freshly review

I like cooking. 

Actually, I should say I like the IDEA of cooking.   Other than the occasional breakfast spread or grilling, I don’t find myself cooking fresh meals very often.  Since my wife has finished school and is working full-time again, that means we don’t prepare many scratch meals these days.

So when Freshly approached us to try their individually-packaged, chef-prepared meals for a week – our family decided to give it a shot.  We probably have an “eater-type” in our family that matches all of yours – from completely picky to eat-anything. 

This is a review of our first week of meals with Freshly.  We plan on trying the service for a month at our own cost once school starts again.  We’ll update our review at that time.

So what’s it like to eat Freshly’s microwaved meals?

Who Really Needs Freshly?

I think most everyonecan find a use for Freshly – at least part of the month.  Unless cooking is your true passionand something you look forward to at night, Freshly allows you to capture more of your free time to do what you love.

When you take into account food prep, actual cooking and then clean-up of the pots and pans, an average parent has to take  70-90 minutes out of their evening to get a healthy meal on the table.  That’s time you could be spending with your kids or spouse, or relaxing after a day at work.

Freshly meals give you that time back. 

There are some other specific groups that could REALLY benefit from Freshly:

Parents-to-be

Regardless of whether or not it is your first or fifth child, the time around the birth of a new child is stressful.  Ordering a few weeks of prepared meals during this period will take one chore off of your plate (ok, bad pun).  

It’d be a great gift from a parent to their expectant children – I look back and think how this food service would have taken our stress level down a few notches.

Working Families

One of the reasons we chose Freshly to try over other services was it’s flexible scheduling.  I think that’s what makes it great for families where both parents work.

While the meals are a great value for what you get, most families couldn’t replace ALL of their dinner meals with Freshly.  But you don’t have to. 

Instead, you can order enough for one meal a week – just enough to allow yourself a break to capture some leisure time for a night.  It can be a “midweek dinner vacation.”

Kid Food on Your Date Night

Here’s something that shocked me:

ALL MY KIDS FOUND SOMETHING THEY LIKED.

That’s a tall order.  One child is currently existing mostly on a diet of chicken tenders and french toast sticks.  Our oldest college-bound daughter is single-handily keeping Kraft in the black through her mac-and-cheese purchases when dinner isn’t up to her standards. 

Yet we let them pick from the over 30 different prepared meal selections, and they each found something they liked.  Like I said, shocking.

So for less than the price of ordering a few pizzas, our children were able to have nutritious freshly-made meals they could microwave themselves.  If your child is old enough to make microwave popcorn, they can prepare a Freshly meal.

My wife and I decided since it’s cheaper and better for our children than our normal child meals on “parent night out”, it’s a no-brainer to order when we know we’ll be going out alone.  

People Under Deadlines

As I mentioned above, we are about to send our first child off to college.   While food service has come A LONG WAY since I was an undergrad, I thought about how nice it would have been to have Freshly when I was busy studying for midterms or finals. 

For busy people who were going to order out anyway, Freshly is the perfect “ordering-in” replacement.

Is Freshly Worth The Money?

Cost is always a personal matter.  What seems expensive to me might be perfectly normal for the next guy.   This means you need to take a look at your own budget to see how Freshly fits.

That said, it is an absolute bargain for my family.  It is more expensive than preparing meals in bulk on your own, but that requires a few hours on a weekend that I currently don’t want to spend on chores.  If you enjoy de-boning chicken and sitting around the oven for a few hours on a wonderful Sunday afternoon, well – Freshly might not be for you.

I don’t.

I see Freshly as a replacement for those days where we end up ordering in not because we don’t have food in the house but because both my wife and I are too tired to cook.

Freshly is tasty, easy to prepare and doesn’t require any on-the-spot effort.   When priced against the cost of ordering pizza for three teenagers and a glutton like myself, we actually come out ahead with Freshly when on the 6 or more meals/week plan. 

So if you come home from work occasionally and end up ordering Chinese or pizza solely because you can’t be bothered to cook (and not because you are craving it) – do your body a favor and sign up for a Freshly plan.   You might even come out ahead financially.

Of course, none of this matters if the food were bad.  Luckily, that’s not the case.

As you should know by now, this isn’t a food blog.  So these camera phone pictures throughout the article haven’t been staged to be Insta-worthy.  They are real-world images of what the food looks like pre and post-cooking. While a picture can’t capture a taste, you can see they appear to be made by a person and not pushed through a tube in a machine.  The shorter shelf-life of 3-5 days from delivery also is proof the meals are made with real foods and don’t use artificial or chemical preservatives.

How Does Freshly Work?

I’m naturally leery about subscription services because some are like the Hotel California – it’s easy to get going but you can never leave. But as you can see on the main support page for Freshly, there are clear instructions on how to cancel your service through your account page.  There’s no Venus-fly-trap treatment of customers here.

