One writer tests out three different food delivery boxes to see if they lived up to the hype.
I've seen the grocery delivery vans around the neighbourhood for some time now, and while I was always interested in a service that could eliminate our weekly trek to the grocery store, I wasn't entirely convinced that it would be worth it. What would be included in the boxes? Would I like everything? Was getting my groceries delivered akin to hiring a personal chef? Did I need to ground myself a little and slog it out in the frozen food aisle, with a 6-year-old in tow, or could this convenience perhaps be exactly what our household needed to run that much more smoothly?
Eager to answer all of the above musings (and to take a break from the after-school shopping rush) I decided to try three different boxes:
- Flash Food Box, a simple produce box that rescues "ugly" produce
- HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery box
- Mama Earth Organics, a full grocery delivery box
Flash Food Box
Image courtesy of Flash Food Box
The eco-minded (and frugal) shopper in me loves that this box rescues "ugly" produce (that is, food that looks imperfect and as such is refused by other resellers), and sells it at a reduced rate. There is nothing otherwise wrong with the fruits and vegetables—they're not about to turn and are not dented or bruised. They are in fact perfectly tasty and farm-fresh, albeit slightly oddly shaped. This a minimalist box; you cannot request specific items, but you are guaranteed that the box contains 9-11 different types of produce (approx 9-12lbs worth). You're able to order a one-off delivery or sign up for a subscription which entitles you to a 10 percent discount, and you can request that the box be delivered weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
I was surprised to discover that the produce in the box looked lovely and hardly misshapen at all (but, my son and I found that any slight quirks made the produce quite cute!). I was shocked that this produce would otherwise be discarded, and I appreciate that Flash Food Box is doing its part to cut down on food waste. I found the food aesthetic to be very reminiscent of the type of produce we would bring home from a farmers' market or roadside fruit stand, even down to the brown paper bags individually containing an abundance of teeny peppers and cherry tomatoes. I thought the selection of produce was inspiring and varied and helped me branch out of my cooking rut—I ended up googling groupings of the ingredients and found new recipes I fell in love with.
Image courtesy of HelloFresh
This is the box that makes delicious home-cooked meals an attainable reality. Each delivery contains nutritious recipes and all the farm-fresh, pre-measured ingredients needed to feed you or you and your family. Recipes are designed by in-house chefs and nutritionists and come on recipes cards with Insta-worthy photos and step-by-step instructions. The delivery comes weekly with your subscription, but it's possible to skip a week of delivery with adequate notice. There are three meal plans to choose from: a family plan, a pronto plan (in which prep time is under 30 minutes) and a veggie plan. Within each plan, you have the option to select your favourite meals from the given choices. Meal preferences can also be set ie. no fish or pork.
The individual meals come packaged in handy takeout bags that contain everything you need including the recipe card and prepackaged ingredients that are already measured for you. Anything extra you require to prepare the meal is also listed, so there are no mid-cooking surprises. The meals were easy to prepare and turned out just like the pictures, which was a pleasant surprise. While there are no vegan options at this point, it was easy to substitute from our own pantry for replacement items. The meals I received are based on several preferences to cater to the food allergies in my household. Individual allergens are clearly marked on the recipe cards, to make it that much more convenient and safe for consumers.
Mama Earth Organics
Image courtesy of Mama Earth Organics
This is the one-stop grocery box. Your order is built around your produce selection, but a wide assortment of artisanal and locally-sourced add-ons are also available. You can choose between different fruit and vegetable baskets including only fruits, only vegetables and various sizes. Once you make your basket selection (which can be customized for your preferences) you can add your choice of additional items, which includes everything from baked goods to pantry staples. This box is offered by subscription and delivers weekly and bi-weekly, but it can be customized to accommodate sporadic delivery, standing orders or skipping a week.
These delivery baskets come in reusable Rubbermaid containers, which are stored by the consumer after unpacked and left out on your next delivery day so they can be cleaned and refilled. I love the convenience of having fresh organic produce, pantry essentials and other healthy foods delivered in one box. For even greater convenience, the Mama Earth site has recipe suggestions to complement the produce and offers pre-made meals like homemade soups and grain bowls for a relatively prep-free healthy lunch or dinner. I love the convenience of not having to lug any items home from the grocery store and still be able to enjoy some of my favourite grocery store finds like kimchee, kombucha and cold-pressed juices.
I was impressed with all of the delivery boxes. Price was my main deterrent prior in this experience, but given all the options, I think there is a delivery box to fit most budgets. The convenience aspect was one of the best parts of the experience, and l love that it left me more opportunity to spend time with my family, while checking one less chore off the list. What's more, I felt like the boxes inspired me to try produce and try recipes that I might not otherwise have taken a chance on, so they're an effective way to get out of a cooking rut. And finally, all of these boxes support local farms and businesses and use eco-friendly packaging. What more could you ask for from a grocery store haul?