Review of Fresh 'n Lean

Review of Fresh 'n Lean

NRR Staff October 30th, 2018

Review Summary

Established in 2010, Fresh n’ Lean is a California-based meal delivery service that offers options for diets ranging from Paleo to vegan. All ingredients are organic, and proteins are grass-fed, free-range or wild-caught, and antibiotic- and hormone-free, and they don't use fillers, preservatives or any of that "junk".

They are a meal delivery, not a meal kit company. That means instead of sending over ingredients for you to cook at home, they are providing fully cooked and packaged meals. The meals come wrapped in a microwavable container, and only take about 2 - 3 minutes to heat up (or you can heat them in the oven/stove top).

Lean 'n Fresh allows you to order "al a carte", in addition to getting on a subscription plan. There is a minimum order size $105, and meals cost about $12 per serving. Once on the site, it's easy to sort by different meal types, and dietary preferences/restrictions. Like any other ecommerce site, you simply add meals to your shopping cart, and then check out with your credit card. They deliver to the continental US.

I ordered and tried seven meals from Fresh 'n lean, covering chicken, beef, salmon and vegetarian recipes. All the meals arrived in an insulated box, packed with ice packs. Each was labeled with a suggested use by date, that was anywhere from 5 to 12 days out; so I didn't feel rushed to eat everything quickly.

Heating up the meals is a snap. Each is "shrink wrapped" in plastic. After taking out of the fridge, you simply poke a hole in the plastic & microwave for 2 - 3 minutes. While you can heat in the oven or stovetop, I used the microwave, as I think that's what most people will use. Once heated, you completely remove the plastic, and either dig right in, or plate up for a bit fancier presentation.

All seven meals tasted about as I would expect for meals cooked and packaged on the other side of the country before getting shipped to me. That translated, I didn't love them. My biggest issue was with the consistency/texture of the food. For my tastes, all the vegetables were over cooked, and they were all mixed/integrated together. Soft carrots, mixed with soft squash, mixed with soft broccoli, just creates a sameness of texture - and flavor. The proteins, not surprising, had the texture of reheated, microwaved protein. A bit too dry. A bit too tough. A surprising highlight was the piece of salmon I had. It was not pretty to look at; and was not great, but it was better than the chicken/beef or vegetables I tried. Surprising for fish.

For me personally, the flavors and textures, were not where I need them to be to become a subscriber. However, I do know that many people are going to think the food tastes fine, and put far more value on the convenience, the natural ingredients, and the control over their dietary needs (low carb, vegetarian, keto, etc).

If thats you, give Fresh 'n Lean a try and let me know how it goes.

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Pros of Fresh 'n Lean

  • Fully cooked meals, means you're eating in minutes
  • Whole organic ingredients; no "junk" in the meals
  • Clear & easy way to control protein, carbs, and more

Cons of Fresh 'n Lean

  • Flavors are both mild & muddled
  • Food a bit like cafeteria quality
  • Reheating makes the food seem not fresh

Fresh 'n Lean's Cost

ION Performance ProteinION Performance PaleoStandard Plant BasedLow Carb/Low Call Plant Based
Cost per Meal$12.25$12.69$9.33$11.33

How Fresh 'n Lean works

Fresh 'n Lean seems to have a very clear mission of providing meals made with healthy, organic food, that allow people have clear choices for high protein, low carb, and plant based options. Unlike meal kit companies, Fresh 'n Lean is a meal delivery service, where they fully prepare and cook meals in their facitlity and ship them, ready to heat up, directly to you.

Because they are doing the cooking, they can easily control the ingredients, and proudly state (as they should), ingredients/meals are never frozen, proteins are free range or wild caught, and all the product is GMO free and organic. They limit processed sugars, oils and "salty-sauces". They are clearly looking to serve those looking to eat "clean".

