Trying to decide which meal delivery service is worth signing up for? Well, it’s definitely not the easiest decision to make! There are so many services out there and it seems like more are coming out each day.
To help you better weigh your options, let’s break down two of the popular services: Freshly and HelloFresh.
While these two are some of the most popular meal kits out there, they're also completely different in what they offer. Freshly sends pre-made meals that simply need to be heated, while HelloFresh sends pre-portioned ingredients that requires you to get in the kitchen and start cooking. Other than those obvious differences, there are similarities (as well as positives and negatives) to each.
Let's go over each so you can decide which one is right for you!
Variety of Food & Meal Plans
When it comes to meal kits, one of the main benefits of signing up is variety. No one wants to eat the same old food over and over again. Meal delivery services offer you the chance to try new foods, exciting dishes, and even stick to specific meal plans.
The meal plans that Freshly offers aren’t created based on diet. For example, you can't order a keto or paleo Freshly meal plan. They only offer one main meal plan. However, all of their meals are gluten-free and they adhere to a pretty strict recipe/cook process. They have a list of 85+ ingredients they never use in their meals.
There are four meal frequency options for you to select. You can choose to receive four meals per week, six meals, nine meals, or 12 meals. It all depends how frequently you’d like to receive your meals.
On the menu, you’ll find plenty of options that are suitable for lunch or dinner (unfortunately no breakfast options). In fact, their rotating menu features a massive 30 recipes per week, which is a lot of variety compared to other meal delivery services out there.
Here's a list of some of our past favorites: Sicilian-Style Chicken Parm with Broccoli, Steak Peppercorn with Sautéed Carrots & French Green Beans, Pesto Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles, and Aloha Chicken with Veggies & Quinoa. We taste test the Steak Peppercorn dish in our video unboxing and review here.
There are three different meal plans to choose from when signing up for a subscription with HelloFresh. They offer the Classic Plan, which serves their widest variety of meat, fish, and seasonal produce. The Veggie Plan offers vegetarian recipes with plant-based proteins, grains, and seasonal produce. And then there’s the Family Plan, which features quick and easy meals that are suitable for the whole family.
With the Classic Plan, you can choose to receive two, three, or four recipes per week. The Veggie Plan offers three recipes per week and the Family Plan offers two or three. On the menu for the Classic Plan, there will typically be 17 dishes to choose from each week. You’re going to find meals such as Chicken Pineapple Quesadillas with Pico de Gallo and Southwest Spice, the Juicy Lucy Burger with Tomato Onion Jam and Potato Wedges, and Creamy Parmesan Chicken Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil.
Winner: It's a tie!
When you're paying a premium for meals, you don't want them to skimp out on how much they send you. Small portion sizes end up leaving you hungry and wanting more. Let's find out which of these two meal kits has the better portion size.
Since Freshly is sending pre-made meals, they aren’t designed to feed multiple people. They’re single serving meals that are quick and easy to prepare. Being that they’re only for one person, it helps to prevent overeating and gives you exactly the nutrients you need with each meal. However, the meals that they do send are just the right size. We wouldn't consider them "a lot" but they definitely aren't a little.
HelloFresh definitely doesn't skimp out when it comes to their meals. In all of the boxes we've received from them, the recipes we've made have more than fed us. In fact, there were a few times when we had leftovers. If you're looking for big portions, HelloFresh is the way to go.
Ingredients are the foundation of a great meal. That's why it's important the meal kit you choose not only choose high quality ingredients but also send them to you fresh.
The ingredients that Freshly uses are some of the highest quality we've seen. As mentioned above, they strive to use clean ingredients by sticking to a list of 85+ banned ingredients they never use in their meals. Some of these ingredients you may recognize (such as artificial flavors and colors) and others have names that I can't even pronounce (like azodicarbonamide)
In addition to being very strict with the quality of ingredients they use in their meals, as the name "Freshly" suggests, the ingredients are fresh. All of the meals we've received tasted as if it had been home cooked (even though it was pre-made).
HelloFresh sends pre-portioned ingredients that you cook yourself. Everything is measured out so you have exactly the amount you need for each recipe.
In terms of the quality of their ingredients, they are good but possibly not as strict as Freshly. To give you an example, their fish is both wild-caught and farm-raised. Their meats are sourced domestically. The chicken they source is antibiotic and hormone free, and the pork is hormone free.
Recipe Cards & Cooking
Before you can eat the meals you just got in your box, you have to cook them (even if that means throwing it in the microwave). Making the cooking process as simple and easy to follow as possible is what makes for a great meal kit.
