The coupon codes were everywhere. In my Facebook feed. Little coloured slips of advertising in my regular correspondence. Tempting ads in my Google finds.
Another meal subscription service that promised to make my life more convenient while allowing me to enjoy better home-cooked meals.
I ignored the message. I kept on browsing. Threw the coupon codes away.
I wasn’t interested.
Why? Well my bias is that subscriptions and food prep services are nice ideas but not cost effective. A luxury that the money savvy family can’t afford.
I’m not really sure what prompted me to try my first Goodfood basket.
Maybe it was the crescendo of coupon codes dancing on my screen around Mother’s Day. Or perhaps the growing idea that the trial itself would be a decent one-time-only buy for my tightening grocery budget.
I took a code and logged in to Goodfood for the first time.
Then came decisions. How many meals did I want? Did I want delivery on Wednesday or Friday? What kitchen tools did I have? What foods did I want to eliminate or include?
That was kinda fun.
I chose three meals for a family of four. I had a food processor. No, I didn’t want seafood or vegetarian options.
I added my credit card and delivery info and took a breath when I finalized the sale. I’d have to make note of the cancellation date to make sure we weren’t charged for another order.
Then came the wait. Now that I’d made my decision I was disappointed that it wasn’t going to arrive the very next day. We spent a week eating up the contents of our fridge, freezer and pantry.
PC Express Grocery Pickup Service
In the meantime, PC Optimum sent me an email with the best grocery pickup offer I’d seen to date. 10,000 Points ($10) and two months free pickup.
Fresh off the high of my Goodfood signup I was like “whatevs” so I gave it a whirl. Why not?
Grocery pickup services are an idea I’ve always dreamed of but upon exploration, had proved frustratingly flawed.
I had perused three websites: Wal-Mart, Costco and Zehrs only to close out my shopping lists without placing an order.
Why? The websites didn’t carry the products I knew the stores had on their shelves.
If I had 10 items on my list and I had to park my car to go in for even one of them…the deal was off.
Okay, that and I like to see and handle my produce.
I’m that awkward shopper who taps and listens to gauge the ripeness of my watermelons. I tug on pineapple leaves and squeeze avocados. My banana selection is a discriminatory dance between green and yellow with specifications for size and feel.
I’m that person.
No store employee was going to know when to say yes or when to walk away like I do. No way I was going to let someone else pick out my precious produce.
You guessed it. I have food control issues.
So I balked at grocery pickup even though I longingly coveted one of those premium parking spots and the idea of someone sparing me the trek into the grocery store.
The very first step was to choose a store and pickup time. The store was easy…I picked the Zehrs closest to me but timing was harder to commit to than expected because I keep a very fluid schedule.
It took me a while to navigate the PC Express website and the creepy, yet helpful “You Always Buy” and “You Sometimes Buy” suggestions guided me in selecting most of my desired items to supplement our Goodfood meals. I used the search bar to type in the rest.
Once my list was complete there was room to decide if I was cool with substitutions. I could decide this on a per product basis. There was also room to make notes for my personal shopper.
You bettcha I utilized this note option. You can substitute organic if needed or visa versa. It has to be this or that. All my produce regulations…
As I finalized my cart I recognized that I was paying more for my groceries than if I drove across town and price matched at our local Real Canadian Superstore.
Oh well. Price of convenience. I’m saving on gas and time right?
I also ran into the issue of having a few items leftover that would necessitate an actual store visit. I decided I would wait a few days for those items and go to a different store for them anyways.
Credit card and coupon code entered. We did it!
A few hours later, I was parked in one of those premium parking places dialing the phone number on the instruction board in front of me.
Moments later, my grocery order was carted out. What do I do? Do I jump out and help or am I supposed to sit idly in my drivers seat?
I popped the trunk and started to get out. My personal shopper was already at my door with a chilled bottle of water. Nice. It was hot out and I had taken a few moments before I left the house to fill my own bottle. It was a nice gesture though.
I had opted to use my own grocery bags so I helped my personal shopper fill them. (I knew her name at the time but since then it went to the black hole in my mind where most of my new name acquaintances disappear)
Let’s call her Margaret.
Margaret was friendly and I told her that this was my first time using this pickup service and why.
She reassured me that all my items had been in stock and that even if people select “do not substitute” she always picks alternatives just in case so they don’t have to leave empty-handed.
I was surprised to learn that I could use the note section during online checkout to list any grocery items I hadn’t found on the website and if they stocked them…they would add them to my order.
Cha-Ching! That was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.
After our brief, pleasant exchange I was driving to my next errand destination feeling enlightened and ultra modern.
I could definitely get used to this. Why had it taken me so long to try grocery pickup???
I was going to make good use of the remaining weeks of free pickups and might even opt for non-peak hours pickups after that.
Our Goodfood confirmation email had instructed us that our order would be dropped off on Friday as late as 8pm but that we didn’t need to worry about being home. The order was packed with ice packs that would keep it cool for hours until we arrived home and put it away.
Friday arrived and we found our Goodfood order on our front porch well before noon. We hadn’t even heard the doorbell!
Shawn carried it in and we unpacked the box. It contained 6 packages of meat and 3 sealed bags of ingredients along with three recipe pages and some instructional paperwork.
It didn’t look like much.
I shop at Costco so those tiny, regular grocery store meat packages made me feel dubious about the four-person feed-ability of the recipes. Never mind the possibility of lunch leftovers.
