As the cult of convenience continues to dictate our choices as consumers, meal kits are quickly gaining ground in Canada. According to Abacus Data polling from September 2018, 1 in 5 Canadian millennials had already subscribed to a meal kit at one point or another and 1 in 3 were planning to try one.
Meal kit services offer a range of menu options that you choose from, between two and four different meals per week, and have delivered to your door for quick-prep balanced meals.
Many of my colleagues subsist primarily on meal kits and supplement with meals from scratch, take-out or restaurant dining for the remainder of the week. With a discount code my boss sent me, I tried out GoodFood for two weeks to see what all the fuss was about. I’m planning to test out all the different meal kits available in Canada and provide a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each over the course of the summer.
I opted to have three different meals each week, portioned for two people. On the first week, my condo building made my life difficult by not notifying me that a package had arrived (as is the standard practice). Meaning, I didn’t pick up my box until the day after it had arrived and the freezer packs in the box had thawed out. As a result, I had to toss anything that wasn’t shelf-stable – which broke my heart as I abhor food waste. I replaced the perishables, from the grocery store and persevered.
Over the course of the two weeks, I made a total of four different GoodFood dinners. Ordering three meals was ambitious, given my schedule and the frequency of my after-work commitments but you can only order 2 different meals in a week if you opt for 4 servings of each.
I made: creamy pesto pasta with sundried tomatoes and heirloom zucchini, spiced meatballs over sweet pepper couscous, seared steaks with lemon-oregano potatoes, and Greek chicken with lemon-yogurt sauce. All of these recipes were slated to take between 20 and 30 minutes to cook. I timed how long it took me to cook each of them and in every case it took me longer than prescribed.
Not to toot my own horn but, I’m a pretty proficient home cook and was fully applying myself to the task at hand – so hypothetically, I should be able to come pretty close to executing these meals in the prescribed timeframe. The meatballs over couscous was one of my favourite dishes in terms of flavour but the cooking instructions and timing were way off. If I’d followed the instructions to cook the meatballs over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally, I would have ended up with meatballs that were charred on the outside and still raw on the inside. After an initial sear, to get a nice crisp, browned exterior, I dialled back the heat to medium-low and cooked them for about 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally, to get a nice even cook throughout. In sum, the recipe took about 15 minutes longer than the allotted 30 minutes.
On the whole, I enjoyed the final product of the dishes I made. The quality of the meat and produce was consistent with what you would find at your standard grocery store. I would give the flavour of the finished products a grade ranging from a B- to a B+. The creamy pesto pasta was a B-, I thought a bit more pesto would have helped and the tomato side salad was a disappointment. The meatballs with couscous was my favourite and I’d give it a B+ but the accompanying salad, again, was a total afterthought.
On the whole, I would say the GoodFood meal kit is a convenient and cost-effective way for the time-strapped or beginner/novice home cook to discover new cuisines and get outside their comfort zone. For those of you who share my passion for cooking and aren’t fussed spending longer stretches of time in the kitchen and are excited by the opportunity to pull together a complex and nuanced meal from scratch, stick to your guns but keep this in your back pocket for when you want to take a break from meal planning/grocery-shopping.
Note: this post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own. I will be reviewing other meal kits available for purchase in Canada in the near future and will rank them all in a comprehensive post later this summer.