first thing in the morning is difficult.

Having used One Kitchen for dinner, I was excited to hear they now offer breakfast options providing you a hearty start to the morning without all the prep work. With a couple dishes offered weekly, I tried their sweet and savoury selection.

Admittedly, I’ve only made pancakes with powdered mix from a box. So, when One Kitchen’s recipe called for vinegar, I was thoroughly confused. Even so, I followed directions and the cappuccino pancakes turned out fluffy and cakelike. Much more aromatic than my typical pancakes (thanks to the espresso powder and egg added to the batter), so they didn’t rely solely on the sauce for flavour. In this case, rather than maple syrup, a dulce de leche glaze was included, and was thinned out with milk so it didn’t become overly sweet (great if you’re not into overly sugary foods first thing in the morning).


Meanwhile the huevos rancheros were so filling that we took the meal for two and turned it into four. Having had the dish on a number of occasions, I expected it to be harder to prepare. However, the bean mixture was quick to whip up, the three ingredient salsa not much harder, so what ended up taking the most effort was frying the eggs without breaking them. I would have liked the beans a little saucier (so would suggest thinning it out with some water or stock), but it was still a great rendition of the Mexican staple.    


Soon they will have smoothie options for those who prefer to drink their meals. I’m normally not a liquid diet fan … there’s something about biting and chewing something that’s oh so satisfying. But, having tried the berry smoothie it’s surprisingly satisfying. The morning I had the concoction, it wasn’t until around 11:45 my stomach started warning me to get ready for lunch. Maybe it’s the thicker Greek yoghurt or chia seeds that gets added, but the smoothie ends up being fairly thick and has a chewable quality to it.


If you’ve never heard of One Kitchen, they’re a Canadian meal-kit delivery company that sends weekly customizable boxes containing all the ingredients (and recipes) you’ll need to prepare meals. You can choose between two or four people plans with three to five recipes – the more you purchase the cheaper it gets: for two people it ranges from $10.49 - $11.49 per serving, while for four people it drops to $9.49 - $10.49. Although they can deliver every week, if you ever need to stop, just put your account on hold and nothing will get sent until you start up the account again. For a fuller account of their service, check out my dinner post.  
Now that One Kitchen has expanded their offerings to breakfast, it’s even more convenient for customers to feed their families (and even caters to those who like having breakfast at dinner). Intrigued? You can try it out for yourself by visiting their website, selecting any of the meal plans (including the largest) and using Gastroworld as the coupon code. You'll see the 40% applied off the subtotal.  Get cracking!

Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

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Comparsion of Canada's Meal Kit Delivery Companies


               
After toiling in the kitchen for four weeks - ah, who am I kidding, it was actually an enjoyable experience - here's a summary of my trials using four of Canada's meal kit delivery companies. For the home cook wannabes, they’re a huge time saver: all the ingredients (except for the staples) are delivered to your home and they arrive in the quantities required for the recipe (no pesky measuring needed).  Just wash, chop, and cook and in under an hour (for the most part), you’ll be serving a hot meal in no time.


All the companies use a similar operating model:

  • Deliveries occur sometime during the week and everything arrives in an insulated cardboard box with sufficient ice packs to keep ingredients chilled for hours – even placed out on the doorstep on a hot summer’s day;
  • Ingredients for recipes are held in bags, with the exception of proteins, to limit any confusion; and
  • Recipe cards with pictures and step-by-step instructions are included.


Every home chef differs, so it’s difficult to say what I like or dislike about a company would be the same for your family. The table below summarizes my experience using each service for one week testing three recipes for a family of two into elements I deem important below. Based on the results, I’ve classified the company as a “best for”, but only you can decide if that’s truly what’s best for you. 


