Fresh Canteen

Toronto startup offers new way to buy groceries online

If you are one of those people who love to cook but hate grocery shopping, a new online food service launching in Toronto called Fresh Canteen needs to be on your radar.

Currently accepting invites for their mid-June launch, Fresh Canteen is more than just another online grocery delivery service. Founded by Toronto entrepreneur, Matt O'Leary, Fresh Canteen was created to solve the everyday struggle of figuring out what to cook and the even more difficult task of making sure you have all the necessary ingredients to follow a recipe.

Fresh Canteen combines meal discovery, food preparation and grocery delivery in a simple, easy to use service which takes the work out of cooking. Think of it like Epicurious meets SupperWorks meets Grocery Gateway.

The inspiration behind the company came from the founders own frustrations with meal preparation. "Even if you were to pull out a recipe from a book today, take a snapshot of the recipe ingredients and go and source them at a grocery store, a lot of the time they don't have the ingredients or, if they do, and they call for a pinch of cumin, you have to buy a whole jar of it which just sits in your spice rack for a couple of years," O'Leary told me. "It seemed to me that this was a broken system and there had to be a better way. That is why we created Fresh Canteen".

What makes Fresh Canteen different from the rest is that grocery selection is done by choosing meals rather than individual ingredients. Members have the option to choose up to three menu items for the week from an assortment of six recipes created by Fresh Canteen chefs. One of their first recipe selections, for example, will be Roasted Salmon with Puckery Good Lemony Asparagus and Chili Rice. If selected it will come with the obvious main ingredients right down to the sprig of thyme and tbsp. of olive oil needed to make up the meal.

All meals have been crafted to use fresh, local and seasonal items and the recipes have been designed to guarantee you will be eating in thirty-five minutes from kitchen to table. Although food sources could not be disclosed at this time, O'Leary confirmed that they are working on firming up partnerships with well-known local butchers and vendors around the city and intend to work directly with surrounding area farms to stock their inventory.

O'Leary also confirmed that vegetarian meals will be provided at launch but other dietary restrictions like organic, gluten-free and specific food allergies are on the roadmap.

Once members have selected their meals, all of the ingredients as well as step-by-step photo instructions for each recipe will be delivered in a refrigerated box right to your door.

The average cost of a Fresh Canteen meal is expected to be anywhere from $12-$13 per person which ends up being about $78 a week for two people. Not bad, considering that Fresh Canteen takes care of both planning your meal and delivering everything you need to get it made.

O'Leary says that the service is aimed at anyone who is too busy to prepare for home cooking but Fresh Canteen obviously lends well to the urban professional who loves to cook but still likes to go out and order in - thus the three meal maximum. Along these lines, the start-up expects to rollout weekend party menus and BBQ meals shortly after launch.

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