*Starter promotions (40% off first basket) make it as low as $5.25 per serving
You've probably heard of these "food box" services that have really come into the mainstream over the past year or two. Wondrous little packages of fresh food ingredients being delivered by magical elves right to your door, allowing people to cook delicious home-made meals without the hassle of strapping their kids into a shopping cart only to leave the grocery store in frustration and caving in to getting fast food yet again.
With humans everywhere striving towards faster food options with better nutrition, there is a growing market for people wanting to make good, affordable home-made meals in their own kitchens without having to sacrifice their entire evenings to do it.
Now, there are lots of out-of-the-box dinner subscriptions currently out there, even in the great white north that is Canada. Many offer their services nation-wide (such as Goodfood) and even more of them focus their offerings purely to their home communities. But how do you choose which one to try? Well, no sweat. Most subscription services offer a metric ton of flexibility when it comes to trying and subscribing to their services, so, unlike the rewards-points incentives grocery retailers wave in front of you to maintain a somewhat monogamous relationship with them for all your meal needs, food box services tend to employ a "free love" kind of relationship with their customers, allowing you to come and go as you please. Don't get me wrong, they all want your business, of course. But the way they allow you to call the shots makes it easy to love 'em on your terms.
Okay, enough of this free love hippy scat. We're talking food here. And specifically, we're talking about Goodfood, because, quite simply, it's what we here at Biography of a Nobody's Guinea Pig Paradox have tried. No claims are being made about the other guys out there, we just haven't sampled them. And to be perfectly honest, we're pretty darn impressed with Goodfood so far, and I think we would be hard-pressed to try anything else at this point. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now, let's get cooking with this review!
*If you don’t feel like reading all the details, feel free to scroll down to the bottom to get our overall summary/review of Goodfood’s subscription meal service. But that would be cheating. What would your mother say? ~ ~ ~ The biggest question most people want answered is How much will it cost? That's what I always want to know, anyway. Every minute, of every day, about every little thing, I want to know the cost. Not that I mind paying for things, mind you. Ask my wife. She makes the money, I gleefully spend it. But only if there's good value in it, that is. I’m pennywise, not cheap.
In the case of a meal-in-a-box subscription service, for instance, I wanna know if my wallet can justify the cost, or if I could just make cheaper meals through the grocery store? Chances are that I could, really, even with the artificially inflated grocery prices that run rampant in my home town. And, and, I'm not talking about settling for reconstituted-pig-snouts-in-gravy-from-a-can kind of meals. Actual fresh-meats-from-the-deli-and-vegetables-from-the-produce-aisle kinda nutritious, baby. That’s the kind of pricing comparisons I’m going for here, ‘cause no doubt aboot it, Goodfood only deals with quality stuff.
Now, I'm a count-my-toes-when-I-run-out-of-fingers kind of math whiz, but at first glance it's fairly obvious which is cheaper between grocery stores and pre-portioned meal boxes. With our current Goodfood plan (Easy Prep), our “per serving” cost at the time of this review is around $13.33 moosebucks (CDN). Now let's imagine I'm trying to assemble a decent meal at my local grocery store. Nothing fancy, but wholesome enough to feel I’ve earned a bag of chips in the evening for my healthy dinner efforts. The average cost, in my neck of the woods, for a boneless chicken breast (from a bulk pack) would be somewhere around $2.75 per chunk, a broccoli crown would be around a buck, same for a single serving of potatoes (oh, what the heck, with all the fixin's. I’m talking real bacon bits here, we’ll round it up to two bucks even,) and we're feeling a touch lazy, so how about a serving from one of those pre-made salad-in-a-bag thingies to go with it all, about another two bucks. Remember, this is per serving. Add it all up, carry the eight, account for wind, and it shows me, in no uncertain terms, that I need a calculator. Which in turn then gives me, oh, say... a serving cost of about $7.75 in colourful Canadian currency. So, yeah, without really trying, it would be cheaper to get stuff from the grocery store.
Or, would it? There's a couple other costs I hadn't factored in. The cost of gas to go to the store and back, for sure, but more importantly there’s the hidden cost of....IMPULSE SHOPPING!
