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For people who want to eat healthy but lack the time or expertise to make nutritious ingredients taste good, meal subscription kits can be an easy secret weapon. However, the real trick is finding a service that is affordable, uses whole ingredients, and most importantly, tastes delicious. I decided to try a one-week subscription to Freshly to find out if this healthy meal service is really worth the hype.
Freshly is a meal delivery service that offers an array of chef-cooked, ready-to-eat meals with a special focus on healthy, balanced eating. The service’s menu consists of a broad range of single-serve dishes, including low-carb, high-protein options to fit gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, and paleo diets. Subscribers choose the number of meals included in their plan—anywhere from four meals a week to 12—and hand select the dishes they want to try from a rotating menu. Plus, Freshly offers separate proteins (like grilled chicken breasts) and sides that serve two to five people, which can be added on to your weekly order.
How I tested the service
To fully explore Freshly’s menu options, I tried three entrees from the traditional Freshly menu, three entrees from the FreshlyFit menu, two of the multi-serve proteins, and two sides. Overall, these heat-and-eat dishes were flavorful, effortless to make, and surprisingly filling.
While I don’t follow a specific diet, I have a pretty active lifestyle, and I try to incorporate as many veggies, whole grains, and proteins into my meals as I can to stay energized. Normally, this means I have to get really creative in the kitchen to keep all my meals from tasting the same. With Freshly, though, there were a ton of flavorful entree options to choose from. Each of the meals I ordered contained more than 20 grams of protein and included a variety of vegetables to keep the dishes interesting. They were super easy to pop into the microwave and eat on busy days when I didn’t have time to cook, and they kept me full for hours.
My overall rating for Freshly: 8.8/10
- Easy sign-up process
- No prep time
- Wide selection of dishes that fit a variety of dietary needs
- Satisfying portion sizes
- Sustainable packaging
- Great customer service
- No vegan or vegetarian options
- Only offers single-serving dishes
- No option to order sides by themselves
- Shipping isn’t free
Signing up for Freshly
Starting a subscription with Freshly is super easy thanks to the user-friendly sign up process on its website. Right away, you’ll be prompted to enter your email address and zip code to ensure Freshly can deliver to your area (it doesn’t deliver to Alaska, Hawaii, or outside the U.S.). Shoppers can then select the number of meals they want delivered per week—you can choose to receive four, six, eight, 10, or 12 meals—and pick a delivery date. There are delivery dates as early as two days from the time you submit your order, but you can also schedule a delivery more than three weeks in advance.
Freshly also lets you decide which meals you want to eat for the week. Based on the delivery date you selected, you’ll have a long list of entree options from Freshly’s traditional menu and the FreshlyFit menu (which consists of high-protein, low-carb meals) to choose from. You can include both Freshly and FreshlyFit entrees in your order for the same price. They’re listed separately from one another on the ordering screen to help distinguish between the two.
As I was selecting my meals for the week, I was really impressed by how many Freshly entrees work for dietary restrictions. Each dish is clearly labeled to help users find meals that fit their preferences: high protein, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, paleo friendly, under 500 calories, and dishes with less than 35 grams of carbs. You can also learn more about the ingredients, taste profile, and the amount of macronutrients per dish on the product detail page before adding it to your cart.
After making your meal selections, you’ll be prompted to submit your delivery address, review your order and delivery date, and complete payment information to finalize your order. One thing to note is that shipping with Freshly isn’t free, so plan to pay around $4 to $12 for shipping on top of your weekly subscription price.
Freshly menu: balanced and gluten free
Subscriptions to Freshly allow you to pick and choose the dishes that get delivered to your door, so you can tailor your meals to fit your taste and dietary preferences. All of the entrees, proteins, and sides on the menu are made without artificial flavors, chemical preservatives, or excessive amounts of sugar (on average, each dish has around 8 grams). Plus, the entrees include whole ingredients, combining high protein dishes with lots of vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. For me, this balance of nutrients ensured that I felt pleasantly full after eating without having a mid-afternoon energy crash.
Since Freshly is a gluten free-certified company by the Gluten Intolerance Group, all of its dishes are made without gluten, and they’re prepared and stored separately from gluten-containing products. Freshly isn’t just for people with a gluten sensitivity, though—it also offers meal options for people who follow low-carb, dairy-free, soy-free, paleo, or low-calorie diets. And because Freshly is an overall healthy meal service, many of the meals fit within multiple diets at once. The wild-caught whitefish cake I tried, for example, was gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.
When it comes to variety, Freshly is best for people who follow low-carb, gluten free, dairy free, or just generally health-conscious diets. There are usually quite a few entrees that fit within these categories each week, so these people will have the easiest time switching up their orders. Someone with paleo or soy-free needs will still have Freshly entrees to choose from, but the variety is a bit smaller.
Unfortunately, Freshly doesn’t have any options that work for vegans or vegetarians—all of the entrees include a form of meat. Protein tends to be the main focus of the dishes, too, so ordering a subscription and removing the meat from each entree isn’t a viable option either. According to the company website, Freshly is planning to expand its variety soon to include vegetarian and vegan-friendly options.
