Freshly Review: Healthy Eating Doesn’t Get Any Easier
Freshly is a meal subscription service that prides itself on making it easy to incorporate healthy foods into your daily diet. Unlike other meal subscriptions like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, Freshly meals come to you fully cooked. No chopping. No dicing. No stirring. No dishes.
How Much Does Freshly Cost?
Each week, Freshly sends meals for you to choose from a large (and rotating) menu—so not only do you have options, you also have variety. The number of meals included depends on the plan: for $69 per week you get six meals; $99 per week, nine meals; $129 per week, 12 meals; $229 per week, 21 meals. Per meal, that works out to $11.50/meal in the six-meal plan. The 21-meal plan is the cheapest per meal at $10.90.
This Ish is Healthy
Freshly prides themselves on not only delivering convenience, but also on delivering healthy food. Their meals are all free of artificial sweeteners and added sugar, and packed with high-quality protein, nutritious vegetables, and low-glycemic carbs. Bonus for gals with allergies, they’re all gluten-free.
If you’re a dieter (or a Whole-30-er), Freshly is also very Paleo-friendly.
Ordering + Delivery
To give Freshly a try, I selected two breakfasts and four entrees and then split them with a co-worker (who also happens to be the editor of our brother site, The Essential BS) to share the wealth. Here’s what we ordered: Arrabiata frittata, paleo quinoa porridge with roasted apple and pecans, chicken livorno with white beans and kale, cajun meatballs with creole-style vegetables, Jamaican-style jerk chicken with mango salsa and cauliflower “rice,” and three-bean ancho turkey chili (with cheese).
Freshly comes in a pretty large box considering the six meals included, but everything included is recyclable. Inside the box, there’s a layer of insulation (made from biodegradable recycled denim) and then a giant ice pack to keep your food cold. The sustainable materials made my hippie heart happy.
I will say though that although the giant frozen gel block of an ice pack is technically recyclable, recycling it involves thawing it, then draining the gel into the trash, then recycling the bag. So basically it’s trash.
Meal #1: Cajun Meatballs With Creole-Style Vegetables
My Freshly shipment came in right before lunch, so I ditched my plans to grab a slice of pizza down the street and decided I’d eat a healthy meal instead. That decision was made much easier than normal by the fact that the healthy meal I was subjecting myself to was cajun meatballs and rice.
Right out of the box, Freshly meals look a little like TV dinners. They try to dress it up with some nice brown packaging and a mini-nutrition newsletter, but basically, it looks like a next-level Lean Cuisine. The nutrition facts (and complete ingredients list) is on each package as well.
Since the meals are refrigerated instead of frozen, they heat up in just two minutes. (Or at least, they’re supposed to.) My meatballs were still cold in the center, but also, they’re giant meatballs. My main issue with the TV-dinner style packaging is that they’re so tightly sealed it was almost impossible to peel off the plastic. I had to use a knife, a fork, and a friend’s help to get it to a photographable state.
The meatballs were on top of the creole vegetables, and there was a side of dirty rice. The rice was so good that I would swim in it if I could. The meatballs were also quite tasty and the sauce and vegetables were great. I’m about as picky of an eater as they come, so in each of the meals there’s some ingredient I wish I could leave out — in this one, it was okra. So I just ate around it. The meal was 540 (healthy) calories that I felt good about eating, and bonus: I felt full after eating.
10/10. All-in-all, it was really home-cooked-quality (if you’re a good cook, that is; restaurant-quality if your cooking needs some work) and worth the $11.50.
Meal #2: Paleo Quinoa Porridge With Roasted Apple and Pecans
I opted for a sweet breakfast option — something to replace my habitual Pop-Tart, if you will. When I looked at the package, I was shocked to see that my paleo quinoa porridge (say that five times fast) had 30% more calories than a two-pack of pop-tarts.
After my shock at the 800-calorie breakfast wore off (for reference, the cajun meatballs were only 540 calories), I went back to the Freshly site and realized that the nutrition facts were there the whole time so I shouldn’t have been that surprised. This was my fault, not Freshly’s.
The porridge itself…I’m just going to say that I’ve never seen a food that looks so much like its name. I think Oliver Twist would have been thrilled to find this in his cup at the orphanage, but I was not so thrilled. What the porridge did have going for it was that it was a huge portion of an already-filling food and could easily have been two or even three meals worth—which makes it a bargain choice.
It’s probably restaraunt quality, but that is a restaurant where I would not eat.
I gave it to a more porridge-minded co-worker (she did the Whole 30 and liked it), and she gave it a 5/10 and called it “interesting.” It wasn’t offensive enough to stop eating, but it also wasn’t the most enjoyable either. The redeeming qualities were the apples, the pecans, and how filling the damn thing was. We’ll just go with her score.
Meal #3: Chicken Livorno with White Beans and Kale
One of the things I’ve always found most appealing (and most terrifying) about a meal subscription is that you basically have to try new things. I mean, sure, I could have filled the box with chili, but chili is easy and I don’t need anyone to deliver that to me. The point is, I’ve never even heard of Chicken livorno, and even after a quick Google search, I’m not convinced that it isn’t something a Freshly chef made up.
Chicken livorno apparently is a white bean, tomato, and kale stew with chicken served on top and I actually really liked it. This meal included literally an entire chicken breast if that helps you picture the portion sizes. I’m pretty picky about how my chicken is prepared, but I was impressed with this dish. The chicken was thoroughly cooked, well-seasoned, and not in the least bit dry. The beans were well done, but not mushy. If I had to complain, I would say that I’m not a huge fan of cooked kale, but that’s my fault, not Freshly’s.
The Verdict: Is Freshly Worth It?
Overall, the meals are a little pricey if you compare them to something like an Evol or Amy’s Bowl, but the point is that Freshly meals are leagues beyond your freezer aisle. Succinctly put, they are not cheap, but they are a good value. $11.50 is more than what I would normally spend on food that I brought from home, but pretty much dead-on what I would spend if I were eating out for lunch. (And rumor has it that eating out isn’t good for you or your waistline.)
If you (like me) have meal planning aspirations that don’t ever turn into fully prepped meals, give Freshly a look or three. It’s a ridiculously convenient way to get hearty, nutritious meals that will fuel you all day long.
I can’t emphasize enough how convenient Freshly is. So convenient. Set it and forget it and never have to eat Jimmy John’s at your desk again. And, in all honesty, the cajun meatballs and the chicken livorno alone are worth re-ordering for.
Follow Meleah on Twitter: @meleahbowles
Last modified on March 9th, 2018