In the last five years, food delivery has shifted. It’s not just greasy pizza and tins of Chinese anymore. Look at Door Dash, Skip the Dishes, Postmates and Grubhub. You can pretty much have anything delivered- even froyo. Not only have contracted Uber-style delivery services for your favourite restaurants blossomed in our busy lifestyles, so have meal kits. Those that bring the ingredients to you. You can still make it. You just don’t have to shop or meal plan to do so.
Personally, I’m pretty pro slow food. I love to cook, I love the process and I love experimenting. I’m also a working, pregnant mother to a toddler. So I completely understand why people might opt for meal delivery boxes. They’re convenient, duh. They force you to cook something you might not otherwise cook. And they’re surprisingly affordable when you factor in your time to meal plan and shop.
It’s become a highly competitive industry complete with buzz words focusing on sustainable, clean and healthy eating, all at the convenience of your doorstep. Meal delivery kits have grown so big that they’re estimated to be over a $150-million-dollar industry in Canada, with one of the largest meal kit companies, Hello Fresh- headquartered in Berlin- projecting to make over $200 million in Canada alone in 2019. The industry is drastically bigger in the U.S., with revenue expected to topple over $10 billion by 2020. Meal kits are everywhere. The other day I bought tickets for Jim James at the Commodore, and as soon as I completed my order I even received a pop-up offer for 3 free meals from Hello Fresh.
The biggest downside I can see is packaging and some of the local versions have even begun to address that. In the Vancouver/Van Isle area there are a number of Canadian-owned services where you can order fresh food delivered and still get those home-cooked feels. Here are three great options for locally-based services delivering fresh, healthy food to your door.
A Vancouver-based service delivering prepared meal ingredients, Fresh Prep offers a rotating weekly menu from local BC farms to your kitchen. In 2015, three Vancouver friends were convinced “home-cooking shouldn’t be so difficult in a time-pressed society.” Skip to a few months later, some business plans roughed out on napkins at a sushi restaurant, and Fresh Prep became the service that can now proudly claim the throne of Vancouver’s most loved meal delivery service after winning both the Best of Vancouver in November 2018 and now the Golden Plate award in 2019 for best meal delivery. Committed to sustainability, they source ingredients and focus on things like free-range, non-medicated meat, Ocean Wise seafood or locally made tofu whenever possible. For example, their poultry is sourced from Rossdown Farms in Abbotsford, BC. Their website is very easy to navigate and Fresh Prep is highly flexible allowing someone to cancel or skip a meal at any time. They even provide the prep/cooking time (all less than 30 minutes) so you can plan accordingly. Having tried some sample kits, their portions are generous, instructions are easy to follow and easily tweaked if you don’t love a certain ingredient (ie. For their slaw, I used less mayo, more cilantro and squeezed the heck out of the lime. It was tangy and perfect- to the point that I will remake it on my own).
What they offer over the competition: Great clean, local meat options and customer service. Fresh Prep is very customer-oriented boasting their own driver delivery fleet. According to their manager of communications, Cydoney Curran, “this allows us to not only use the reusable cooler bag system, but also allows for more flexibility and customization to people’s delivery times and instructions. We are able to buzz up into apartment buildings, leave at people work reception, etc. This is something unique to just us, as all other meal kits rely on postal services like FedEx or Purolator to deliver.”
Price: Starting at $9 per serving. Fresh Prep offers 2-person or family plans. Get two meals free with your first order.
Where they deliver: Free delivery currently available in Greater Vancouver and Victoria with plans to expand across B.C. and Alberta.
Plastic footprint: Aiming to become leaders in the industry for the packaging issue, their food comes in either compostable bags or soft plastic which you can rinse out and return for recycling in the reusable cooler that your meals are delivered in.
See more on Instagram @freshprep.ca.
