a month on mealpal

I spent a month eating MealPal for lunch so you don’t have to. Read on for my full review of this lunch subscription service.

In a previous post about how you can save money on food in Toronto, I had mentioned this service called MealPal but couldn’t give a first-hand account of what using the service is like. Since the start of the new year, our house had been a little slower to get back to our regular routine of weekly meal plans + preps. MealPal finally lured me in with a 40% off code so I decided to give them a shot.

Hot Tip: If you sign up for an account but don’t commit to a plan just yet, MealPal will try to woo you with email discount offers. I received emails starting with $20 off my first month, then $40 off, and then finally 40% off.

I went with the 12 meal plan since getting the 20 meal plan meant that I would have to commit to picking up my lunches every single workday for the next month and January/February was not the time for that. Also because work is usually pretty busy and I had lined up some social lunch plans in the next month. Getting the 12 meal plan just gave me some flexibility.

My package: 12 meals for $4.19 + tax each for the next 30 days. Though I will say that I was very tempted by the unit price of $3.89 (+ tax) of the 20 meal plan.

NOTE: If you want to skip my detailed review of the places I hit up during my month, scroll right down until you see the section called Final Thoughts. Come back up if you’re still intrigued and want to know about the kinds of food available on this service.


How to Pick Up Your Meal

In order to pick up your meals, you open the MealPal app + press the “Pick Up” button once you’re at the MealPal sign. The app then scans the QR code and you show the confirmation screen to the employee and they hand you your lunch. You only get the confirmation screen for a few minutes so only scan the QR code once you’re ready for pickup.

You can only pick up one lunch per day. You also need to have your phone in order to pick up your meal. If you can’t go once you’ve reserved your meal, you either give up that meal or find a friend who can take your phone so that they can scan your code for you.

WAIT! A QUICK NOTE ON HOW THE PICK UP WINDOW WORKS

If you reserved a lunch for 12:00 but were suddenly pulled into a meeting you couldn’t get out of, you can still pick up your food as long as you get there before the 2:30 cut off. The pickup window you chose just gives the restaurant a sense of volumes and approximate traffic by time but they often aren’t preparing all the reserved portions ahead of time.


Day 1 – Mango Tango Tuna from SU&BU

Pickup
Opted for the 11:30 pickup time since I had a noon meeting. It’s right by my office so I headed out at 11:27ish and got there right at 11:30. Still early so no one else was there, they had a couple of portions ready to go.

Size
Medium. Not a huge portion but respectable. I anticipate I’ll be hungry again by 3.

Taste
I normally wouldn’t have ordered this because I am vehemently against the concept of a sushi burrito (I mean, hello hand rolls already exist and have solved your problem of things falling out the end) but I wasn’t really digging any of the other options for the places around my office. My pre-existing bias to the medium of a sushi burrito was validated as my lunch started falling out as I ate it, but I will say that it tasted pretty good.

Cost
$13.99 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $9.80 in savings


Day 2 – Sweet Chili Chicken Burrito from Fat Bastard Burritos

Pickup
Due to a morning full of meetings I opted to pick my lunch up at 1pm.
Scanned the QR code and left with my burrito. No line at this time but the burrito wasn’t as hot as I feel like it could’ve been.

Size
A solid burrito size and I wasn’t hungry again until 5. Fat Bastard does their burritos in 3 different sizes and I’m pretty sure that the MealPal burrito was their smallest size which was still decently large so I’m not mad about it. Important to note: I would never usually order a burrito for myself outside of this MealPal situation because I can never eat them gracefully. However, I can appreciate that they at least have a bottom, unlike a certain sushi burrito I know.

Taste
The sweet chili Thai chicken burrito is certainly not one I would’ve opted for if there were other options available to me but it was still pretty good! Apparently, it could come with noodles and I’m so glad it didn’t. Quick question – does chicken in burritos always taste like they’re shredded?

