Meal Delivery Review Series: Freshly

This is the fifth and final article in a series on “Meal Delivery Kits”.  Read my first article on Hello Fresh, second article on Green Chef, third article on Plated, fourth article on Blue Apron, or scroll on to see my experience with Freshly. 

We made it! Our final article in the meal delivery kit series, and I gotta admit: we’re kinda glad to be finished. Today, I’ll review Freshly. As with the others, I’ll review them on a scale of 1 (ugh) to 10 (hooray!) in the categories of price, packaging, a rating for each meal, and an overall score.

Freshly takes a slightly different approach to the whole meal delivery kit than the other options we tried: instead of sending you ingredients and a recipe for a “chef-quality” meal, they send you a “chef-prepared” meal that you’re just responsible for heating and plating. With this service, you choose between 24 entree options and 7 breakfast options, and you can mix and match the quantity of meals to your heart’s content. The one other main difference here though is that the Freshly meals don’t change week-to-week. So if you ordered 4 meals a week, you’d have tried every meal they have on offer in just 6 weeks time.

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Price: 2/10

The “default” Freshly plan is 4 meals a week for $49.99, though you can scale up to 12 meals a week for $107.99, if you so choose. Now, you may be thinking “but that’s actually cheaper than the rest of the plans you’ve tried!” But au contraire. Where all the other services used the word “meal” to describe a recipe that’s sufficient for 2 or more people, Freshly uses the term “meal” to mean “serving”. Considering that we only got 2 meals for 2 people out of this box, that means the price per meal is roughly $25, making this the most expensive box we tried.  To add insult to injury here, the food quality was abysmally low, as we’ll discuss in more detail later. Had I actually paid for my starter box (instead of getting it free through a friend’s referral), I would have felt incredibly ripped off.

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Packaging: 5/10

I mean…the food arrived cold, unspoiled, was what we ordered, and came on the day it was supposed to. So I guess that earns them at least partial credit there. But packaging is clearly far less important with this service, as you’re essentially just dealing with tv dinners. The meals come in subdivided disposable plastic trays; each meal has the protein on one side and the side on the other. Reheating directions are printed on cardboard sleeves that bear each meal’s title.

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Meal 1: Grilled Flat Iron Steak: 2/10

This meal tasted like a salisbury steak tv dinner. I did give it one extra point for the sweet potato hash, which was tasty, but the rest just tasted like bad leftovers. The reheating instructions weren’t great either, the “herb butter” that comes with the steak was still partially frozen after we’d finished microwaving it. (By the way – for all the Freshly meals, while it’s not required, I actually went ahead and plated each dish so as to make it more comparable to the photos that both Freshly provides and my photos from the rest of the series.)

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Meal 2: Sicilian Style Chicken Parm: 1/10

This one actually tasted a LOT like the Smart Ones Three Cheese Ziti Marinara frozen dinner, which sustained me through many of my college years. Only difference was that it was accompanied by a rather dry and bland chicken breast. The big difference, of course, being that I can buy a Smart Ones for about $2, and this cost me $12.50. Definitely not worth 5x+ the price.

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Meal 3: Falafel with Sauteed Spinach and Chickpeas: 4/10

By far the best of the meals we tried, though that isn’t exactly saying a lot. The chickpea/spinach/marinara mixture was sweet with a hint of spice, and was actually something I’d be happy to eat again. The falafel themselves, though, would be more accurately described as “moist bread balls”.  They weren’t deep fried as true falafel are, and they didn’t have a whole lot of flavor other than just salt. Still, I didn’t loathe eating this one, so it was at least better than the rest.

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Meal 4: Jamaican Style Jerk Chicken: 3/10

Calling this “Jerk” seems a bit of a stretch, as it barely had any spice at all, aside from the pineapple salsa that was placed on top. But it was the better of the two chicken dishes. The chicken here wasn’t quite as dry, and the rice was fine and otherwise unoffensive.

Overall: 2/10

I’ll be honest: it’s somewhat unfair to even include this brand in the series, because you can’t compare microwaved, pre-made dishes to fresh-cooked food. Even our least favorite of the other kits, Blue Apron, far surpassed the Freshly offerings, and compared to our favorite, Plated, this was basically like trying to eat garbage. You’ll also note that this service was the furthest afield in actual product you receive from the pictures that they advertise with; all the others were at least pretty close.

A better comparison might be to local meal pick-up services; in Austin we have Snap Kitchen and My Fit Foods that offer a similar type of arrangement. Having tried both  of those services in the past (though granted not for several years) I think this was about the same food quality as My Fit Foods, but less tasty/appealing than Snap Kitchen. However, even compared to those types of services, the prices are a problem – My Fit Foods charges $7-8 a meal, not $12-13.  From start to finish, Freshly just felt like kind of a rip off.

Thanks for reading the series! I’ll post one more wrap-up article next week, before starting a new healthy dinner series for 2017 early next year.

Whitney