I'll admit it: I'm a little obsessed with online shopping. Recently I've been scouring the internet for things I don't need, tempted by promises of limited time offers, same-day shipping, and secondhand treasures untold located within a 2 kilometre radius of my couch. I've bought clothes, books, and furniture on the web, not to mention the occasional thrice weekly online order to my neighbourhood sushi place. It's easy to develop unhealthy habits when purchases are so clickable (and your credit card is already on file).
Still rather new in the world of online shopping are meal prep delivery services. Companies like Fresh Prep, Chef's Plate, and HelloFresh promise the convenience of takeout with none of the guilt. Customers plan out their meals for the week from an online menu and have fresh, pre-measured ingredients delivered. After that, it's up to you to whip it up. Most people order these services for dinner, but a few companies are also branching out into breakfast. Goodfood has just released a second breakfast option: artisanal oat bowls are joining smoothies on the breakfast menu.
Even for a cyber-shopping enthusiast like myself, ordering breakfast online seems a little bizarre. I'm happy with cereal and a banana, a dish that I think even the meal-prep pros couldn't streamline further. But in another act of devout journalism, I'm trying a few of Goodfood's artisanal oat bowls this week.
First, a warning: in contrast to the gorgeous pics on Goodfood's website (like the one pictured above), the actual artisanal oat bowls are not particularly insta-worthy. You can't expect the highlight of online oatmeal to be aesthetics—the normal bumps and rolls in the shipping process leave the contents looking a little worse for wear. Regardless, the appearance of a meal doesn't necessarily determine it's worth (I'm looking at you, pierogi poutine).
The ingredients are sealed in round cardboard cups with instructions to cover in a milk of your choice and then pop in the fridge for 8 hours, on the stovetop for 7 minutes, or in the microwave for 90 seconds (for the latter two, transfer to a pot or bowl required). The bowls can also be stored in the freezer for up to two months. And now, the verdict:
Blueberry Pecan Crunch Artisanal Oat Bowl
I can think of quite a few foods who claim to be "blueberry" but are severely lacking in the berry department—this isn't one of them. Despite the ensemble cast of ingredients, blueberries are definitely the star of this show, both flavour- and colour-wise. The pecans, dates, chia, mulberries, and almonds don't stand a chance. They do add a nice texture to the bowl, though, and a refreshing crunch in oatmeal's otherwise-boring consistency. The chia seeds especially are an added challenge. This seems like one of those foods you could eat on long drives to prevent you from falling asleep at the wheel (I guess you'd need two hands to do that, but what is the passenger's job if not to spoon-feed you gluten-free oats?). I had this oat bowl hot (via microwave) and it felt like a warm, though very sweet, hug. A big highlight in this breakfast kit is prep time—it was less than a minute from fridge to face.
Ingredients: Gluten-Free Oats, Blueberries, Pecans, Dates, Chia, Mulberries, Almonds, Maple Syrup, Vanilla Extract, Lemon Zest, Cinnamon
Sweet Cherry Peanut Artisanal Oat Bowl
It's right in the name: this oat bowl is sweet. The cherry and peanut combination tastes familiar because it is—it's like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a bowl. It doesn't taste artificial, though, probably because the sweetness comes from black cherries, raspberries, banana, and clover honey. Full disclosure: I couldn't finish this bowl, but not because it was too sweet. I think the sacha inchi protein may have been responsible for my full stomach. The nut-like seed has been praised as a superfood; one ounce of seeds contains 8 grams of protein. I had this bowl cold, which involved adding the milk the night before, but turned out to be super convenient. I took it out of the fridge and backpacked it on the bus and skytrain before eating it at work—a bonus of the ingredients arriving pre-jostled is that the package travels well; it's certainly more mobile than avocado toast. Overall, the Sweet Cherry Peanut bowl is good for on-the-go sweet tooths with big appetites.
Ingredients: Gluten-Free Oats, Black Cherries, Raspberries, Pure Peanut Butter, Peanuts, Golden Flax, Sacha Inchi Protein, Banana, Clover Honey
Strawberries 'n Cream Artisanal Oat Bowl
In a happy ending to a modern Vancouver fairytale, I have found an artisanal oat bowl that is just right. I'm a big fan of the coconut cream and macadamia nuts in this bowl, and the strawberries are a welcome (not too overwhelming) sweetness. It also is much more visually appealing than the other bowls—the perfect example of a heterogeneous mixture, each ingredient is distinguishable from the others. I'd definitely break into the home of an innocent bear family to eat these oats.
Ingredients: Gluten-Free Oats, Strawberries, Banana, Pomegranate, Coconut Cream, Macadamia, Maca, Coconut Sugar, Vanilla Extract
So, are they worth the hype? If you're someone who doesn't have a lot of time in the mornings, breakfast meal kit deliveries are a great way to make sure you're getting the fresh, healthy boost your morning needs. Just like cereal or toast, there are lots of options available—and just because one may not be your (peanut butter and) jam doesn't mean you won't like another. In addition to the kinds I reported on, Goodfood also has Almond Biscotti, Orange Sublime, and Apple Cinnamon Crisp oat bowls. The bowls are a good way to ensure you're getting nutrition in your breakfast. Sure, you could just buy all the ingredients yourself, but will you? I know I have better things to do with my time—like scrolling through Facebook Marketplace to find things I didn't know I needed.
Goodfood Artisanal Oat Bowls
$4.99 per bowl