30 Day Writing Challenge Day #26 - My 3 Weeks Trying a Meal Kit Delivery Service, the Pros and Cons

All photos included from Google Images - not my own!

My daughter was using a meal kit delivery service in Ontario and was for the most part very happy with it.  When I visited her, I often was able to try one of the kits and was impressed. The ingredients were fresh, the recipes interesting and the meals had great flavor. I was intrigued.

Insulated box my ingredients came in
and how they were packaged.
It's just Glen and I now, and for some reason that makes cooking harder.  I get bored with the same food over and over. I love trying new recipes, but you always end up with tons of leftover ingredients you never get used up, especially spices. I could fill a wall with spice bottles.  My daughter had a great cost saving coupon to try the Meal Kit Delivery service she was using. After hemming and hawing and dragging my feet for awhile, I finally gave it a go.

After a three week trial, I decided to cancel my subscription.  The service she uses is really based in the Toronto/Quebec area if you look at their website.  My assumption is that they contract to a local company for deliveries here.  And that seemed to create glitches locally. There was problem after problem, and it just wasn't worth it.  

BUT there were also things I really loved about these kits.  The recipes were interesting.  They helped push me to try new ingredients, new ways of cooking and new flavor combinations.  Who knew you could mix a small amount of cheddar with ricotta and a touch of spice, spread on right onto hot, grilled flat breads and top with warm sauteed veggies. YUM!  

Just a few of the companies offering meal kits. 

Here is my person list of pros and cons. I am specifically not mentioning any company by name as they are rocking it back east (in fact they rated best overall in one article), so I didn't feel it was fair to tarnish their reputation when I felt it was their local contractor who was the problem.  There are quite a few different companies to choose from, so do your research if you want before giving one a try.  

What I loved - 
  • Each week I could go through 10 or more options and choose what looked interesting to me.
  • The menu had full meal, quick prep meal, low carb and vegetarian options. 
  • Recipes included many ethnic styles - western, asian, south of the border, south east asian and more. 
  • There was no searching for a recipe and printing it out, making a grocery list, going to the store and trying to find the ingredients.
  • Of the 7 meals I made - all but one were generous servings. I couldn't finish my portion. The only one that was fine for me but a bit shy for my husband was the vegetarian flat breads.
  • I was exposed to ingredients I had never used before and encouraged to work with others like fresh corn on the cob in different ways.
  • There were no leftover ingredients to try and use up. Each recipe had exactly what was needed to make that specific number of servings (usually 2 or 4). 
  • Wish a few exceptions, the ingredients were fresh and looked good. Exceptions listed below.
  • A large printed 8-1/2 x 11 recipe card was included for each meal listing what you received and what you would need to have - usually just several pans, oil, salt, and pepper. 
  • I truly loved the convenience.

What I didn't love - 
  • There is a lot of packaging involved.  While it is all recyclable and necessary to keep the food fresh, I was uncomfortable with it. 
  • It is pricey. Remember you are paying for someone else to buy the supplies, package into just what you need, load the box, then drive it to your door. That costs.  
  • My first delivery meal #1 - was missing an ingredient - peanut butter - which I fortunately had in my cupboard. It also included 3 times the carrots needed. 
  • My first delivery meal #2 - the peaches included to make the peach and feta salsa were not ripe. I could cut them up, but they ended up adding only crunch not flavor. The package of basil was so bruised I almost could use it.
  • My second delivery - It was left at the wrong house.  When we didn't see it we walked up the street and found it on someone else's porch. The cilantro in one meal was rotten.
  • After that I input SKIP the next 4 weeks so I could think about what I wanted to do. So imagine my surprise when I received an email on Saturday telling me I'd get my next box on Sunday, none of which I selected, and one meal which I wouldn't have chosen. I checked the website and my skips had gone completely  missing - all of them!
I was happy to find the meat vacuum sealed every time!

What I feel is important in selecting the right company for you  -
  • They should have a good selection of menus to choose from each week.
  • Servings should be generous. You don't want to be hungry after.
  • You should have the option of skipping weeks. Out of town, lots of food in the fridge, too busy to cook - skip that week. 
  • Food should come well packaged and in boxes with some cooling and insulation so if they have to sit on your porch for a couple hours (or with your concierge at your condo), they will stay fresh.
  • Meats in particular should be vacuum packed. 
  • And just a note - if you live alone, the minimum order is 2 servings, 3 meals a week (6 meals). You will either be eating each meal 2 nights in a row. OR you'll eat the first serving one night and the second for lunch the next day.  
After the last problem I realized it was time to let this go.  It was hard as again, there were several meals I really enjoyed and I loved the experience of trying new things.  I loved getting just the amount of supplies I need to make something new. After some time off, perhaps I'll check out a different meal kit service.  But for now I'm back to just what I can come up with on my own.