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Should You Sign Up For a Meal Delivery Service? My Honest Review of Fresh Meal Plan.

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A couple months ago, I signed up for the Fresh Meal Plan meal delivery service.  At the time, I felt overwhelmed with all the time I was spending cooking and cleaning, and making several trips to the grocery store each week.  I wanted to use that time and energy to help improve CrossFit Palm Beach, and I saw outsourcing my weekly nutrition as the best way to free up that time so I could focus my attention on the business.

I should mention that this is the second time that I signed up for Fresh.  The first time, which was over a year prior, was not a good experience.  The food didn’t taste very good, the portions seemed more appropriate for a small child, and you weren’t able to choose what meals you wanted to receive each week.  It seemed like every meal was either chicken or turkey.  Extra lean.  No fat, little seasoning, and mostly flavorless.  To make matters worse, I opted for the “extra protein” option which to my surprise meant an extra container of plain, unseasoned grilled chicken breasts.  Great!  More chicken!

My first experience with Fresh lasted only a few weeks and I was begging for my normal home cooked paleo meals by the end of the final week.   I swore off meal delivery and went back to my old ways of cooking, cleaning, and shopping on a daily basis.

That all changed when I ran into Fresh at the Crush Games fitness competition in August.  I approached their booth with one thought in mind.….free samples!  As I tasted the samples, I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor and the variety of what they had out.

As I continued to stuff my face with free samples in an effort to save myself from having to buy a $12 (definitely not grass-fed) cheeseburger at the BB&T Center, I learned about a few changes that Fresh had made that re-peaked my interest in their company.

 

Choose your own menu – Now you could go online the week before and choose your exact meals for the following week.

 

Bigger portions – I’ll admit it.  They sold me on the whole “we feed the Miami Dolphins” thing.  If the portions were big enough for them, they were probably big enough for me.

 

More protein now meant more than just getting more plain grilled chicken – They actually give you twice as much protein for each of the meals you ordered if you choose the protein plus option.  This means more salmon, bison, steak, tuna, etc.  Not just chicken.

 

The combination of these 3 changes, with my newfound excitement with the flavors I was tasting, was enough to sell me on giving them another shot.

For the last few months, I have been getting my weekday meals exclusively from Fresh, and have been mostly happy with the food I have been receiving.  The changes that they made were a dramatic improvement over my experience of a year ago, and I genuinely looked forward to the food I would receive each Monday and Wednesday morning.

Despite being mostly satisfied with my experience, last week I decided to cancel my subscription with Fresh for the time being.  I am regularly asked what my opinion is of Fresh and if I think it is worth it.  I wanted to share some of the things that I liked and disliked to help you decide if signing up for a meal delivery service is right for you, whether that’s with Fresh or another company.

 

Things I Loved About Fresh Meals

Freshness – Meals were cooked the night before and delivered first thing in the morning (twice per week) to the gym before we arrived at 6 AM.  You were never given more than 2-3 days worth of meals at a time so meals were pretty fresh and never had to be frozen.

 

Paleo Options – It was very convenient to have only paleo meals to choose from and I didn’t have to worry about grains, dairy, etc. being added to the mix.

 

Convenience of less cooking and cleaning – My favorite part about Fresh and the thing I will definitely miss the most.  I really enjoy cooking and did miss it a little, but not having to clean was incredible.  Our kitchen has stayed cleaner than it ever has these past 3 months.

 

Saving trips to the grocery store – Have you ever been to Costco in the middle of the day?  Saving this headache alone is worth the cost of the service.

 

Pick your own meals – This made the biggest difference for me from the first experience with Fresh.  I could limit the number of chicken/turkey breast meals and avoid certain meals altogether.

 

Things I Didn’t Love About Fresh Meals

There were a few minor issues like the nutrition facts being off, delivery issues, and shoddy customer service at times, but none of these were deal breakers for me.  The main reason I ended up cancelling my subscription is my definition of paleo differs from Fresh’s definition of paleo.  Here is a quick summary of what I mean:

Poor quality proteins – I loved the grass-fed bison and the wild caught fish, but the chicken, turkey, eggs, and steak were not comparable in terms of quality.

 

Suspect Sauces – While I don’t have lists of ingredients to back up my claims, I am pretty confident saying that the soy sauces, BBQ sauces, and mayo-based sauces that were included with most of the meals were likely made with sugar, canola oil, or other non-paleo ingredients.

 

Low Fat Focus – Egg whites, extra lean chicken/turkey breasts, and steamed vegetables with no olive oil or butter, were staples in most of the meals.  These low fat focused meals not only leave you hungry in a few hours, but they can be almost painfully bland to eat on a regular basis.

 

Not Enough Vegetables – There were lots of meals where vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and spinach were used more like a garnish then a main component of the meal.  For the last few weeks, I found myself adding side salads and extra home cooked veggies to make sure I was getting an adequate amount of veggies.

 

While it may sound insignificant to some people, the added sauces, lack of veggies, and low fat nature of the meals, resulted in a noticeable difference in how I felt on a day-to-day basis.  I could tell a clear difference in my energy, my mental performance, and my performance in the gym.  I talked to a few of our other members that also came from a paleo background, and many of them felt the same way.  They just didn’t feel as good on the Fresh Meals as they do on their regular home cooking.

 

The Bottom Line: Should you sign up for Fresh or another meal delivery service?

Despite the drawbacks that I mentioned above, I do think most people would benefit from trying a meal delivery service.  It can be especially useful if you work a corporate job where it’s difficult to find a quality lunch, you find yourself eating out at least once every day, or you want to transition to a paleo diet, but don’t know where to start.  It will likely be a huge improvement from the way you are currently eating, and you should see a noticeable difference in how you look and feel.

On the flip side, if you already have been following paleo for some time, and are fairly dialed in with your own cooking and cleaning, then I don’t think it will be what you are looking for.  The time-saving aspect will be nice, but you will soon find that quality and customization that you can create at home, is worth the time and the effort you put into it each day.

 

Have you tried any other meal delivery services that deliver locally to Jupiter/Tequesta?  What was your experience like?  I would love to hear from you at andrew@crossfitpalmbeach.com

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