Showing posts with label home cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home cooking. Show all posts

Maillard meats delivered to your home

For a person who loves food, I don’t particularly love cooking. It’s not a chore I hate and will cook about twice a week, but all the steps leading up to actually preparing the meal (grocery shopping and prep work) seems to take so much time. Meal kit delivery companies help reduce the effort, but may not be the optimal choice for people who like to create – after all, cooking is an art form combining ingredients to create something new. 

A company that delivers groceries can help save time and effort. Hence, when I was approached by Maillard, a Canadian company supplying premium meats across the country, to experience a selection of their offerings, my inner carnivore did a happy dance.

Maillard prides themselves by offering meat free of artificial colouring – those vibrantly red steaks you can see in grocery markets may not necessarily be natural. Moreover, except for the flattened chicken, everything is prepared and flash frozen in their facilities before being shipped as quickly as possible to ensure fresh products.

Meat is sent in an isotherm cooler packed with dry ice keeping products frozen for 30 hours – it’s quite a scene as you open cardboard box, lift the bags of dry ice and the smoke billows out (just take care not to touch the dry ice). Everything arrives separated and beautifully wrapped … a gift idea for any meat lover in your life.

My first dinner consisted of the flattened chicken ($21.24). Since it was fully prepared, my finishing touch was simply to marinate it in peri peri (a recipe is available on Maillard’s website, but I just used a bottle of Nando’s sauce) and bake the bird following the requisite time included on the packaging. It resulted in a lovely golden juicy chicken that cooked surprisingly fast (45 minutes) since it was flattened.

Using the trimmed boneless chicken breasts ($9.10 for pack of two), I whipped up a quick Cajun chicken for a weeknight meal. Even after fileting them (for a shorter cooking time), the chicken came out surprisingly moist.

Recipes suggest brining the Frenched bone-in pork chop ($6) prior to cooking as the meat is relatively lean and tends to dry out. Despite every intention to follow the advice, life took over and that evening I ended up slathering on an herb meat glaze and baking. Trust me, you don’t need to spend the extra time brining; the pork chop turned out succulent and one of best I’ve ever prepared.  

Since a boneless duck breast ($10.15) was included in the package, I expanded my cooking repertoire at home. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too difficult to prepare – you score the fat, slowly render skin side down in a pan, and finish off in a hot oven with a swish of maple syrup. In my haste to taste the duck I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Next time, I’d definitely render the skin longer as there was still a bit of chewiness, but the duck meat was delicious and the quality comparable to restaurants.

Maillard’s products labelled as ‘Sélection 1913’ are their best cuts sourced from the highest grades (AAA and Prime), some are even aged 45 – 60 days to further enhance flavours. The 45-day aged boneless ribeye ($20.62) we sampled was fantastic crusted in Montreal steak spice and barbequed. The ribeye had such a lovely marbling throughout and the expected beefy taste (don’t you hate it when a steak looks great but tastes mild?)

If there are specific meats and cuts you’d like, items can be purchased on its own. For better value try their boxes containing 10-40 servings reducing the price per portion and providing variety. One like the ‘All Natural Box’ is $175 and includes steaks, ground beef, pork chop, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, chicken legs & drumsticks, and marinated chicken skewers, all together serving 40 portions.

For those who love great luxurious meats and also want to save time, having Maillard delivery a box to your house may be an ideal treat. And for those who still love to great creative - hopefully, Maillard will let out your inner ‘artist’ so you can transform ingredients and develop a beautiful and delicious dish.

As a special for Gastro World readers, Maillard is offering you 10% off orders $50+ and free shipping! Just use promo code gastro10 on their website.

Disclaimer: The above meat 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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Comparsion of Canada's Meal Kit Delivery Companies

Note: Some of the companies below have closed. Check out my 2021 comparison of meal kit delivery companies for the latest and greatest.

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


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


How to order Chefs Plate Miss Fresh One Kitchen Prepd
Offers for$110 off throughout the first four orders 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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CLOSED: 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)!

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.

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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CLOSED: Prepd's meal delivery service

After one week of using a meal kit delivery service, the home chef in me was ignited and wanted to continue. Hence, I sought out other Toronto companies and Prepd graciously offered a week of meals to prolong my culinary creations – something my husband was happy about as well.


Prepd’s Sunday delivery date works the best for my schedule: I like being home to put everything into the fridge as quickly as possible (although Prepd froze the proteins and there were tons of ice packs so could be left outside for a while) and gives me a chance to cook one of the meals on Sunday – the evening I’m home the most and generally have time to cook.

