Mealkit Reviews

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
I know this type of review is a little different for this site however I was extremely interested when I came across this new line of business that I never heard of before and was immediately intrigued.

The basic premise is a “meal kit” of sorts. Every week you get to chose from a variety of recipes and the service then sends you pre-portioned ingredients and the recipes to follow. As a fulltime single father who works full time, this sounded ingenious to me for a variety of reasons.

  • It gives me a fixed grocery cost every week
  • I don’t have to try and figure out what is for supper, I simply pick a recipe provided
  • I don’t have to spend exhorbitant amounts of money on groceries that I will likely never use again to try a new recipe
  • My family gets exposed to a variety of new and interesting foods that I likely never would have thought to cook on my own.
Now being a full-time, single father I don’t have a lot of disposable income so I thought I would put my website to work for me. I am no stranger in writing product reviews (though admittedly they are all tech related) so I reached out to 5 services that are available in Canada to see if they would provide a trial and in exchange I would review their service and post my review on my website and all my social media platforms.

I received a response from 2 services. Hellofresh.ca and Chefcookit.com. Chefcookit.com refused the review citing financial constraints (though I don’t understand how an established service cannot afford a $65 hit to their marketing budget) but Hellofresh was more than not only happy to provide 1 week free but I was able to chose whatever plan I wanted.

Hellofresh has a variety of plans and options available. You basically have 3 tiers with multiple options for each (all based on how many meals you want and how many servings you need). I chose the “Pronto Plan” that came with 4 meals of 2 servings each (a $99 value). I then got to chose what recipies I wanted (had 5 different choices). Their website is extremely easy to navigate and they make ordering extremely easy.

I ordered on Thursday and Wednesday the following week (because of Thanksgiving Monday), my order showed up at my door. The only thing I wish that HelloFresh did differently was be able to select a set time that you can receive your delivery. I work downtown Montreal and take public transit to and from my home in Longueuil so having the package delivered to my workplace is not an option. At least one other service I checked out (with limited access) allows you to set a delivery time during the evening.

Hellofresh, however, has an answer to this, which you will see shortly during my unboxing… It is worthy to note that you can leave instructions for the delivery person to simply leave the package at your door, which I tested. I worked from home today but did not answer the knock and the box was sitting in front of my door after I saw the Fedex guy leave. This won’t be ideal for everyone but as my apartment is in a triplex and not a highrise, I have no issue with this.

The package is definitely well marked and labelled with Hellofresh branding:

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Upon opening the box, I was surprised (as I alluded to earlier). What appears to be a plain old cardboard box on the outside, is really insulated packaging:

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Inside the packaging, you receive plenty of literature including a Welcome pamphlet, a recipe booklet and some coupons that not only give you money off your next order but also gives someone you know discounts as well simply by inviting them:

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EDIT: Mistakenly thought the above was a Welcome Brochure, which it is--kind of. It is more a information packet on how all of their packaging materials are enviornmentally friendly--right down to their ice packs (which are also reusable--AND admittedly, I had already thought of that, cleaned them and put them in my freezer lol). If you do not wish to reuse the ice packs (or cut them open and dump then down the sink--which you can also do as they are 99% water), you can freeze 3-4 weeks worth and email hellofresh to come and pick them up--completely free of charge!!

Their Welcome brochure is actually this one, which I missed at the first unboxing:

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It comes with a Welcome Letter from founder Ian Brooks, Some tips for a well stocked kitchen (including ingredients not provided in your delivery--ie butter, oil (with a note that olive oil is better for cooking and extra virgin olive oil is better for salad dressings), salt, pepper--ie all things you would normally have in your kitchen anyways), yet another promotional offer that is the same on the pamphlets provide and a page with a plethora of contacts for them including email, phone, twitter, etc. a page about their phone app, some FAQ's and their mission statement.

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Also, important to note is that the recipe book is colour coordinated to match the bags of ingredients sent to you and everything is clearly labelled and marked. It would be extremely difficult for anyone, even me to get ingredients and recipes mixed up:

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Once you get past the bags and the paperwork, there is a divider. Under that divider, you have all of your proteins for your recipes neatly packed with 4 large ice bags:

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So far, I am extremely impressed and I can’t wait to try out my first recipe. The hardest part is going to be choosing which one to have tonight for supper!!

