We Tried It: Meal Prep Delivery

Is it lazy to pay someone to plan and prep your meals? Or is it a genius time hack?

April 28, 2017

By Stacey McLachlan / Photo: HelloFresh

If you look in my fridge, here’s what you’ll find: pickles, beer and hot sauce…end of list. Not exactly the makings of a gourmet meal. Is it a little embarrassing to have such a paltry ingredient selection given that I’m also an editor for our sister publications, Western Living, which features pages and pages of beautiful recipes in each issue? Sure. But my excellent intentions to plan out and eat well balanced, beautiful, flavourful meals and to play dinner hostess with the mostest get sidetracked by life. My partner and I are food lovers, but other obligations (spending time with friends, UGH) just keep getting in the way of those critical-yet-time-consuming steps—collecting recipes, planning out meals, hitting the grocery store—that actually lead to the “eating” part.

Basically we’re exactly the sort of busy-but-lazy foodie couple that HelloFresh presumably had in mind when it started up its service delivering weekly packs of pre-prepared ingredients and recipes. It isn’t the only company doing this—podcast fans have likely heard ads for American counterpart Blue Apron, while Canadian competitors include the nation-wide Chef’s Plate, Vancouver-based Fresh Prep and Fuud, and central Canada’s Goodfood—so I suspect we aren’t the only privileged, middle-class people struggling with the basic concept of feeding ourselves.

And after trying HelloFresh for a week (I scheduled the cooler box of ingredients for three meals to get dropped off at my office), I’ll be honest: it’s hard to go back to our pre-meal-delivery lives. I think universally we can all agree: the worst part about making dinner is usually just making a decision. So having the mysterious culinary masterminds behind a meal-prep operation just go ahead and choose for you is an immediate improvement to the dinner hour. And the food is certainly more impressive than whatever we weren’t whipping up before: with HelloFresh we ate kung-pao mushrooms with chili cashews, plantain tacos and spicy lemon linguine. The smug sense of do-goodery that comes with not wasting any leftover produce is a nice bonus, too (no more wilted half-full bags of spinach being chucked in the compost despite big plans for salad lunches…you’re welcome, Earth).

Of course, nothing’s perfect. It costs between $10 and $12 per serving for these meals, so certainly more expensive than your average DIY dinner, and maybe on par with a decent sushi supper in this city. It’s definitely not for every budget. But if you’re at a stage in your life where spending money to save time is a worthwhile investment—or if you’re tired of opening the fridge and seeing nothing but pickles, beer, and hot sauce—it might just be worth a little splurge.

HelloFresh packages from $10.83 per meal; more info at hellofresh.ca

Pictured: Not my fridge, obviously. 

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