Review: Fresh Canteen

Let’s say you like cooking, but hate shopping. Short on time? Can’t always buy fresh? Never know what to get? All are problems that bedevil the modern man. Meals to order usually taste like airplane food. Takeout gets pricey—and does a number on your waistline. Besides, you like cooking, remember? But you like convenience too. So what’s a busy guy to do?

Well, consider signing up for Fresh Canteen, which I recently tried (currently available in Toronto, aiming for Ontario-wide delivery soon). Here’s how it works: You get an account, you select what recipes you’d like, and they send you the fresh food with a recipe card. They send the food, you do the cooking. Best of both words.

Here are the details: it’s $12.50 per single meal. You can order multiple meals for multiple people. You get your ordering done by the end of Friday and receive your box on Tuesday. They send you email updates alerting you to deadlines and incoming boxes. Boxes are lined with insulation and contain freezer gel packs, so your delivery can sit at the door for a few hours. The box contains an easy to follow recipe card, along with nearly all the ingredients you need.

Why nearly all? Because, as a guy who likes to cook, you already have vegetable oil and butter. In fact, when you look at individual recipes on their site, it shows you what they send and what you’ll need, both in terms of ingredients, pots, and other kitchen accoutrements. It also shows you approximate cooking time, nutritional information, relative ease, and the directions—which, again, you get with your box. Recipes change weekly.

I tested the service out with some creamy scallop risotto with cauliflower, which I’d link, but they’ve changed recipes already. I chose this for two reasons: though I love risotto, I’ve never made it before, and I wanted to see the quality of the scallops I’d get.

The box sat on my porch for a couple hours before I got home, and not only was it still cold upon opening, but the scallops were frozen. Directions are clear, and more importantly, contain pictures. Speaking of pictures, I took a bunch to document the process so you can see for yourself.

Bottom line: it’s easy, it’s healthy, and if you can do with skipping the grocery store, it’s ideal. Order as much or as little as you need—personally, I think it’s a pretty good solution for the midweek meal hump, when I can’t get down to the market very frequently. It also cuts down on the hassle of meal planning and shopping, but keeps love of cooking intact. I learned something new and had a great meal in the process—all in all, a pretty good day.

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