Food & Drink

Let someone else do the meal planning: Toronto caterers doing ready-to-heat home delivery

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A breakdown of Toronto-based grocery delivery services

Cooking used to be fun. Now, after almost a year of being in lockdown, we’re kind of over it. We’re tired of shopping, meal planning and prepping, and don’t even get us started on the dishes. Here are 14 services—divided between healthful and calorie irreverent—that are offering prepped meals delivered to your door, so you can put dinner (and maybe lunch and breakfast, too) on autopilot.

Healthful prepped meals

Culinary school taught Amanda Chigumira how to butcher a whole hog and how to make a mind-blowing risotto. What it didn’t teach her was anything about nutrition. After graduating, Chigumira realized she’d become unhealthy. “Trying everything you make during culinary school adds up.” Taking off the weight sparked a fascination with food sciences that sent Chigumira back to school for nutrition. Her company, FitChef, specializes in vitamin- and mineral-packed foods that taste good and are good for you. She offers four meal types—balanced, low carb, keto and vegan—but works with her clients to design a meal plan that’s best for them. Need more protein? No problem. Larger portions? This Red Seal–certified chef can make that happen. Some of Chigumira’s most popular dishes include her bountiful salads, shawarma bowls, flavourful curries and hearty chilies. Average cost per serving: $15 Delivery cost: Free  

Being a chef is hard on the body. Long hours and bad eating habits were taking their toll on chefs Paola Solorzano (Reposado, Santo Pecado) and Adriana Pelayo-Rubio (Santo Pecado). So, they decided it was time for a lifestyle overhaul. With Smart Eats, they’re modifying comfort foods to be higher in fiber and lower in sugar. If pulled pork chimichangas and chorizo mac ‘n’ cheese don’t sound like diet foods, that’s the point. The Smart Eats ethos is: eat to be healthy, not thinner. The menu of ready-to-heat meals changes weekly; customers expect classics like Hungarian goulash, roast pork chops with apple chutney and chicken à la king. We love that they reuse their cooler bags and containers. To minimize waste, simply return the cleaned containers with the bag when your next order arrives. Average cost per serving: $11.95 Delivery cost: Free  

Clean eaters that crave flavour: this one’s for you. After selling College Street bar Pray Tell, chefs Cindy Fung and Neil Villasenor have been applying Japanese-Nordic culinary magic to meal prep. Instead of choosing from a preset menu, each week brings a new collection of dishes built around different lifestyles: omnivore, plant-based, keto, pescatarian and gluten-free. “This allows our chefs the creative freedom to adjust plans to our client’s likings,” says Fung, whose service offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. When placing your order online, customers can also tack on healthful additions like supplements, coconut water and hemp-infused seltzer, as well as some not-so-healthy treats, like a fully loaded charcuterie board. Average cost per serving: $13 Delivery cost: Free pickup; $15 delivery fee within the GTA  

Holistic nutritionist Rachel Bies has cooked for celebs and olympic athletes. But the whole-foods advocate offers flexible meal plans that fit a variety of lifestyles, from busy new moms who want to lose a bit of baby weight to movie stars eager to fit into their red-carpet-worthy outfits. Whether you’re celiac, vegan, pescetarian, keto, dedicated to organic-only, or maybe you simply just want to shed a few pounds, Bies will design a food program to fit your dietary needs and budget. Average cost per serving: $8-$22 Delivery cost: Free within a 5 km radius from the west end; delivery fees apply to addresses outside of that radius  

For those tired of counting calories, this three-squares-a-day plan delivers vac-packed meals (plus snacks) that are ready to be scarfed after a quick spin in the microwave. The food doesn’t taste low cal—expect gingery basa filets with quinoa; cheesy lasagna; salmon with edamame-studded brown rice; and chicken stroganoff on buckwheat—but the pint-sized portions promise to keep you on track. Average cost per serving: $9 Delivery cost: Free  


This plant-based meal delivery service caters to veg-heads and those with health-related dietary constraints. If you check the wee box on the order form, they’ll remove tofu, nuts, nightshades, goitrogens or cut down on sodium-high foods. Zarla Jane designs her menus around the seasons. In the colder months, clients can expect hearty stews, soups and gumbos made with root veggies and leafy greens. Once the ground thaws, the menu begins to incorporate more raw ingredients in dishes such as mint-lentil tabbouleh and colourful, protein-packed salads. The most requested meals—Korean bibimbap, Malaysian mung bean stew and cauliflower alfredo pasta—are year-round staples. Average cost per serving: $15.50 Delivery cost: $10  

