What It Is: I’m sure you’ve probably seen the ads popping up for Canadian dinner subscription services like today’s featured brand, Chef’s Plate, but in case you haven’t, here’s a quick overview of the concept. You sign up for a subscription with a certain number of meals per week. With Chef’s Plate, they offer up seven meals per week, three of which are vegetarian (something I sincerely appreciated that’s lacking from other dinner subscription services). You peruse the recipes and choose which ones you want, and meal kits with everything you need are shipped right to your doorstep in a refrigerated box, along with recipe cards to follow. Pretty simple right? I’m sure you’re wondering, what is a Canadian dinner subscription service actually like? I’m here to tell you!
I recently got to sample two meals from Chef’s Plate. After much hemming and hawing (seriously, they all looked so good), I chose a Salmon and Caesar Salad recipe and a Saffron-Infused Couscous Stuffed Red Pepper recipe. The Chef’s Plate box arrived as promised on a Wednesday (it arrives earlier in the week depending on where you live in Canada), and contained two paper grocery bags full of ingredients, plus two detailed, glossy recipe cards with nutritional info and ingredients on one side and step-by-step instructions (with photos!) on the other. I put everything into the fridge right away, although realistically you could open the bags and take the non-perishable stuff like spices out.
That night, I made the Salmon and Caesar Salad recipe as the instructions advised you make your fish dishes as early as possible upon receiving the box. I opened the grocery bag and everything was neatly packaged and organized, as you can see above. That being said, I felt kind of anxious about how much packaging there was. But if you check out this FAQ on their site, apparently most of their packaging is recyclable or it can be used again (I wish now I’d kept a little bottle that was housing my Worcestershire sauce for future salad dressing toting!)
As for the recipe? I loved the step-by-step instructions. I’m a good cook, but like any cook, the most stressful part of it is bringing things together – I tend to produce a mean entree, but my sides are always lacking. With Chef’s Plate, they make it really easy for you to do things in a logical order so everything comes together at the right time and you never feel overwhelmed. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s faster than cooking a normal meal from scratch, as it still took me 30-40 minutes each time, but having everything pre-portioned and organized did make things run more smoothly.
For my second creation, I made the Saffron-Infused Couscous Stuffed Peppers, which was an explosion of flavour! It was ranked as a ‘medium’ recipe, probably because it involves three different elements and a little more work, but all in all it was still a breeze to pull together and the finished product honestly looked and tasted restaurant quality – I’d say the same of the salmon! I also love that Chef’s Plate works with local producers, and selects meat that’s raised free from hormones and fish in partnership with Ocean Wise. It’s a meal you can feel good about preparing and eating.
Would I sign up for a Chef’s Plate subscription? Absolutely. While it may not be something I indulge in weekly, I absolutely loved the experience and have nothing but positive things to say about it. I liked how effortless it was, the fact I didn’t have to splurge on large-sized ingredients to make creative new meals, and of course, the tasty end results.
Who It’s For: When it comes to gifting, you can buy gift cards that your lucky recipient and spend on their plans. I love this as a gift idea for a family welcoming a new baby – there’s something to be said for on-demand meal planning that doesn’t require you to battle through the grocery store. I also like it as a gift for someone that’s just moving out on their own and learning to cook, empty nesters, newlyweds, busy parents during school season, locavores, or even for a loved one that just deserves a break from meal planning and a good dinner to look forward to.
What It Costs: So is a Chef’s Plate dinner subscription service worth it? I’d say yes. It costs a little more than just buying the ingredients yourself, but the curation of picture perfect, easy recipes with well-organized ingredients made this so effortless. Plus, I liked the fact you don’t have to buy ingredients you might not normally have around the house – the saffron and mini-dates in my couscous dish for example, would have set me back a lot. The more you sign up for the service, the cheaper it is – you can choose from meal plans for two or for a family of four, with frequency of two, three, or four meals per week. The serving cost is $10.95 for the two-person plan and $9.75 for the four-person one. I’d suggest opting for the three-meal plan to save on shipping if you’re going for the two-person plan.
Where It’s At: Curious to try it for yourself? I’ve got a special code you can use to try out three plates for FREE! That means if you ordered a two-meal plan for a week, you’d only be paying for one portion. Just enter the code #CANADIANGIFTGUIDE in the #SocialReferralTag section at checkout when setting up your account and you’ll score some amazing free meals to try out. Sign up for Chef’s Plate here.