Family dinner planning made easy
By Kathleen O’Grady
— Meal kits turned our dinner time routine from drudgery to adventure
Here we were again, dinner time, with two hungry kids and two tired adults, working full out and full time. And all of us, BORED OF ALL THE FOODS.
We couldn’t order out again and feel good about it – it’s not healthy for the pocketbook or the waistline. And how many times can you make your kids eat spaghetti or scrambled eggs or grilled cheese and not feel guilty?
It was time for a domestic intervention.
We decided to try one of the many meal kit delivery services so many people were talking about. It would take the recipe planning and ingredient shopping out of the equation and just leave the food preparation and eating part up to us.
Sounded perfect. But we were still skeptical. The prices seemed high – almost as high as take-out food and we’d still have to do the cooking. Neither of us was that seasoned in the kitchen. Some of the dishes seemed too gourmet – were we up to it? Would our kids even eat them?
We jumped in and ordered two meals a week with Montreal’s Goodfood for a trial month. That was over six months ago, and we can’t imagine doing without it now. It has completely transformed our attitude toward dinner time preparation from one of dread and drudgery to adventure and pleasure.
Here’s how it works. You select your meal choices from a robust list of dishes posted online each week from a wide range of cultures. The selections change every week so there’s little repetition. You can choose easy to cook options, crowd favourites or more advanced, pricey or vegetarian options.
Then, on delivery day, your menu items arrive in a lined cardboard cooler with ice packs. The foods are portioned out, ready for each recipe you selected. The ingredients are fresh and healthy and wholesome and just two meals worth fills our fridge (a warning for someone planning a full week’s delivery). They are especially big on a wide variety of vegetables, some we’d never tried before, such as daikon (winter radish) or tindora (ivy gourd).
Along with the food box comes large, easy to follow recipe cards with lots of photos.
The meals do require preparation – sometimes up to an hour (even if it says only half an hour; maybe we are slower in the kitchen). But with the hassle of organizing the recipe and shopping for and portioning out the ingredients completed for you, it doesn’t feel much like hard work. In fact, it’s rewarding because the end result of your labour is a multi-dish gourmet meal you can be proud of.
We’ve made Frango Churrasco with Potato Wedges, Sticky Tofu Topped Dan Dan Noodles, Tandoori Chicken Tacos, Pho-spiced Seared Steak Bowls, Red-Curry Braised Chicken and Spiced Middle Eastern-Style Beef Platter – and dozens of other creative dishes we’d have never even thought to try before.
The whole family looks forward to goodfood days – and we’ve even tied in teaching the kids about new cultures on the days we cook dishes from other countries.
So, what are the down sides?
First, all the packaging. The ingredients come in small bags and plastic containers and the large cardboard cooler box. However, most of these items are reusable or recyclable, but it does make for more waste than if you went to a grocery store for the same ingredients (but less than if you ordered take out).
Secondly, the cost. It’s not cheap – about $45 per meal for four people. But the freshness and uniqueness of the meals, the time saved, plus learning how to cook new foods, is well worth the cost.
Finally, the portion sizes can infrequently be erratic. Most dishes serve our family of four easily, but three times (out of 50+ meals) we didn’t have enough of the main course to satisfy our growing teens, and conversely, we are sometimes left with crazy amounts of left over salad.
But otherwise, after several months, we are still very happy and plan to continue our twice weekly service. It has been an especially useful diversion during the COVID-19 lockdown months and handy to have home delivery already in place.
Goodfood will make your family meals healthier, more tasty and interesting – and you will learn some new cooking skills along the way.
To get $40 off your first order of goodfood, visit: https://www.makegoodfood.ca/en/referred-by/l1417698
This is an independent review. Goodfood did not pay for, provide goods, services or sponsorship in any way for this article.
Kathleen O’Grady is the founder and CEO of QUOI Media Group Inc. and a Research Associate at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University. Follow her on Twitter at @kathleenogrady and @quoimedia
Photo: Becca Tapert, unsplash