As a staple in the Vancouver grocery delivery scene, the expansion to offer sustainable meal kits just made sense. Claiming to offer Canada’s most sustainable meal kit, their Be Fresh meal kits can also meet your dietary needs. Michelle Austin of SPUD explains that both SPUD and Be Fresh are Certified B Corporations meaning the “company has met the highest standards of social and environmental sustainability… categorized under four impact areas: governance, workers, community and environment.” Partnering with local farmers they offer fresh, local and seasonal ingredients (they even ban certain ingredients) delivered to your door weekly. Austin explains, “We believe it is important to support local farmers and to reduce the amount of kms our food has to travel from farm to fork… For every product we sell on SPUD.ca, we highlight the number of kilometers the product took to get to our warehouse in order to provide easy access and transparent information about our food to our customers so that they can make informed decisions about what they’re eating. Plus, the packaging is recyclable and compostable. “We believe that business should promote the wellness of people and planet… Our mission is to ‘change the world one bite at a time’ and to encourage our customers to ‘be part of the solution.’”
What they offer over the competition: As a certified B Corporation they hold a fierce commitment to sustainable practices: if you order groceries through them as well, you’ll receive an eco audit to see what eco-savings you had. You can remove ingredients if you don’t need or want them and also add suggested supplemental ingredients to your order right from the checkout screen (eg. Olive oil, tamari etc.) Their Be Fresh Markets also offer the option to select your meals in person if you prefer.
Price: Starting at $9 per serving.
Where they deliver: Free delivery is available in BC Lower Mainland (Hope through to the Whistler-Pemberton region), Southern Vancouver Island (Victoria to Nanaimo), Calgary and Edmonton and surrounding areas.
Plastic footprint: Besides their B certification, their kits come in a reusable cooler bag, compostable containers, some plastic, and paper bags.
Way of Life Foods (W.O.L.F.) is a Victoria-based meal service boasting a menu with gluten-free and refined sugar-free, ingredients that are organic and locally sourced when possible. “We use whole foods, right down to high-grade base products such as oils and salts to promote a balanced, clean diet and lifestyle.” Growing out of a shift towards clean eating and a plant based diet, the former restaurant-owner and manager of Floyd’s Diner, W.O.L.F.’s owner, John Watson says, “we’re based on whole foods and healthy ingredients… the only sugar that I use in any of my cooking is fresh fruit, honey and maple syrup.” Accompanied by excellent reviews, W.O.L.F. offers everything from salads, mains to snacks and are very responsive to customer reviews and requests. “We want to grow the business for the clients to suit them the best,” says Watson. These meals are vacuum-sealed and you can order up to 7 days’ worth to be delivered on a weekly basis. All you have to do is reheat and eat. So maybe you miss out on the cooking process, but you do get healthy meals without the time commitment.
What they offer over the competition: If you’re looking for the easiest way to cook, then this is your best option. All you have to do is heat. Their commitment to healthy meals is reflected in owner Watson’s focus on high quality, whole food ingredients and their refrigerated van which ensures your food is always up to health standards. W.O.L.F. offers mix and match options for your proteins and carbs so if you’re a fitness freak, this gives you a great option to still count your macros without making your food from scratch. Plus, they offer everything from breakfast, lunch through snacks, sides and dinner.
Price: Sides and snacks starting at $5.50. Minimum order $80.
Where they deliver: Free delivery is available within 30km from their kitchen in Victoria. Watson is hoping to soon expand to Sooke and currently sourcing a drop-off location in Duncan, Nanaimo and the Comox Valley. Watson is also hoping to begin providing bento boxes for schools.
Plastic footprint: While W.O.L.F uses vacuum-sealed plastic bags, they do offer soft plastic recycling that you can return in your “W.O.L.F bag.”
See more on Instagram @wolfmealprep.
Seeing as my family still expects breakfast and lunch, and I don’t live in Victoria so can’t order from W.O.L.F., I’ll probably still be hitting the local IGA on the reg, but after seeing some of these meal options and considering the time that goes into shopping and preparing (especially dinners) I’m starting to wish these services delivered on the Sunshine Coast.*
(*Note: While not local, at the time this article was published Hello Fresh does deliver to the Sunshine Coast).