Peace of mind. You will always know what’s for dinner. You will need to plan your menu once a week with a few clicks, or you can have the same meals each week if you really like them.
Best Food Subscription Boxes 2020
Nearly a million food subscription boxes are delivered across Canada every day. If you’re like me and hate grocery shopping, the sheer convenience of food subscription boxes (also known as meal kits) is more than worth the price of admission!
Companies like Netflix and Amazon have popularized the subscription service model in a way that was never previously thought possible. It only makes sense that many Canadians now realize that having a delicious box of food show up on their doorstep each week is a pretty great deal.
Top Three Canadian Food Subscription Boxes
There are over a dozen food subscription box companies in Canada—but there are three large providers that dominate the industry right now. They are Hellofresh, Chef’s Plate, and Goodfood. Here’s our current comparison of how “The Big 3” stack up against some of their regional competition.
Who Are We?
We are a team of researchers who go above and beyond the simple listings of promotional materials. Our goal is to provide you with objective information about monthly food subscription boxes in Canada. For this purpose, not only do we try all the subscription boxes ourselves to make our own opinion and share personal experiences, but we also collect and analyze data about the companies. We check their credibility and reputation, plan availability, meal variety, and many other useful details that would help you find the best food subscription boxes for you and your family.
For those meal kits in Canada that are not available to our team due to service area and logistics, we invite our friends and partners who live all over the country to participate in trying them and sharing their experiences with us.
How Much Do Food Subscription Boxes Cost In Canada?As you can see from the chart below, monthly food subscription boxes in Canada are not absolutely the cheapest way to purchase basic groceries. It makes sense when you think about the cost of shipping a box to your house.
The real question that you should probably ask yourself is not how much food subscription boxes cost, but rather, are you getting a good value deal for your money?
Consider the following benefits that we were willing to pay a bit more for:
Saving time. You will not have to go grocery shopping for your dinner anymore. Everything will be planned, measured, organized, and shipped to you based on your preferences.
Saving space. You won’t need to store any additional food in your fridge or pantry, except maybe for snacks. All food subscription boxes in Canada ship you just enough food per serving and will replenish your supply weekly.
Saving the planet. Since you are not driving to the store, you are saving gas and reducing air pollution. Most monthly food subscription boxes in Canada are recyclable, their ice packs are reusable, and food waste is drastically reduced since you are not buying more groceries than you need.
When you consider all the factors, food subscription boxes in Canada give you a pretty good bang for your buck. Depending on what you’re looking for, the cost of your subscription food box will range from $5-$13 per serving. The variables being how many meals you ordered, if you prefer vegetarian, and what company you choose to go with.
While there is an obvious convenience factor at play for all Canadians, I’ve found that friends that live in suburban/exurban and rural communities get the most value for their money when it comes to the best healthy food boxes because the costs of produce are already much higher in those areas, plus you often can’t find many of the ingredients that an inventive meal kit recipe might include!
Getting Started With a Food Subscription Box
As one might expect from app-based companies, their sign up process is simple. You hook a credit card up (like any other subscription box service), and you’re good to go.
Depending on the meal kit company, you’re likely to have the option of a two-person meal option and a four-person “family size.” There will usually be a pool of 5-8 options each week that you can choose 2-4 meals from. Your food subscription box will show up each week and have the ingredients for each meal pre-portioned in each bag for you. Some meal kit providers assume that you have access to common ingredients such as sugar, oil, and salt. The rest of what you need to cook the meal, including all spices, will come in individual packages as seen below. We have yet to receive produce that was not fresh after nine months of opening our food boxes. The most negative thing that we’ve had occur is that our basil slightly froze when it was -45 outside this past winter—but I’m willing to live with that since it was on our doorstep for 5+ hours that day!
Each week you’ll receive some version of a recipe card that is virtually dummy-proof in your food subscription box, along with a fully insulated and cooled parcel full of delicious food.
Why My Family Loves Our Food Subscription Box: Personal Experience
It’s FREE to try! The only thing better than sliced bread? FREE sliced bread!
Guaranteed fresh produce. While all of our meals have been fresh, we’ve been especially impressed by the quality cuts of meat.
Far fewer trips to the grocery store—a chore that just seems infinitely harder at the end of a workday!
Less wasted food, less ordering in, and fewer restaurant visits means MORE money in our pocket and less guilt!
We easily say “yes” to new foods that we’d likely try anyway if we went through the time-consuming process of looking up recipes.
Planning the next week’s meals takes five minutes or less with a super easy-to-use app.
We’re paying for “Intro to Cooking 101,” and then followup advanced cooking classes. If you want some new ideas on how to combine ingredients, or never really understood why you sear something before baking it, then use your food subscription box recipes as your textbook to a better you.
Healthy eating isn’t a chore anymore. The recipes are great (as you’d expect when they’re created and tested by dozens of pro chefs) and are designed with health in mind.
The mental grind of worrying about supper every night is GONE. I literally don’t think about supper until 30 minutes before it has to be on the table.