I’m so bad with that fiduciary monster that a normal run to the grocery store for a meager basket of milk n’ eggs n’ yogurt n’ fruits n’ veggies would inevitably turn into a feast run to fill a full shopping cart with crap I didn’t need but was on “sale”. I’m a sucker for those colourful little price tags, I admit that freely.
“But hon, we needed pizza pops! And they were on sale! It would be irresponsible not to! And summer’s coming, the two gallons of ice cream are essential! What, you want us to die!?”
It’s gotten so bad that I have to Skype my wife via phone before heading to the checkout so she can approve my purchases. She then calls the cashier and tells them it’s okay to let me through like a big boy.
So, in an effort to curb my willy-nilly ways handling a wallet at the grocery store, we decided it best I not be allowed to spend much time in them, and instead have pre-made meal baskets from Goodfood delivered right to the door. We still need to go to the local store for our weekly fresh stuff of fruits, milk, eggs, yogurt, etc, but gone are the days of irresponsibly stuffing the freezer with junk. It’s kinda like a gym membership. We’re subscribed to a meal service, which means there’s always fresh food in our fridge that needs to be eaten every week, which has already been paid for, and we’re too dang frugal to let it go to waste in favour of picking up a box of chicken wings or even drive around for fast food.
So, when comparing the bottom line, spending costs month to month on foodstuffs are about the same as before we started with Goodfood. Fair value there, at the very least. The biggest difference is we’re eating much healthier now, because chips and ice cream have far fewer opportunities to leap into the shopping cart if I stay home and wait for my food-box instead.
So how does it work?
It works beautifully, that’s how. You start by picking a meal plan. Want to focus on family-friendly meals? Pick that plan. Want easy-prep meals, like us? Pick that plan. They’ve also got low-carb, classic, or veggie-saurus meals (though they call them something more sensible, like vegetarian,) plans for everyone and their needs. Then, you pick how many meals you’d like every week. Here’s how we do it in our household.
We have two young kids (5 and 2,) so after consuming their daily allotment of sand and dirt from the local park, they don’t eat much at mealtime. After first trying meals at the 4-serving size, it was a bit much for our family, leaving us with a ton of leftovers. So now we’re at two servings per meal, which divided between the four of us (Remember, two questionable adults and two wee implings) is just right, and sometimes we still even have enough leftovers to put into the missus’ lunch bag the next day.
*I will say the meat portions are actually spot on. This has definitely minimized the amount of meat I’ve personally been consuming, simply due to pre-measured ingredients. Let’s say chicken thighs are on the menu, two per human; now I don’t have a bulk pack of chicken thighs sitting in front of me at the dinner table, urging me to stuff my gullet, just the two I’ve been allotted. And I don’t dare try to reach for my wife’s, she’d take my hand off at the wrist. What does seem to be overly generous are the veggie portions, there’s always tons of roughage to go around. So even with modest amounts of meat stuffs, I am always happily plump and full after a meal, no question. And hey, we could all use more veggies in our diet.
So, after you pick your plan and meal frequency, you then pick the exact meals you want to receive each week. Try not to lick the screen as you choose your dinners from a large photo menu (which is constantly updated with new meals every week) while navigating helpful icons that give you info regarding gluten-free, non-dairy, and spicy options.
And voilà, you’ll be receiving a box of pre-cut, pre-measured, fresh ingredients right to your door, every week. You can even just hide in the bathroom until the delivery driver gets back to their truck, no need to answer the door, that’s what I do (fresh food and zero human interaction – that’s my kind of sustenance.)
You open the box, which is specially insulated and cooled, and each meal is labeled and accompanied with a delightful recipe card (with pictures!) for easy cooking. And the paper quality/ glossy print is high end stock, meaning you can put the recipe cards (size of a full page) into a binder for future use/reference.
Ingredients are fresh, low-fat, and friggin’ delicious. The spice blends alone are worth selling your own mother for, and we get to cook with fresh ingredients that we never dared to before. Things like tarragon leaves, harissa, lime zest and fresh mint, to name a few.
But, Mezzer, it all sounds too good to be true, is there anything you don’t like about the service?
Not much, but yes, there are a couple small things that could be better, in my opinion.
