Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About Freshly Meals

An in-depth look at the popular meal delivery service, how it works, what it costs, and whether it's a good fit for you.

Courtesy of Freshly
Courtesy of Freshly
We independently source all of the awesome products and experiences that we feature on Thrillist. If you buy or book from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission — which in turn supports our work.

When you hear the words “meal-delivery service,” you might picture the recipe cards and tidily wrapped ingredients made familiar by brands like HelloFresh or Blue Apron. While these kits let you play chef without doing the shopping or planning the meal, other services take care of another step: the cooking. One of those is Freshly, which delivers fresh and fully prepared single-serving meals to your door. All you do is heat and serve.

What, exactly, is Freshly?

When you sign up with Freshly, which is owned by Nestlé, you’ll choose how many meals to receive each week and pick the dishes from a menu of about 40 items, which are refreshed weekly. The food is certified gluten-free (except for a couple of items), free of excess sugar, and minimally processed, and it spans a variety of cuisines such as old-school American, Mexican, and Italian. They’re ready to eat in five minutes—three in the microwave and two standing—and can be frozen if you can’t finish them before the best-by date.

How much does Freshly cost (per person)?

The cost of Freshly depends on your weekly order. Meals start at $8.49 each if you sign up for the weekly maximum of 12, and they go up to $11.49 each if you ask for the minimum of four. Some “premium” meals may have an extra charge of around $1 to $3. You’re looking at a starting price of $46 per week plus the cost of shipping, which varies based on your location and delivery date.

Courtesy of Freshly

What do Freshly reviewers say?

Freshly’s ratings on customer review sites like Trust Pilot and ConsumerAffairs are mostly five stars. On the former, people overwhelmingly cite quick, polite, and responsive customer-service experiences. On the latter, there’s lots of talk about the meals: They taste good and “home cooked,” they’re affordable and quick to prepare, and they seem nutritious and properly portioned. Others shout-out the variety of menu options, recyclable packaging, and specific dishes; there are more than a few positive mentions of the Homestyle Chicken meal, which comes with gluten-free mac and cheese and garlicky green beans.

As for complaints, most are shipping-related, which can have less to do with Freshly and more to do with delivery partners. Some are about receiving the wrong items or quantities, though most reviews state that these were quickly resolved through customer service.

Is Freshly easy to use?

It does not get easier than Freshly. Take food out of fridge, remove paper sleeve from package, read instructions, peel back plastic film. Meals are microwave-ready in five minutes—usually three for heating and two for standing. You can also heat your food in the oven or on the stovetop, but these methods take longer. Take a minute to carefully present the meal on your favorite dish, or deposit it onto a plate and enjoy.

What are the standout features of Freshly?

  • Effort-free healthy eating: Besides what Freshly leaves out (excess sugar, artificial flavors and preservatives, etc.), it loads in vegetables, healthy fats, and other nutrient-dense ingredients to every meal. Chefs also make subtle swaps—like butternut squash in your mac and cheese sauce and chicken that’s “fried” in the oven—so you can eat a little lighter without actually having to rice your own head of cauliflower.
  • Tasty food, all things considered: At the end of the day, these microwave meals won’t look or taste quite like Grandma used to make. With that being said, Freshly’s modern-meets-nostalgic dishes are noticeably better tasting and far more sophisticated than the TV dinners from your youth. From the ones we tried, we especially liked the turkey stroganoff and wild-caught whitefish cake.
  • No leftovers = more variety: Since all Freshly meals serve one person and the 40-item menu is refreshed every week, you won’t ever have to eat cauliflower shell Bolognese three days in a row (unless you want to).
Courtesy of Freshly

Who should sign up for Freshly?

  • Busy people: You might not have time to plan, shop, or cook, but you probably have five minutes to heat up a prepared meal.
  • People who don’t love to cook: You don’t have to pretend that sautéing onions excites you when the microwave is doing the cooking.
  • People who need to rein in a takeout addiction: If your Postmating is out of control and your wallet is crying, your savings from using a meal-delivery service should help patch things up.
  • People avoiding gluten: Almost all Freshly meals are certified gluten-free.

Who should avoid Freshly?

  • You’re vegan or vegetarian: Freshly has a couple of plant-based options on its menu and says it’s working to add more; there just currently aren’t enough to warrant a subscription.
  • You’re feeding a family: Subscribers can order up to 12 single-serving meals per week. While that might be plenty for a one- or two-person household, it won’t be enough for families who want more than a couple of Freshly meals each week.
  • You like to cook: For obvious reasons.

How does Freshly actually work?

The first step when signing up for Freshly is to choose one of five different plans for four, six, eight, 10, or 12 meals per week. Then you’ll fill in your email address, zip code, and preferred delivery date of your first order—options will depend on your location and mail carrier—before checking out the menu of the week.

Freshly offers a selection of about 40 meals per week, with roughly three new options joining the mix each time. When making your choices, you’ll be able to look at pictures, ingredient lists, and nutrition facts about each meal. Dishes are tagged with quick labels like gluten-free, dairy-free, and under 500 calories, so you can choose based on those qualities if you like. Freshly also cycles in alternate menu categories, including FreshlyFit (extra carb-conscious and high-protein) and Chef’s Special, which has featured recipes developed by chefs like Jet Tila and Kwame Onwuachi.

