While consuming a healthy diet is important to many people, lots of busy, working professionals don’t always have time to prep and cook healthy meals or grocery shop for the ingredients. That’s where a meal subscription service can be invaluable. Instead of going through another fast food drive-thru at the end of a long day, you can heat up a substantial meal in minutes with a fraction of the fat and calories that are in a burger and fries. Freshly is one such meal subscription service, and we’ll take a look at exactly what Freshly “delivers” in terms of an overall customer experience. We’ll also examine how much Freshly costs and how well it stacks up against similar pre-cooked meal delivery services.

COMPARISON TABLE

​PRODUCT

​IMAGE

​RATING

​PRICE

​Freshly

Freshly

​Balance By BistroMD

Balance By BistroMD

​Munchery

Munchery

Freshly: Chef-Cooked Meals Delivered To Your Door Weekly

Freshly Chef-Cooked Meals Delivered to Your Door Weekly

Unlike some subscription boxes that deliver you the ingredients to make a meal, Freshly delivers pre-made meals to you on a weekly basis. Currently, Freshly offers individual breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in a rotating menu. Some of the more popular items are available almost every week, while other meals get switched out seasonally. Freshly offers 30 different meals, including vegetarian options, and each one is gluten-free. All meals have a significant amount of protein, are made with all-natural ingredients and contain zero refined sugars.

​How It Works

​Before any “signing up” is necessary, you’re able to see the latest menu at any time on Freshly’s website. You can see a picture of each dish, a short summary about it, all of its ingredients and its complete nutrition facts. Each dish is meant to be a single meal for one person. There is quite a variety to view at any one time, from spaghetti squash and meatballs to chicken tikka masala. Meals that are the most popular based on customer reviews are given a “top rated” label. Below the meal name, you’ll see some small icons that communicate key features of the meal.

Features:

  • ​Fewer than 35 carbs
  • ​Fewer than 500 calories
  • ​High Protein
  • ​Vegetarian
  • ​Paleo Friendly
  • ​Spicy
  • ​Gluten Free
  • ​Soy Free
  • ​Dairy Free

​Subscription

Packaging

​To get started with Freshly, you must sign up for a subscription, in which you include your billing information, the delivery address, your preferred delivery day and how many meals you would like delivered from a list of options (see below under “Pricing and Delivery Options”). In terms of your preferred delivery day, you generally have the option of selecting any day Tuesday through Saturday, although this might be limited to fewer days, depending on your location. All that’s left for you to do is select which meals you want. All of the same information about each meal referenced above is available to help you make your selections.

Once you choose your meals and place your order, Freshly will charge you for the cost of your meals. The chefs will prepare your meal from fresh ingredients, and as soon as the delivery partners pick up your order, Freshly sends you a tracking email so that you’re able to keep tabs on the delivery. You don’t have to be home at the time of delivery. The carrier will either leave the package by your front door or, in the case of an apartment building, in your lobby or mail area.

​Packaging

Freshly

​The meals will arrive in a cardboard box with special modified atmospheric packaging to keep the food cold for 60 hours of transit and 12 hours outside (on your porch or doorstep). The packaging is quite advanced, as it actually lowers the oxygen level in the package, which slows down oxidation reactions, as well as the growth of aerobic organisms. The ice packs are non-toxic, and the insulation is made from recycled denim. Long story short: your food arrives cold, fresh and never frozen, preservative-free and ready for your refrigerator, where you keep the meals until ready for use.

It’s important to eat your meals within four to five days, as the absence of artificial and chemical preservatives means that your food will have a more limited shelf life than other products bought from the store. You can see the “use by” date on the back of each meal. If you know you’re going to run out of time to eat your meals before they expire, you can freeze them for later use, although Freshly recommends that you eat the meals fresh for optimum taste. The meals only take around three minutes to heat up in the microwave. Each meal comes with instructions for how to heat it up either in the carton it came in or on a plate.

​Delivery

​When it’s time to select the next week’s meals, you’ll receive an email notification. The email tells you the date of your next delivery and the deadline to make your selections. It also contains a link for you to log into your account to make your choices. Once you update your meals, you’ll get a confirmation email. If you forget to make your meal selections by the deadline, Freshly will automatically send you exactly the same items in your last shipment.

To improve its services and to learn more about its customers’ meal preferences, Freshly will ask you to review each of your meals separately. Of course, this is not mandatory, but if you want your voice to be heard and possibly impact future meals, rate your meals on a regular basis.

For added convenience, Freshly does offer a mobile app. It allows you to view your order history, update your deliveries, browse the menu and select meals, rate your meals, view FAQs and contact support via live chat, email or phone call. You can also update your dietary preferences on the app so that a warning symbol will show up in “Choose meals” mode on any meals that contain an ingredient you’re avoiding for dietary, allergy or religious reasons.

​Pricing And Delivery Options

Freshly offers four weekly meal delivery plans:

  • ​Four meals for $49.99 ($12.50 per meal)
  • ​Six meals for $59.99 ($9.99 per meal)
  • ​Nine meals for $89.99 ($9.99 per meal)
  • ​12 meals for $107.99 ($8.99 per meal)

​The more meals you choose to have delivered, the better the deal. Freshly offers you the flexibility of changing the number of meals you want to receive from week to week. You also have the option to skip weeks (if you are going away on a trip, for instance). Freshly allows you to change your delivery preferences up to 3 weeks in advance. Shipping is free each time regardless.