Cost
$9.39 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $5.20 in savings



Day 3 – Wild Mushroom Pizza from Pizza Rustica

Pickup
Whereas the other 2 MealPal pickups I’ve encountered involved prominent signs with QR codes that you had to scan, this place wasn’t quite as intuitive. There was a table right by the door that said “Hot Table” but didn’t have anything to indicate that it was a MealPal station. I waited (awkwardly, as my glasses slowly unfogged) for a few minutes until the one server came over and said that I could just grab my pizza from the table. A weird lack of accountability but ok.

Size
It was a personal sized thin crust pizza so a solid medium-large meal. I have only eaten 2 slices at the time of writing (an hour after picking it up) so this would definitely sustain me well into dinnertime/eventually be my dinner.

Taste
It was snowing sideways when I went out to grab my food so the pizza had cooled off by the time I got back to the office. I nuked it for 30 seconds but that obviously made the pizza limper than originally meant to be. My first impression was that there were very few mushrooms on this mushroom pizza but other than that the pizza tasted pretty good. Reheated pizza in a microwave is never as good as fresh but for $4 it was a decent meal.

Cost
$18 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $13.81 in savings


Day 4 – Rib Eye Round Pho from Pho Vistro

Pickup
MealPal, unfortunately, doesn’t control the weather so I won’t hold them accountable for the snowstorm I had to walk through in order to pick up my lunch. The MealPal sign was prominently available by the door and I only waited a few minutes for them to put the order together. There weren’t any other people waiting to pick up when I got there right at noon and I was pretty happy knowing that the (raw) meat and noodles were as fresh as possible. I was unable to feel my face by the time I got back to the office but luckily I had hot pho.

Size
I’ve actually had takeout from here before so I had a good measure to compare to. The MealPal size is their regular size, but if we’re comparing to the strip mall suburban pho joints, it’s a small bowl. I would rate it about a 7 out of 10 in terms of how filling it is. All the expected accompaniments to the noodles came with the order (bean sprouts, lime, basil, sauces).

Taste
This isn’t my favourite pho meal ever, but for the price I paid, I can’t complain. I think the broth could use a bit more flavour but there wasn’t anything egregious about the taste. Great for this cold winter day.

Cost
$10.15 regular price (for a beef pho on Ritual, there doesn’t seem to be this exact option on the apps I checked)
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $5.96 in savings


Day 5 – Double Bacon Cheeseburger from Burger’s Priest

Pickup
They had a sign and pickup was a breeze. I waited about a minute for them to wrap up the burger but there weren’t other people waiting when I got there at 11:30. This has actually been a consistent pattern at every place I’ve been for a MealPal pickup which is great!

Size
This burger was less so a burger, more like a heaving spherical shape that happened to also have elements of a burger – which is amazing. A solid medium-large meal for when you’re starving. It doesn’t come with any additional sides with MealPal so apologies if you’re used to having fries with your burgers.

Taste
This burger was so good. So so good. I scarfed it down in 15 minutes at my desk, partially because I was pretty hungry, and partially because the burger would’ve completely fallen apart if I took any longer to devour eat it. Everything was well seasoned and other than the fact that my jaw wasn’t big enough to take a full bite I have no complaints about this as a meal. So far this is my favourite meal in terms of value and also taste.

Cost
$10.97 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $6.78 in savings


Day 6 – Low Priest with Fries from Burger’s Priest

I thought about lying and pretending like there were several days between burger lunches but I think we all know that I fully did back to back burger days.

Pickup
Same as yesterday, in fact, they had just packed up one meal and so it was fresh seconds before I got there!

Size
This burger is just a single patty so it’s more of a regular burger size than the other one I got the day before. Still sizable, and they also give you a healthy (lol) portion of fries with your meal.

Taste
Not having a pile of meat was great because I could actually get the burger into my mouth in one go! Also, this had pickles and I love pickles. A solid burger again from Burger’s Priest. I will say that I can see how this would get tiring fast, despite how delicious it is. The fries were mostly small bits instead of full-length fries so they got cold and soggy real fast.

