Is Chefs Plate the answer to the quest for an attainable family dinner?
It’s a typical scenario for many American families. Busy parents are rushing home after work only to come home with tired and hungry kids demanding their dinner. They would love to whip up something that is healthy and tasty for their family but find they have no time to shop, prepare and cook a healthy meal. Instead, they are often reaching for a processed item that is easy to cook, or calling their local pizza place.
Life for today’s American family is typically widely different than even one generation ago. The number of two-parent households is on the decline and the number of female breadwinners is on the rise. With today’s model of the family constantly evolving with the times, the way we are eating is changing too.
Instead of staying home with the kids, many households have dual incomes with both parents working at least part-time. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 are working in the U.S. and 75 percent of those mothers are working full-time.
New Attitudes Toward Food
While food should be seen as a means to maintain good health and support healthy growth in growing children, somewhere along the way it has become more about the taste of our food rather than the nutrition it holds. According to a 2018 survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), the core drivers for Americans to purchase a food item are taste, price, and familiarity.
The Problem with the American Diet
This is a problem since about 75 percent of the population is eating a diet that is deficient is fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. While they are not getting enough in these key food groups, they are consuming too many processed foods with added sugar and fats.
From these statistics, we know that Americans are busy and eating an unbalanced diet. It is from this very problem that the idea of meal delivery services such as Chefs Plate were born.
In fact, the meal-kit business has been projected to grow to $10 Billion U.S. annually by 2020.
Does your diet need a boost? Check out these 10 whole foods to add to your diet!
What is Chefs Plate?
Chefs Plate is a meal delivery service where farm-fresh ingredients are delivered to your door once a week. The service includes your choice of four meal plans: classic, family, 15-minute and vegetarian. No matter which plan you choose, you will receive meals that are designed by a culinary team and change weekly. You can choose as few as two meals a week and as many as four meals a week.
What Should I Expect?
Like many other meal delivery services, Chefs Plate will offer you a good deal to try out their service. Right now their website is offering three free meals in your first box when you sign up.
Once you sign up for a subscription, your discount will be automatically applied. Often subscribers will get referral codes that will also benefit them if you use them. It’s a great way to try the service for less and then everyone will win!
Four Different Meal Plans
Once you sign up for Chefs Plate, you will get a chance to choose what type of meal plan you want: classic, family, 15-minute or vegetarian. Often the recipes can overlap from plan to plan and you can substitute recipes if you see ingredients you don’t like.
Along with choosing your meal plan, you can also pick when you want your meals to arrive. Many people who work Monday to Friday may choose their delivery to occur at the beginning of the week. Others may need a delivery to come on Friday if they are counting on the service to help their family while one parent works on the weekend.
There are seven recipes to choose from each week, with at least one gluten-free option. All of the recipes are rated either easy, medium or hard depended on how seasoned of a chef you are.
Once you have chosen all your options there is nothing left to do but wait for your first delivery!
Your First Delivery
Your meals come conveniently packaged in a double lidded and insulated box. All the seasonal ingredients are sourced from local Canadian farms so they are fresher than the imported produce at the grocery store.
Each meal is packaged separately in a brown paper bag with a window to peek in at your dinner-in-waiting. The bags also offer a comprehensive nutrition label which is perfect for those wanting to track their calories and nutrition.
The package also includes a recipe card with easy step by step instructions. You can keep the recipe cards to recreate your favorite meals over and over again. Meals are available in classic, vegetarian and family style and recipes can be switched out for fussy eaters.
Simple Step-by-Step Recipes
Each box will include simple step-by-step instructions to create your recipes. Don’t worry when you see the amount of packaging included in your delivery.
All of the packaging is 100 percent recyclable. Even the ice packs can be recycled once the non-toxic gel has been disposed of.
Prep is Still a Necessary Step
Just because you are ordered a meal box doesn’t mean that you will not have to spend time in the kitchen. While services like Chefs Plate remove the steps of shopping and meal planning, you are still responsible for all the prep work and cooking your meals.
Produce needs to be chopped and meat or seafood will need to be cooked. While there are 15-minute menu options available, many reviewers comment that they spent considerably longer in the kitchen. The cost of the service may be comparable to ordering prepared food, but you are still expected to put in the work. Worst of all, you are still left with a clean-up.
History of Chefs Plate
Chefs Plate was founded by Patrick Meyer and Jamie Shea and is the self-proclaimed #1 meal delivery service in Canada. In 2018 the company was projected to reach $50 million in sales and was acquired by Germany’s HelloFresh in October of that year. Chefs Plate does not currently deliver to the U.S. but is constantly expanding and may soon include delivery in your local area.
Commitment to Sustainability
One way that Chefs Plate tries to set themselves apart in the crowd of the meal delivery business is their commitment to sustainability. Chefs Plate has worked hard to create relationships with local farmers and develop seasonal menus. This partnership results in meals using extremely fresh ingredients that are locally sourced.
They also partner with farmers for their protein sources so that they are only using animals that are responsibly farmed and raised without any added hormones.
They are also working hard to reduce food waste in Canada. Currently, Canadians waste $31 billion dollars worth of food annually with 40 percent of all produced food becoming waste. Chefs Plate only delivers what is needed for the meal in an attempt to reduce waste. They have been able to get their waste down to one percent. That one percent is donated to community partners such as Second Harvest, and Abbotsford Food Bank.