Similar to competitors, ingredients are clearly labelled and packaged (except proteins) into a separate bags for each dish.  With the exception of salt, pepper, and oil, everything required for the recipe arrives in the kit. Simply wash and prep the produce and you’re ready to go.

I particularly like that Prepd offers a pick-up service to return boxes and ice packs. Yes, I know items can typically be recycled, but manufacturing and even the recycling process still uses resources and energy, so anything we can do to re-use something helps the environment.

Additionally, their boxes were smaller (fitting all the ingredients perfectly) and were less reliant on unnecessary packaging (for example, not wrapping items such as carrots in plastic wrap, instead just placing them in the bag).

Recipes: Ease of Use

Overall, recipes were very straight forward, laying out instructions in chronological order. For example, the recipe would indicate to continue making the salad while something is in the oven, so you literally just follow the directions step-by-step. Looking back, there may be a few steps I’d process differently – in the lentil salad mixing in the herbs and shallots with lentils first, then adding the spinach as after adding the leafy vegetable it makes everything difficult to combine – but, it’s a very small change.

Prepd also required minimal equipment. With the salmon recipe, the carrots and almonds were also placed on the same baking sheet, so everything’s essentially made in “one pan” minimizing cleaning. Even the dressing for a salad could be made in the container holding the mustard – add oil and vinegar into the mustard and shake up to create the dressing.   

How It Tastes

Wow, the recipes sure incorporate a lot of herbs and spices. Even the vegetable soup combined pesto and vegetable bullion to make a very flavourful soup. Moreover, the selection of vegetables (carrot, leek, kale, onion and broccoli) created different flavours and textures to add interest. Including white beans into the dish made it hearty and filling (even more so with the generous portions of toasted bread). With plenty leftover, this re-heated nicely for lunch the following day.

My favourite meal was the salmon salad – fantastic hot the night of and cold for lunch. To be honest, after looking at the ingredients, I was skeptical whether I’d like the dish: carrots, dill, and chopped almonds? Not exactly my favourite things, let alone mixed together in a salad. Boy was I wrong! The sweet carrots with the dill and lentils actually worked nicely together; the chopped almonds much better than the slices I find too crunchy.

The lamb and beef koftas was the sole dish that tasted mediocre, simply due to the overpowering dry meat patties. Unfortunately, since I haven’t used their spice mix before, it’s hard to judge how much to add “to taste”… especially, when you’re adding it to raw meat – how do you even taste? Knowing how strong chili powder is, I already decreased the amount that came with the package, but unfortunately didn’t know what to do with the spice mix. Adding it all was a big mistake - the kofta became grainy and overly citrusy.

The patties were also hard to bind together, something wet (other than using wet hands to form the kofta) would definitely help and make the meat moister. With something already so flavourful, the condiments could have been toned down – the yoghurt would have been better plain, I found the additional feta made it too thick and salty. Also, the garlic incorporated in the yoghurt would have worked better in the meat, as the pungent raw garlic along with red onions was too much. Just imagine how great your breath smells afterwards.


Prepd’s recipes inspired me to combine a variety of ingredients and herbs together. At times, I didn’t think I’d necessarily like everything, but never one to not try something, I followed the formulas and (for the most part) wasn’t disappointed.

Although the dishes don’t necessarily look the most exciting from the pictures, they were actually full of bold flavours and with such generous portions, enough to try again the following day.

Price and How to Order the Service

If you’re living by yourself, congratulations – Prepd has a one person plan! With three meals per week, it will cost you $40 or $13.33 per meal.

For two and four people, the three meal plans and both work out to $10 a meal ($60 and $120 for the two and four person, respectively). All prices are inclusive of taxes and delivery charges – definitely one of the most economical services.

At any time, you can pause or cancel your plan. So, you’re not committed to having to order a meal kit every week.

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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One Kitchen's meal delivery service

In my youth I loved cooking … the ritual of combining ingredients into a delicious creation and sharing it with loved ones. Once work came into the picture, the thought of all the time spent prepping and cooking compared to how quickly everything was consumed became taxing. It also became harder to cook for one once leaving my roommates after university; too often ingredients come in big portions and food was wasted. So, soon it became easier to just eat out or prepare easy meals, the more complicated creations left for Sundays, dinner parties, and special occasions.

I’ve heard about meal delivery services from friends who love how easy it makes cooking meals for their families. Sure, it sounded intriguing, but being a food blogger and my husband and I having active social lives, I had doubts whether cooking three meals a week was feasible. Then one day One Kitchen offered to provide me a week’s delivery to try – what a perfect excuse to let my inner chef come out again!


