When Glen and I arrived home from Scottsdale in mid-March, we entered the netherworld of COVID-19. For our quarantine, Brandon stocked us with food, disinfectants and sanitizers, and coveted rolls of toilet paper. Eventually, however, I wanted to buy groceries myself. First, I tried shopping online using home delivery, but items often ended up being unavailable (so much for that recipe) or the produce wasn’t fresh. Next, I ordered online for pick up in a nearby grocery store — to middling success as the area didn’t really accommodate physical distancing. Then I saw promos for a meal-kit service and remembered a friend had recommended one some time ago. I signed up with HelloFresh: four meals for two delivered to our door once a week.
I’d found a way to satisfy Glen’s nightly question, an in-joke lifted from the superb dramedy Pleasantville (1998): “Where’s my dinner?”
Founded in Berlin in November 2011, HelloFresh entered early into the meal-kit industry. From ten meals, the business now delivers more than 111 million meals to over 4.18 million customers in 14 countries. The US tops the list of subscribers.
Little did I know subscribing to the service means going to cooking school — in the safety of our kitchen. The meals come with the essential ingredients and detailed instructions. I often chop, chop, chop, just don’t shop, shop, shop. Each recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare, and we travel the world through the cuisines: Japan, India, the Middle East, Mexico, Italy and Ireland. Any recipes we particularly savour, I add to my collection to replicate later. A kit for two usually feeds three, so generous are the portions. When Brandon doesn’t join us for dinner, Glen and I eat leftovers for lunch the next day.
Concurrent with my new dependency on HelloFresh, I read about the imperative to support local businesses. To my delight I discovered FreshPrep, a Vancouver meal-kit service started in 2014 by a trio of childhood friends. Although we rate the HelloFresh service faultless, I switched allegiance.
ADVANTAGES TO KITS
- Easy meal planning: simply click and cook.
- Flexibility: order two, three or four meals a week — or skip any week(s).
- A variety of nutritional recipes that will accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets.
- Carefully tailored portions eliminate waste; e.g. no excess sprigs of herbs for a recipe. (Cilantro goes into our organics bin as it disagrees with Glen — or he disagrees with it!)
- Kits cost considerably less than dining out yet offer restaurant-type menus.
FreshPrep works with local purveyors and farms in Vancouver that support sustainable practices. It also delivers kits in reusable cooler bags. Plus customers return plastic packaging for environmentally responsible disposal.
Sample meals include Chicken Tikka Masala & Raita with Flourist Canadian Grown Golden Quinoa; Lentil & Sunflower Seed Falafels with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower & Garlic Tahini Sauce; and Sweet & Spicy Flat Iron Steaks with Basmati Rice & Feta, Tomato & Corn Salad.
Although COVID-19 hasn’t put us in a welcome state, we’re having fun with food in our home. •