These food delivery service companies really have been pulling me on a string lately. Yes I have enough time to shop and cook. But the idea of saving time when I need to, coupled with my curiosity has forced me to try yet another meal kit delivery service. I wrote about Blue Apron back in August and had mixed feelings about it. This time Anh turned me to Freshly since she was about to give it a try herself. Each Blue Apron meal (serving) cost $6.50 (with the discount I found online). $6.50 appears to be the magic number once again for Freshly. I found a coupon online for 50% off and there is a Groupon running right now ranging from 43% to 52% off, depending on which plan you choose. I received 6 meals for $39. There are no restrictions on the types of meals you can choose. They have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So if you only want dinner options, you can choose all dinner.
The delivery box looks very similar to that of Blue Apron and they put ice packs in it to keep things nice and cool.
I just wanted to get an idea of what Freshly had to offer so I ordered the plan with the least amount of meals, the Freshly Flex 6. They also have plans for 9, 12, and 21 meals. The Freshly Fit plan (21 meals) is an all inclusive plan where they send you all of their menu options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also gives you access to a Freshly Coach. This is intended for people who want to eat healthy and lose weight. From their website: “Our Freshly Coaches are here to help you optimize your results on your Freshly Fit plan. Contact them to assist you with goal planning, personalized advice and tips, meal selection guidance, nutrition inquiries, order modifications, and more. Our Coaches are in your corner to make sure you hit your goals.” The other plans don’t come with a coach but you do get to select each meal and customize your shipment.
By far the biggest differentiator between Freshly and their competitors is that they prepare all of the meals for you. That’s right folks. This is the lazy man (or woman’s) plan. No shopping. No preparing. No cooking. All you have to know how to do is operate a microwave and you are in business. There were about 24 different meals to choose from and I felt pretty good with my choices. If I had to pick 9 or 12 it might have been a stretch for me to find things I really wanted to try. I went with one breakfast, two lunch, and three dinner options.
I didn’t plate them so you could see how the meals look right out of the package after you heat them.
It had nothing to do with me being lazy. Hence, these pictures might not be the most appealing. The Pecan Pesto Chicken Bowl had me excited. It smelled good, and even the first bite got me thinking how this would be the greatest food discovery since spam musubi. And then as I started chewing the chicken, I realized what I was eating. A microwave dinner, or lunch in this case. It’s not that it was terrible. If anything it is my fault for setting my expectations so high. Instead of comparing it to home cooking, I should be comparing it to microwavable dinners. The chicken was rubbery and kind of hard to swallow. The initial good pesto flavor got lost after each chew, and it kind of fell flat afterwards. Each subsequent bite got a little more boring.
Now that my expectations were re-calibrated I could hopefully move on to better things. Chicken Parmesan is something I enjoy eating, but rarely order it. Out of the meals I tasted for the week, it was one of my top two favorites. The large piece of chicken had a much better consistency and along with the melted cheese and marinara sauce, ranked high on my microwave dinner scale. The zucchini noodles didn’t fair as well and were mushy. But I’ll take good chicken over good zoodles any day of the week.
Turkey Chili was a safe bet. I love chili so when I saw it as an option there was no question it would be part of my delivery. This chili had a strong tomato base and had more of a soup consistency than that of a thick chili. I liked it though! The flavor made up for the lack of thickness. Chili usually still tastes good (even better most times) after a few days in the refrigerator. If this one turned out poorly I would be scared to see how the other dishes would be.
Steak Peppercorn with carrots. Two thirds of the meat was edible, while the other third was super thick and hard to chew fat. Although the “good” meat was edible, it too didn’t quite have the texture I look for with steak. The meat was tough and because of the large pieces of fat I decided early on this wasn’t something I was looking forward to finishing. It felt like I wasn’t eating real food.
The Chicken Rustica had the same texture issues as the Pecan Pesto Chicken Bowl. It’s hard to get excited about a meal when the main component isn’t satisfying. I did enjoy the sauce though. If only I had rice prepared…then I could have ditched the chicken and and Rice Rustica.
Last but certainly not least was the only breakfast option I ordered, the Sausage & Mushroom Frittata. My third favorite meal had a decent texture and good ratio of mushrooms to sausage. In hindsight, a little sriracha or hot sauce would have improved it. Beggars can’t be choosers though!
Here are the pro’s and con’s for Freshly:
Pro’s: Saves you more time than just about any other meal delivery service out there, relatively inexpensive, easy to make
Con’s: Not as fresh as you might like it, the bad meals were pretty bad 🙁
Final thoughts: my main problem with Blue Apron was the lack of meal options. That wasn’t as big of a problem with Freshly. What it really comes down to is selection (luck) of the best meals. I was happy with three of the meals and would maybe pay money for them again. But the other three were really not that good. If I’m going to get a 50% success rate, it’s hard to be confident paying for that percentage. One other thing I didn’t mention was the portion size. With the exception of the chili, I didn’t have to supplement my meal with anything else. All of the other meals were surprisingly filling.
Overall though, I think Blue Apron yielded more food for the same price. Lastly, if I may expand a bit on their name “Freshly.” They pride themselves on delivering fresh, healthy, and delicious meals to you. For most of the plans you only get one shipment. They are based out of Arizona and I can imagine you don’t get the meals on the same day that they prepare them. I’m guessing it might be one or two days after the meal is cooked you receive the shipment. If it is say two days and you don’t eat your last meal til day six of the week, that means your last meal would be eight days old. I’m not sure how fresh it would taste at that point. The Blue Apron option gives you a little more flexibility in that you decide which meals to cook first and can leave the ingredients that might last longer for later in the week. You also have the option to freeze anything if you know you won’t be able to get to it right away. Hope all this was helpful, interesting, or entertaining to you. I probably will stick to regular old fashioned cooking for the near future, but I’m glad I tried it!