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Testing Out Meal Kits to Simplify Daily Life

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We’ve recently been brainstorming ways to simplify our daily lives in an effort to reduce stress and mental load. One of the main experiments was trying a meal kit. A meal kit is a subscription service that delivers fresh food to your door with all the ingredients and instructions so you can prepare a meal. First launched in Sweden in 2007, meal box service is now a booming industry. With all the choices of kit companies available, we will be trying out a few to see what matches best with our lifestyles, family sizes and food preferences but generally, this is what we’ve loved so far (1st one tested out is Goodfood – this is not a sponsored post, just what these mamas love…):

1

No Waste

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The delivery box, bottles and bags are all recyclable and the icepacks are reusable or can be drained to recycle the casing. Some other companies use returnable bags or boxes that can be repurposed for lunch boxes. This no-waste idea extends from the containers that everything comes in all the way down to the food itself. With over $30 billion per year in food waste in Canada alone, every little bit counts.

2

Perfect Quantities

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For one, you’ve already chosen your meal size (often 2 or 4 person options) so you are sent pre-portioned ingredients to match that. Secondly, it’s great to have the perfect amount of stock or cream or miso and know that you will not pour out half a container a week later or dump stale spices because you only needed them for that one recipe.

3

Easy to Tweak / Freeze

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The meat comes to you never having been frozen so if your plans change, it’s easy to throw in the freezer for another day. And though everything is laid out clearly step by step for each recipe, you can also easily tweak it if you know your family would like, for instance, tortilla wraps rather than toasting them to be chips, or turn the layered pasta dish into quickly mixed noodle yumminess, as time constraints and fussy eaters allow.

4

Fresh, Not Processed

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Fresh meat, fresh veggies, fresh noodles adds up to a real difference in amount of sugar, sodium and additives being consumed. Excess salt and sugar can wreak havoc on your health and these are often hidden in processed foods. Some meal kits offer detailed nutritional information labels. But even for those that don’t, you can feel the difference in your body as you indulge in eating fresh products.

5

Healthier

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It’s eye opening to see what portion size you are really supposed to be eating. Steak is supposed to be the size of your palm, not the size of your plate. And rather than a mound of potatoes, ½ a cup is plenty (or ½ a fist if you use the “handy” guide). How much you eat can trump what you are eating. And this does not mean you will finish hungry because the balance is there as well – carbs, proteins, etc. Not having to calculate servings yourself or worry about how much or what goes on your plate is great!

6

Local Love

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Buying local and supporting local businesses is important. And many of these meal kit companies are committed to working with local farmers and manufacturers to get you the freshest, best tasting, healthiest seasonal products. “Local” also means more money back in the community and a more eco-friendly imprint from production to delivery.

7

Delivered to Your Door

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Cutting down on grocery store runs and just carrying a box from your door to fill your fridge saves time and (mental) energy. You can pick the delivery day that’s most convenient (some even let you specify leaving it with a neighbor if you’re out). Plus you know it’s all perfectly packaged for transit and wait times. Bonus: delivery is free!

8

Customizable

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And if you are heading out on vacation or know that you have a particularly gruelling week ahead, you can always suspend delivery quickly and easily. You can also suspend it if none of the menu options that particular week appeal to you or your family. You can also modify the pre-picked choices and tailor it to your chosen taste preferences.

9

Tons of Options

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Options include the number of portions, classic versus family plan, vegetarian, gluten and dairy-free, and more! You can note what flavors you will never want suggested on your menus (ie no lamb for us, thank you very much!). Plus, you can choose your menus up to a month in advance. Go with their pre-chosen options or pick and choose for each week based on what your family is in the mood for.

10

Date Night!

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Preparing the meal kit recipes is a nice reminder you actually enjoy cooking sometimes. And if the kiddos go down early one night or head to a sleepover, you can grab 2 aprons for your and your partner and remind yourself that you actually enjoy each other’s company too! Everything is laid out clearly with pictures and notes. You can chop and prep and sauté while chatting over a glass of wine and listening to your favorite adult-only tunes. Our brains link food and love so let’s get cookin’!

11

Mixin’ It Up

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While family traditions like Taco Tuesday or Pizza Friday are awesome, it’s easy to fall into a food rut. Your usuals might be delicious foods but after spaghetti, pork chops, and chicken legs are on repeat for a while, this is a great way to expand the repertoire and add in some new flavours. Interesting recipes with just the right amount of ingredients mean you don’t have to go searching for the elusive spice or invest in a giant jar only to realize it’s not a family favorite.

12

Kitchen Helper

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Got stuck on a step? Found the instructions are not 100% clear? Braindead after a long day? You can quickly and easily chat with someone from the meal delivery service who will answer your questions and/or walk you through the steps or issue. We love that there’s no 20 minute wait time on hold or a 24 hour delay for an email reply. Instant access to your very own kitchen helper as you cook is the best scenario! Many meal box companies also have apps and blogs to check for tips and additional ideas.

13

Paying It Forward

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Some meal kit companies donate per box purchased (ie Goodfood gives a meal to a school lunch program) or to local food banks or breakfast clubs. Most offer gift cards and others even let you send a “free” box to friends and family. The only caveat we’ve found with this idea is that they’ll try to sell your gift recipient on the idea and sign them up too, but it’s a great way for your loved ones to test out a meal box service – plus you can cancel or suspend anytime.

14

IMG_1631

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Challenges we’ve encountered so far:

  • Everything takes extra time. Although recipes were noted with times anywhere from 30 minutes to (very) occasionally a full hour, almost inevitably an extra 10-15 minutes was needed. This might decrease as we become more familiar with the process though.
  • Transit Issues- A crushed green pepper or leaky pineapple that coated a bag was no fun. This didn’t happen often enough to be a deal-breaker. Mostly products were packed perfectly but an odd time or two, transit issues left a little to be desired.
  • We couldn’t choose family favorites again or replicate meals exactly: Every week offers a new menu, but we would like an option to choose our top favorites that we would like to cycle around to again. Many recipes you could create again, more or less, but some are more specific and have spice packs or sauces and marinades that would be nice to replicate and remake.

15

Choices

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With the plethora of choices available, you just have to decide what’s important and best for you and your family. Some companies offer 20 meal options to choose from weekly. Most offer 2, 4, some even 6 servings per chosen meal (if you only need 1 or 3, just think about the yummy leftover lunches). Some offer dessert as well. Some pre-cut your veggies. Some let you add servings or change menus last minute. Some even let you add in a day or two of pre-cooked meals to pop in the microwave. Convenience, time saved, reduced mental load, flexibility, quality, new culinary options and great leftovers for lunches – all in all a win for this venture!