As I stocked the fridge I noticed that a yogurt cup had opened a little and the yogurt was seeping onto some of the other food ingredients.
Sloppy. Not good. I’d have to make that meal first.
Goodfood Meal Preparation
Later Shawn & I pulled out two packages of chicken thighs and my yogurt-spilled bag of ingredients along with the corresponding recipe card and set to work.
It wasn’t for the faint of heart.
This was an involved meal preparation. There was marinade to mix and smear over chicken, rice to cook, salad and homemade dressing to make and finally chicken to grill.
This was not for people who balk at food preparation.
In the end my kitchen looked suitably trashed but we had a delicious, healthful and visually pleasing meal to enjoy at the end.
BBQ Tandoori Chicken with Garlic Basmati Rice
Green Salad & Creamy Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
I was surprised to note that the three of us ate our fill and still half of the meal ended up in the fridge as leftovers. So a meal for four was actually more than enough for us.
That was when I decided to blog about our experience. All my bias’ were being challenged.
During dinner we discussed the cost of the 3 meals (ignoring the trial discount). It amounted to roughly $40 per meal which is high by home-cooked standards but reasonable by restaurant standards for four diners.
I explained to Shawn that the main benefit of the service was in the menu planning, food inventory-taking, grocery list making, and shopping part of meal making.
The brain-sucking part of food management that if not planned and executed correctly can cause a meal prep failure. The potential maddening and frustrating part of discovering that your store doesn’t have a necessary ingredient which means visiting yet another store.
I have been known to do all these meal planning steps only to arrive home exhausted and opt for pizza delivery instead of embarking on the tedious job of food preparation. It’s as though I have only so much energy allotted for food management a day and it’s either one or the other but never both.
Pizza isn’t cheap either.
Selecting meals from a computer screen, having the ingredients appear on my doorstep in organized bundles that ensure EVERYTHING the recipe needed would be present and accounted for. Well that is golden.
That’s where the convenience ends. The meal prep involved in making the recipe is the real deal.
I did notice after the fact that Goodfood offers an Easy Prep option. I obviously didn’t choose that but I’d recommend it for those who need simpler recipe-making.
Gourmet and Healthy
When I showed Shawn the next recipe I was planning to make, he wrinkled his nose.
My fam is not a fan of the gourmet. Burgers, pizza, hot dogs, lasagna, pancakes…that is what they prefer.
I have an appreciation for healthier fare but remember my daily food energy limitations? I have placed a store-roasted chicken on the table and called it a meal. Salad ingredients left in the fridge for another day that never comes.
Did I just write that for the general public to read?
Sometimes the vegetable just never makes it to the table and because no-one else except me misses it, I let it be.
Not with Goodfood.
In the end, after every counter in my kitchen was filled with meal prep remains and my masterpiece was set on the table I received compliments on the tastiness of this Parmesean panko-crusted chicken breast on a bed of orzo, peas and kale goodness.
Parmesan-Panko Crusted Chicken with Creamy Orzo, Kale & Green Peas
Shawn just expanded his palate and LIKED it!
If you’re not remotely interested in eating healthy you may want to opt for this food subscription service instead:
I would never have picked and made that recipe on my own but now armed with that recipe card, I probably will.
I forgot to mention how Goodfood makes their meals diet-compatible. Each recipe ingredient bag has the nutritional info listed for the recipe.
Also, the onus is on you to provide the oil, butter, salt and pepper to the recipe stages so you have complete control over your fat and sodium content.
I followed their recipe proportions this time around but I would likely reduce the amounts in the future. It was a bit more than I typically use but the taste reflected that. Yummy!
To Goodfood or Not to Goodfood
In the end, I chose NOT to immediately cancel. I noticed there is an option to skip orders so for now I’m going with that.
We are trying to eat out less but we still are willing to pay for premium food for date nights or when having company over.
There may be room in our budget for the occasional Goodfood basket delivery if it means we can eat a restaurant-quality meal at home without the $3 beverages, $8 desserts and 15% tip charges.
Mental Health Connection?
So what does grocery pickup and food delivery service have to do with improving mental health?
Eating well-balanced, home-cooked meals is probably the most important step one can take in improving their nutrition without actually changing what they eat.
Busy Restaurant Frequenters
A lot of people eat far too much restaurant fare because of busy schedule which is hard on their bodies and their pocketbooks.
If you are eating a significant amount of meals outside the home and you have the extra weight and credit card balance to prove it, these services may be a reasonable step in the right direction for you.
So pay the extra $3-$5 to have someone select your groceries and cart them out to your car on your way home from work rather than stop at your fav fast food drive through.
Subscribe to Goodfood and let them bring you ready to assemble meals that you can prep together as a family and enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
For you, the nutritional benefits will be a win.
Stay-at-Home Tight Budgeters
For those of you who have more time than money, these services may be a luxury that can be reserved for those times when you just need a little extra help.
Those times when you and/or your kids are sick and going into a store is not an option.
You have a special celebration coming up but dining out and babysitting is not in the budget but you want a special meal.
There are a lot of scenarios where this makes sense even if it isn’t optimal for everyday living in your home.
You need to evaluate all the facts, your ideals versus your reality and make the choice that is best for you.
Trying New Things
Whatever your final decision it is always fun and mentally stimulating to try new things. Life gets stagnant and boring if we don’t branch out of our norm and mix it up a little.
Enjoy the experience you enlightened, modern one!
Pork Chops with BBQ-Honey Glaze and Sweet Potato Rounds & Strawberry Spinach Salad
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