Freshly vs. HelloFresh

A direct comparison between these two meal delivery services

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Freshly prepared meal on plate

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Freshly is a meal delivery service offering carbohydrate-conscious, single-serving portions that can be heated up in the microwave and ready within minutes. The company focuses on clean, fueling, prepared foods aimed at people who want and need quick, healthy weekday or night meals. HelloFresh, on the other hand, focuses on gourmet, wholesome, and diverse recipes and meals that are geared toward people who love to cook.

We were curious to see how these two styles of at-home meal kits stacked up against each other. Take a look and see what we discovered.

Freshly Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Easy to select and edit meal options

  • Heat and eat

  • Options for gluten-free, low-calorie eaters

Cons
  • Serving sizes are not ideal for families

  • Some meals lacked flavor, appeal

  • Many meals required more cooking time

HelloFresh Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Diverse and interesting meal choices

  • Plenty of add-on options

  • Delicious, gourmet meals

  • Easy-to-follow recipe cards

Cons
  • Time-consuming meal prep and cooking

  • Lots of dishes to clean

  • Not necessarily ideal for restricted diets

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Price

Both Freshly and HelloFresh have various prices for meals depending on the proportions and serving sizes you order.

Freshly offers single-serving meals each week with the ability to choose four, six, 10, or 12 meals per week. Freshly’s least-expensive meal plan starts at $8.49 per single serving meal for 12 meals a week. If you’d rather have four meals a week, then you pay $11.49 per meal, plus shipping, which varies by meal plan. Here is a breakdown of the weekly meal plans, which includes shipping:

  • 4-meal plan: $51.95 per week
  • 6-meal plan: $62.93 per week
  • 10-meal plan: $99.89 per week
  • 12-meal plan: $113.87 per week

HelloFresh offers boxes for two- and four-serving sizes each week with the ability to choose two to five recipes a week. The company's least expensive meal plan is $7.49 per serving, which is for a meat and veggie plan for four people with four recipes per week, plus $8.99 for shipping. However, if you decide to do a pescetarian meal preference plan for two people with just two recipes a week, you pay $12.49 per serving, plus $8.99 shipping.

Bottom line: The more you order from both companies each week, the less you pay per serving.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Meal Choices

Freshly packaging

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Freshly offers 25 meal choices per week, all of which are one serving. You can choose to receive four, six, 10, or 12 meals weekly. Freshly has a very thorough dietary preference survey, which asks your preference on a variety of proteins, gluten, eggs, spice, soy, and even cilantro. Once a plan is selected, you can add the number of meals you need and can also add items from the FreshlyFit menu, which are meals that are considered “clean” and carb-conscious. The menu selection page lists calories and carbohydrates under each option. You can also sort meals by calories, carbs, protein, total fat, and sodium.

HelloFresh offers about 25 meals per week plus myriad add-on options such as snacks, beverages, proteins, and desserts. HelloFresh does not cater to a particular type of diet, but it does include at least six vegetarian dishes each week. The company asks for your food preferences when you subscribe, such as pescetarian, family-friendly, or meat and veggie. HelloFresh leaves it up to you to decide which meals may or may not fit your dietary needs.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Creativity of Dishes

Freshly’s prepared meals tend to be protein- and vegetable-centric, so if you’re calorie-conscious or following a particular gluten-free diet plan, this would be a plus. Freshly tends to showcase American Diner, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, and Thai styles of cuisines. The dishes are usually composed of a protein, a vegetable, sometimes a grain, and a sauce to tie everything together. Sauces included honey mustard, teriyaki, salsa verde, and lemongrass flavorings. Meals are also organized by menu categories: crafted classics, signature collection, FreshlyFit, and takeout twists. For example, a crafted classic recipe may be a cauliflower shell beef Bolognese. A takeout twist could be a creamy chicken korma.

HelloFresh offers more creative and worldly choices, which tend to be more robust to create and cook. Most meals include a protein, vegetable, and a grain, like tilapia with scallion sriracha pesto over ginger rice or pork with apple dijon pan sauce with farro and wilted kale. Each week, HelloFresh showcases diverse recipes and cooking styles with nods to BBQ, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Middle Eastern, Tex-Mex, Vietnamese, and more.

If you are searching for simple, one-meal dishes with zero prep, then you may prefer Freshly’s meal service. If you have time to prepare, cook, and clean up, and you love to enjoy more creative cuisines, then HelloFresh is for you.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Flavor, Freshness, and Quality

HelloFresh tomatoes and onions in bowl

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

This tester found the flavors to be lacking overall for Freshly. Nearly all of our meals needed salt. As for seasoning, we wished there was more kick and flavor to the kale-basil pesto on our zoodles with turkey meatballs. Several of our meals seemed unappetizing. Our favorite meal was the tricolor beef lasagna, but the meat in that dish had a slight microwaved taste. We could barely cut through our steak peppercorn entree and we found the salsa verde pork bowl to be too watery and the meat chewy.

HelloFresh had bright, bold, and interesting meals with quality ingredients. We found that nearly all of the meals we tasted had appropriate seasoning and salt, and nice acidity and brightness. For the most part, the proteins and vegetables appeared fresh and of high quality. We enjoyed the creamy lemon butter chicken with parmesan zucchini rounds and scallion couscous. The chicken was tender, the couscous was well flavored, and the zucchini was crispy. The finishing lemon creamy sauce brought everything together quite nicely.

