Pre-por­tioned meal kits one of the hottest trends in food

Valley Journal Advertiser - - OPINION - Wendy El­liott

The be­nign look­ing card­board box with the Good­food logo is wait­ing for us at the back door. It’s plenty hot out, but there are five cold packs in the in­su­lated box pro­tect­ing the food in­side.

Wow, right away we have three fairly fancy meal op­tions for sup­per. The in­gre­di­ents ar­rive in vac­uum-packed pouches, small zip­per-lock­ing bag­gies and screw-top bot­tles. Ev­ery­thing is la­beled in English and French.

We go for the mush­room pap­pardelle with ri­cotta, arugula and wal­nuts — be­cause it is vege­tar­ian and thus only calls for 20 min­utes cook­ing time. De­li­cious! The le­mon-in­fused ri­cotta makes a nice sen­sory splash.

The other two dishes, Braised Ber­bere Chicken and beef and rice bowls, get pre­pared the day of our street’s an­nual block party. No­body raves over ei­ther, so they fit right in with the neigh­bour­hood tastes.

I’m not too fond of the taste of the pink wa­ter­melon radish in one, but the Ber­bere spice blend in the other is tangy. The recipe sheet ex­plains ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the fact that Ber­bere flavours come from Ethiopia.

Founded in 2014, Good­food is based in Mon­treal and the com­pany ships to nine prov­inces. Three other meal kit firms also op­er­ate in east­ern Canada from ei­ther Toronto or Ger­many. They all pro­vide three meals for two peo­ple for about $65.

Our son in Hal­i­fax, who works in the food in­dus­try, likes Good­food’s ser­vice. When he comes home, ev­ery­thing is there wait­ing, in just the right amounts and no shop­ping is re­quired.

He and his fi­ancé are find­ing they can learn some food prep by fol­low­ing the well laid out recipe sheets that fea­ture six pho­tos and ad­vice on how to plate the dish. It well works for them. A friend of theirs prefers the calo­rie count of­fered by an out­fit called Miss Fresh. There’s lots of choice in this new meal ad­ven­ture.

We’ve de­cided we’re not ready to jump on the meal kit band­wagon. We’ve tried to buy lo­cal for years now and know­ing es­pe­cially where our meat comes from seems im­por­tant to us. The box from Mon­treal can’t ben­e­fit lo­cal pro­duc­ers.

There’s also too much pack­ag­ing. Even though it is re­cy­clable, there is just a lot. When you re­quest a trial box, Good­food does want you to sign on as a sub­scriber, but we had no prob­lem opt­ing out.

For all that, these pre-por­tioned meal kits are one of the hottest trends in food. I un­der­stand they rank be­tween make your own from scratch and restau­rant din­ing in terms of cost. Time to pre­pare is re­duced be­cause no shop­ping is re­quired.

Ac­cord­ing to In­vestor’s Daily, only four per cent of Cana­di­ans have tried a meal kit so far, but es­ti­mates are the trend will ramp up in the next few years. Wal­mart and Ama­zon are al­ready onto it. In fact, the United States now has more than 150 meal kit com­pa­nies across 50 states.

While com­ment­ing on the trend, Syl­vain Charlebois, who is dean of the Fac­ulty of Man­age­ment and a pro­fes­sor in the Fac­ulty of Agri­cul­ture at Dal­housie Univer­sity, does note that meal kits still don’t re­solve one ageold is­sue — you still have to clean your dishes af­ter you’re done. Tech­nol­ogy hasn’t solved this prob­lem yet, but surely some­one will come up with some means soon.

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