Freshly: This Healthy Meal Delivery Service Simplifies Eating Right
I work from home and have an almost-11-month-old baby, which means I can count on both hands the number of times I've made dinner from scratch this entire year. I can't say the same for the number of times my husband and I have ordered from Eat24. It happens at least once a week — and as any take-out addicts know, convenience and hangriness come at a big price.
Enter Freshly, a meal delivery subscription that brings healthy, microwaveable dishes to your door. I'm a generally healthy eater that doesn't always have the time to sautée a bunch of kale (I know, it only takes like 12 minutes), which is why I instantly liked the idea of their quick grub that doesn't come packed with sodium or preservatives.
How It Works
The sign-up process works like this: after you select from a 4-, 6-, 9-, or 12-meal-per-week plan ($49.99 to $107.99), you then choose the start day of your delivery. Next, you pick your desired breakfasts or entrees, which include yummy selections like gingerbread quinoa porridge, bacon & fig frittata (which frequently sells out), three-bean turkey ancho chili (a crowd pleaser), and shrimp fajitas.
What's cool is that you can check out the nutrition facts for every dish — convenient for anyone minding their diets. If you've got a dairy allergy, everything comes in cheese-free options, too.
I got the six-meals-per-week plan, which comes out to $9.99 per plate — not bad compared to the $12- to $16-per-dish tab that my husband and I usually rack up when ordering in.
The meals arrive on a Friday morning in a cardboard box with a denim-stuffed insulator (how eco-friendly!) and two frozen packs. Freshly's packages are fully recyclable (from the plastic to the insulation) and are designed to keep food cold and fresh for two full days and 12 hours, so no need to rush home to your delivery if you've got a 9-to-5 job.
Each dish comes in a microwaveable-friendly container and is meant to be refrigerated. Most meals take a maximum of two minutes to heat up; unlike frozen dinners, I found that Freshly's food cooks evenly — no random cold spoonfuls here.
From the entree menu, I got the Baked Penne Marinara (as seen above), Holiday Turkey with Quinoa Stuffing, Three Bean Ancho Turkey and Chili, Mahi-Mahi with Pineapple Chutney and Coconut Rice, Southwest Veggie Bowl, and Chicken Parmigiana.
Freshly's chefs cater to nearly every dieter type imaginable: everything clocks in at under 600 calories, all meals are free gluten and refined sugars, and no frozen ingredients are allowed in their kitchens. On a high protein, low-carb diet? Check and check: their meals fill that bill, too.
Onto the flavor factor! I hate to sound like a culinary cheerleader, but every dish was delicious. The vegan-friendly Southwest Veggie Bowl had the right balance of grains-to-protein without tasting too dry (I'm now hoping to recreate their savory cilantro-lime vinaigrette at home, and I scarfed down the Three-Bean Turkey Chili (which happens to be a Freshly customer fave) sans the guilt that usually comes with meat-heavy meals.
However, this is where I remind you that taste is subjective. Case in point: I'm very conservative with salt and butter, and I prefer foods that are lower in sodium. My husband — who shared tasting duties on this assignment — disagrees with my "bland" palette, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. (Pun definitely intended.)
As far as portions, It's worth noting that these ain't no TGI Fridays-sized plates, but I found the servings to be just right for my height (5'2"), weight (somewhere around 117 lbs.), and appetite. My 6-foot husband with the jaguar-speed metabolism (and the waist size to prove it), on the other hand? He could have easily licked up two meals in a single session. To be fair, none of the other food delivery startups (read on below) we've tried have managed to sufficiently fill his tummy either.
Compared to Blue Apron's ready-to-prep gourmet meals (which are $9.99 each for two people), I'll take Freshly's two-minute zap over chopping and sautéing (in between tending to baby) any day.
I've also tried Munchery, another food delivery service that offers healthy microwavable meals. The membership-based company is more flexible (they offer same-day shipping) and offers more of a variety (side dishes, desserts, and kids meals starting at $4; weekly cooking kits starting at $52 and take 15 minutes to prep), while pricing ranges from $10 for tacos and up to $18 for steak.
When it comes to the fare, however, I do prefer Freshly's savory concoctions to Munchery's $10 equivalents. And while the latter certainly has equally tasty options, they're a little pricier but are smaller portions than many take-out dinners that cost the same price.
And since my little one is now sinking his tiny teeth into solid foods, I like that I can share my food and know that he'll be getting the nutrition he needs with every bite. (Hey Freshly, there's an open market in non-squishy baby food that's adult-friendly...)
Have you tried Freshly or other healthy meal services? Share your experiences in your comments below and find out if Freshly is available in your area at their website.