Chefs Plate Miss Fresh One Kitchen Prepd
Delivery (varies depending on area, listed dates are for North York in Toronto) Monday and Thursday for flexibility as to whether you cook more during the week or weekends Tuesday Monday and Tuesday Sunday
Dependability Missing ingredient (pizza dough). Chefs Plate notes a missing ingredient doesn’t happen frequently. However, if it does, their Customer Service group will refund the customer for the meal. Unripened mango and avocado made it difficult to cook the fish tacos. Seafood recipes are supposed to be prepared first, as suggested by most companies, as protein spoils the quickest. Wrong recipe card sent with the package, but was replaced through email. No mishaps.
Packaging One of the sturdiest with the insulation built into the box. Paper bags holding each meal is a space saver for the fridge. Kept ingredients coldest with insulation built into the box and large ice packs almost the width of the box sandwiching proteins. Card board box with a separate insulation bag filled with ice packs. Most environmentally friendly with a smaller cardboard box filled with ice packs. The company also offers a pick-up return service for the box and ice packs.
Ease of use for recipes Easiest to follow with some ingredients even prepped further (i.e. garlic arrives peeled). Generally, found recipes were the fastest and the cooking time for proteins were bang on. Easy to follow but recipe cards are for 2, 4 or 6 people plans, so you’ll need to flip to the front for water requirements and generally found the cooking time for proteins were off. Easy to follow recipe cards and there are quick three minute videos online for further clarity. Easy to follow but some of the steps seem slightly out of order, so carefully consider what would be easiest for combining.
Ingredients not included Oil, water, salt and pepper. Oil, water, salt and pepper. Oil, water, salt and pepper. Other ingredients seem unconventional: the apple cider vinegar required for a dressing wasn’t included, but flour (in my opinion a staple ingredient) arrived with the tart. Oil, water, salt and pepper.
Special equipment requirements None. None, but some recipes (like the beef pho) require a lot of pots. Food processor. None.
How it tastes All tasted good but nothing was outstanding. ADD SALT. Recipes don’t call for it but most are pretty bland without adding to taste. Great tasting meals with special techniques (such as pureeing beans for a chili to thicken) that heighten recipes. Incorporates a lot of different spices, herbs and condiments, so I found the recipes were the most delicious, for my taste.
Price per serving for three meals for two or four people Two - $10.95
Four - $9.75

Other options available includes 2-meal and 4-meal plans for two and four people.
Two - $10.99
Four - $9.99

Most options available including 2-4 meals for two, four or six people.
Two - $11.49
Four - $10.99 (for two meals) or $9.99 (for four meals)

Another option available includes a 4-meal plan for two people.
Two - $10
Four - $10

Other options available includes a one person plan.
My opinion of who the company is best for Families with picky eaters. People who arrive home at varying times and you need ingredients to stay cold even after a very long day. Less experience cooks as the videos are very helpful

and

People who want to learn special techniques and tricks to cooking.
Foodies (people who like trying inventive recipes)

and

Environmentalists.
How to order Chefs Plate Miss Fresh One Kitchen Prepd
Offers for Gastro World readers Three free plates using referral link above $30 off first order using promo code GASTROWORLD30 40% off any purchase using coupon code Gastroworld $20 off first order using promo code gastr581f3a6730928
Detailed post with pictures Chefs Plate Miss Fresh One Kitchen Prepd

Disclaimer: The above meal-kit deliveries were complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

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Miss Fresh meal kit delivery service



As the last meal kit delivery company I would be cooking with, the three meals from Miss Fresh was a bittersweet ending. It’s been a blast making use of the kitchen again and sitting down to a home cooked meal with my husband throughout the week. Yet, it’s also a relief that the pressure to return home, at a decent time, to prepare dinner is over (at least for now)!
  
Dependability

For my schedule, the Tuesday delivery date makes the service inconvenient. The later arrival meant I still had to purchase groceries for Monday, an evening that most households typically stay in, and had to leave my Tuesday to Thursday evenings free to actually use all the meals.

Miss Fresh’s kits arrived in a sturdy cardboard box with built in reflective packaging on the inside. The use of two massive ice packs that were almost the width of the box was smart as the protective layers ensured all the proteins were very cold even though I didn’t put them into the fridge until well after work.


Additionally, the well labeled, separate packing for each meal ensured there was no confusion as to what ingredients accompany each recipe.

Most companies suggest you cook meals containing fish first, since the protein tends to spoil the quickest. Given we selected fish tacos from Miss Fresh, I wanted to follow protocol and prepare this on Tuesday. In reality, it had to wait until the last evening (although the fish was still fine after three days) as the mango and avocado used in the recipe was hard and unripen. After a few days in a paper bag, the avocado was finally soft enough and the mango still hard but sweet. Something for Miss Fresh to consider: if a meal needs to be prepared on a timely basis, it’s important to ensure all the accompanying ingredients are also ready for use.

Recipes: Ease of Use

The recipe cards were easy to follow with a limited number of steps and coloured photos that help provide clarity for the description. Since the recipes are made for 2, 4 and 6-person meals, you will need to flip to the front to figure out measurements required for items that don’t arrive with the meal kit (mainly water). For example, the beef pho stated to combine everything with the dissolved beef broth – it took me a while to realize where to find the water measurements to prepare the broth.