Next, you’ll fill in your delivery, contact, and payment information before submitting your order. By doing so, you’re agreeing to sign up for a Freshly subscription and receive meals each week. If you have questions or would rather talk to a human before sealing the deal, Freshly has customer support agents available 24/7 via messenger, email, text, and phone. Find all of these services on the contact or support page.

Once you’re using Freshly, you can choose your upcoming menus up to three weeks in advance. If you ever need to swap selections, change your number of meals or delivery day, or skip a shipment, you can do so online—just be sure to meet the weekly deadline (usually, five or six days before your next order) so you don’t get charged beforehand. You’re also free to cancel your subscription at any time through customer support. If you decide that you want to come back, you can reactivate your subscription.

There’s no prep or cooking involved with Freshly meals, which are delivered fully prepared in insulated packaging with ice packs. Put them in the refrigerator if you’re able to eat them within three to five days as suggested; otherwise, you can freeze them. All meals come with a best-by date on the packaging, and more perishable items, such as seafood, are marked with recommendations to eat them soonest. When you’re ready to eat, follow package instructions for microwave, oven, or stovetop heating.

Courtesy of Freshly

Are there alternative Freshly meal kit services out there?

Freshly isn’t the only service that delivers fully prepared, no-prep-needed meals to your door. You might want to consider these competitors if…

You’re looking for more plant-based, raw-food options: Daily Harvest, Sakara Life, or Thistle

The majority of dishes offered by these services are vegan. If you’re less crazy about meat and more into salads, smoothies, and superfoods, look into this trio.

You want more diet-tailored dishes:Snap Kitchen

Similarly to Freshly, Snap Kitchen serves mostly gluten-free, low-carb food that’s free of artificial ingredients. Uniquely, it allows you to customize your menu based on your diet plan—paleo, keto, Whole30, etc.—and even filter your options based on calories, carbs, protein, and other factors.

You’d like a stocked vegan freezer on your own schedule: Veestro

Veestro’s globally inspired menu looks a lot like Freshly’s, with two main differences: First, everything is plant-based. Second, instead of sending you meals every week, Veestro allows you to order between 10 and 30 frozen mains at whatever frequency you like. If you spend a lot of time out of town, this might be a better service for you.

Your goal is to have three square meals a day: Factor 75

Factor 75 and Freshly are basically twins: Meals are fresh, not frozen, and suitable for people who like their meals low-carb and centered around animal protein. For a couple extra dollars (Factor starts at $11 per meal), you can also order breakfast, like blueberry pancakes or a breakfast tostada bake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Freshly’s delivery area?

Freshly delivers to all 48 states in the continental U.S. (so, all states except for Alaska and Hawaii).

What carrier will deliver my order?

Freshly’s delivery partners include AxleHire, LaserShip, OnTrac, FedEx, UPS, CDL, UDS, and Veho. The one that will deliver your order depends on where you live and your preferred delivery day.

What days and times does Freshly deliver?

Freshly delivers seven days a week, but the available days for your order depend on your zip code and carrier. You can’t set a delivery time, but you can expect to receive your order between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. (The packaging is designed to keep the food cold for 60 hours.)

How much does shipping cost?

Shipping charges depend on where you live and the weight of your order, but they range from $5.99 to $11.99.

What’s the packaging like, and can I recycle it?

When you open your cardboard box, you’ll find layers of recycled denim insulation surrounding the meals. These are marked with tips about how to reuse them – make a bed for your pet or cushion breakables for your next move! Otherwise, remove the plastic film and find a recycle drop-off location for it here. The denim insulation inside is 85% biodegradable and can be thrown in the trash.

Non-toxic gel packs keep the food cold and can also be reused. Otherwise, empty the gel in the trash and take the cover to a recycling location.

Finally, meals are packaged in microwave-safe plastic #5 boxes, which don’t release BPA when heated and can be recycled with rigid plastics once rinsed. The cardboard sleeves and shipping box can be recycled curbside once plastics are removed.

Where are the meals made?

Freshly food is cooked at three different kitchens in Arizona, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Is the food organic?

Freshly is not certified organic or non-GMO.

Is the food 100% gluten-free?

Almost all Freshly meals are certified gluten-free, and those are all prepared in a certified gluten-free kitchen.

Where do the ingredients come from?

Most produce comes from U.S.-based vendors but may be sourced from other countries depending on the season. All meat (except for shrimp) comes from the U.S. and is USDA-inspected and graded.

How can I make sure the food is safe?

Freshly is regulated by the FDA, as well as state and local authorities where the food is prepared. Learn more about its food-safety practices on the website.

Are discounts or rewards available?

Full-time students older than 16 get 15% off any plan for four weeks. Everyone else can get up to 10 referral credits per month: For every person you refer to sign up for Freshly, you’ll get $30 off one week, and the person you referred will get $30 off their first three weeks. You can also take advantage of the occasional promo code.

Sara Cagle is a Thrillist contributor.
Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.