There are two options for buyers, a subscription plan or one can buy meals a la carte. For those who choose to subscribe there are four plans:

  • ION Performance Plan: Contains high quality animal protein with every entree. Meals are made with organic vegetables and grains, and all meals are gluten, soy and dairy free.
  • ION Performance Plan Paleo: Meals contain high quality animal protein as well as lots of fresh organic vegetables; all of which are high in nutrients. All entrees are free of grains & legumes, as well as gluten, soy and dairy.
  • Standard Plant-Based: Meals are loaded with nutrients, high in fiber and plant-based proteins. All vegetables are organic, and all meals are gluten, soy and dairy free.
  • Low Carb/Low Cal Plant Based: Entrees are veggie packed, always organic and grain free.

When you are a subscriber to any of the plans, delivery is free.

A la carte buyers can order anything that is in stock, although there is a minimum order of $105, and you pay shipping. There are generally 11 entree items to choose from (but they do sell out) in addition to breakfast options, and "bulk meals and sides"

Registering & Ordering

Signing up for Fresh 'n Lean is as easy as you would expect it to be. If you're an a la carte buyer, you simply go on the site, choose the meals you're interested in getting (you need to reach the $105 min order) which drop into your shopping cart.

You can choose from entrees, breakfasts, or bulk meals (large quantities of a single food) and snacks. At check out you simply provide your billing and shipping info, and you are ready to go.

If you're subscribing to a plan, registration is still simple, but there are a couple more steps. Obviously, you need to first decide which plan you're interested in, and select it. Once selected, you'll need to then choose the number of meals you'd like to buy per week.

For each plan, you've got the flexibility to control how many meals you'd like to get. You can choose to order up to 3 meals per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) 7 days a week; or any number less than that. Obviously, at the max, that 21 meals per week; at the ION Performance Plan that's $266.49 per week.

Fresh 'n Lean provides a nice calculator tool, which counts various nutrition variables (protein, carbs, fat, calories) as you add food to your cart. For those looking to manage their intake at that level, that would be very handy. Subscribers will have meals defaulted for them (you can always change them), you'll get a weekly delivery with your meals.

Where does Fresh 'n Lean deliver?

Fresh 'n Lean ships to the continental US.

Is Fresh 'n Lean Organic?

Yes, indeed they are. Everything that Lean 'n Fresh makes and ships is organic and gluten free.

Fresh 'n Lean's Quality

When it comes to reviewing meals, I typically evaluate two areas of "quality". The first is the quality of the ingredients and the second, overall taste/flavor of the finished dish.

In cases where I'm looking at a meal delivery service like Fresh 'n Lean, it's a bit different, as I'm not working with any of the raw ingredients. I just have the finished product.

Fresh 'n Lean pitches themselves as fully organic and non-gmo. They are very clearly focused on sustainable proteins, and whole ingredients. I've got no reason to doubt any of that, and those looking to ensure their food meets those standards, are going to like that Fresh 'n Lean fully embraces them.

What I can, with direct experience, comment on, is the finished meals. Which I'd say, are mediocre.

Of the six meals I tried, I didn't have anything that I outright hated, or would call inedible. However, there was a blandness to each and every one. They were un-seasoned, and despite having very different names/proteins, had a sameness to them all. I didn't eat more than a few bites of any of them.

While two of meals, (the salmon & the shredded chicken) has proteins that were ok, the other proteins I had, both chicken & steak, where tough & dry.

I also didn't care for the vegetables. While the meals I tried where all different, the mixed veggies in all of them blended together into an undifferentiated mess. They tended to be overcooked (soft) and just all jumbled together.

Admittedly, I'm a foodie. And this is not foodie food. I'd call it most like cafeteria, or hotel buffet line food. Edible, but not particularly enjoyable.

If you're looking for max convenience. If you want to know your ingredients are healthy. And want to be very aware and in control of your nutrition counts, Fresh 'n Lean may be a great choice.

But if you're looking for a tasty meal with great flavors and textures, I'd suggest you look elsewhere.

Fresh 'n Lean's Variety

Fresh 'n Lean has options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a variety of snacks and "bulk" food items that are available for purchase.

And they do a good job of making a number of choices available in each category. It's actually pretty impressive.

