I Tried A Microwaveable Meal Delivery Service To Get Out Of Cooking — Here’s What I Thought
This article is sponsored by Freshly. All opinions are the writer’s own.
Anyone who is a long-time reader of TFD may know that my husband, Peter, and I are devotees of meal kit deliveries. We both enjoy cooking, but — and I say this with love — Peter is just about the worst meal planner I’ve ever met. And while meal kits aren’t always the cheapest option when it comes to home cooking, in my household, we love them for what they provide: a lot of variety with very little planning-related effort.
So when Freshly approached us with the opportunity to try their meals, I was more than familiar with the idea of having my food delivered. However, I’d never tried a meal delivery service that didn’t actually involve cooking, which is exactly what Freshly is.
How Freshly Works
Freshly offers over 30 options of healthy meals delivered right to your door, and each can be prepared in just 3 minutes in the microwave. Their meals are always fresh, not frozen like a standard TV dinner, and they focus on nutritious servings without sacrificing flavor. Their service is simple: when you sign up for a subscription, you pick how many meals you want per week, and which meals you want to try. After your first meal picks, Freshly will arrange a default menu each week, but you can change the meals to be whatever you want. They offer plans of 4, 6, 10, or 12 meals delivered per week, and the pricing comes out to between $8.49 and $13 a meal, depending on how many you add to your plan. Also, you can easily skip a week (or multiple) if you’re going to be out of town or otherwise occupied, and you can easily change your delivery address, too.
I’m no stranger to the microwaveable meal for convenience’s sake, but honestly, they’re usually so processed — I probably haven’t had one since I was living in a dorm over a decade ago. Thankfully, Freshly’s meals have way shorter (and more decipherable) ingredient lists than what you’ll typically find in the frozen dinner aisle. I was excited to try it out, both because it was an easy way to get out of meal planning for a few days, and because I was genuinely curious about how these would taste. Plus, as much as I love cooking, we’ve been doing it so. freaking. much. since lockdown began back in March. I was excited to have an excuse to have a few lunches and dinners made for me (and not have to do the dishes).
One thing I don’t love about meal delivery services is the amount of packaging involved. Freshly does their best to offset this with eco-friendly materials, which I really appreciate. The food comes in completely recyclable cardboard packaging, and it’s insulated with 85% biodegradable recycled denim. Each box also comes with a few ice packs, which contain non-toxic gel (and the plastic around the ice packs is recyclable, too). Here’s what our box looked like:
Now the most important part: how do these actually taste? For our trial week, we picked out these meals (3 for me, 3 for Peter), each of which came in a single-serve portion:
- Zpaghetti And Meatballs
- Homestyle Chicken
- Steak Peppercorn
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Tangy Sesame Citrus Chicken
- K-Town Pork & Purple Sticky Rice
I mentioned that Freshly is committed to nutritious portions, which means their meals put a healthy spin on more “traditional” prepared dinners. (As far as dietary restrictions/preferences go, they don’t currently have vegetarian or vegan options, but they do offer plenty of dairy-free, gluten-free, and peanut-free meals. You can find out more about Freshly’s nutrition information here.)
For our first Freshly dinner, I had “zpaghetti” and meatballs, which was zucchini noodles with turkey meatballs in a red sauce. Now, I will never pretend that vegetables are pasta. They just aren’t. But, the zucchini noodles were very good in their own right! And the turkey meatballs tasted delightfully sausage-y. I could have done with a bit more tomato sauce, but it was very flavorful.
Peter’s first meal was the homestyle chicken, which had an almond flour “breading” and came with sides of green beans and “mac and cheese” with gluten-free noodles and a butternut squash sauce. The green beans were fresh, and the chicken was actually really tender despite being technically reheated. I stole a lot of his mac and cheese, which I thought was the star of the plate.
(You’ll notice we just ate them straight out of the tray — I loved this because it meant fewer dishes to do, but you can easily put your meals on a plate for a more ~formal~ mealtime!)
For our next meal, I had chicken tikka masala with rice and vegetables, and Peter had steak with chunky mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a peppercorn sauce. The chicken tikka is labeled as “spicy” on the Freshly site. I thought it was pretty mild, but still very flavorful! The steak, in Peter’s opinion, was more like a Salisbury steak than a regular grilled steak, but definitely not in a bad way. I really liked the sauce and mashed potatoes on his dish.
For our last Freshly meal (which we ate for lunch), I had a Korean barbecue-style roast pork with vegetables and purples sticky rice, and Peter had a spin on Chinese takeout sesame chicken. Both were just as good as what we’d now come to expect with our Freshly meals. I especially liked my roast pork, which was tender and not overcooked. The rice didn’t have much flavor on its own, but it was a great texture and I just mixed everything together anyway. We both put a little sriracha on each of these dishes for an added kick. I was also glad to have had this for lunch, as it was perfectly filling but not healthy, and didn’t leave me feeling bloated and groggy the rest of the day.
Who Is Freshly For?
I don’t think anyone should think of Freshly as a replacement for home cooking, because that’s really not what it is. But as a convenient option, the meals are all great quality and do pack a surprising amount of flavor! It was great to not have to worry about cooking or planning our meals a few times in a week. I could definitely see us ordering it again as an alternative to takeout, as it’s both healthier and more affordable than most restaurant options. Plus, it offers a lot of the same options I’d go for on Seamless (namely chicken tikka), and you don’t have to wait for it to be delivered when you’re hungry!
While I firmly believe shared meals are sacred, Freshly is a great lunch option for busy workdays, or a good, healthy break when you’re super sick of cooking. And I’d definitely recommend it to college students living in dorms or anyone else who doesn’t have access to a full kitchen, or to anyone who doesn’t enjoy cooking but wants to add healthier options and more variety to their diet.
Holly is TFD’s Head of Content. Find her on Instagram here.
Image via Freshly