It’s happened. This week, Canada closed its borders to most non-citizens and permanent residents, and the province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency, mandating restaurants and bars to cancel dine-in service. We are not going to starve (people, stop hoarding!) but we are probably looking at a couple months of ramping up our home cooking game.
The folks over at these grocery delivery and meal prep services are likely having a field day during this time of #socialdistancing. Incidentally, I was given a discount code for a Goodfood basket a couple weeks ago, so had a chance to test whether this would be a good option for home meal prep. If anything, it could potentially cut down on our need to fight it out with the crowds at the supermarket.
What is a meal prep kit?
Goodfood is one of many meal prep kit services that have popped up over the past several years, similar to Hello Fresh and Chef’s Plate, amongst others. These are the popular Canadian-based ones that keep popping up on my news feed; there are probably a zillion other companies for you Americans out there.
Basically, you sign up for a weekly subscription whereby you receive a box filled with a selection of recipes and portioned fresh ingredients. Then you prepare the meal as per the attached instructions. Goodfood has three subscription options: Classic, Easy Prep, and Family-Style. They differ by number of recipes/servings included and ease of use, with the Easy Prep option babying you to the point of providing pre-chopped produce. There are also low carb and vegetarian options for the classic kit.
I went with the Classic subscription that usually costs $66.95 CAD per box, with three recipes and two servings each. When registering, you can select your preferred delivery days (Thursday or Sunday in my region) and you have up to about five days prior to the next scheduled delivery date to cancel or pause your subscription.
My week with Goodfood
Day 1: Delivery day
My trial kit arrived as scheduled on a Sunday afternoon, with a text message alerting me of its delivery. Because I live in a condo with a concierge, they were able to receive it for me and I picked it up once I was available. The ingredients come packaged in individual plastic bags within a large cardboard box, with meats in a separated section accompanied by an ice pack. I have to admit that there is a considerable amount of plastic and paper waste in these things, but you can enroll in a box recycling program to help save the environment. Obviously, that is currently on hold during these COVID days.
Each meal set comes with a detailed recipe card. You will need to supply some basic kitchen equipment and supplies, such as vegetable oil, butter, and the occasional egg. Goodfood says that their ingredients will keep for a week after delivery, as long as they are refrigerated, or frozen if it will be a few days before you get around to using them. Seafoods should be cooked first to ensure optimal freshness.
Day 2: Kale & butternut squash lasagna roll-ups
For my first foray into the world of meal prep kits, I made the vegetarian lasagna with kale and butternut squash in rosée sauce. The estimated cook time of 35 minutes was accurate, as I actually managed to follow the recipe pretty easily and there wasn’t much prep involved. The butternut squash was pre-diced and everything else was relatively low effort, great for a lazy novice cook like me. The recipe called for an egg, which I had to skip because I didn’t have any in my fridge, so remember to double check the recipe card before you start cooking in case you need any supplies not included.
The final product tasted really good. Portion size was adequate for the two of us, along with leftovers for lunch the next day. I would actually attempt this meal again on my own without the kit, so I’d say a thumbs up is due to the Goodfood recipe creator for this one!
Day 3: Pork sausages with French onion gravy
My second Goodfood meal included some protein: pork sausages with French onion gravy, served on a side of roasted potatoes and broccoli. This recipe was also relatively easy, with the most complicated component being the onion gravy. The roasted broccoli turned out slightly overdone but were still edible. Potatoes were tasty too, although it was a huge portion and we only finished about a quarter of it between the two of us. Cooking the sausage was straightforward and it was pretty high quality, well seasoned meat. I generally wouldn’t make a meal like this for myself simply due to personal taste (yuck, onions), but Mr. Chuckles enjoyed it so I suppose it gets another thumbs up.
Day 4: Kefta beef burgers on puffy pita with Harissa mayonnaise
This was our favourite meal of the three this week. The kefta beef burgers accompanied by cabbage slaw and chopped salad required the most prep work. It ended up taking me a fair bit longer than the estimated 20 minutes cook time, as I am a slooooow vegetable chopper. Poor knife skills. I got some help from my sous chef Mr. Chuckles to cook the kefta patties so we would actually have a hot meal.
I found this recipe ideal for a meal kit because it calls for several spices and seasonings that we would probably have some difficulty sourcing, so it was nice to have it all portioned for us. We ended up with a very filling burger for each of us, along with some leftover salad. Thumbs way up.
Quality of food
As you can see above, we enjoyed all three meals included in our first Goodfood delivery. I just went with the random options curated for me, but it is also possible to customize your weekly selection from a few other choices. The produce stayed fresh as advertised and the meat was decent quality, as far as I could tell. The meals generally came off as healthy, although I did notice that some of the calorie counts were surprisingly high, so save some as leftovers if you’re watching the waistline. 😉
Value for money
I haven’t done a full head-to-head comparison, but based on my cursory review, the pricing structure of Goodfood is in line with most other meal prep kit providers. At about $12 CAD per serving with the Classic subscription, the cost is not completely unreasonable. If we consider that we are substituting this for eating out, we are definitely saving money. However, it’s probably not sustainable on a low budget, because you’re paying a premium for the delivery and curation service itself.
Like I said, the convenience factor is what you’re paying for with Goodfood. I am really lazy in the kitchen and if it weren’t for Mr. Chuckles, my most complex home cooked meals would probably be Shake ‘n Bake chicken or pre-made tortellini. I quite enjoyed not having to deal with dinner planning for a few days, and found the recipes easy to follow. It also reduces the amount of time you need to spend in the grocery store, a highly desirable convenience in our current climate.
For now, I’ve signed up for a few more weeks of Goodfood box while we are in semi-lockdown. More cooking (by me) to come!
P.S. The meal photos above are taken from the Goodfood website as I didn’t have the chance to do my own photo shoot. This review is written of my own volition and contains my honest opinions only. No endorsement deal here!