Stay tuned for Part II within the next few days as I try out the recipes!!
 
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HiVolt

Junior Member
Staff member
Interesting review, indeed.

However, beyond the typical fast food delivery options like Pizza or Chinese, I prefer shopping for my food, because over the years I found the ideal mix of local european delis, butcher shops, bakeries and grocery stores that have what I like, for the price I want to pay.

It's similar to my discussions with my cousin, who loves to buy shoes & clothes online, only to always having to bother returning stuff that doesn't fit or it's got defects, something which you can definitely check out in the store if the clothes fit or they have a defect.

Now by any means I'm not an old man curmudgeon, I just turned 40 this summer, and I buy a shitload of stuff online, but with food & clothes I think I will remain a traditional in-person shopper. But I am also single and I have the time to do it, so I appreciate services like this that can help someone with managing their time & money.
 

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
I used to be like that but started using IGA to deliver my groceries. I order online using a combination of their digital flyer and search for items I am looking for. It only costs a few dollars for delivery and only takes minutes to do versus an hour or more of going to the store, waiting in line, etc, etc.

To be honest, I was also concerned about the quality of certain items that I'm not picking out for myself with things like meat/produce. However, I haven't been disappointed yet and on the few occasions that something has been missed, a simple phone call has them returning with it. Also, if something I order is not available, they always call to let me know and see if I want to substitute it for something else.

For clothes, though, I prefer to do my own shopping. Though there are services out there similar to this HelloFresh service for clothes as well for a weekly/monthly fee where you get a new shirt/pants, etc every week.
 

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
FYI, I changed the topic of this thread to Meal Kit Reviews as I continue to try other services as well as Hello Fresh so this will be an ongoing thread.

HelloFresh was excellent when it came to it's recipes. The instructions were easy to follow and their cooking times were spot on. I couldn't be more impressed with their service and would gladly pay to use it. They are seemingly more expensive than other services out there, however as you will read on, you will see my next interaction wasn't as pleasant.
 

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
So, even though I did not receive a trial offer for review purposes, I decided to try out https://www.chefsplate.com/

This was the service I was originally interested for a couple of reasons. They seemed to have plans that were more inline with my budget and they also promised delivery times during hours that I could be home (between 6 and 8pm). They also promised a no commitment, no hassle, no subscription service. Being a single-father on a limited budget who worked full-time, their service seemed like a no-brainer.

I was in for quite a shock.

First off, their meal plans aren't so straight forward cost wise. They do provide an up-front cost which looks attractive. However, when you actually go through the selection process of meals (I chose 4 meals for 2 people which should cost $65 via their upfront, public facing selection menu), I discovered that cost had to grown to almost double that price of $110 plus tax. Your costs depend not on your plan selection but there are hidden costs also based on your meal selection. I was fortunate enough to find an online coupon for 50% off so I figured, no commitment, the price is still under what I was expecting to pay, so I will try it out for a week.

I selected my order and scheduled my delivery for Tuesday between 6 and 8 pm and marked no signature required just in case I wasn't home and to test out their delivery method. The next day I received a notice by email that UPS would be delivering my package during business hours and that a signature was required on the day of delivery.

This caused me to stay home from work the following Tuesday to await the shipment. I sat at home all day only for the UPS guy to drop off the shipment at my front door of my apartment without even a knock. The only way I knew it was delivered was via a UPS email notice that I signed up for after the fact.

I didn't bother to take any pictures of the packaging as it was very similar to the HelloFresh delivery. I received placards with the recipes, separate brown paper bags labelled for each recipe (though not colour coded like HelloFresh) with a divider separated the meat products from the produce.

That is where the similarities ended. While the recipes were satisfactory as far as the end product. The ingredients provided were sub-par compared to HelloFresh. Ground Turkey I received for a couple of the recipes was a pate and not a ground meat product. The cooking and preparation times were wildly inacurate. Recipes that stated would take 35 minutes took 1 hour and 45 minutes to prepare. The recipes themselves were very disjointed and were missing steps.

On top of all that, even though I selected not to receive a meal plan for the next week and made no choices for a meal plan the week after, they still billed the credit card I used with the service (I use a disposable cc for these types of services when first trying them out). I have no idea for what amount because their service charges are solely based on the meals you chose with your meal plan and I did not chose any since I had not reloaded/replace the disposable card on file. I only received an email from Chef's Plate stating the charge was rejected with no amount given!!

