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Written by: Steph Gregerson on Nov 22nd, 2022

Freshly vs. HelloFresh 2023: Is Less Prep Time Better Value?

Meal delivery services are becoming more and more popular, but you don’t want to sacrifice freshness for convenience. That’s why many people turn to services like Freshly and HelloFresh. Other than “fresh” in the name, what else do these two services have in common?

On the face of it, Freshly and HelloFresh aren't so different: both offer lots of meals to choose from, and some solid, American-style dishes. But underneath, these two meal delivery services couldn't be more different.

I’ve reviewed plenty of meal delivery services, so I’ve seen a good variety. Here’s what I thought in the case of Freshly vs. HelloFresh.

At a Glance: Freshly vs. HelloFresh



Dietary preferences

Gluten-free, balanced, allergy-friendly, low-calorie, low-carb, dairy-free

Balanced, vegetarian, Family-Friendly, low-calorie, low carb

Menu variety

30+ options per menu

17+ options per menu

Starting price



Shipping cost

Starting at $3.99


Prep time

3 minutes or less

30 minutes on average

Special Discount

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Read our full-length Freshly review.

Read our expert HelloFresh review.

Dietary Preferences

Each service allows you to filter out different ingredients based on your dietary preferences. Unfortunately, neither HelloFresh nor Freshly have any specific plans for keto or paleo diets, but there are some good options if you do follow one of these diets. You can find some keto and paleo-friendly recipes in each plan, although they aren’t specifically labeled as such.

Freshly allows you to specify dietary preferences when you set up your account. You can select whether you enjoy, are neutral toward, or want to avoid different ingredients. It’s easy to complete your preferences when you set it up.

HelloFresh is slightly better than Freshly, as it has a range of “-free” filters, including beef-free, pork-free, and seafood-free but nothing specific, like keto, paleo, or even vegan. When signing up, you can just choose your preference and then each meal shows a full ingredient list as well.

HelloFresh does offer six specific menus based on different preferences, which is great. You can select veggie-only here if you’re vegetarian along with the other options shown below.

If you have a specific dietary need or are following a certain type of diet, you’ll have more customization and exclusion options with HelloFresh, but nothing extraordinary.

Winner: HelloFresh

Menu Variety

If we’re going purely on first impressions, Freshly would win this category, hands down – because it stocks more than 30 recipes to choose from weekly. But then again, that’s because Freshly offers single-serve, ready-made, and microwavable portions.

HelloFresh offers several meal plans and options if you want beef-free, pork-free, or seafood-free recipes.

And there were around 17-20 recipes per plan, no matter which one I selected. 

I also really liked how HelloFresh had cuisine from around the world, adding in more than just American-style food (read: hamburgers and chicken) to these recipes. For example, you can find meals like Szechuan Beef Noodles with Scallions and Sesame Seeds, or Shrimp and Chorizo Paella with Peas, Bell Peppers, and Garlic Aioli (pictured below).

Freshly, however, had mostly American meals on offer, with a lot of chicken in my recipe options, as well as a few cool international bursts of flavor and recipes.

HelloFresh has a better variety of options each week, so it wins this round.

Winner: HelloFresh

Starting Prices

Freshly and HelloFresh do things pretty differently when it comes to pricing (both per-serving prices and shipping prices). Let’s compare the two and break it down.

Meals at Freshly come as single-serve portions, starting from $6.90f for 12 meals a week. The fewer meals you order, the higher the price per meal, ranging from $8.49 for 12 meals to $11.49 for four meals.

HelloFresh, on the other hand, has portions starting from $3.32 per serving, for three meals a week for four people. For that, plus the shipping costs, you’re looking at paying $98.87 per week.

Both Freshly and HelloFresh have a delivery charge – at HelloFresh, it's $8.99 per week, while at Freshly, the delivery charge changes according to the plan you select.