How Does Chefs Plate Compare?
|Chefs Plate||Cook It||Good Food||Miss Fresh||HelloFresh|
|Delivery Zones||Across Canada||Quebec and Ontario||Across Canada||Across Canada||Across Canada|
|Offers ready to eat meals||????||????||????||????||????|
|Offers add-on Products||????||????||????||????||????|
|How much for three meals for two?||$66||$67||$65||$66||$80|
|How much for three meals for four?||$117||$116||$115||$120||$140|
|How much for three meals for six?||N/A||$159||N/A||$171||N/A|
|Subscription without commitment?||????||????||????||????||????|
|Can you change the number of recipes anytime?||????||????||????||????||????|
|Can you change the number of portions per week anytime?||????||????||????||????||????|
|New menu each week?||????||????||????||????||????|
|Smallest box (recipes)||2||1||2||2||2|
|Largest box (recipes)||4||7||4||5||4|
|Number of recipes offered per week (regular subscription)||7||14||10||13||5|
|100 percent meat without added hormones||????||????||????||????||????|
Courtesy of Comparemealkit.ca
Chefs Plate Review: Is it Really Worth it?
Chefs Plate seems to have a good commitment to sourcing seasonal produce, meat and fish from local producers. They offer a variety of meal options including vegetarian, family and 15-minute options.
Chefs Plate is also committed to reducing food waste. They offer packaging that is recyclable. Even their chilled gel packs can be recycled once the liquid is discarded. Chefs Plate also donates their excess ingredients to local community partners.
Easy to Use
They offer healthy meal options and large easy to follow recipe cards. It is a good opportunity for those who want to branch out from their everyday boring meals and explore new healthy seasonal options that they can recreate again and again.
Good Customer Service
They allow their customers to choose when their deliveries will arrive and online reviews speak to wonderful customer service. Any issues are often quickly resolved and the customers are given refunds and or free meals.
All meals go through a rigorous testing process so they are likely to tempt your tastebuds.
The decision to try out Chefs Plate does not Customers do not have to worry about signing a contract for the service as you can order without commitment and pause or cancel your subscription at any time.
Last, but not least, they also employ 350 Canadians coast to coast.
While meal delivery services may seem like an ideal option for busy families, Chefs Plate may not be able to serve this market. The largest portion they offer is for four people. While families are tending to run smaller, this option does not leave room for guests, larger children or larger appetites.
Unlike its counterparts, Chefs Plate does not allow for changes to portion or recipe amounts on the fly to account for an impromptu dinner party or an increased or decreased need.
While you are able to pause your subscription at any time, you are not able to make these changes on the fly.
Chefs Plate prides itself on having a very low margin of food waste (1%) and only sends the ingredients needed to create your recipe. It also does not leave room for leftovers.
Lose the Leftovers and Extra Portions
While this may not seem like a huge deal, it can make a difference in your food and time budget. Committing to cooking a Chefs Plate meal can take anywhere from 15 to 30 plus minutes. In traditional cooking, adding in a few extra portions usually only costs a marginal amount of additional work and can create a whole new meal. For example, extra portions can be used as a hot lunch the next day or even frozen and reheated for a ready to go meal later on in the week.
Check out these easy leftover chicken recipes perfect for busy families!
Does a Seasonal Menu Work for Kids?
Families may find it challenging to use this type of service because of the seasonal nature to the ingredients. Food intake surveys show that a dislike in vegetables starts early in children (with 50 percent of 19-24 month olds are labeled as picky eaters) and is widespread.
Studies show that toddlers need to be exposed to a new food five to 10 times before they like it and three or four year-olds may need to try them 15 times.
With a focus on fresh seasonal vegetables, children are constantly being exposed to new items and may not ever ‘like it’.
Meal delivery services are not cheap. With portion costs around $10 a plate, using Chefs Plate is comparable to take out but without the convenience factor. You are still responsible for the prep, cooking and cleaning with this service. You are paying for the convenience to have someone else source and meal plan for you. This is a great service, but it certainly isn’t frugal.
These types of services also do not eliminate the need to visit the grocery store or meal plan. The largest plan offers four recipes a week. That will cover roughly half of your dinners, no lunches (zero waste means zero leftovers) and no breakfasts.
Your cost of this service will be on top of a regular grocery shop. You are also still in charge of meal planning the majority of your meals.
Producing Sub-Par Produce
While you have the opportunity to choose the meals you wish to receive from a set menu, you are not choosing your ingredients. Some people may be fussy about the freshness or appearance of their produce. While Chefs Plate sources locally grown produce to offer the freshest fruits and veggies available, not all are happy.
Some reviews online stated that they received less than fresh ingredients or worse yet, no ingredients at all.
While many reported that customer service was very good in most cases, a simple shipping error could have you running to the grocery store for missing ingredients.
Meal delivery businesses are a great choice for a specific type of consumer. Those who want to try new recipes, get responsible and sustainable ingredients and easy to follow recipes may love this business model. Those who wish to save money, feed a large family or are fussy eaters are likely to find this too expensive and too rigid.
When it comes to making dinner easier having easy meal options is a bonus for families. Ready to eat meals or simple recipes are a great help, but paying a premium for seasonal ingredients is not always on the menu. We love the idea of sourcing fresh local produce, but the idea to fight new vegetables down our kids’ throats each meal may be too much for the average family to take on.
Chefs Plate Worth it for Foodies
For example, it might be easier taking a look at our guide to finding recipes for the ingredients you already have. After all, you probably already have the handful of ingredients your kids will willingly eat on hand.
Therefore, while it may not be the ideal choice for large families looking for easy meal options during the week, it can work for some. Meal delivery businesses are a popular choice for those who need a little help in the kitchen. They may want to get the confidence to take on new ingredients or try out new recipes. While meal planning is too much stress for them to take on at this moment, having some no brainer meal options during the week are worth the extra cost.
Finally, it may be a great gift for a young adult just starting to learn their way around the kitchen or a foodie who wants to be pushed out of their comfort zone but budget-conscious families may not see a benefit here. Why not check out our five (really) cheap dinners that are good for your budget and health?