I will say that Chef's Plate has now been acquired by HelloFresh reported on Oct. 18th, 2018 so hopefully there will be some positive changes within the Chef's Plate organization. Change is very much needed. As it stands now, from my experience, Chef's Plate is a completely dishonest organization that promises one thing all the while knowingly deliberately deceiving it's customers and should be avoided at all costs.
 
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El Quintron

Administrator
Staff member
I'm going to talk about trying good food with my wife, either the family option or the vegetarian option and see what happens, mostly itching for a bit of variety
 

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
I'm going to talk about trying good food with my wife, either the family option or the vegetarian option and see what happens, mostly itching for a bit of variety
I haven't gotten this for quite a while because of the holidays and then, to be honest, just forgot about it but will start again soon with one of the services.
 

dillyhammer

Administrator
Staff member
We've had a look too. Kind of wary about the subscription model, would prefer something non-commital. Wife (vegetarian) said it looked interesting, but I'm carnivorous so it'll be a challenge.
 

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
We've had a look too. Kind of wary about the subscription model, would prefer something non-commital. Wife (vegetarian) said it looked interesting, but I'm carnivorous so it'll be a challenge.
You can mix and match your meals--at least with the couple I tested out. You get to chose what meals you want every week. I don't imagine your eating habits would differ much in choice of meals than your normal grocery shopping.

I do hear you in regards to the subscription model though. I would rather buy a set of weeks and then if I chose to continue, buy more.
 

El Quintron

Administrator
Staff member
OK so my trial run with Good Food is over, ( https://www.makegoodfood.ca/en/home ) and I test drove the Vegetarian option for last week. Good Food has a ton of options, with the two most expensive being the classic package, but with all the ingredients being pre-processed, and their low carb option. I opted for the vegetarian option, and that got me three trial meals (where I have to cancel before next's week's delivery, if I don't want to be charged)

The kids liked (and ate) two out of three meals, and over all I'm satisfied with this, even though it's a little pricey (I'll dig up the price and post it after as there are lot of options and therefore a lot of variations price wise)

Without any intervention from me, I got three meals for four people, namely:

-Cauliflower with Romanesco Sauce, Crispy chickpeas, & baby greens
-Veggie Burgers Caramelized Onions, Pickles Tomatoes and Fries
-Mee Goreng with Shanghai Noodles, veggies and Spiced Peanuts.

My kids ate all of the first two without complaining, but really didn't like the third, ever though they like Pad Thai, and this is just a vegetarian version thereof... can't win em all I guess.

Pros:
- Good, filling vegetarian meals, I didn't want meat after I was done eating.
-Good variety
-Good selection, new menu monthly, lots of options
-easy to use website
-low prep, even on the standard meals (case in point: I was working late this week, didn't make dinner on any day, and my wife managed to do everything, and didn't feel it was a lot of work)

Cons:
-can be expensive ($100 CAD for 3-4 vegetarian meals and that's the lowest cost option)
-Not always kid friendly, unless you take their family selection
 

El Quintron

Administrator
Staff member
Update: Total cost is $108/week for 3 meals that serves four adults, added perk is that I can take what my kids don't eat for lunch the next day, saving me from either making a lunch or going out to eat.

Still more expensive that groceries, less than eating out, but the convenience and variety make it somewhat worthwhile, especially if you're working.
 

Rednekcowboy

Owner
Staff member
I really enjoyed Hello Fresh as it just made things simple for me, took little effort to make and was cheaper than take out. Not to mention it tasted 100 times better than anything I could order in. It also gave myself and my daughter some father-daughter bonding time as we would make the meals together. Price wasn't bad as I just worked it into my current grocery bill (I knew I had 4 meals taken care of so then adjusted my grocery order accordingly). Prep times were spot on and the instructions were organized and easy to follow.

However I really soured on the idea when I tried Chef's Plate. Costs were somewhat cheaper but everything else was much worse. Prep times were wildly inaccurate--to the point that estimated 30 minute times took 1.5-2 hours and the meals themselves lacked flavor and basically all tasted like hospital food.

Never tried Good Food but will give it a shot when I get paid next week. I get tonnes of promotional emails and junk mail for 50% off so can't really lose in a trial. We are definitely not vegetarians in this household, so won't be venturing into that venue at all. :p
 
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