Whether you’re a parent with a house full of kids or single with a busy life, some days, you just don’t want the trouble of making dinner. With endless options to chow on, gone are the days of pizza as an easy take-out go-to. Ready-made meals for delivery or pick-up have taken mealtime to an entirely new level – and you still get to claim some brownie points. You’ve probably heard of the larger contenders in the prepared foods market, but there are many local companies who do it – dare we say…better, fresher, and healthier than the rest.
Nadine Hughes, founder of Dinner at Home Meals, started her business as a cooking school in Oakville over 13 years ago. But her customers wanted more. After taking her cooking lessons, people would come up to Nadine and say: “I wish you could cook for me every night.” Nadine, whom one could describe as a serial entrepreneur, listened to her clients and their needs, and launched her Dinner at Home Meals, preparing tried and tested recipes for delivery or pick-up.
Nadine’s goal is to make things perfectly effortless. She grew up in a European family where her mother was an exceptional cook. Her family had a passion for food and bringing people together around a table. Nadine’s recipes are made from scratch in small batches using local suppliers. Recipes are developed, tested, and trialed in-house until they are perfect. “We chop the carrots and make the stock so that you don’t have to.” Recipes are designed specifically for frozen meals so that most dishes can go from the freezer to the oven to the table in a simple step.
Nadine’s business isn’t the only local business inspired by family. Columbian-born couple, Luis Velasquez and Juliana Berrio, are the owners of Familia Fine Foods in Burlington. After working in the banking industry in Columbia and Toronto, they decided to take the plunge into their own entrepreneurial journey. While Familia is part restaurant and part catering company, Luis and Juliana also offer frozen prepared meals (most of which come with authentic Columbian flare). “We know that getting home after a full day and rustling up a family dinner can be a difficult task. We’re a family, too, with two daughters of our own, so we feel the time crunch,” says Juliana. “It’s why we started Familia Fine Foods. To take the stress out of meal times.”
Familia has a large selection of ready-made food. The Brazilian chicken pie is fantastic, and so is the pork stroganoff. There are gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options as well.
SupperWorks in Oakville is also inspired by family. Owner, Joni Lien founded SupperWorks over 16 years ago. At the time, she was a busy mom who loved to cook for her family – but she also understood how chaotic meal times could be. SupperWorks has a location in Ottawa as well as Oakville, and prepares fresh food for delivery, with each dish serving six people. One of the things we love about SupperWorks is their commitment to supporting local! Many of their meals are planned with seasonal ingredients in mind, so they can source those ingredients from local farms (talk about fresh). Once everything is prepped in their kitchen, freshly prepared meals are delivered right to your door – all you have to do is heat and eat! Some specialties include the four cheese and garlic crusted chicken breasts or the beef and ginger stir fry. Sides can also be included, like the healthy and delicious cauli rice with mushrooms and spinach or the maple crumbled sweet potato mash.
The Platter Company in Burlington is a foodie company that started off as a catering company, including making gourmet artisanal platters loaded with delicious cured meats, cheeses, olives and fresh and dried fruits. When the pandemic hit, the demand for party platters took a nose dive, but owner Jacqui Cronin quickly pivoted to focus on prepared meals. It was a natural transition as they know how to cook! Orders for the Platter Company’s frozen foods and prepared meals have been booming (so much so that they have recently expanded their business to include a gourmet market). They have different meal sizes… the onesie (seniors, singles or students), meals feeding two or three, family size, and party size! With a whole frozen collection of appetizers, soups, sauces, pastas, brunch, desserts, their aim is to make it easy to entertain or just get through the week. Try the creamy truffle mac and cheese (there is also a lobster mac and cheese) or the peri-peri pulled chicken.
Monastery Bakery in Oakville offers fresh ready-made meals which can be ordered online. There is a list of weekly dinner specials to entice you, such as the Monastery Signature lamb shank on mashed potatoes with grilled vegetables, or the Atlantic salmon on brown rice with grilled vegetables Or try the cooked trays such as chicken teriyaki or seafood paella.
With all these creative options available, it seems that all is left is to sit down, open a bottle of wine if you choose, and enjoy your meal.