Delivering on Monday and Tuesdays seems smart – most people go out on weekends and having a weekday delivery means customers don’t have to waste precious weekend hours at the supermarket.

As promised, everything arrived in a thick cardboard box with all the ingredients held in an insulated bag. Four ice packs also kept the meat frozen so everything was still intact and cold when I arrived home in the afternoon.  On an environmental note: it would be great if One Kitchen takes back the box, insulation bag, outer plastic bags, and ice packs to reuse. A drop-off pick-up sort of a program.  

Plastic bags kept all the other ingredients separated into their respective recipes and I just made sure they were stored together in the fridge.

As a warning, not everything is included in the kit. Some ingredients are understandable – oil, salt, pepper – things people should have at home. However, there were others that were a bit strange like with the vegetable tart you’re expected to have cider vinegar (luckily I had it), but the recipe includes flour.  Perhaps the vinegar wasn’t a key ingredient (used in the dressing for the salad) and could easily be replaced with something else.

It would be nice if One Kitchen provides a list of ingredients and equipment required for each recipe (on the website), so people can ensure they’re prepared before choosing it for delivery.

Recipes: Ease of Use

For the most part the recipes are pretty easy to follow. They include the ingredients in the proportions required, so you don’t need to measure or weigh anything. Simply wash and chop the produce and you’re set.

Plenty of information is included on each recipe card including pictures and even wine pairing suggestions. If you’re still lost, you can go on their website and watch their quick videos that provide an overview. 

I wouldn’t say the service is for someone who’s never cooked before as the recipes do use terms that could confuse a novice (such as "scoring" a border on the puff pastry). Even I had to watch the video to make sure I prepared the pastry properly.  

In terms of timing, each recipe took me anywhere from 30-45 minutes to make, this was based on taking my time to do it and washing & chopping the vegetables. 

How It Tastes

All three recipes were very different, One Kitchen sure has variety (except for seafood on the week of my delivery … though I do see they have shrimp pasta now).

The vegetable tart with green salad was my favourite:  the tart’s pastry turned out perfectly, rising beautifully into a flakey glory. I was surprised by the amount of onions and shallots used in the vegetable medley, but the stronger aromatics really helped to make the tart tasty.  Of the three recipes, this yielded the most food … it could seriously feed four people if you purchase more lettuce. I appreciate having lunch the next day, the vegetable tart delicious even cold.

At first I thought the stuffed chicken breast would be difficult to make, but it turned out to be the quickest. The chicken remained moist and the mushroom and sage mixture inside quite delicious. Cheese helped hold everything together and also add some creaminess. Since the recipe was predominantly baked, it also wasn’t oily. The only small change I’d make is using less lemon on the roasted broccoli as it was a bit sour, although somewhat refreshing with the meaty chicken.

Despite regularly making beef chili during the winter, I even learnt something new from One Kitchen. With this recipe, I was advised to take a third of the kidney beans and puree it in a food processor (a gadget I don’t own … luckily, the blender worked). The resulting chili was thicker and creamier than my past recipes, a great trick I’ll continue using. 

Additionally, I would have never thought to add an avocado salsa on top - generally relying on cream cheese and cheese – it really changed the chili adding freshness  on account of the raw onion, lemon and avocado.  


It was fun and exciting to cook again! Certainly my husband and I made it a priority to leave work at a decent time, not go out, and go home to enjoy a meal together. Of course, it took time (about 45 minutes per day to be exact) so I don’t think it’d be something I could do every week. But, the ritual would be great to do once every month or so when we’re sure we’d be home.

Price and How to Order the Service

At about $10.00 - 11.50 per serving, One Kitchen’s prices are in line (if not a bit lower) than competing services. The smallest plan is the two-person three meals one ($68.94 total or $11.50 a serving) and the price reduces to $10.00 per serving ($159.84 in total) for four meals for a family of four. The pricing also includes delivery and taxes.

Even though One Kitchen is a subscription based service, you can always skip a delivery or cancel at any time. So, it makes it easy to use on a periodic basis. This could even work for dinner parties if you’re not sure what to cook and want a safer “fool-proof” option.  

If the above has intrigued you, sign up and try a week for yourself. One Kitchen is offering Gastro World readers 40% off any box for new customers. Just visit their site, pick any of the plans (including the largest one) and use Gastroworld as the coupon code. 

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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