In addition to heat-and-eat entrees, Freshly also offers a selection of multi-serving side dishes and proteins available to add to your weekly delivery. These actually ended up being my favorite part of the entire order! Designed to make meal prepping even easier, the proteins and sides include grilled chicken strips, flat iron steaks, meatballs, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and more. I found they were great for heating up and serving alongside leftovers I’d cooked earlier in the week, allowing me to make several full meals out of what was left in my fridge. All the sides and proteins I tried tasted incredible (my personal favorite was the macaroni and cheese) and were more versatile than traditional meal delivery, since I could mix and match them as I pleased. Freshly sides can serve two to three people and are all less than $1.50, while the proteins are two to five servings and range in price from $1.50 to $11.
The Freshly meals, proteins, and sides I chose
Freshly sides and proteins:
Freshly delivery and packaging: efficient and sustainable
Freshly delivers its prepared meals seven days a week, but depending on where you live, you may only be able to choose from a few delivery days per week. In my area, I had delivery options from Tuesday through Sunday. You can schedule a delivery date as early as two days after submitting your order and as much as three weeks in advance. Recurring orders can be skipped, rescheduled, or postponed online or using the Freshly app up to two days in advance of your scheduled delivery date.
Both of my Freshly packages arrived at around 1:00 pm on the day I was expecting them. The boxes are packed with ice packs in insulated boxes to keep the food fresh for up to 12 hours on your porch (yes, even in the summer), but since I work from home, I was able to bring them inside right away. Note: Once you’ve brought the box inside, you should immediately unpack it and store all of the meals in your refrigerator.
Each of the meals are clearly labeled and packed in cardboard sleeves with the dish’s name and nutritional information on it, so it’s easy to make sure all your meals are accounted for. Since there’s no prep involved to cook Freshly meals, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of separate ingredients; everything you need is inside the cardboard sleeve. Cooking instructions, expiration dates, and a full list of ingredients can be found on the back of the sleeve.
When it comes to the packaging itself, Freshly does a great job of minimizing harm to the planet. The cardboard boxes, plastic meal containers, and cardboard sleeves can all be tossed in your recycling bin (just be sure to wash the meal containers). The insulation is made from recycled denim and is almost completely biodegradable. The gel ice packs are non-toxic, so you can dump out the contents (just not in your drain, as it could temporarily clog it) and recycle the plastic.
Cooking Freshly meals: ready in five minutes
One of my favorite parts about Freshly is just how quick and easy the meals are to prepare. Each of the entrees is ready in a matter of minutes—just peel the plastic cover back on one corner of the container, pop it in the microwave for three minutes, and then let it stand for two minutes to cool. Since the meals come in a plastic container, there isn’t any mess to clean up afterwards. I did find that some of the entrees cooled rather quickly, so if you plan to eat your meal more than 15 minutes after cooking, you might need to reheat it.
The proteins and sides take slightly more time to cook than the entrees, depending on which you order and how many servings you’re heating up at a time. These dishes have alternate heating methods, so you can heat them up in your oven or on the stovetop if desired. I found that the mashed potato side tasted best when heated in a pan on the stove, rather than the microwave. Either way, the sides and proteins each come with easy-to-follow heating instructions on the back of the cardboard sleeve, and the overall prep time is still less than 10 minutes.
Freshly flavor and quality
I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical about how good microwave-only meal delivery could be, but Freshly exceeded all my expectations. Each dish was extremely flavorful; the variety of meat, fruits, and veggies was surprising; and the ingredients tasted fresh. I was extremely impressed by how satisfied I was after eating the meals—as a runner, it’s often hard for me to find meal kits that can fill me up for more than an hour or two. The high levels of protein and balance of complex carbohydrates in the meals kept me feeling just the right amount of full.
My personal favorite entree in the entire order was the wild-caught whitefish cake, which was labeled as dairy free, gluten free, and soy free. Made with wild-caught cod and pollock fish and topped with a creamy dijonnaise sauce, the flavors in this dish were tangy and bright without being overpowering. I also loved the sauteed mushrooms, carrots, and green beans with golden potatoes on the side—a perfect combination with the fluffy texture of the fish cake. I haven’t stopped thinking about this dish since! I also loved the masterful mac and cheese side, which was gooey and delicious with just a hint of butternut squash.
The only entree I probably wouldn’t order again was the paleo-friendly pulled pork. This dish was labeled as low carb, low calorie, paleo-friendly, dairy free, soy free, high protein, and gluten free. While the flavor of the pork was great and I really enjoyed the cajun cauliflower rice side, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the bed of collard greens braised in apple cider vinegar. The flavors were a bit too tart when combined with the spicy sweetness of the pulled pork, and there are enough other Freshly meals catching my eye that I’ll probably skip this dish next time.