Cost
$6.49 for the burger + $3.99 for the fries regular price = $10.48 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $6.29 in savings


Day 7 – Spaghetti Di Mare from Pizza Rustica

Pickup
Having gone here earlier last week I thought I knew their process, which was apparently walk in and grab your meal. Turns out maybe the server I encountered last time just wasn’t trained on MealPal pickups because this time I had to scan the QR code on an iPad before leaving with my food.

Size
This wasn’t a huge portion – I would qualify it as a medium at best. Not just that, but the seafood in the pasta was severely lacking. I had a total of 2 shrimps, 1.5 calamari rings, 1 tiny scallop, and half a dozen small and squished mussels. Not really the quality I was looking for.

Taste
It was fine. The sauce resembled crushed tomatoes more than it did tomato sauce and the lack of seafood was disappointing. I wouldn’t really get this again.

Cost
$19.89 regular price (yeesh)
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $15.70 in savings

I’m really hoping that the MealPal version of this meal is just very pared down due to the discount nature of the service (which honestly, makes sense to have MealPal specific versions of your food because otherwise how do you make money???). If this is what I received at full price I would’ve been quite upset. I still have 5 more lunches in my cycle so I will soldier on (and likely never order from there again).


Day 8 – Green Curry Chicken with Rice from Pai

Pickup
This one was a bit confusing because it was my first time inside Pai, so manoeuvring to the Market section took some directions from some very lovely staff. Once I got there it was very quick and straightforward. They had a sign with the QR code to scan and then I was handed my meal and off I went back to the office.

Size
I was concerned about this meal size because the containers themselves didn’t look quite that big but I ended up unable to finish it all for lunch and had leftovers for a snack after work.

Taste
No complaints here, this was my favourite meal so far! It was so good and the chicken was so tender.

Cost
$12 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $7.81 in savings


Day 9 – Pizza Sub with Pop from Belly Busters

Pickup
They had the MealPal sign right at the front and since I happened to be there while they were prepping the meals they very kindly allowed me to just choose whatever toppings I wanted. Not as in-and-out as other pickups but I didn’t mind since I got to customize it and have it toasted.

Size
The sub was an 8″ sub so plenty for me, a girl who does not usually order subs.

Taste
I don’t normally opt for subs so honestly, I chose this meal because it was the least bad option for today’s lunches and also because it had a drink included. It tasted as good as the other subs I have eaten in my life.

Cost
This was harder to find a direct comparison for since Ritual only lists their 6″ and 12″ subs, but:
$6.25 regular price for a 6″ sub
$8.25 regular price for a 12″ sub
Split the difference and let’s call it $7.25 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $3.06 in savings


Day 10 – High Priest from Burger’s Priest

Skipping the pickup since we’ve been through that whole song and dance before.

Size
About the same size as the first burger I got because, like a Big Mac, there’s a second bottom bun between the two patties. I was unable to literally unhinge my jaw like a snake to eat this burger but it was a large and satisfying meal nonetheless.

Taste
Okay, time for a confession I have been holding in since the first burger review. Almost all (decent) burgers taste the same to me. It’s so hard for me to judge them on a binary of (1) good burger, and (2) not a good burger. I think this one had pickles and I continue to love pickles. No further comments, this was a good burger.

Cost
$10.49 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $6.30 in savings


Day 11 – Porchetta Sandwich with Pop from the Fresh Italian Eatery

Pickup
So I actually took a vacation day on Friday and didn’t think about how I still had 2 meals left on my cycle and 2 business days left to pick them up. So at the last minute, I had to rearrange my plans (to stay in bed) so that I could go and pick up this meal.

Unlike the other spots I chose, this one was in a food court. They didn’t have a MealPal sign but the employees knew the process. I only waited a few minutes for them to put the sandwich together but I went at 2, so it wasn’t busy at all.

Size
This was a decently sized sandwich and also came with a pop! I was pretty full after scarfing it down.

Taste
Honestly, this sandwich was pretty solid and I would definitely come back to this place and order it again.

