Freshly is a 21st century TV-dinner delivery service. What they send is freshly prepared, fully cooked, microwavable meals. Sort of like Hungry Man, but with fresher and better quality ingredients, updated recipes and no preservatives. The meals take 2 to 3 1/2 minutes to warm up and 2 more minutes before you can plate them (though nothing stops you from eating them directly from the tray, they do look better plated).
While these single-serving meals don’t really work well for dinner as a family, I do find them useful when my husband is out of town – with one daughter in college and the other with an erratic schedule, I often find myself having dinner alone. And, of course, they make convenient lunches any time I don’t have leftovers. Still, they are pricy so I prefer to think of them as dinner fare.
When I first tried Freshly, it was the first service of its kind. Since then, others have come along. I’ve really enjoyed CookUnity, a service where the meals are planned and theoretically cooked by professional chefs, which I felt was a couple of notches better than Freshly, but I decided to give Freshly another try to see if competition has made them better.
You can subscribe to get anywhere between 4 and 12 meals a week, and a box is delivered weekly. Meals cost between $9 to $12.50 each, depending on how many you buy. I chose the standard 6-meals deal, which costs $10/meal or $60 a week – which is about the same price as meal kit companies such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh. They now also offer some premium meals at premium prices, usually $1-$2.50 more. Shipping used to be free but it’s now $10/week.
If you use my referral link you can get $90 off, I think divided between your first 3 boxes. I’d also get a $30 credit.
Freshly offers 48 meals to chose from, a significant expansion from the 30 they had in the past. They have greatly expanded their vegetarian and vegan offerings, they now have 6 of the latter – making it a good choice for those with pesky vegan children. The recipes are modern and classic American fare, plus some things in fashion (like Korean bibimbap). I found most of the dishes to be filling.
I thought the quality of the food was very good (save for one dish). But personally, I don’t think I’d use them frequently simply because they don’t have enough meals that appeal to me.
The meals take between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 minutes to heat up, plus 2 minutes to rest.
The Shipping and Delivery
When I first signed up, they assigned me to get my meals on a Wednesday. That’s not really convenient for type of food which is best suited for busy weekdays. However, I was able to change my preferences to get my meals on Mondays in the future.
The meals were delivered during the day with plenty of time to use them.
Freshly’s meals come in microwavable plastic trays, covered with a film of plastic – just like TV dinner. They do have a recyclable cardboard sleeve around each one that includes information about the meal’s ingredients and nutrition.
The trays come in a recyclable cardboard box. Both the freezer packs and the lining of the box are landfill material. It did bother me that Freshly tries to make itself appear more environmentally friendly by claiming that “most” of the lining – made out of recycled denim – is biodegreadable. That may be the case, but you cannot compost the lining (I called Freshly and confirmed this), and biodegradable matter thrown in a landfill produces methane and other greenhouse gases, for which reason most modern landfills are packed tightly so no biodegradation occurs. Freshly surely must know this, so it’s attempting to deceive its customers which gives me a bad feeling.
Same with saying that their freezer packs are “non toxic’ – well, I guess it’s something – but why not provide compostable freezer packs or those that can be emptied down the drain?
The newer meals I tried are on top. Click on the name for a thorough review.
|Hearty Veggie Bolognese with Red Lentil Ziti & Parmesan Cheese
|Teriyaki Salmon Cakes with Brown Rice & Spicy Green Beans
Probably as good as it gets for refrigerated TV meals.
| Ranch Chicken with Broccoli-Cheddar Cakes
Dry chicken, flavorless ranch, this was a thumbs down.
|BBQ Shredded Beef with Roasted Carrots & Cornbread
A pretty solid meal
|Rustic Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Veggies
As good as chicken & mashed gets in a TV tray
|Garden Veggie Bowl
A nice veggie bowl
Surprisingly tasty, juicy steak and tasty mashed potatoes
In all, they were clearly superior to frozen meals, and they were of about the same quality as meals you make from meal kits, and – depending on the restaurant choices in your area – probably about the same quality as takeout/delivery. I think at $10/meal, they’re a bit overpriced – but at $7 (what I paid for each with a promo), they make a lot of sense – at least if you are not a picky eater, and you don’t mind repeating your meals frequently.
I think that if you like enough of their offerings, Freshly is a good solution for people who want a nice meal at work/school and don’t want to go out to a restaurant or get take/out. They are certainly very quick to microwave. They also work for families like mine where it’s hard to know who is going to be eating dinner at home each night. If they had a whole line of vegan meals, I might very well get them for my vegan daughter. And they are definitely a good idea for single people who don’t want to cook for themselves every night.
But obviously, they cannot replace family dinners – the idea of each one of us eating something from a microwave is sad. If you are a family that sits together for the dinner every night, these are not for you.
If you do subscribe, you can use this referral link to get $30 off your first three 6-meal boxes ($90 off total).