Confession: I hate dinner. I mean, I love making pancakes and French toast for my kids on the weekend, because I know they’ll eat every last maple-soaked drop. But between hockey and music practices, homework and bedtime, weeknights are a blur. Plus, generally devoid of sugar, dinner time in itself is a minefield when it comes to picky eater preferences I can never quite keep track of.
If I could just give them a pill and skip the whole mess, I would. Until then, I’ve decided to mix things up, adding a food delivery a week just to share the load. Even if the kids don’t fall for the mystery dinner of the week, then at least the hubby and I will be happy to get out of our weeknight classics funk. But while test-driving some of the services out there, we discovered the kids like many of them too—like a lot.
Here are my favourite finds and weeknight go-to’s that really helped this mama out:
Hello, AH-MAZING! From the turkey burrito bowl to the gnocchi bolognese, my family loved it all. The biggest excitement for sure comes from trying something different. We even discovered some new flavours the kids enjoyed—like cilantro? Who knew! The way it works is you subscribe, choose your meals for the week and schedule deliveries—you can skip weeks and cancel any time you want to. Unlike regular takeout though, you prepare the meal. HelloFresh sends you everything you need, including perfectly portioned and packaged ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, making it easy to whip up something delicious, even for someone like me who’s not so great in the kitchen. (Tip: I keep the recipe cards so I can recreate dishes we love.) One thing though: While most dishes list prep times of 30 minutes or so, personally I found it took me longer to cook when you factor in cutting up the ingredients. You can add on the time (approx. 10-15 minutes), or pay extra to have everything pre-cut for you—a plus especially on busy weeknights. So why bother at all? It’s cheaper and healthier than takeout. And while it may seem more expensive than groceries, portion sizing reduces waste and can bring down the overall cost when you factor ingredients you have to buy in bulk and end up wasting when you don’t use all of it.
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Just like HelloFresh, Chef’s Plate is a meal subscription service that delivers all the ingredients you need to make one delicious dish after another. They both share a similar menu aesthetic, a family-friendly fusion food mix. In fact, it’s hard to tell the difference, except that Chef’s Plate might be a little more affordable, by a couple of dollars or so per serving. Know, though, that if you don’t make your picks for the week and you’ve subscribed, they’ll send you a random selection, which didn’t work out for my family. So be sure to get your choices in on time, or pause service if need be, if you’ve got picky eaters at your table. The great thing about both is that we’ve been getting way more veggies into the kids’ bellies—the food tastes so good, they don’t even notice!
This one is a breakfast option, but we’re big fans of breakfast for dinner every now and again! And Goodfood Breakfast is an expansion of the ready-to-cook dinner box option Goodfood already offers. They’re crafted to maximize the nutritional punch of breakfasts, with the ease and simplicity parents all need in the morning (or on a busy weeknight!) The breakfast box is customizable with up to twelve different items; including a mix of both ready-to-blend Smoothies and Artisanal Oat Bowls. Mmm…
Skip the Dishes
We’ve had a few impromptu family get-togethers where food was called for and there were too many of us to move en masse. Skip the Dishes is a great option for take-out in a pinch. Just run a search for your area and you can see all the restaurants you can order from to have food delivered to you, without having to step out the door.
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Seafood Crate doesn’t prepare your meals for you, but they do save time at the grocery store—especially at the fish counter. Moms and dads, you know what I’m talking about. We want to feed our families a varied diet, and yet all the news points to polluted water sources or irresponsible fishing practices. Personally I can’t keep track of where my fish should be coming from, and with Seafood Crate you don’t have to, because they do the homework and you can trust they’ve sourced their food from the most reliable places. My family was able to taste the difference. I’ve never eaten salmon so clean; you can literally taste the sparkling freshwater it was sourced from. Pricey, but worth it when you can manage.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I can’t wait to. Like Seafood Crate, TruLocal doesn’t deliver meals per se, but you can order the best meat from the best, local sources all at this one-stop-shop. From organic to grass-fed, meat, chicken and fish too, you’ll find all cuts here, as well as some that are already seasoned. Again, it takes the guesswork out of the grocery aisles and where your food comes from, saving time and peace of mind.
Like Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats lets you order for delivery from your favourite restaurants. The difference might be that Uber Eats offers more variety. I haven’t tried it yet, but my sister and her guy order from Uber Eats all the time (ah, life without kids!) and they rave about it. They say the price works out to about the same too.