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Freshly Review: Are The Meals Actually Healthy?


Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD

Most Freshly reviews focus on the taste, cost and convenience of the meal delivery service, but we wanted to publish a review on the health benefits (or lack thereof). Since Freshly meals are relatively expensive (around $10 per meal depending on plan), we figure they should be healthy, since it would be easy to cook healthy foods at home for that cost.

In this review we’ll analyze some of the ingredients in Freshly meals and conclude whether we believe they’re healthy.

Unlike most of the websites reviewing Freshly, we have no affiliation with the company nor do we make any money with affiliate links to their site, so this review is totally unbiased.

Freshly’s Food Philosophy

Freshly Food Philosophy

Freshly publishes their “Food Philosophy” on their website, and the three core tenets are: Less Sugar, Less Processed, More Nutrients. We agree generally with all three of these.

Freshly aims to help consumers reduce their sugar intake, and it appears that they not only use minimal amounts of added sugars but also use sugars from nutritious sources. A few of their recipes use honey instead of added white sugar, which is a more nutrient dense food and significantly better for health than added sucrose (white sugar) based on medical research.

Part of the reason we recently reviewed Liquid IV so negatively is their totally unnecessary use of significant amounts of white sugar. It’s a good sign that Freshly is cautious in this regard and seems to care about the health of their consumers.

Freshly’s second goal is Less Processed, and they do a good job in this regard, especially considering that shipped meals have a higher need for preservatives than those produced at home.

Many of Freshly’s ingredient lists contain no preservatives at all, and the only one we can find on a few meals is natamycin, which is a preservative commonly used for cheese and processed meat and has been found to be very safe relative to other preservatives. 

Some consumers may want to avoid preservatives altogether (and we fall in this camp ourselves), but we believe this is about as minimally processed as you can get with prepared and shipped meals.

Freshly’s final goal is More Nutrients, and this is achieved by swapping vegetables into common American dishes. As a few examples, one of their current meals is a cauliflower pasta and another is a shepard’s pie made with butternut squash mash.

This strategy is a great way to increase nutrient intake and overall health, and something you don’t need a prepared meal service to do. We personally enjoy bean and chickpea pasta over regular pasta; it’s much more nutrient dense and healthy, and tastes nearly identical.

Overall, we feel like Freshly is doing a good job actually sticking to their marketing claims and food philosophy (which is not common if you’ve read any of our previous health product reviews).

Freshly can help you make meals that are relatively low in sugar, minimally processed and nutrient dense.

Ingredient Review - Steak Peppercorn

Freshly Steak Peppercorn ingredients list

Freshly’s steak peppercorn meal contains a good balance of macros with 26 grams (g) of fat, 38 g carbs and 29 g protein. We don’t believe there’s an optimal macro ratio (this depends on the individual), but a good balance is healthy for most people.

The ingredients used in this dish are varied and quite nutrient dense. Potatoes, green beans, carrots, onions and garlic provides more vegetable servings than many Americans get in a day.

There are no preservatives in this meal, and our only complaint is that the steak appears to be from conventionally raised animals. Animal products from grass fed animals are significantly healthier than products from animals raised conventionally based on medical studies.

Overall though, we would consider this a healthy meal and definitely better than what you’d get from many meal prep companies.

Ingredient Review - Chicken Parm

Freshly Chicken Parm ingredients list

Freshly’s chicken parm meal follows the same trends as the previous product: relatively nutrient dense with high protein, but using conventionally raised animal products.

Chicken parm has 42 g protein, which is a lot for a 410 calorie meal. Most of Freshly’s meals would be good for a post workout meal, since they seem to all have over 20 g protein.

This dish has broccoli, butternut squash, cauliflower, carrot puree and veggie marinara, so it’s a good blend of protein and veggies.

The chicken parm has two sources of conventionally raised animal protein: chicken and cheese.

Like the meal before, we consider it relatively healthy, especially compared to an average American meal, but not something we’d personally recommend. 410 calories is also quite a small serving size given the price.

Ingredient Review - Baked Lentil Pasta

Freshly Lentil Pasta ingredients list

This meal is packed full of healthy ingredients, including lentils, flaxseed, chickpeas, nutritional yeast and more. 

There are no preservatives in this formulation, and no conventionally raised animal products, so we’d argue this is the healthiest option of the meals we’ve reviewed. It also seems to be more nutrient dense with a wider variety of ingredients than the other meals.

12 g protein is relatively low so we wouldn’t recommend this as a post workout meal.

Is Freshly Healthy?

Overall, we think Freshly is pretty healthy, but still a worse option than cooking at home or buying a meal with only high quality ingredients.

Freshly does a good job at sticking to their core values and providing meals which are relatively nutrient dense, minimally processed (for the meal delivery industry), and low in added sugar.

Freshly could be a good option for consumers with a high income and little free time who really need the convenience of delivered meals because of their time constraints.

We don’t recommend Freshly overall because they use conventionally raised meats, do occasionally use preservatives, and the portion sizes are quite small.

Many of the meals are under 500 calories, which doesn’t constitute a full meal, especially for people who are active. A healthy, active young man would likely need upwards of 3,000 calories daily, so this expensive delivered meal might only constitute ⅙th of his caloric requirements.

We think Freshly is a better option than most of their competitors, and provides healthier meals than most Americans eat, but we’re eager to review a meal delivery company which truly provides nutritionally optimal meals and meal sizes. Freshly isn’t that.




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