Grocery stores are scary places right now. As COVID infection rates spike, the odds of encountering the virus increase. While most are masking up and braving their local supermarket, others have chosen to opt for a daily meal subscription box.
From Hello Fresh to Chef’s Plate, these firms aren’t just supplying remote meals – they’re stimulating kitchen creativity. In this post, we’ll explore why the pandemic is increasing the popularity of meal kits. We’ll also do a deep dive into Calgary’s meal kit providers.
It’s Ugly Out There
Right from the get-go, Calgary suffered a disproportionate number of COVID cases. Thanks to several super-spreader events, more than 70 per cent of Alberta’s first-wave infections were in Calgary Zone.
Fast forward to the present. The second wave is here, and things are even worse. Now, to be fair, our friends in Edmonton have had a bigger outbreak, but life is no picnic in Cowtown. With over 4,000 active infections, doing “ordinary” things (like going to the grocery store) comes with serious risks.
Rather than potentially exposing themselves to COVID, some people are opting for food boxes. Even with mandatory masking in effect, the risk posed by anti-maskers or improper mask-wearing has made this shift worthwhile.
What are Food Boxes?
So, what are food boxes? In short, they are kits that contain everything needed to make a fantastic meal. Generally, they include raw ingredients and a recipe card. This model is the one followed by industry-leading players like Hello Fresh (more on them later).
Beleaguered by pandemic restrictions, local restaurants have also waded into the food box waters. Businesses such as Chef Local, Market, and Jane Bond BBQ are offering not just food boxes but experiences as well. In addition to meal kits, they come with extras like video tutorials and suggested music playlists.
And your schedule doesn’t allow for food prep? Other local providers can ship pre-made meals to your front door. For instance, Made offers everything from breakfast wraps to entrees like Peruvian Roast Beef.
In all the above instances, these options save Calgarians from the risk of grocery shopping in these COVID times.
Who are the Major Meal Kit Companies in Calgary?
Before the pandemic, food box providers were growing steadily. Because of this, several global and local companies do brisk business here. Below, we’ll talk about the top providers of meal kits in Calgary.
Of all the companies in this list, Hello Fresh is the biggest by far. In 2019, they took in 1.8 billion Euro. As a dominant market player, they’re able to compete on price – for some meals, you’ll only pay $9.69. With five million active customers, they’re doing something right. If you are undecided, Hello Fresh is a fine choice.
As incredible as Hello Fresh is, they are a foreign concern based in Berlin, Germany. On the other hand, Goodfood is Canadian-born and run. A half-decade ago, they began shipping their first meals from their base in Montreal. Today, they send out over one million food boxes every single month.
Want to support a meal kit business a little closer to home? As mentioned earlier, Made operates right here in Calgary. Since 2015, they’ve been cooking and assembling pre-made meals for busy Calgarians. They focus on crafting healthy meals using locally-sourced ingredients. With vegan and gluten-free options, they are also accessible to customers with specific dietary needs.
Rooted Meal Prep
For vegetarians and vegans, most mainstream food box services lack diverse options. Here in Calgary, Rooted Meal Prep has started to address this problem. Every meal option on this site is plant-based. Like Made, Rooted also gets its ingredients from local providers. Thanks to this arrangement, most of their items are certified organic.
Athletes and those committed to healthy lifestyles know the power of eating good food. Now, mainstream providers offer delicious options. However, they often contain far too many calories, not enough protein/nutrients, and so forth.
At Fit Kitchen, dietitians approve every meal, and they come with clearly-labelled macros. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or power your performance, this Calgary-based company can help you reach your goals.
How Do Meal Kits Work?
So, you’re ready to give food boxes a try – but how do they work? Start by creating an account on the site of your choice. Once you’ve done this, skim the menu for that week. Once you find meals that resonate with you, select them and head to checkout.
Most meal kit companies use a subscription model. That means you only need to input your payment details once. If you want to skip a week, you can pause deliveries for that period. When you receive your box, you’ll get ingredients, as well as instructions on how to prepare your meals.
At this point, you just cook and enjoy. If ordering from a pre-made meal service, you only need to re-heat your food.
Will Food Boxes Survive Post-Pandemic?
COVID has changed our lives. So thoroughly, in fact, it can be hard to imagine things ever getting better. But they will – as we speak, vaccines are here and are getting in arms. So the next question becomes – are food boxes truly here to stay?
When COVID is over, some people will go back to the grocery stores. They’ll go back to eating out. Of this, there is no doubt. But this past year has shown others a side of themselves that they didn’t know existed.
Some people will go “back to normal,” but others will continue cooking at home. Once they compare the food at their local supermarket with the quality ingredients they’ve been getting, they stick with food boxes. Others will appreciate the time that food boxes save and will rely upon them more.
After COVID, we’re confident meal kits/food boxes will remain a thing.