Freshly cost: comparable to other meal delivery services
- Four meals a week: $11.49 per serving
- Six meals a week: $9.49 per serving
- Eight meals a week: $9.29 per serving
- Ten meals a week: $8.99 per serving
- Twelve meals a week: $8.49 per serving
Add-on sides and proteins:
- masterful mash with cauli, potato and chives (16 oz): $1
- Masterful mac and cheese with butternut squash and two cheeses (13 oz): $1
- Carb swap cauliflower rice with tomato, basil and oregano (16 oz): $1.50
- Three herb-grilled chicken breasts (9.75 oz): $3
- Grilled chicken strips (12 oz): $5
- Three grilled flat iron steaks (9.75 oz): $11
- Eight baked beef meatballs (9.2 oz): $1.50
- Eight baked turkey meatballs (9.98 oz): $1.50
Shipping: Cost is calculated at checkout based on your delivery address and order size, but it’s usually between $4 and $12.
Freshly offers a discount to students over age 16—$80 off your first five orders when you sign up using an active student email address. Freshly doesn’t offer military or senior discounts.
Freshly customer service
If you need to contact Freshly’s customer service for any reason, there are customer support agents available 24/7 to help you. You have several ways to contact them: call or text 1-844-373-7459 for assistance anytime day or night, chat on Facebook Messenger, or fill out the support contact form on the Freshly website. You can also read through the FAQs page to find answers to common inquiries. According to its website, Freshly’s customer service team typically responds to your request in less than 30 minutes.
Many of Freshly’s thousands of five-star reviews praise the customer service department for its friendliness, quick responses, and willingness to compensate customers for any inconveniences.
“Tonight I chatted with [a Freshly customer service agent],” one customer says. “Our power has been out for 24+ hours … and I asked if I could get some help with my spoiled food. Totally not Freshly’s fault but [the agent was] so sympathetic and offered a credit. I am so appreciative for the kindness extended!”
Freshly has an astounding average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. Based on nearly 11,000 customer reviews, 8,968 said it was excellent, 1,144 said it was great, 377 said it was average, 132 said it was poor, and 264 said it was bad. According to TrustPilot, Freshly regularly asks its customers to leave reviews, whether positive or negative, and the company typically responds to negative reviews in 24 hours or less. Overall, customer experience with Freshly is very positive.
“I forgot to change my meals & customer support helped me tremendously,” Beverly says. “Very knowledgeable about the meal ingredients & [customer service] alerted me to what may be a problem for my dietary needs. That was very much appreciated!”
“Denise was very helpful and professional as she assisted me,” Doreen says. “Although the correct meals were listed on the app as delivered, all but one of the 6 meals was incorrect. She refunded the amount of the order and sent a report to quality assurance to investigate the issue. She ensured I will remain a customer by her efforts.”
Freshly responds to all of its Trustpilot reviews whether positive or negative, and directs users to the customer service contact page to further resolve any issues they might have.
Freshly review: my take
Overall, Freshly is a super simple way to find and eat healthy, filling meals every day. For people who value balanced, health-conscious eating, Freshly has a variety of options to keep mealtime interesting and affordable. The sign-up process is easy and I love that you can select your own meals based on your specific preferences. The food is easy to heat and eat with no prep time, which is a huge asset for people with busy schedules. As someone who often forgets to plan ahead for meals, I appreciated how easy it was to keep healthy food on hand to pack as a lunch or a quick dinner before heading out the door.
Freshly also is great for reducing food waste; since each meal is one serving, there’s no ingredients wasted or leftovers that need to be kept in the fridge. The packaging is mostly recyclable or biodegradable, so your Freshly subscription has little environmental impact.
Who is the service good for?
Freshly is a great meal subscription service for people with a gluten intolerance or who follow a specific diet, people who want to eat healthier, and people with busy schedules. It’s also great for individuals and couples.
Who isn’t it good for?
Vegetarians, vegans, and people who don’t enjoy healthy food may not enjoy Freshly. It’s also not a great option for large families, as the service only offers single-serving entrees.
My testing methodology
After reviewing Freshly based on its pricing, flavor, customer service, sustainability, and more, my overall ranking for Freshly was an 8.8 out of 10. I took each of the below factors into consideration as I was reviewing to arrive at a weighted score out of 10.
Meals have a balanced and delicious flavor and consistency.
The service provides easy-to-follow instructions for preparing and cooking the meal.
Ingredients are high quality and fresh. They are in good shape when they arrive.
There are options for users to note dietary restrictions and preferences. Choosing these options is easy to do, and there are plenty of meal/food options for these preferences.
This service provides a variety of meals, cuisines, and flavors to avoid meal repeats and provide users with new dishes to explore.
Meals are healthy and provide balanced nutrients.
The service is available to consumers in a variety of locations.
Portion sizes are reasonable and filling. You don’t need to supplement the meal with additional food because you’re left hungry.
The price is reasonable for the quality of food you receive.
The subscription/plan offers reasonable customization. You’re able to adjust or cancel your order within a reasonable time frame.
The meals arrived on time. The packaging kept things fresh and in good condition. You’re able to provide delivery instructions if needed.
How quickly customer service responds to queries, the level of detail they provide, and how helpful the team is overall
Takes into consideration a company’s social missions, charitable causes, and sustainability efforts. Products are sourced ethically. Packaging is recyclable or sustainable.