It has helped our marital-chore balance sheet because I’m much more inclined to do my fair share when it doesn’t involve being super organized and prepared ahead of time. My wife would put this as the #1 reason!
Frequently Asked Questions about Food Subscription Boxes in 2020
Every food box that we’ve received has been very cool when we’ve opened it. In fact, just to test it out, we left a box in +30 degrees Celsius for a whole afternoon. Upon opening it at 7 PM, over half of the ice packs were still frozen solid. The bottom line here is that these boxes are over-engineered.
Yes! Skipping a week is very easy with most services. All three of the large food box subscription companies allow you to easily skip a week when you sign up. Canceling is as simple as opening your account, and a few clicks later, you’re no longer committed—although there will be some followup emails that try to entice you back.
Most of the time, delivery is included in the prices you see in our comparison chart.
Every food subscription delivery service does things a bit differently, but long story short is that most companies will figure out how to get you their box—as long as you live in a city. If you live rurally or in an exurb/bedroom community, you might have to get a bit creative.
Now, if you want to make life easy on yourself and don’t want your package sitting on your doorstep or have parcel pickup (if you live in an apartment or condo), you can make an arrangement with a kind neighbor, ask a local business that you frequent if they mind holding it for you, or simply get the box mailed to your workplace. These boxes will be fine beside your desk or wherever else there is room. Just take your dinner home with you as you leave!
While there is no doubt that individualized packaging isn’t ideal from an overall environmental footprint point of view, 95% of the packaging in our boxes has been recyclable. The other thing that must be taken into consideration is the crazy reduction in food waste that meal kits allow you to benefit from. Hellofresh even has a pickup option for their cooler packs.
This is unique to each company. Fresh City (Toronto-only) prides itself on these areas and offers an organic food subscription box to the customers. All food subscription delivery companies pride themselves on being able to deliver fresher food than what is available in supermarkets because they can cut out a lot of “middle man” logistics and go straight from producer-to-delivery. That said, at this point in the game, I think for any meal kit to go 100% organic in the Canadian market, it would be pretty expensive relative to their competitors.
Several of Canada’s healthy food subscription box companies have vegetarian options (see the chart above). Not only are they a very healthy way to eat, but they are also some of the cheaper options available. While the bigger meal kit companies are able to offer the occasional keto-friendly or non-gluten meal, we have yet to come across a company that markets those meal types specifically. The vegetarian meals might be your best bet if you’re looking for something along those lines.
Often a “portion” isn’t always what we need for dinner. For reference, I’m 6’2, 250, and I live a pretty active lifestyle. The bottom line is that I love to eat, and I have not noticed that one food box company consistently provides more than the others do. What I have noted in the nine months that I’ve been using meal kits is that at our house, we have leftovers roughly 25% of the time, and I am quite full another 70% of the time, with roughly 1-in-20 meals leaving me looking to supplement. What I’ve noticed is that the meals that include a high-calorie type of meat or sauce are the most likely to leave me wanting more. This is likely due to the fact that the food box delivery folks want to make sure they keep each meal within a certain calorie range. The pleasant surprise to me has been how much I enjoy eating vegetarian meals—and how big the portions I get to enjoy are when I go that route!
Yes! The meals are pretty straightforward to cook almost all of the time. I’ve had some problems with “fancy” types of flaky pastries, but that’s really it. And I can’t emphasize this enough: I am a complete neophyte in the kitchen. Before our food box subscription, I could do basic things like making eggs, or browning hamburger, but I wasn’t a “cook” in the sense of actually creating a good-tasting meal.I have been really surprised at how quickly a person can learn how to use different spices and foods to complement one another (hello garlic—where have you been all my life?!) just by following the step-by-step guides that accompany each meal. I’ve tried spices that I would have never put on the grocery list previously.
I will say that I rarely ever prepare a meal in under the time the recipes allot for and probably average 10-20% longer than what is predicted. This probably isn’t much of a surprise given my lack of kitchen expertise. My wife, on the other hand, is much more consistently able to make our food box meals in 20-30 minutes.
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The Bottom Line
Food subscription boxes become a big part of life in Canada. Only 10 years ago there was little known about them, and now there are millions of customers who use monthly food subscription boxes in Canada alone. Why did they become so popular?
First of all, food subscription boxes save a lot of time. Hard-working Canadians enjoy the fact that they don’t have to go grocery shopping as often as before, don’t need to plan their dinners, but still enjoy a fresh homemade meal that takes 30 minutes or less to cook.
Second, the best monthly food subscription boxes contain well-balanced, healthy meal options for reasonable prices per meal. Those who prefer to skip the meat, usually have a good variety of meatless options. Some companies offer vegan, low fat, or low-carb meals.
Finally, the absolute majority of the meals delivered in the best food subscription boxes taste like they’ve been cooked by a highly skilled chef. The recipes are so detailed that it’s hard to mess things up. So, you end up with a gourmet dinner for a fraction of the restaurant price!
All these benefits played a huge role in the popularization of food subscription boxes in Canada. We believe that this industry has a lot of room for growth, and more patrons will be able to enjoy them both in Canada and worldwide.