Overall, the cooking times for the protein were off; therefore, to ensure food safety, I’d suggest Miss Fresh include recommended internal temperature times in some recipes.  Something like the stuffed turkey breast could have benefited from this detail. The recipe noted the portion for two would take 25 minutes, this seemed very quick, so I was already skeptical, but determined to follow everything as intended. Sure enough, even after letting it rest for a few minutes, upon slicing into the turkey the meat stuffing was raw and required another twenty minutes in the oven (since it was already sliced it made the turkey itself dry).

On the other hand, the cooking time for the thin tilapia slices for the tacos was too long. After seeing that the fish was indeed “flaking easily”, I removed them from the pan or the tilapia would have become a rubbery mess.

Although recipes could be made without any fancy gadgets, some of them, like the beef pho, requires A LOT of pots and pans – a frying pan for the beef, one pot to prepare the noodles, and two pots (or one pot and large bowl) for the soup (after boiling the broth you need to strain it before you continue cooking with other ingredients). The amount of equipment, is likely doable in most households, but sure adds to the amount of dishes that has to be washed later.

How It Tastes

The beef broth for the pho smelled amazing – how the main floor of the house filled with a lovely star anise and beef smell. Actually tucking into the bowl of afterwards was disappointing.


Firstly, the dish definitely requires salt even though the recipe didn’t call for it; the broth was somewhat flavourful but without salt lacked interest. Secondly, the cooking time for the noodles should be more than three minutes (maybe another minute or two) as the noodles were still hard so didn’t have the slippery chewy texture you expect with pho. Finally, the beef really needed to the thinly sliced version (generally found in Asian supermarket) rather than a hunk of flank steak that you pan fry and prepare yourself. No home cook can ever slice the beef thinly enough and the pho ends up being finished with a chewy protein.

A great meal to ring in the Thanksgiving weekend early was the turkey breast. The recipe describes the stuffing as “chestnut stuffing” but it ended up incorporating so much more - minced pork, wild rice, poultry liver & red currant jelly! The result was a richly flavoured dish. If I hadn’t sliced the turkey and put it back into the oven, likely a really moist protein as well. Luckily, there was enough of the cooking liquid remaining that spooning that onto the turkey helped to rehydrate the fowl.  


Our last meal, the long awaited fish tacos, was a nice light way to end. Although the tilapia was left relatively plain (just a dash of five spice), the mango and avocado salsa on top was strong enough for interest. In hindsight, I should have spread the plain yoghurt onto the corn tortillas, rather than drizzling on top, as after a few days the corn tortillas were somewhat dry.

Despite being a tasty meal, I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing with the dish. The two fish tacos a good start but not enough to satisfy – perhaps tortilla chips or a salad would have helped to make it a more satisfying meal.


Overall, Miss Fresh’s portions are smaller than competitors. So, if you’re trying to squeeze a lunch from leftovers you’ll likely be disappointed. On a positive note, the well sized portions does help to ensure you don’t over eat, so this is perfect for individuals who can’t resist finishing everything on their plate.

Price and How to Order the Service

The most customizable, you’ll have to visit Miss Fresh’s site to figure out the pricing for your household. Each plan is built based on three factors:
  • Type of box – vegetarian, chef (a variety of meat and vegetarian), or custom (you select your own meals)
  • Number of meals
  • Number of people it feeds
The cheapest is $7.75 (for a custom box with five meals for six people) while the most expensive is $9.79 (for a vegetarian meal kit with two meals for four people). Miss Fresh is by far the most cost effective and personalizable of all the delivery services.

If the above has intrigued you, sign up and try a week for yourself. Miss Fresh is offering Gastro World readers $30 off their first order. Just use the code GASTROWORLD30 on their website - https://www.missfresh.com/

Disclaimer: The above meal delivery was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada

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Chefs Plate meal delivery service


When friends heard about my cooking extravaganzas (er.. all right, week night dinners), the ones who actually prepare meals would ask if I’d be trying Chefs Plate. Indeed, it seems to be Toronto’s most popular service having been around for a couple of years. Friends rave about the easy to prepare meals – one who’s moved into a temporary rental even able to cook for a family with only one pot and pan. After all the praise, I was excited to try it for myself.