I sometimes find cooking or prep times to be significantly off, especially for a hack like me. A recurring culprit seems to be baking sweet potato chunks in the oven, for example. I find the recipe calls for them to be undercooked on occasion if I follow their recommended cooking times, so adjustments are sometimes needed.
Or sometimes, even just the prep time between steps in a recipe are difficult to adhere to. For instance, when I’m asked to toss the pasta (always fresh, never dry pasta by the way, which is way awesome) into boiling water, I’m instructed to prep a heap of stuff while that cooks, which only takes two or three minutes with fresh pasta. It’ll be phrased something akin to “While the pasta cooks, cut the cucumber, leeks and radishes into slices, roughly chop the parsley, juice and zest the lime, get your toddler off the toilet before their legs go numb, and produce a new theory which better explains the beginning of the universe, showing your work.” I often feel a time machine is necessary to adhere to some of those prepping timelines, at least at my skill level, which is fairly standard for a barely sentient human. I make do with a little practice and forethought though, sometimes getting all of my prep done before I even flick the stove-top on. Of course, that means my actual cooking time for a meal is significantly off from their suggested total cook times. It’s not a big deal, really, but people who are a bit on the inexperienced side of cooking might find it a touch overwhelming to get the timing right at first.
*And in my case, maybe they should allocate an extra 10 minutes per meal “total cook time” for when I’m Googling the supplied ingredients list and just trying to figure out what things are. “What the frig is 15ml of gochujang??” I tell you, I'm eating stuff now I never would have thought of.
And finally, my biggest issue is the overall packaging, though it is a double-edged kitchen knife for the foods industry in general. Shoot, next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look around. It’s darn near impossible to find anything not packaged in some sort of plastic. Meal subscription services are no different in terms of amounts of packaging used. Individually packaged ingredients, meals, and final boxing add up to a lot of packaging material going to waste, even if it is into the recycling bin. Goodfood does, however, use packaging which is fully recyclable at their home-base (Montreal,) but recycling options do vary across the country. More than anything, it’s a lot of single-use plastic which, I’m now learning about the recycling industry, does not get recycled a lot of the time, even if it is collected in an area.
That being said, I contacted Goodfood to get their take on all this single-use plastics packaging, and got a very positive response. Here it is, word for word:
“As we have gone through massive expansions in the last year, we are now focused on reducing our environmental impact across the country. We are currently pilot-testing our box-reclamation program in Montreal and some areas of Ottawa. Once we have the logistics and food safety concerns figured out, we will be able to move our packaging in the direction of being fully recoverable and/or compostable. This would be ideal, as the continued use of using plastics is one of the biggest concerns for humanity’s impacts on the global ocean. We hope, in the future, to be able to have 100% compostable packaging, and for items which cannot be packaged this way, ensuring we can recuperate and reuse those containers. We’ve even suggested that our management team look into using hemp plastic as this decomposes in 3-6 months.
“When we think about the 3 R’s of recycling (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) we as a society tend to put far too much emphasis on the last R, recycling. At Goodfood, we decided to use that as our starting point, in that our packaging is 100% recyclable where we are founded, in Montreal. Since our beginning, we have been focused on Reducing, finding new and innovative ways to reduce our packaging. We are now shifting focus, to make our Goodfood baskets fully recoverable, and utilize the second R, to reuse.”
I like that, very, very much. It’s important for me and my family to support businesses and companies that share the same values that we do, and look forward to seeing their waste reduction efforts in action.
So here’s the wrap up. Does getting a meal subscription with Goodfood make good sense?
Pricing: Though at first glance it would be a bit cheaper to make meals at home from groceries you buy from your local supermarket, Goodfood meals still provide incredible value. Considering all the ingredients are pre-measured and a good deal of them are even pre-cut, shipped right to your door, and as fresh as anything which could be found at a grocery store, costs for the food itself is definitely fair.
Convenience: For full, well-rounded meals which you make at home, the convenience is hard to beat. Though most ingredients are pre-measured and pre-cut, ready to be tossed into a pan, not all are, for reasons of freshness and taste. For example, some recipes call for lemon or lime zest and juice, which can only be prepared at time of cooking, lest the zest (that’s fun to say) become dried out and stagnant, and the juice lose flavour. Most ingredients are ready to go, however, and the remaining prep you must do yourself is minimal and is solely in the spirit of providing customers with ingredients that taste as good and fresh as they possibly can.
