I love cooking dinner for my kids. It gives me the chance to teach them healthy eating habits and that balanced meals can be delicious. Getting them to help me with the prep gives us some special time together while they learn some useful kitchen skills.
At least, that’s what I want theoretically. In reality, making dinner for the kids is a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I love being responsible for their wellbeing. But making dinner comes with so much stress.
Firstly, there’s the matter of deciding what to cook. I have a good idea of what balanced meals look like, but I’m not a nutritionist and don’t always know the difference between good fats and bad fats. Besides, even if I did have all the necessary knowledge, creating a meal that the kids actually want to eat is yet another major challenge.
Then there’s the reality that I don’t always have the time or energy to cook good food. After a long day of work, I am often inclined to just fry a couple of burgers and oven bake frozen chips straight from the bag. It’s always a hit and it takes almost no prep. I don’t even beat myself up about it anymore, because spending an hour making a healthy dinner adds so much stress to my day and impacts my own wellbeing.
The idea of cooking with the kids was great before COVID happened. I’m sure I’ll miss the kids when they are back at school and extramurals all the time, but right now, we spend enough time together that bringing them into the kitchen just adds to the chaos.
All of this is why I have been looking for an alternative and in meal kits I feel like I’ve found one. What are meal kits? I’ll give you a quick rundown of how they work and whether they are right for all moms around the world.
What are meal kit subscriptions?
Meal kits are subscription services that provide you with healthy dinners multiple times a week. You sign up for between two and five meals a week and choose what you want to eat from the company’s menu. The meals are delivered on the day.
But when they are delivered they have not yet been cooked, so you are not getting a facsimile of a good restaurant meal. Rather, the box includes all the necessary ingredients, chopped and prepped, ready to be put together and into the oven using a simple recipe. The process will take fifteen to thirty minutes at most.
If you spent a lot of time on YouTube a few years ago, you would have come across content creators advertising meal kit services. The trend seemed to die down for a while, but with quarantine it has picked up again, providing a simple solution to some very real problems in these trying times.
The top-rated Toronto meal kit companies in particular have surged in popularity, which is how they came to my attention. Here is what I have found regarding the suitability of meal kits for moms.
Should moms use meal kits?
I will talk about the convenience a little later, but let me start with the health benefits. COVID-19 has brought to light just how important it is to be eating healthy. It says a lot that two of the biggest comorbidities in a virus that targets the respiratory system are obesity and diabetes. To those who know a lot about nutrition, this is no surprise, as unhealthy eating habits impact the entire body.
Meal kit subscription services are not some magical fix to nutritional issues. However, they offer meals designed according to the latest nutritional guidelines. Many of them even provide options for people trying particular diets.
As I admit, sometimes the less balanced meals are simply the easiest when I have no time or energy, and meal kits solve this problem. They also save me the difficulty of trying to plan meals for the week, choosing an array of different food types and figuring out how to fit them into dinners.
Of course, the convenience is the most alluring aspect of meal kits. It is far better than ordering in, as you don’t have to spend time arguing over where to order from, and you get home-cooked food to boot. It is then much easier to bring your kids into the cooking process, as there is no great stress in putting the meals together.
However, there is a downside to meal kits. Some of the most popular companies are somewhat costly. HelloFresh, for example, charges over CA$12 per serving. The price goes down to just over CA$10 per serving if you are ordering for four or more people.
The good news is that there are cheaper companies. Chefs Plate is a more affordable subsidiary of HelloFresh. They have fewer meal options available, but you will pay closer to CA$9 per serving and the meals are still balanced and delicious.
The most popular meal kit companies
So which meal kit company should you go with? That really depends on you. Different companies offer different meal options and their prices vary. However, you are likely to go with one of the “big 3” in Canada.
HelloFresh: Founded in Germany in 2011, HelloFresh came to Canada in 2016 and has become the biggest meal kit company here. They are the biggest around the world as well, with almost 3 million subscribers in 2019. Considering the growth of the industry during 2020, that number is likely a lot higher now.
Chefs Plate: Chefs Plate is owned by HelloFresh but that hasn't always been the case. Launched in 2014, it was a pioneer in Canada’s meal kit market. As a provider, it is still distinct from HelloFresh, with different offerings and subscription models.
GoodFood: A local Canadian company, GoodFood had 200,000 subscribers in Canada alone in 2019. They are the biggest alternative to HelloFresh companies in the country. Like the other members of the “big 3,” their meals are varied and delicious, and designed according to nutritional guidelines.
Aside from the big 3, there are plenty of other good companies around the world which will be popular among moms. Blue Apron is perhaps the most well-known, especially in the US. With 350,000 subscribers in 2019, it is nowhere near as big as HelloFresh, but this is largely because it serves a much smaller market. They also did report significant growth over 2020.
Home Chef, Plated, and Sun Basket make up some of the other big companies. While it is unclear just how many subscribers each has, especially post-COVID, they are all well-reputed.
As a mom, making dinner every night is difficult and stressful. I’ve really loved finding out about meal kit subscription services. They have been a lifesaver, making it easy for me to give my kids balanced, healthy meals.