Life gets busy, I get it. One of my favourite things to do when I need to just slow down and focus on something aside from work or life is cooking. I am by no means a master chef and frankly I learn something new every day about how to prepare and cook the foods I love. It’s such a satisfying feeling to create something that I not only enjoy eating but that I can share with my loved ones.
Over the last few years there has been an influx of meal delivery services taking over major cities all over the country. I’m sure you’ve seen some notable C-List celebrities hocking these services on their Instagram (ahem ahem Bachelors and Bachelorettes). It’s a great way to learn how to cook if you don’t do it very often and fun activity to do with someone, which is actually the reason I decided to first try out one of these services.
Over the last month I have tried two of the services offered in Toronto– Chef’s Plate and Hello Fresh. Both services tout “Original recipes, delivery straight to your door, easy preparation and delicious, fresh meals” so I was really excited to try out them out and maybe add a few new recipes to my roster.
The way the services work is that you sign up, pick your meals each week, pick a delivery day and voila! You will get a weekly reminder to select your meals and you also have the option of skipping the week. Here’s where you have to be careful because if you don’t skip the week or select your meals, they will automatically select them for you and the food will just show up at your door.
I actually tried Chef’s plate for two weeks so I feel that I got a really good sense of the service and the food selection.
When you sign up directly on Chef’s Plate they offer you 50% off your first order so my first order came out to about 35$ for 3 meals. I realized only later that if I had used a friend’s promo code, I would have received 3 FREE plates for my first delivery.
Chef’s Plate claims to sources farm fresh ingredients from local Canadian businesses and picks ingredients which are in season. Their meat and fish is also sourced from suppliers who raise their animals without antibiotics or hormones.
The meals which I received over the two weeks that I tried Chef’s Plate were:
- Seared Steak & Greek Salsa with herb roasted potatoes and spinach salad
- Filipino Pork Adobo Skewers with rice and stir fried bok choy and snow peas
- Southwest Quinoa Toastadas with corn tortillas, sautéed pepper and tomato corn salsa
- Applewood Grilled Chicken and Avacado Ceaser with parmesan cheese
- Sumac Spiced Chickpea & Feta Bowl with Cherry tomaotes and baby arugula salad
- Crispy Fish & Parmesan Zucchini fries with homemade tartar sauce and a baby green salad
I chose a Thursday for my delivery day which I regret doing because by that time in the week I’m usually not cooking as much and I’m making plans with friends to go out for dinner. A delivery date earlier in the week would have been a better plan.
The food doesn’t exactly come in a refrigerated box, it’s an insulated cardboard box that they stack with ice packs to keep the meat and produce cold. When you open the box, each meal’s ingredients are in their own bag with the meat/fish separated. I didn’t love the bags to be honest, they shockingly took up A LOT of room in my fridge.
Upon opening one of the bags, all the ingredients are nicely portioned out in individual bags or small plastic containers. The whole produce is just placed loosely in the bag. The instructions were very easy to follow although I do remember that a few times the timing was off. I particularly remember when I made the steak that I was waiting for the potatoes to finish cooking and everything else was already done.
I’d also say that the descriptors of the meals (see above) made them sound a lot more interesting than what they ended up being. For example, the Applewood Grilled Chicken and Avacado Ceaser and Sumac Spiced Chickpea & Feta Bowl were just salads. The chickpeas didn’t even have enough time to sit in the marinade so they ended up tasting quite plain.
I do have to say that I very much enjoyed all the salad dressings. I prefer making my own for the most part and the ones included in these meals were simple, unique and full of flavour.
I used a promo code for Hello fresh that I got from my friend and it gave me $50 off my first order. I’m only one person so the smallest order I could get was 2 people and 3 meals for the week. The regular cost for this is $79.99 but I only had to pay $29.99.
The three meals I received were:
- Pan Seared Steak with Dijon Herb Compound butter, Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
- Thai Red Chicken curry with red pepper and Bamboo Shoots
- Penne with Double Smoked Bacon in a Tomato Arrabbiata sauce
Just like Chef’s Plate, Hello Fresh also picks seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients that are responsibly and ethically sourced from local suppliers.
I chose a delivery day of Monday because I mean, who wants to think about cooking or food prep on a Monday. The insulated box arrived, very similar to Chef’s Plate, and right off the bat I already liked the packaging better. Boxes for the meals versus bags. These fit in my small condo sized fridge so much better than the bags that Chef’s plate came in.
After unpacking the box for my first recipe, everything was very nicely portioned and packaged similar to Chef’s plate. What I did prefer about Chef’s Plate is that they provided small little plastic containers which I have absolutely been reusing versus small disposable plastic bags.
The instructions were super easy to follow and they had the timing down to science so that if something needed to bake or boil for 20 minutes you were able to prepare the rest of the meal in that time which meant no one part of the meal was ready before the others.
I don’t like bland food and in my opinion the flavour profile of the Hello Fresh meals was amazing. Even a simple meal like steak, potatoes and green beans had a delicious punch of taste whether it was through the herbs/spices or unique toppings like compound butter.
So the winner in my books. Hello Fresh. On taste alone, (which is the most important thing at the end of the day) I really enjoyed every meal that I made with them. I would absolutely use this service again especially during a busy week when I don’t have time to think about grocery shopping. Another advantage of Hello Fresh is that all their recipes are online which you can access later if you need to.
On both fronts, the portions are BIG. I think each meal could have easily served three people or made three portions so if you’re one person make sure you invite a friend over 🙂
If you decide to try either of these services, use my promo codes!
Hello Fresh – http://www.hellofresh.ca
Referral Link: – MILIJA