Variety: Available meal recipes change every week, and with gluten-free, dairy-free and veggie options available, there’s an excellent chance you’ll be able to find meals you want to try every week. At the initial setup, you select your meal preferences, which you can then just let the foodies at headquarters pick your meals for you so you don’t have to do a thing, or you can pick out your meals every week prior to their weekly delivery cut-offs to get exactly what you want to cook. It’s a great way to go for meals particularly if you feel like you’re in a rut with your home cooking. Goodfood will expand your culinary horizons, guaranteed.
*They also have a healthy smoothie menu, with a huge variety to pick from, no more expensive than what you’d pay for a restaurant-chain smoothie. We cannot personally give a review on the smoothies at this time because we simply haven’t tried them yet, but they look super delicious.
Cancellation policy: Goodfood makes it crazy easy to get going or to stop or suspend the service, with no penalties. There’s no minimum timeframe required for a subscription either, and if you want to skip a week or two (or more) for any reason, you can do so with the click of a button on their website. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
Cooking challenge: The meals are delicious and can look complicated, but they’re actually quite manageable. Full colour, full-page recipe cards provide clear directions with pictures to make the whole cooking process pretty easy, despite a few minor challenges in regards to timing with various cooking steps. Here’s another thing: Me, personally, I hate cooking. I love food, but I hate cooking. If I could afford it, I would hire a live-in chef in a heartbeat. But since I can’t, this is the next best thing in terms of at-home culinary convenience. This makes meal prep and cooking tolerable for me, sometimes even enjoyable, and that says a lot.
Packaging: Lots of plastic packaging, but that goes for anything in the foods industry, really. The good news is they’re working on it, including even running a pilot program in eastern Canada to recollect and reuse their shipping and cooling materials, with the hopes of expanding that no-added fee service to earth-loving humans out west. Though all their packaging is at least fully recyclable, they are making efforts to reduce single-use stuff and to introduce compostable packaging where reusing is not an option. In my opinion, they at least get a green thumbs up for the effort (see what I did there?)
Sourcing: According to their website, at least 85% of all their foodstuffs are either produced or packaged in Canada, they prioritize ingredients without additives or preservatives, and meats and fishies are from ecologically-responsible sources. In laymen’s terms, it’s darn good, tasty and fresh. I can attest to that personally.
Overall, we think it’s a great service, and provides very fair value for people looking to enjoy delicious, healthy meals made right at home, with a minimum of fuss. It’s worth a shot to try; no cancellation fee, and with first-timer incentives such as 40% off your first meal box (promoted right on the main website) you can’t go wrong.
***Disclaimer: I realize upon proof-reading this review that it sounds a bit like a paid infomercial. Rest assured, we at Biography of a Nobody have not been paid or compensated by Goodfood in any way for this review, we’re just really pleased and impressed with the service, that’s all, I promise.***
But wait! That’s not all!..
Okay, that does sound like an infomercial, but hear me out. Since we are paying subscribers to Goodfood, every month they have provided us with “gift meal boxes”, where we can hook up some of our friends with a free meal box for them to try the service, absolutely free, an $87 value. We don’t get a commission or anything from using these, but it lets a few lucky people we call friends to try out Goodfood for free. Did I mention it’s free? Who says no to free food? Quality stuff, no less.
And because you read Biography of a Nobody in your spare time when there’s nothing better to do (that’s fine, we’re just happy you read us at all,) that makes you one of our favourite people. If you’d like a chance at a free meal box coupon code from Goodfood courtesy of BOAN, then click HERE to reach our form page and send us a quick note saying something like “Gimme some Goodfood, baby!” and we’ll put you in our monthly draw to win free foodstuffs.
Or, shoot, just sign up and try them out, you’ll be happy you did. Goodfood is terrific value for great home cooking, no doubt aboot it.
If you'd like to leave a comment or lay out your own experiences with this product, we'd love to hear from you! Just click the Contact Link to quickly fill out the form and we'll post your thoughts here for all three of our readers to see!