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 2021
Every day there are almost a million food subscription boxes delivered in Canada. Food subscription boxes, also known as meal kits, are highly convenient for people who don’t have the time or energy to go shopping at a conventional grocery store. Meal kits bring the extra bonus of freeing the customer from having to plan out an entire lunch or dinner, since the meals are planned ahead of time. Ingredients for each recipe are pre-measured based on how many servings were ordered, which translates into a filling meal with no stale leftovers and no food waste.
With the rise of companies such as Netflix and Amazon, the subscription service model has become one of the most common ways to shop. As a result, it was only a matter of time before this model was applied to the way that people eat. In the past few years, more and more Canadians have opted to try a food subscription service.
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.
Check out our Hello Fresh Review, Chefs Plate Review, and Good Food Review for a more in-depth look at each of these services. Not only we reviewed each company separately, but we also compared them side-by-side. Please take a look at our Chefs Plate vs Hello Fresh, Hello Fresh vs Good Food, and Chefs Plate vs Good Food comparisons. In addition, we compared a popular meal kit company in the Vancouver area, FreshPrep vs Hello Fresh to see how this local company compares to the industry leader. For more budget-friendly options you may also consider Yumm company that delivers meal kits all over the country at a low price of $6.99 per serving.
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, pricing, customer service, 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 meals or low-calorie meals for weight loss, and what company you choose to go with.
While there is an obvious convenience factor at play for all Canadians, we’ve found that our 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 meat and 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! Just make sure you always have salt, pepper, sugar, and oil, as these items are not included in meal kits. It is assumed that people who cook at home always have these items available.
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 products that were 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. If you live in the Toronto area, you can also purchase Longo’s meal kits right at the supermarket.
Why We Love 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 follow-up 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 2021
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.
Delivery fees vary by company. Some companies simply factor delivery costs into the price and won’t charge any additional delivery fees. Others might give free delivery for new customers but eventually start charging a delivery fee. For companies that do charge for delivery, those fees tend to range between $3.50 and $9.99. Sometimes fees can be reduced based on the volume of food being ordered.
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. 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 in the farm-to-table supply chain. However, each company does this a little differently. For instance, FreshPrep reports that they “work directly with local purveyors and farms in BC that support sustainable practices.” While most companies strive to maximize the proportion of their food that’s grown locally and organically, the realities of the climate in Canada mean that it’s difficult and expensive for a meal kit to be completely organic and locally sourced.
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 have become increasingly popular in the Canadian market. A decade ago this method of buying food was virtually unheard of, yet now there are millions of Canadians using monthly or weekly food subscription services. What are some of the reasons for this explosive popularity?
First, food subscription boxes are major time-savers. Busy, on-the-go Canadians appreciate being able to skip shopping for groceries and planning dinners, yet still being able to enjoy a fresh homemade meal that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Second, the most popular food subscription boxes offer a wide variety of healthy and affordable meal options. Kid-friendly meals are available for those interested in a family plan. People who don’t eat meat have a diverse assortment of vegan or vegetarian meal options. Health-conscious customers can enjoy low-fat or low-carb meal kit choices.
Third, food subscription boxes are environmentally friendly. They reduce air pollution by requiring fewer people to drive to grocery stores, since one meal kit delivery truck can serve dozens of homes. Meal kits also help reduce food waste. Finally, the packaging itself is usually recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable.
Finally, meal kits are popular simply because they help even the most inexperienced cooks prepare a restaurant-quality meal. Recipes provide detailed instructions that assist novice chefs in avoiding common mistakes. The end result is a premium-quality dinner for a fraction of a restaurant price, especially considering gratuities and transportation costs related to dining out.
All of these benefits have played a major role in the rapid popularization of food subscription boxes in Canada. We believe that the food subscription industry will only continue to grow, and that more and more Canadians will convert to this new convenient and affordable method of gourmet dining.