I hate cooking. Abhor and despise could also be used interchangeably. So when I stumbled across a new meal delivery service, Freshly, with a much different approach than season veterans like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Plated, I was eager to give them a try.
Unlike those three, Freshly delivers individually packaged, chef-cooked meals. Literally, you pop the meal in the microwave for two minutes and it’s ready to eat.
Given how much internal grumbling happens when I have to meal plan, grocery shop, cook, and clean up, I pounced at the thought of having a pre-made meal in just two minutes.
So for 28 days, I outsourced nine meals a week to Freshly.
Here’s what it’s like eating two minutes meals for a month…and whether I would recommend Freshly or not.
- How Does a Microwaved Meal Taste?
- Is Freshly Worth It? Who Is It For?
- How does Freshly work?
- Random Thoughts
- Freshly Alternatives
How Does a Microwaved Meal Taste?
This was my biggest question. The answer, shockingly, is that Freshly meals taste amazing coming out of a microwave (you can also bake them if you’d prefer).
Seriously, if I served a Freshly meal on a plate to the average person, I don’t think they’d ever know it was microwaved. I’ve never tasted a better microwaved meal in all my years of wandering this earth. And being a bachelor, I’ve eaten a lot of microwaved meals. ;)
What’s even more impressive is all their meals are healthy—gluten-free, high in protein, low in carbs, contain no processed sugars, and are all natural.
The next time I visit my mom in Phoenix (where Freshly is based), I really want to see if they’ll give me a tour of their plant. Then I’ll be able to see firsthand what kind of voodoo magic is going on behind the scenes.
Is Freshly Worth It? Who Is It For?
Obviously, if you’re like me and hate everything about eating that’s not the actual eating part, then Freshly is worth checking out. But as I’ve talked to friends and family about Freshly, many of them have also been interested for other reasons.
My little sister is pregnant with her second child and wants to use them as easy meals after she gives birth. Another friend knows there are certain weeks where she’ll be too busy or stressed to cook for her family, so plans on taking a “cooking vacation” using Freshly.
Another big reason was to save time and mental energy. Freshly is uber convenient. If you add up all the time you’d spend planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, each Freshly meal probably saves you at least 30 minutes (if not more). That’s an extra hour a day to spend with your spouse, kiddos, friends, pursuing your hobbies, etc.
It’s an amazing feeling opening the refrigerator, grabbing one of these meals, and eating a few minutes later. It’s the convenience of fast food but with all natural, healthy ingredients. Something one mom I spoke with was especially keen on.
Freshly is also great if you need a break from your typical meal rotation. I know I can eat tacos only so many times in a month before I get sick of them.
Having tried it for a month, I can confidently say it’s worth it (for me). I have less anxiety, more time, and eat way healthier. (I’m not kidding you when I say figuring out what to eat each week was a stressful process for me.) And they recently lowered their prices, so it’s good to see that trending in the “right” direction. ;)
How does Freshly work?
It’s really simple and straightforward—aided by a fantastic website. They get major bonus points for designing a website that’s incredibly easy to use.
Before you jump in though, it’s important to note Freshly only delivers to certain states. Enter your email address and zip code on their website to see if they’ll deliver to you.
1. Pick Your Meal Plan
Your choices are 4, 6, 9, or 12 meals per week. I go with nine meals per week and try to get three chicken entrees, three seafood, and three other (beef, breakfast, pork, etc.). Shifting up the main protein provides a nice variety during the week.
2. Pick a Delivery Date
Freshly delivers throughout the week. Your first delivery will happen on that day of the following week. I have mine delivered on Fridays and the box usually arrives between noon and 3:00pm CST. If you’re not home when it’s delivered, the box will keep for an additional 12 hours.
3. Choose Your Meals
As of September 2016, you can choose from 23 entrees and 9 breakfasts. It also looks like they introduce one new meal every week—alternating between an entree and a breakfast.
So far, here are some of my favorite meals:
- Grilled Flat Iron Steak
- Jamaican-Style Jerk Chicken
- Penne Bolognese
- Seafood Risotto
The chicken meals are generally the most filling. While I never finish a meal still feeling hungry, I do wish the portions were larger on some of them. This might not be an issue though depending on how much you typically eat.
In general, I don’t feel like the breakfast meals are worth it. The only exception is the Maple Quinoa Porridge. You should try that. The other breakfast dishes are mostly egg-based. Unfortunately, I can’t get really excited about eggs. And you don’t get a whole lot of food for your money.
One tip should you give Freshly a try.
Initially, I felt like some of the pork and fish meals were too tough. I’m beginning to think that’s more on me than Freshly. I was microwaving every dish the same amount of time. For my microwave, 2:15 is the perfect time for chicken dishes. But I’ve found that time doesn’t work universally for for pork or fish dishes.
I’ve been getting better taste results microwaving pork meals for 90 seconds, cutting the pork into thirds, and then microwaving for another 30-60 seconds. Fish meals will need more care since the fish thickness has varied quite a bit (especially with the salmon). So I would recommend you vary cook times depending on the thickness.
I submitted a support ticket about a meal that was noticeably off from what I’d eaten in the past. Without me asking, they promptly gave me credit. I thought that was a nice gesture. It makes me wonder if I could request a credit for any meal I don’t enjoy eating? That would be a nice insurance policy whenever trying a new meal.
From the outside looking in, I’ve been really impressed with how Freshly operates.
A few things have really stood out. The proactive credit I mentioned above. They’ve replied to every question I’ve tweeted at them. How they changed their nutrition labels to say 1 serving instead of 1.5 because of user feedback. They rolled out a feature on their website recently to let you rate meals. I’ve seen them try different insulation materials and cooling packs. They send out feedback surveys.
All of that communicates a company that values and acts on feedback.
@ByAlexTran We got a lot of feedback that the 1.5 labeling was misleading/bothersome. :-)
— Freshly (@getfreshly) June 24, 2016
I don’t think I’ll use Freshly every week. I have a feeling if I did that, I would get sick of Freshly meals quickly. So I’ll probably try to experiment with some type of rotation–maybe two weeks on, one week off?
And it took me awhile to notice it was there, but the inside of each meal sleeve has a two minute read called Nutrition for the Mind. It’s a small detail, but it conveys a company that really cares about their product and user experience.
Only having to wash cups and silverware over the last month has been one word, glorious!
Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or Plated are the most talked about online. However, you really can’t compare Freshly to those services because their model is so different.
With Freshly, you get chef-cooked meals. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Plated send you the raw ingredients to make your own meals. While that saves on meal planning and grocery shopping, you still have to cook and clean. I’ve tried all three and they weren’t for me. Each meal took about an hour to prepare and, honestly, just wasn’t worth it. Some meals turned out fantastic, others were gross. Clean up took longer than normal, too.
If you enjoy the act of cooking and want to save time on grocery shopping then Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, or Plated are great options. But if you’re looking for simplicity, convenience, and consistency (in quality of food), Freshly is the clear winner.
And it’s actually cheaper than similar services.
- Healthy Chef Creations
- Home Cooking For You
- Dine In 2Nite
- Home Bistro (frozen meals)
- MagicKitchen (frozen meals)
Another alternative to Freshly would be local food delivery services. It seems a lot of catering business also provide this type of service. Before trying Freshly, I found one in Nashville that was decent. The food definitely wasn’t as healthy or conveniently packaged, but it was still good. Had I not found Freshly, I probably would’ve continued with the local service.
So, think Freshly has a spot in your cooking arsenal? Let me know in the comments how you could see yourself using Freshly.