Because Freshly’s meals are pre-made by their team of chefs, recipe cards aren’t necessary. Instead, you’ll just have cooking instructions for each meal. All you have to do is place the food in the microwave and heat it up for about three minutes and you’ll be ready to enjoy. Or, you can place it in the oven to heat for a bit longer. It’s ideal for someone who wants dinnertime to be quick and easy.
If you love to make your food, Hello Fresh is more up your alley. That being said, it takes significantly longer to actually eat the meal since it needs to be cooked first. They provide you with detailed recipe cards to guide you every step of the way. These recipe cards state how long it’ll take to prepare each meal, all of the required ingredients, and will walk you through preparing the dish with written instructions and photos. It’s suitable even for someone who is a beginner cook. HelloFresh also allows you to see each recipe card online so you can choose your meals based on cooking time, difficulty, etc.
Delivery & Shipping Options
A meal kit isn't worth considering if they can't ship to you. Many meal kits can only ship to certain locations within the United States.
Meals from Freshly can be shipped all over the contiguous United States, which means Alaska and Hawaii are excluded. However, it’s important to note that in some zip codes, the delivery partners are not able to be reached within Freshly’s 48-hour delivery window. If they aren’t able to ship to your location, you will be notified.
Same as Freshly, HelloFresh only delivers orders to the contiguous United States. There’s also a $6.99 charge for shipping each box, which you’ll want to factor into the overall cost of the service. HelloFresh also allows you to choose your desired delivery day based on what’s available for your location.
The package that the meal kit is shipped in is important to consider when making a decision. Is it recyclable or compostable? Are they using environmentally-friendly insulation? Will it keep your food cold in transit?
The boxes, plastic meal containers, and cardboard meal sleeves that Freshly uses within their packaging are all recyclable. You can put them out with your regular curbside recycling. For the insulation, you’ll want to remove the plastic cover and recycle that as well. Then, the denim insulation itself should be thrown into the trash. It’s 85% biodegradable. The gel ice packs should be disposed of after they’ve completely thawed. Simply drain the non-toxic contents into the garbage and then recycle the plastic bag. Here's a full video Freshly made to help people fully recycle their boxes.
Due to the use of recycled denim, which is also used to insulate homes, it keeps the meals very cool in transit. It also acts as padding within the package to keep everything safe while it makes its way to your doorstep.
HelloFresh is doing their part to be more eco-friendly with the packaging they use. The box that your fresh ingredients arrive in can be dismantled and put out with the rest of your curbside recycling. The separator piece and the meal kits are also able to be recycled.
Packaging contents do need to be switched up based on the season to ensure food stays at a safe temperature and doesn’t spoil. In the summertime, additional liners are used to insulate the box. These can be taken to your local recycling center. However, liners that are used during the winter should be thrown into the trash (not recycled).
There are also ice packs to keep food cold. You can always save these and reuse them if you’d like. But if you’d rather dispose of them, all you need to do is cut open the pouch with a pair of scissors and drain the water-soluble contents into the trash. Then, the plastic can be recycled.
Money Back Guarantee
When it comes to meal kits, sometimes mistakes are made. The shipper might deliver to the wrong house, an ingredient might be missing, etc. It's important to have some sort of insurance that you're getting what you pay for.
If for any reason you aren’t satisfied with your Freshly order, you’ll want to contact their customer service team within five days of delivery. From there, Freshly will assess the situation and will decide to award either a full or partial credit or refund the purchase price for the delivery. They may require you to send photo documentation beforehand.
The same goes with HelloFresh. You’ll want to get in touch with their team within five days if there are any issues with ingredients inside your box. They’ll either issue a credit or refund. Just make sure you check over everything as soon as your order arrives.
Winner: It's a tie!
If you have a question about anything regarding your meal kit, the meals, etc. it's important that you can reach someone to get an answer.
To get in touch with the Freshly team, you can either hop on a live chat with one of their agents, call them on the phone, or send a text or email. They also have a support center with plenty of FAQs to help you out when needed.
If there’s ever an issue with your order, you contact them and get a resolution quickly. First, they have plenty of FAQs that have been answered on their website, which you can always check out before contacting them.
If that still doesn’t resolve your issue, there are three ways to get in touch with their team. There’s a live chat option on their site, you can email them, or you can call them on the phone.
Comparing these two services is a bit hard. One provides pre-made meals and the other you have to cook.
While HelloFresh is a great option for those who want to cook (or even learn how to cook) and the portion sizes are hefty, the winner, in this case, is Freshly.
With Freshly, not only is there zero cooking involved, the meals are some of the highest quality we've seen since we began this little blog. We're also impressed with the recyclability of their packaging, which is important when you're getting a recurring box.
Have a question about Freshly or HelloFresh? Feel free to leave a comment below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!
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