They offer a wide range of plans designed to fit the needs of different sized families.  You select the one for right for you.  You also select the day of the week you want your meals delivered. 

Once you’ve signed up, you select your desired meals from the weekly menu.  It changes a bit as they add new meals and some seasonal selections as well.  If you want to skip a week or two – that’s perfectly fine! Just let Freshly know before the weekly deadline and you are good to go. We haven’t utilized this feature yet but I plan on it shortly – if there are any issues we will update this section.

You can even change the delivery address for a particular week.  I see this being interesting for our family when we know our daughter will be cramming for tests during finals.  We can send our weekly meals her way for that week.  It feels very customer focused.

Your meals come shipped in”a chilled box” provided by gel packs.  Our mid-summer trial week was still frozen when it arrived so the system seems very robust. 

 

How Do Freshly Microwaved Meals Taste?

Overall, I’d say everyone was quite pleased with the meals from Freshly.  The quality was quite high.  You do need to remember you are cooking your own food and it’s not going to look like a plate at a restaurant when you are microwaving it.  That wasn’t an issue for me but since my youngest was looking for a way to get out of eating this food to have chicken tenders, he pointed out it looked “weird.”  I guess that means it doesn’t look like tenders. Here’s the picture or weird, FWIW.

I tasted each meal, but I thought I’d let you hear directly from our testers who ate the whole meal.  In general, it sounds like they wished the meals had more kick to them.   

IMG_20190714_185543357

Turkey Meatballs and Zoodles

My wife Tracy ordered two dishes; one being the Turkey Meatballs and Zoodles.  Here was her succinct review:

I enjoyed the convenience of the packaging and the quick and easy heating instructions. The meatballs were well-sized and had a wonderful mix of flavors without being overpowering. The zoodles were perfectly done (not too mushy, not too firm) with just the right amount of a zesty tomato sauce. I was not in the mood for a glass of wine tonight, but on another night I would pair this with a glass of cabernet or chianti. I love this healthy take on an Italian classic. This will definitely go on my repeat list!

Tracy B.
turkey meatballs

BBQ Shredded Beef

BBQ Shredded Beef Freshly

The next item up was my choice, the BBQ shredded beef.  I would certainly order this again.

freshly shredded beef

I really enjoyed the BBQ Shredded beef. I'm not traditionally a fan of cooked carrots but I didn't notice the normal texture-turnoff I perceive when eating them. The beef was quite tender - as you'd expect if ordering at a BBQ joint, but more than I expected from a prepared meal. The bread was surprisingly good as well.

Bryan B.

Grilled Chicken Pesto Rissotto

My wife Tracy ordered two dishes; her second choice was one of the new pesto dishes.   I do agree with her that you’ll need your cheater glasses to read the cooking instructions the first time if you are 45 or over. 

This was very good. The chicken was moist and perfectly done. The risotto had a nice nutty flavor and was creamy, but not too heavy. The portion size was very generous and left me full. My only issue with the meal is that the printed heating instructions were little hard to read. A larger font would be helpful!

Tracy B.

Buffalo Chicken

buf chicken

My high-school aged son had the Buffalo Chicken.  He’s not a picky eater per say; after all, he’s a teenage swimmer so he burns through food at an alarming rate.  He isn’t afraid to give constructive criticism either.

I enjoyed this meal and would order it again. I wish the sauce was spicier; it was a little tame for my liking. I added some Tabasco to give it more kick. I was blown away by the potato - cauliflower concoction. I thought I didn't like cauliflower - it turns out it's awesome when mixed with mashed potatos.

Son #1

Korean Chicken BBQ

My youngest son (middle school) went for the Korean-Style Chicken Bibimbap.  He’s IS a picky eater.  We had also just happened that weekend to go to a cookout where a friend of ours makes her authentic Korean BBQ.  Now bibimbab isn’t BBQ, but we may have hinted it was similar to have him give it a try.  The bar was set high for Freshly.

While I would eat this again, it wasn't the same as **name redacted** makes at her picnic. It didn't have as much spice, as much flavor. I'd still order it again, but maybe it should have a different name.

Teenage Son #2

Our Verdict:

Freshly is a great subscription for families that are looking for to save a little more time in their daily lives.  Our samples were all high-quality and there were plenty of variety in the choices available.  Once school is back in session we plan on trying it out for a few weeks stright to get a better feel for how Freshly can fit in our daily lives, but the convience and quality sure beat normal ordered-in fast food.  If you order pizza once a week, you owe it to yourself to give Freshly a try.

You Should Know

 We want to be as transparent as possible with our readers.  We were provided six Freshly meals as part of this review.  We were not paid or compensated in any other way, nor did the free meals influence our review.  We really like Freshly’s meals!

 

 If you decide to subscribe to Freshly using a link from our article, we will receive a small commission.  These payments allow us to continue to provide all the non-commercial content we create on a weekly basis. 
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