Freshly meals all arrive prepared for the microwave, and that means the more meals you order, the heavier the box, and therefore the higher the shipping cost. This does annoy me a bit – after all, other services have a flat delivery fee no matter how many meals you order.

Freshly’s delivery fee is $3.99 for four meals and goes up to $12.99 for 12 meals. That’s one of the most expensive shipping costs I’ve seen on the market yet.

For 12 meals from HelloFresh (four servings of three recipes), you’ll pay $98.87 total. For 12 meals at Freshly, you’ll be paying $101.88...and that’s without shipping. With that hefty $12.99 delivery fee, your total comes to $114.87.

Winner: HelloFresh

Delivery and Packaging

One of the most important parts of a meal delivery service is the delivery itself. When will it arrive? How much packaging is there? Let’s compare the two.

HelloFresh offered me deliveries for every weekday (I’m located in California), while Freshly gave me the option of delivery six days of the week including a Sunday delivery option – the first time I'd ever seen that in any of my meal delivery service reviews. The exact delivery days offered by both services do depend on your zip code so you’ll find out what’s available to you when you sign up.

If I’m honest, I really prefer a weekend option – not many meal delivery services offer them – and I’ll take a Saturday or Sunday delivery every time, so I can cook over the weekend.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two meal delivery services could be seen in the packaging. While Freshly provided completely recyclable packaging (each meal delivered in a recyclable cardboard box, with a plastic tray you stick straight into the microwave), HelloFresh’s delivery was less impressive.

HelloFresh’s packaging was mostly recyclable – yet I found that each of the loose ingredients was wrapped in an individual plastic bag. Plus, the amount of plastic only increased as I ordered more dinners. What’s wrong with good old fashioned paper bags?

For several reasons, I'm giving this round to Freshly.

Winner: Freshly

Meal Prep

HelloFresh and Freshly are completely different when it comes to meal prep. Freshly meals are already prepared and just need to be heated up. HelloFresh is a traditional meal kit that sends all the ingredients along with a recipe card to follow.

When it came to the actual cooking, Freshly wins overall, as all I had to do was stick my meal in the microwave, heat it for about three minutes and it was ready to eat. The meals remain fresh in the refrigerator for four to five days. If you want to store them for longer, they can be frozen and will just need a few more minutes in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy them.

With HelloFresh, you’ll receive all the ingredients, a recipe card and then you put it all together. Some recipes were a little tricky to follow for an absolute novice (there were a few times that certain instructions just weren't specific enough). There are three levels of recipes, so if you’re a beginner in the kitchen – make sure to stick to levels one or two to begin with.

One word on the microwave vs. oven-cooking debate – I found HelloFresh’s meals to be a little more tasty and flavorful, solely because I'd cooked each recipe from scratch (rather than heated them up in the microwave). That said, Freshly is still the winner because it’s just so easy.

Winner: Freshly

The Bottom Line

I really like both HelloFresh and Freshly, for their huge range of meals on offer as well as their different approaches. While they both cost a similar amount, Freshly offers single-serve, microwaveable portions and HelloFresh offers multiple serving, plan-specific meals that you prepare and cook from scratch.

Both meal services are similarly priced, so I’d recommend you ask yourself how much you’re willing to pay for a delivery fee (either a flat $8.99 at HelloFresh, or anywhere from $3.99-$12.99 at Freshly).

Neither of the services has many options for specific diets but Freshly did make our list of the best gluten-free delivery services.

The bottom line comes down to whether or not you want to do any of the prep work in the kitchen

Overall winner: HelloFresh if you like cooking from scratch and Freshly if you want single-serve, microwaveable portions.

About The Author

Steph Gregerson
Contributing Writer, Delivery Rank
Steph is a book nerd, rule follower, and pizza lover who can’t get enough of playing outside. She was raised on the ice rinks of MN and currently resides in sunny San Diego. As a freelance writer, she loves research, producing content, and organizing information for a wide variety of clients. She currently has at least 10 browser windows open at all times.
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