Cost
$6.99 for the sandwich + $1.50 for the pop = $7.49 regular price
– $4.19 with MealPal
= $3.30 in savings


Day 12 – Italian Sausage Sandwich with Soup from Mamma’s Pizza

Pickup
Went right at noon and they had MealPal portions of food all ready to go in a box that I could grab.

Size
The sandwich was decidedly medium-sized and the meal came with a side of soup which helped fill me up. I wasn’t stuffed at the end of lunch but I also wasn’t starving.

Taste
The soup was surprisingly tomatoey for being a chicken noodle soup but it still tasted great. The Italian sausage wasn’t what I was expecting but it was still pretty tasty. I was imagining basically a meatball sub with Italian sausage but turns out they just slice up some sausage for the sandwich instead.

Cost
$5.95 for the sandwich + I can’t even find the soup on their regular menu
– $4.19 with MealPal
= 1.76 in savings


Final Thoughts

If you didn’t actually read all 2400 words about a dozen of my latest lunches, here’s the low down that you’re looking for. Should you try MealPal?

Yes, but only if you:

  • are frequently in that Spadina/College/Yonge/Front bordered area of Toronto (going hardcore on the core)
  • are looking to consume a lot of burgers and burritos
  • would be buying your lunches out anyways
  • want to just give it a shot
  • wait for a deep discount before committing

I would not recommend trying MealPal if you:

  • have a lot of meetings and likely can’t pick up your lunches daily
  • hate burgers and burritos
  • are a vegetarian/vegan because there aren’t that many choices for you and this is not a service that allows for substitutions really

The grand total cost of my MealPal month (post-tax) was $56.87. Based on my calculations by going with this service I saved $96.92 (also post-tax) on the lunches that I got, which is a great deal. Of course, I was pretty limited in what I could purchase for that discount but it’s still pretty significant.

Would I do it at full price? Probably not. The 12 meal pack only comes out to $7/meal but as it turns out, I really value the ability to stay firmly indoors on whiteout days and also the freedom to not eat another burger for several weeks. I anticipate trying it again when the weather gets nicer and I can broaden my walking distance.

Thanks for tuning in and I hope you enjoy your lunch!

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12 thoughts on “a month on mealpal

  1. Great review!!! Thanks for posting this. Was it hard to cancel it adter the first month? Also, other than burgers and burritos- did you try any of the salad places like Crave or Kupfert/ Kim?
    Thank you!!
    Cynthia

    Like

    1. I’m glad you liked the post! It was pretty straight forward to cancel after the first month but I will also say that they send a lot of emails if you’re not into that — make sure you unsubscribe as well. Crave wasn’t an option for my area when I tested it (but again I was only willing to walk 5 mins in a snowstorm) and the Kupfert/Kim option was consistently a tofu curry bowl which did not appeal to me.

      Like

  2. Thanks! This was a great review. I have one question: was your card charged for all meals upfront or on a meal-by-meal basis?

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    1. Hi Zoe, thanks for reading! They charge for your full month package up front, not meal-by-meal. Hope that’s helpful and I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier!

      Like

    1. Hi Peter! Thanks for reading this post 🙂

      Let me clarify — the 40% off that I quoted was the discount that I got off of the cost of the Mealpal subscription. If you paid full price for the service (at the time of writing the post) I think 12 meals at $6.99 each would’ve been $84 total for the month. They offered 40% off of my first month so I only paid $4.19 each meal for a total of $50 (per-tax).

      Then my individual meal cost comparisons were $4.19 cost through MP + 40%off vs. the menu price of that item if I ordered it regularly.

      Hope that helps to clarify!

      Like

    1. I don’t believe so! This is primarily a service that services the financial and entertainment districts in Toronto, so you’ll have to be south of College to get options.

      Like

  3. Great Article.
    I would like to add that there are some healthy options available as well.
    kupfert/Kim Oxanca meal is very good.
    Crave also provides healthy options.
    Downside was that I could not finish 12 meals in a month because of long weekends and wfh.
    Also, you cant ask anyone else to pick on your behalf without your phone.
    1 meal per day only

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I agree — they have definitely been expanding the service over the last year or so so there are a couple more healthy options!

      Like

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