Canadians love food, but like cooking a lot less. In a 2017 study done by Dalhousie University in Halifax, 42 percent of respondents said that they don’t have time to cook. That same number said that they bought ready-to-eat meals, or ate at a restaurant once or twice a week.
While that’s good news for some, dietitians are concerned that convenience foods have too little nutrition and too much fat, salt and empty calories.
Against that backdrop, it’s not surprising that there has been a surge in the number of meal services available. Pretty much any large to medium city has a range of companies that offer them. For the don’t-like-to-cook set, meal kits and ready-to-heat-and-eat meals are a good option, especially for single or widowed people who find buying groceries for one expensive and often wasteful.
About 30 percent of caregivers said that their responsibilities were
somewhat or very stressful,
according to Statistics Canada.
For caregivers, these meal delivery services are a blessing. Statistics Canada found that eight million Canadians provide care to a chronically ill or disabled loved one. And about 30 percent said that their caregiving responsibilities were somewhat or very stressful. Another 19 percent said that their physical and emotional health has suffered in the past 12 months as a result of their duties.
Is it time to consider a meal service? “This is a perfect answer for those who cannot easily prepare their own meals and need a filling, nutritious meal,” says Rose Reisman, a mother of four, a registered nutritional consultant, creator of Rose Reisman’s Personal Gourmet. “Caregivers also don’t have time to cook, often resulting in poor eating habits.”
She launched her company after realizing that many people either don’t have the time to shop, chop and cook for their family and just don’t enjoy spending time cooking. “They also know that packaged, processed fast food meals are unhealthy and that restaurants also don’t have their health in mind,” Reisman points out. “What could be better than a delicious and healthy homemade meal with a salad to start, main entrée, vegetables, grains and dessert to complete?”
To suit the nutritional needs of older Canadians, she suggests healthy and hearty family favourites such as shepherd’s pie with lean ground beef, vegetables and mashed potatoes, homemade juicy beef burgers with aged cheddar, caramelized onions, smashed mini potatoes and grilled asparagus; and roasted salmon stuffed with pesto ricotta served with Israeli couscous, leeks, sautéed corn and red pepper.
Various meal plans address nutritional needs like Balance for weight loss or weight maintenance; the Zone (higher protein, lower carbs); gluten free for those with wheat sensitivities and celiac disease; a juice cleanse plan. Or if you’ve got grandkids coming for the weekend, one of the à la carte boxes (from $100) will do the trick, stocked with frozen meals ready to heat-and-serve like family-sized chicken parmigiana, three-cheese lasagna and even dessert.
While Rose Reisman Personal Gourmet serves the GTA, from Oakville to Pickering, there are other companies across Canada. In Vancouver, chef Gary Hovey has launched Ready Maid Mealsand Calgary has services like Lean On Meals. Before you buy, make sure you know what you’re getting. Some companies offer meal kits, which gives you all the ingredients you need to make a meal, but you’ll be the one cooking them with guidance from the written instructions. Ready-to-serve meals mean you just need to heat them up. No chopping required.