Overall, we have to give HelloFresh a higher score on flavor and freshness.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Recipe Clarity/Difficulty

It’s important to note that Freshly’s meals are designed as single-serving, microwaveable tray dinners, which are meant to be ready to consume in minutes. There is virtually no prep, cooking, or cleanup involved. The only prep that comes with Freshly is taking your microwaveable tray out of the paper wrapping and venting the plastic.

Most meals are ready in the microwave in 3 minutes or less with a resting period of 2 minutes. However, we found that nearly all of our meals needed 1 more minute of cooking time to be warmed through thoroughly. Per Freshly’s website, you can also cook your meals in a skillet or oven, but the meals are primarily designed for quick heating as the cooking instructions on each meal tray only include microwave times.

HelloFresh curates delicious meals, but we often found that the prep, execution, and amount of steps, dovetailing, and cleanup outweighed the positives. Also, some of the recipe cards included proportions for two and four servings, so there were times when we got a bit confused.

Freshly’s packages that are ready to eat within minutes are much easier to execute than HelloFresh’s detail-oriented preparation and cooking.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Supporting Material

Freshly website

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Our Freshly box included a paper printout list of our enclosed recipes. There were two QR codes on the sheet; one didn’t work and the other one directed you to rate your box. All ingredients and microwave cooking instructions are included on each meal box with a close-up photograph of the dish.

HelloFresh arrives with large, easy-to-read recipe cards, a seasonal magazine, and incentives from partners.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Types of Diets Served

Freshly’s offerings skew toward low-calorie and low-carbohydrate meals. All of the meals are 100% gluten-free and are certified by the Gluten Intolerance Group. Some of the dietary tags for each recipe include gluten-free, dairy-free, high protein, soy-free, and under 500 calories.

The more you order from both companies each week, the less you pay per serving.

HelloFresh does not cater to specific diets, per se, but the company curates a diversity of meals. HelloFresh offers plenty of vegetable-based meals, and some may be free of gluten or dairy, but meals are not created to support those specific dietary needs.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Nutritional Value

HelloFresh salmon

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

Freshly is designed for people who want to eat quickly and focus on a low-carbohydrate lifestyle. We didn’t notice a ton of vegetarian options, rather most meals included a protein and lots of vegetables. Nearly half of the recipes are fewer than 500 calories a serving so this is appealing to those who are looking for low-calorie diets. We did notice that most of our dinners had 8g or more of sugar and at least 20g of carbohydrates. Some recipes are branded as “FreshlyFit” and include a tag for a “pre-workout kick.” Expect to see a lot of cauliflower in lieu of potatoes, rice pasta, and zoodles or zucchini noodles.

While HelloFresh does make low-calorie dishes, its meals tend to be heartier and higher in fat and carbohydrates. Our meals often had 30g or more of fat and 60g or more of carbohydrates. The company focuses on fresh, inventive ingredients and dishes, rather than a specific diet or weight loss food program.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Customer Service

Freshly’s customer service includes virtual and live chat, email, and phone. We engaged with Freshly’s virtual assistant chat and when we couldn’t identify the correct answer, we were connected with a live customer service representative. All points of engagement were friendly and upbeat.

HelloFresh has chat, phone, and an online submission form for recipe or ingredient errors. We were able to connect with live chat agents and customer service representatives on the phone within minutes, and everyone we spoke to was friendly and helpful.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Making Changes and Canceling

HelloFresh meal in white bowl

Spruce Eats / Marisa Olsen

When we were trying to cancel our Freshly subscription on our Settings page, we didn’t see the smaller gray print of “cancel subscription” right away, but after a few mandatory questions, we were able to easily cancel without contacting customer service.

HelloFresh will also ask you a few mandatory questions before leaving the service, but you can cancel without connecting to customer service.

Freshly vs. HelloFresh: Additional Features

Both companies have easy-to-use apps, but we liked all of the videos Freshly has created. The company offers several videos demonstrating how to heat your meal, rate your meal, change your delivery preferences, and more. Freshly also provides instructions on how to make these changes on both a laptop and a phone.

HelloFresh also has an active blog with general cooking ideas and education. For example, blog posts include an overview on peppers; how to make oat milk; and HelloFresh’s commitment to sustainability.

Final Verdict

Each of these meal delivery services functions and appeals to different audiences and subscribers. Freshly is geared toward people who are looking for single-serving, low-carb prepared dinners that can be heated up in minutes. HelloFresh appeals to adults or families who love to cook and enjoy the process of making a gourmet meal. Our tasting panel preferred HelloFresh over Freshly.

Methodology

We spent numerous hours looking through 48 meal delivery services’ websites, ordered meals and cooked them at home, photographed the process, spoke with customer service representatives from the companies, filled out detailed surveys about each company and their meals, and wrote in-depth reviews and comparison articles. Our expert panel includes dieticians, chefs, and longtime food writers. The one thing they all have in common is their love and knowledge of food.

The criteria we used to evaluate each company included:

  • The ordering process
  • Meal selection
  • Packaging and support materials
  • Recyclability
  • The cooking process
  • The flavor, freshness, and quality of each meal and ingredient
  • Nutritional information
  • Customer service
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