​How Freshly Compares To Other Prepared Meal Subscription Boxes

Freshly

freshly subscription
  • ​Price: $8.99 – $12.50 per meal (depending on order size)
  • ​Ease of Use: 5 Stars
  • ​Lunch/Dinner Selection: 4 Stars
  • ​Breakfast Selection: 2 Stars
  • ​Dietary Options: 3 Stars
  • ​Delivery Options: 4 Stars

​​Balance By BistroMD

balanced meal
  • ​Price: $5.99 to $13.99 per meal, plus $19.95 shipping cost
  • ​Ease of Use: 4 Stars
  • ​Lunch/Dinner Selection: 5 Stars
  • ​Breakfast Selection: 5 Stars
  • ​Dietary Options: 5 Stars
  • ​Delivery Options: 3 Stars

​Munchery

munchery logo
  • ​Price: $12.99 to $14.49 per meal (depending on order size)
  • ​Ease of Use: 4 Stars
  • ​Lunch/Dinner Selection: 3 Stars
  • ​Breakfast Selection: 1 Star
  • ​Dietary Options: 2 Stars
  • ​Delivery Options: 3 Stars

​Easy To Use

Freshly is very easy to use, whether you choose to log in from your computer or mobile device. You can do just about anything on its mobile app that you can do from a computer. Munchery offers a mobile app as well, but Balance by bistroMD has yet to catch on. In addition to this, it is extremely easy to set up recurring meals or modify orders, and there is no membership cost for the subscription. With Balance, there is no actual subscription service, which gives you the luxury of ordering whenever you choose. However, if you would like to set up recurring orders with Balance, you actually need to contact bistroMD to set it up. Munchery gives you the option to buy as a “guest” or to join their membership for $83.50 a year. Participating in the membership allows you to get 15% off all items as well as take advantage of special discounts and offers.

​Food Nutrition

​Let’s talk food. Like the nutritionists that help create the meals at Balance by bistroMD, the Freshly chefs do keep health in mind in terms of keeping the calories down and making sure their meals supply important staples like protein, veggies and complex carbs. Your meals from Freshly will be 500 calories or less and will be a good deal healthier for you than just about any fast food option. If you choose to subscribe with Munchery, you’re joining for the experience of enjoying gourmet, restaurant-quality meals created by notable, award-winning chefs, whether you buy the premade meals or meal kits. That said, the calories per portion would be considered a splurge in a dieter’s daily calorie budget.

In addition to being relatively healthy, the fact that all of Freshly’s meals are gluten-free means that a wider array of people can enjoy them. Freshly also offers Paleo meals and meal options that are high in protein for those looking to restrict their carb intake. Additionally, the fact that the meals are made from fresh ingredients, contain no preservatives and are never frozen, simply improves their overall taste. Like Freshly, meals from Munchery arrive chilled. Meals from Balance are fresh frozen.

Pros

  • Freshly is a majorly convenient service for busy couples or individuals. There is no cooking involved, and the “heat-up” time in the microwave averages around three minutes. One benefit of ordering meals from Freshly is that you actually get to choose a specified delivery date. You’ll experience this same convenience from Munchery with only a minimal shipping cost ($3 to $5) for same-day delivery. Shipping is a little less speedy from Balance by bistroMD, and the charge will be $19.95 for orders under $100—and you also won’t know exactly what day to expect your meals.

Cons

  • ​It’s important to note that Freshly delivers to many, but not all, U.S. states. The complete list of states they serve is available on their website, so be sure to check it out before signing up. Likewise, Munchery delivers to a select number of states, though less than Freshly. Balance by bistroMD delivers to all states within the continental U.S.

    Another downside to Freshly is that there are no family-sized options unless you order enough individual meals for each person in the family, which would probably not end up being cost-effective for every day of the week. Freshly also currently does not offer kids’ meals, salads, sides, drinks or desserts—which can be obtained through Munchery—and its breakfast selection is quite small when compared to the nearly 20 breakfasts available from Balance.

​Conclusion

​Taking everything into consideration, if Freshly fits into your meal budget, we recommend it as a prepared meal subscription box. Freshly is ideal for a busy person who hates cooking for one or for a couple with who’d rather spend more time living life than grocery shopping and meal prepping. Freshly provides flexible delivery options and a precise delivery window, and the meals are ready in minutes, no cooking necessary.

Although the assortment of meal options is not as large as some meal subscription services, Freshly does offer relatively healthy and fresh food, including meal options for those with dietary restrictions. Given the quality of its food, its delivery flexibility, its price and the major convenience it offers its customers, we rate this pre-cooked meal subscription service four out of five stars.

​Limited Time Deal

healthy food

​As of July 2018, if you subscribe for the first time, Freshly will provide you a substantial discount on your first and second order. As opposed to the normal cost of $59.99 for six dinners, Freshly will give you six meals for $39 on your first week, as well as another six meals for $39 on your second week. This amounts to a little over $41 in savings. If you miss out on this promotion, there is likely to be a different one available, as Freshly regularly offers great deals to first-time subscribers.

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