For each plan that I looked at there were 7 options to choose from in each breakfast, lunch and dinner category. If you're buying just a couple meals a week, that's quite a selection.

If you're looking to purchase a la carte, at the time of this writing, there are 11 breakfast options, 11 entree options. Some of the options include:

  • Paleo chicken meal
  • Greek Artichoke lentil salad with chicken
  • Portobello red rice risotto with chicken
  • Cilantro basil pesto penne with ground beef
  • Veggie side of Mexican spiced squash
  • Fall cranberry mash bowl with chicken thigh
  • Sweet potato kale curry

Some items seem to sell out, and not everything will be available all the time.

Within the "bulk meals & sides" there are several more "exotic" choices that include shrimp, basa, salmon, ahi tuna, bison, cod, venison and more.

Fresh 'n Lean's Simplicity

Fresh 'n Lean could not be more simple. The meals come fully cooked, in a microwave/oven safe container. Poke a hole in the plastic, two minutes in the microwave and you are good to go. And if you eat out of the same container, no clean up.

They also make it easy to keep track of what you are eating. As you order meals, your shopping cart tallies up the nutritional info, like calories, grams of protein, carbs, and more. if you're looking to control how much you eat of what, it's a big benefit.

Is Fresh 'n Lean Kid Friendly?

I don't think Fresh 'n Lean is going to be the meal kit for families with kids. The meals I got where all pretty heavy with vegetables, and frankly didn't look all that appetizing. 

I don't think you're likely to get any recognizable kid favorites (at least based on my own kids). This service is going to be best for fitness conscience adults, who really want to watch what they are eating.

Overall

I think Fresh 'n Lean has a very clear mission and product. Their meals are focused on "clean" ingredients that are totally organic and GMO free. There are 100% plant based options, low cal options and high protein options. And they make it super easy to buy meals based on nutrition information.

For those who are looking to structure their meals primarily to live a health oriented lifestyle, these guys are probably perfect.

I am not one of those people. I'm want meal times to be a creative endeavor, cooking meals primarily for flavor and satisfaction (which is probably why i need to lose 20 lbs). And that is not was Fresh n" Lean is all about. 

So, choose accordingly. If you so give them a try, please let me know how it goes, and I hope you enjoy them!

About Fresh 'n Lean

Established in 2010, Fresh n’ Lean is a California-based meal delivery service that offers options for diets ranging from Paleo to vegan. All ingredients are organic and proteins are grass-fed, free-range or wild-caught, and antibiotic- and hormone-free. Fresh ‘n Lean does not use fillers, preservatives, or frozen or processed ingredients, and produce is always local and in-season. Oils and “salty sauces” are kept to a minimum and soy-, dairy- and gluten-free options are available.

Customers can subscribe to Fresh ‘n Lean to receive weekly meals or they may order one-time meals (A La Carte). There is a $105 minimum order for A La Carte orders and prices per entree range from $11.99-$14.49. Sample dishes include Mango Chutney Samosa Rice, Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta, Paleo Beef or Salmon, Quinoa and Teriyaki Broccoli, and Roasted Pepper “Aioli” Brown Rice. Plans have two options including Three Meals, Five Days a Week or Three Meals, Seven Days a Week. 

ION Performance Paleo (Low-Carb): Five Days $12.69/meal, $190.35/week; Seven Days $12.69/meal, $266.49/week. 

ION Performance Protein +: Five Days $12.25/meal, $183.75/week; Seven Days $12.25/meal, $257.25/week. 

Low Carb / Low Cal Plant-Based: Five Days $11.33/meal, $169.95/week; Seven Days $11.33/meal $237.93/week. 

Standard Plant Based: Five Days $9.33/meal, $139.95/week; Seven Days, $9.33/meal $195.93/week. 

Shipping is free for all Fresh ‘n Lean meal plans and orders are delivered every week in specially designed coolers with ice packs. Containers are microwave and oven-safe and all shipping materials are recyclable. Meals are delivered to the customer’s home or office.

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