Indulgent prepped meals

Yumba is for people who live to eat but don’t have time to cook. According to founder Will Bowcott, his meal delivery service puts taste above all else. “Do some of our dishes have a few extra calories? Hell yeah! Are there also options for people looking to eat on the lighter side? Of course.” Although there are always a few decadent dishes on offer, the changing weekly menu offers a balance of healthful plates (Cantonese-style haddock with brown rice and bok choy) and indulgent ones (pulled pork mac ‘n’ cheese). Every month, Yumba brings on a different guest chef to create a few specials. Recently, Baro’s Steve Gonzalez created one light option (chicken fajitas) and a not-so-light one (gnocchi in gorgonzola cream). Average cost per serving: $8 Delivery cost: Free  

Since March, upscale caterer Lauren Mozer has been offering fancy ready-made meals for people pining for the five-star dinners of yore. Clients can put together a customizable family-sized meal by choosing a protein (blackened flank steak, grilled chimichurri chicken breast, citrus-roasted salmon) and a few sides such as black garlic Brussels sprouts, baked lobster mac ‘n’ cheese (yes that’s a side) or harissa-maple roasted carrots. For those nights where you don’t want to think, they also have easy one-pan options. These include savoury galettes, beef-and-lamb shepherd’s pie and beef bourguignon. Best of all, for a bit extra, Elle Cuisine will also provides wine pairings. Average cost per serving: Varies Delivery cost: $15-$25 within the GTA; free for orders over $300  

In the before times, Matt Dunbar and Michael Abbott were busy catering glitzy work affairs for BMW, Jaguar, Microsoft and Spotify. Now, with gatherings verboten, they’re bringing their high-end food (four-hour braised beef bourguignon, almond-and-apricot strewn lamb tagine, truffle bolognese) to your home. The family-sized meals, which feed two to four people, arrive frozen and ready to be heated. Average cost per serving: $10 Delivery cost: Minimum order is $50 (two items) with $15 delivery, and delivery is free on orders over $120; free curb-side pickup.  

Stock your freezer with heat-and-serve food from some of the city’s best restaurants, including Il Covo, Avelo, Lai Wah Heen, Tabule, Pukka, The Carbon Bar and Kingyo Izakaya. The website lets you shop by culinary region (Filipino, Chinese, Caribbean, Thai, Mexican, Korean, Italian, etc.) or by restaurant. Average cost per meal: Varies Delivery cost: Free  


When this St. Lawrence restaurant lost the office lunch crowd, they lost the lion’s share of their business. Now, Farm’r is angling to cater to the WFH set with their no-fuss, ready-made meals, which include butter chicken and Moroccan lamb stew. Although it takes only minutes to heat up the prepared meals, chef Jason Sheardown (Chase Hospitality, Kupfert and Kim, Food Dudes) labours over these small-batch dishes. His brisket stew, for instance, simmers for five hours, yielding tender morsels of braised beef. For those with dietary proclivities, they also carry low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options. Average cost per serving: $6 Delivery cost: Free  

After 15 years as a hotel bartender, Christopher Daisley left the bar and moved into the kitchen. He always loved cooking, but working at restaurants allowed him to hone his craft. When Covid kiboshed Daisley’s catering gigs, he started making food for friends and family overwhelmed by the new work-from-home reality. Now, Birdhouse Foods is delivering upwards of 200 meals a week. The colourful, flavour-forward menu changes each week with delivery on Mondays. The half-dozen different bowls on offer could include bibimbap, coconut Thai curry, hoisin pork salad, carne asada or tandoori chicken. Average cost per serving: $12 Delivery cost: Free with a minimum $50 order; only available in the west end  

To serve the house-bound world, Chefs Catering—a 46-year-old, family-run outfit—launched Mr. Good Meats. Their ready-made meals range from family-sized favourites (meat lasagna, pot pies, jerk chicken, chicken souvlaki) to date-night feasts (filet mignon in a cognac-mushroom sauce with whipped potatoes). For each of the ready-to-heat meals that’s sold, Mr. Good Meats donates 10 meals to Red Door Family Shelter. Note: Should you find the energy to cook, you can also add groceries to your order. Average cost per serving: $14 Delivery cost: $5  

Looking for a socially distanced French affair to spice up lockdown? Look no further than this specialty grocer, which brought a taste of Provence to Oakville when they opened in 2017. The menu of oven-ready foods includes Toulouse sausage casserole, coq au vin, sweet-and-savoury crepes, quiche, and fresh pasta. Average cost per serving: $12 Delivery cost: Delivery is free for orders over $200, $10 for orders between $100-200 and $15 for orders below $100


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