Review - Freshly

2017-01-22

Last year, I used a food delivery service called Plated. I enjoyed having everything I needed to prepare meals without having to figure things out. However, I had a major problem with their chicken and could not continue using their service. I had intended to try other services, but never got around to it. I kinda fell back into eating out frequently, though occasionally preparing meals I knew how to cook and were easy to prepare.

I do want to go back to using one of these services, with options like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh available as alternatives. However, unfortunately, right now my time and energy is in short supply due to a project at work and attempting to apply other health goals. Knowing there were meal services that prepare ready to heat meals, I looked for something that did delivery, and found Freshly.

Freshly is a service that sends you high quality microwavable or oven cookable meals. Unlike your standard grocery store frozen meal, they don’t use preservatives. They recommend that you not freeze their meals to maintain good flavor and quality of the foods.

I’ve been using the service for about a month, now, and it has gotten me back to eating more at home. So what do I think about it?

Portion Size

When I was younger and fatter, I would have considered the meals on the small side. However, because I’ve adjusted my food intake over the years, I find the meals to be very filling, and in some cases, maybe a little too much. Anyone looking for good portion control is going to find these meals to be just about where you need to be. As I will tell anyone looking to lose weight and starting in on portion control, this is a difficult thing to do, and doing this with Freshly will help.

Taste

Another aspect of any meal service that is going to be very important is how it tastes. This varies from meal to meal because they are serving things I normally would not consider in many cases. While I love spinach, I’m not a huge fan of creamed spinach, so the the flat iron steak meal loses points just on that. The steak is a good quality piece of meat, though, and it’s nice and lean.

The chicken meals also tend to be quite good. In fact, I have no problem with any of the proteins they have provided so far. I have only found a couple of sides I was not a fan of. That is not to say they are not good quality sides, it’s just that they were not my preference.

I do have a major problem with their barbeque, though. While the pork chop in the barbeque pork chop by itself seemed okay, having it with the barbeque sauce they use completely ruins it. They use the same barbeque sauce with their barbeque chicken, and again, the sauce ruins it. It’s bad enough that trying to dilute it out with better sauce just doesn’t work.

Meal Prep

The reason I chose Freshly over, say, Hello Fresh, was because of the minimal effort required to prepare a meal. Freshly recommends plating the food before microwaving it. This is because the plastic container can impart a slight change to the flavor of the meal. However, it’s fine to nuke the meal in the container once two holes are punctured in opposing corners.

I’ve been mostly heating the meals inside the plastic container and I have found this works fine for me. Pull meal out of fridge, slide the paper sleeve off, puncture holes, nuke for a few minutes, cut out paper film, and eat. I’m basically in and out in half an hour.

Cost

Finally, cost is going to be an important factor. These meal services tend to be on the expensive side when compared to preparing your own meals from shopping for your own groceries. Part of this extra cost goes into the convenience. One of the key factors for choosing Freshly over some of the other similar services was that the meals are about $10 each. This may sound expensive, but I’ve seen some of the other services costing as much as $20 per meal. Seriously.

Meal Selection

I am on the 6 meals per week plan to basically cover my dinners. Freshly offers breakfast as well, but I have that covered, and I mostly still eat out for lunch. So the 6 meals per week works best for me for now. With that, I can maintain good diversity in my meals in their wide meal selection. They offer vegetarian options, different types of proteins, breakfast, and follow different styles.

Their selection is not static, either. They regularly introduce new options and deprecate old ones in order to try to keep things fresh. This is good because if it never changed, I could see myself getting sick of their food.

At the moment, their selection consists of about 29 items. The hardest part is actually only choosing 6!

Storage

As noted earlier, Freshly recommends against freezing the meals. However, if you don’t select the delivery option earliest in the week, your meals will actually expire before your next scheduled delivery based on the expiration printed on the package. Going a day or two over that date is likely going to be fine, but short term freezing is also fine if you want to make sure you preserve freshness. I would definitely not freeze long term, though.

Packaging

One of the huge drawbacks of these services is the amount of packaging that must be dealt with. All of these services have this problem. So, then, it’s good to pay attention to the material used in their packaging.

Freshly focuses on recyclable and biodegradable materials for packaging. The ice packs are filled with water soluble gel that is safe for the environment. All of the plastic used is recyclable. The insulating material is a biodegradable non-toxic denim material. So Freshly uses environmentally concious materials to pack their meals for shipping.

The meal packaging is also well thought out. The plastic containers, once rinsed, can be recycled and they are wrapped in a thick recyclable and biodegradable paper with the information about the meal printed on it.

What I Don’t Like

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine with Freshly, though.

One of the major points of contention I have with Freshly is their choice of barbeque sauce. I love barbeque. I live in Texas, it’s all around me. I know what good barbeque is. But I don’t think it’s being spoiled on good barbeque that makes me hate Freshly’s barbeque. It just tastes terrible. Their choice of sauce basically ruined the meals that had it for me.

Also noted was delivery time versus expiration dates. By default, Freshly schedules delivery every Tuesday. This is the earliest in the week that is available. However, all meails appear to be prepared around the same time, so all meals will have the same listed expiration, which generally falls on Monday. If you select a delivery day past Tuesday, that means there’s a gap between expiration and next delivery.

This is not a major issue, but it’d be nice of Freshly was a bit more transparent about this information. I selected Wednesday delivery because I tend to work from home on Wednesdays.

Summary

So, overall, I like Freshly. They will be a really good stopgap while I’m finishing up this project at work and getting other things back on track, but I will eventually go back to cooking meals. I plan to try Hello Fresh next.

I would recommend Freshly if you are looking for something dead simple and to help with portion control. For the most part, the meals taste good, and the quality is quite good. The diversity should help prevent you from getting bored with the meals, especially if you have a preference to a wide selection of foods.