Dependability

With a choice of two delivery dates (varies depending on the area), it certainly allows you to cater to when you’ll cook most. For my area, the dates were at the beginning and ending of the week:

  • Monday – ideal for the weeknight cooks and fits into my schedule the best as I’m most likely eat a meal at home during Monday – Wednesday or Sunday.
  • Thursday – a great option for individuals who predominantly have time to cook on weekends or may even want a meal kit for entertaining. Think about it, you get all the ingredients and if it doesn’t work out, you always have someone to fall back on.
Of all the packaging, Chefs Plate’s box was the most impressive – regular cardboard but incorporates a built in foil reflective layer. Additionally, they seem to be the only company that didn’t freeze the proteins (so you can cook them on the delivery date), with an abundance of ice packs everything stays cold.  

A nice touch with the introductory box was a welcome pamphlet and an apron that really put me into the cooking spirit. Moreover, I enjoyed the paper bags containing all the ingredients for each dish – they’re sturdier and took up less space within the fridge.

However, there was a mishap: the pizza dough that should have accompanied the calzones didn’t arrive. Had I read the pizza dough information card carefully, I should have realized it wasn’t in the bag and therefore would know it’s missing – unfortunately, I didn’t realize until I was about to cook for the evening. Good old Uber Eats saved the night.

In following up with Chefs Plate, they noted a missing ingredient doesn’t happen frequently. However, if it does, their Customer Service group will refund the customer for the meal.

Recipes: Ease of Use

My friends were right: the recipes were simple, straight forward, and no fancy gadgets were required. For two meals, I only needed a baking sheet. The salmon was the most “equipment intensive” requiring two frying pans and a pot.  


Additionally, the dishes were quicker to prepare – no recipe took more than 30 minutes. Chefs Plate helps save time by prepping ingredients more than any company: garlic cloves arrived peeled and the green beans were arranged in the same direction (a quick wash and one chop was all it took to remove the ends).

Trust the timing on the cooking instructions, they seemed a tad short but ensured restaurant quality doneness… the salmon was a beautiful jewel-toned medium in the middle and the chicken fairly moist.

How It Tastes

Everything was good but nothing wowed us.

Take the nori salmon: the fish was cooked nicely but adding toasted nori slivers into melted butter for two minutes really didn’t infuse the butter with much flavour. The most pronounced taste was the rice wine vinegar tossed into the steamed rice, which was delicious and an idea I’ll re-use. And as a warning, don’t use a rice cooker (or at least use more liquid than called for in the recipe) as mine turned out al dante.


Despite the roasted vegetable medley accompanying the chicken being a tasty combination of potato (make sure these are actually cut to half an inch), onions, green beans and carrots, I found they needed something more than just garlic and olive oil. Another herb like rosemary likely would have paired nicely with the lemon thyme chicken.


After buying my own pizza dough, I also made the cheese calzones. To be fair, it’s difficult to determine if I had too much dough (since recipes don’t include measurements) and if Whole Food’s pizza dough would be as good as what should have arrived in the kit. But, the calzones were also fairly bland – if I were to do it again I’d brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle salt on top.


Conclusion

Out of the three companies I’ve tried so far Chefs Plate is definitely the most polished. Of course, it was disappointing that such a long-standing company would have forgotten to include the pizza dough (a key ingredient for calzones)… guess the quality control person had a slip for the day.

Overall, the recipes were quick and safe – there’s not a lot of spices, herbs or unfamiliar ingredients. So, I see the dishes being a good choice for family with young children or for those who are picky eaters. However, for a person who loves a diversity of flavours and eats out often, I couldn’t help but want more. Oh well, maybe my taste buds need a rest sometimes.

Price and How to Order the Service

Chefs Plate also offers two or four-person plans. However, you’re also allowed to choose the number of meals for the week (two, three or four), which is helpful for those who have an active social calendar and eating at home three times a week isn’t possible.

Of course, the pricing will vary with the number of people and meals:

  • The basic charge is $10.95 per serving for the two-person plan or $9.75 per serving for the four-person plan.
  • A $6 delivery charge is tacked on for the two-meal two-person version, but still free if you’re ordering two meals for a family of four. It is of course free for any other plan.

If the above has intrigued you, sign up and try a week for yourself. Chefs Plate is offering Gastro World readers three free plates on the first order for new customers. Just click on this special referral link to go to their website.

Disclaimer: The above meal delivery was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog