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Written by: Chelsea Legay on Nov 22nd, 2022

Freshly vs. Nutrisystem 2022: What You Should Know

Freshly and Nutrisystem are two very different meal services with distinct advantages and disadvantages. So, which service is best for you?

Freshly wins with its convenience, healthier ingredients, and more affordable meal delivery service. Freshly delivers fully prepared meals and caters to busy individuals or couples who need to grab, heat, and eat. All you have to do is heat your meal or freeze and reheat it if you need to save your meals for later.

Nutrisystem’s greatest strength is its on-call, 1-on-1 weight loss coaching, available seven days per week. Changing your diet or starting a weight loss journey can be challenging, intimidating, and lonely. Nutrisystem also offers fully prepared meals, but in dietitian-designed meal packages proportionally customized to your weight loss goals.

While 1-on-1 coaching is an excellent amenity that few other meal delivery services offer at this time, Freshly still wins! Read on to find out more about how these services compare in terms of price, variety, convenience, customization, and more.

At a Glance: Who Won Each Category?

💲 Price:

Tie

🍔 Menu Variety:

Tie

⏰ Prep Time:

Freshly  (2 to 3 minutes)

🍴 Customization:

Tie

👍 Ordering and Delivery

Freshly

🙋 Customer Support:

Freshly

Menu Variety

Winner: It’s a tie!

This was a close call because each service offers a different type of menu variety. Nutrisystem offers more breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options, while Freshly has better cuisine variety. Both services offer single-serve meals geared toward singles or couples.

Nutrisystem offers 21 breakfast options, 41 dinner options, 29 lunches, 30 snacks, and three “hunger-stopping” protein shakes. Meal plans are designed for eating six times per day, and depending on which plan you choose, you can select the veggies you want in your meals. Cuisine variety is mostly comfort foods of familiar American and Italian recipes.

Examples of meals you can expect to receive from Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem meals arrive fully prepared, and plans cover five or seven days of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, two snacks, and a daily shake. Nutrisystem’s meal plans are structured, so you don’t have to decide what you eat when you open that fridge or cupboard door.

However, you can add a la carte snack, shake, and supplement packs like bars, pretzels, and popcorn after you’ve chosen a meal plan.

A unique feature of Nutrisystem’s menu is that you can even see reviews of each meal. The advantage of seeing reviews of each meal is that you have a better chance of choosing meals that’ll suit what you want. The following is a review of the Grain-Crusted Pollock with Vegetables:

A screenshot of customer reviews of Grain-Crusted Pollock with Vegetables.

A review of a Nutrisystem meal

Nutrisystem leaves all reviews as-written, including highlights of “Most Helpful Positive Review” and “Most Helpful Negative Review”. You can also view Q&As about each meal, mostly about weight loss, and peruse a complete ingredient list for each meal.

Freshly meals come fully prepared in microwave-safe trays, and all you have to do is heat and eat! Freshly also has more cuisine variety, but it doesn’t have as many breakfast and lunch options, and it offers zero snacks.

However, it has a decent selection of 40+ meal options per week on the menu, with mostly dinner-style meals and some breakfasts. Recipes are primarily standard American but include some Italian, Mediterranean, Indian, and Thai options on rotation.

There are a few protein sides available, but ordering protein as a side will count as a whole meal. See the end of the next section for more details.

Meal Customization

Winner: Freshly

Neither Freshly nor Nutrisystem offers very flexible recipes or dietary accommodations, but Freshly offers more allergy-conscious options than Nutrisystem. You can choose from multiple diet filters like plant-based, vegetarian, and carb-conscious. Plus, you can upgrade proteins for bigger portions if a high-protein diet is your priority.

All Freshly meals are peanut-free with some certified gluten-free options (those with gluten are clearly labeled), and you can filter for dairy-free, plant-based, carb-smart, and calorie-conscious meals. All nutritional and allergen content is clearly labeled for each recipe as well as the full set of ingredients.

Screenshot of Freshly's meal content, packaging, and ingredient listing.

You’ll find all this information about each Freshly meal on the website
 

Since both services don’t offer extensive ingredient customization – be sure to read all ingredients listed for each meal on these services’ websites or contact customer service if you have any concerns!

Freshly offers better allergy and dietary accommodations, even though options are still not super extensive. If a Freshly meal contains ingredients contradicting your dietary needs, a red triangle will appear next to the meal as you browse the menu:

Screenshot of Freshly's allergen warning symbol

Freshly warns you with a red triangle if this is a meal that doesn’t fit your dietary preferences

Nutrisystem meals are dietitian-designed for weight loss, but recipes aren’t adjustable and you can’t upgrade proteins in recipes. Meal plans become slightly more flexible if you stay with the Nutrisystem meal program for more than two weeks, but only because you start to purchase your ingredients for some of the meals.

Nutrisystem offers 18 variations of meal plans and ordering is more complex than ordering with Freshly. There are six main Nutrisystem meal plans, each with three different price levels. All meal plans offer free shipping and 1-on-1 on-call coaching with Nutrisystem’s trained weight-loss coaches.

The meal plan options are Women’s, Men’s, Partners, Diabetes-Friendly, Vegetarian, and Complete. Three variations are available for each plan except the Complete plan – Basic, Uniquely Your, or Uniquely Yours Max+.

For each meal plan, the Basic option offers five days of three meals plus a daily snack, with recipes chosen from 100 out of 150 Nutrisystem recipes. The Uniquely Yours option also offers five days of three meals plus two snacks, with recipes chosen from all 150 of Nutrisystem’s recipes.

With Nutrisystem’s Complete Plan, Nutrisystem’s meals are slowly phased out of your diet from the second to the sixth month. You’re then guided to buy groceries as supplements to prepped meals, then to buy all meal ingredients without Nutrisystem meals. I go into more detail about meal plans in the Pricing section.

While you can filter Nutrisystem’s menu to exclude various ingredients that you may not be able to eat – like dairy, wheat, tree nuts, high sodium, shellfish, and more – options become extremely limited.

I filtered for my own gluten-free and dairy-free diet, and the only meal available out of 21 breakfasts was a bowl of Granola Cereal. While I enjoy granola, I wouldn’t want that to be my only breakfast option seven days a week.

Screenshot of Nutrisystem's filter options.

Nutrisystem has excellent filters but these can really narrow down your meal options

With the same filters, the only meal available for lunch and dinner was a Classic Tuna Salad, and there were zero snacks available. When I applied the same filters to Freshly meals, I had nine meal options:

Screenshot of Freshly's gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Freshly offers a good variety of meals for filters such as gluten-free and dairy-free

Additionally, Nutrisystem doesn’t offer carb-conscious meal plans, which isn’t ideal for a contemporary weight loss service. Nutrisystem isn’t for you if you’re approaching weight loss by eating fewer carbs. However, you can choose Vegetarian, Diabetes-Friendly, Men’s, Women’s, and Partner plans.

You can speak to dietitians to create wheat-free meals and inquire about further meal customization for specific health concerns, but two customer service agents and “Program Specialists” informed me that customization is negligible for non-standard American diets.

Nutrisystem’s greatest strength is its 1-on-1 weight loss coaching with each meal plan you choose. Very few meal delivery services offer this support! Many offer dietitian consultation, but few offer 1-on-1 coaching once you’re subscribed.

With Freshly, you can only order whole meals with zero a la carte options. If you’re feeding two people, you simply order two of the same meal or two different meals. It recently started offering the option to increase portions for specific proteins.

The catch is that an added portion of protein will replace one of your meals for the week. If you have a four-meal plan per week but add a portion of protein to one of your meals, you'll only receive three regular meals (with one extra portion of protein in one of them).

Ordering, Delivery, Unboxing

Winner: Freshly

Freshly wins this one since its order, delivery, and unboxing is so simple. All you need to do is choose a minimum of four meals or a maximum of twelve meals for your weekly delivery. You’ll receive individual meals that are fully prepped and packaged in microwave-safe trays, ready to be heated and eaten.

If you want to order more than twelve meals per week – speak to customer service, and you can create a second user profile under your original, so you can order up to 24 meals per week!

Your first order for Freshly arrives within a few days, while Nutrisystem's first delivery arrives within three weeks. Since Freshly's subscription is weekly, the order size is small enough that you usually receive all your meals in one box. Meals last in the fridge for three to five days, or as labeled on each meal container. Otherwise - they’re easy to freeze and reheat.

Screenshot of Freshly's fully prepped meals in a refrigerator.

Freshly meals being unboxed

Nutrisystem also ships fully prepped foods that must be frozen, refrigerated, or placed in the pantry. Since Nutrisystem ships about a month's worth of food to you at a time, you receive your meals in separate shipments.

Ready-to-serve foods arrive first, and frozen and pantry foods arrive a few weeks later. Nutrisystem’s food is more shelf-stable than Freshly’s, but pay attention to use-by dates on each item.

Both services have easy-to-use apps and customer portals on their websites where you can track your order. Subscriptions for both services auto-renew, but you can cancel without cancellation fees. However, there are a few major differences between these two services regarding delivery.

While both services deliver seven days a week to the 48 contiguous states, Nutrisystem also delivers to Alaska, Hawaii, US territories, and Canada, but for hefty shipping prices and expected delays. All plans are delivered monthly except for the Partner Plan – which is delivered every two weeks.

Double-check your final order price before checking out, as shipping is different for everyone! Plus – Nutrisystem doesn’t allow you to choose your delivery days for any order. You can track your order but you can’t choose when it arrives. If you’re on auto-renew or the Complete Plan, Nutrisystem makes an effort to deliver your food shipment before your last one runs out.

Freshly’s service allows you to choose your weekly delivery day! However, you want to double-check that Freshly delivers to your zip code. When you’re ready to check out, type in your zip code. A drop-down menu with optional delivery days will appear if Freshly delivers to your zip code:

Screenshot of Freshly's drop down menu when you enter your zip code to choose a delivery day before finalizing an order.

You can choose from a selection of delivery days depending on your zip code

Both services allow you to cancel or change your order through the customer service live chat as long as you cancel before cutoff times.

Freshly's cutoff is 5-6 days before your chosen delivery day, which you can complete via the app or website portal. You can also cancel your Freshly subscription without customer service via the app or portal. In the following section, I go into more detail about Freshly's customer service.

Nutrisystem's cutoff to cancel your auto-delivery program is before 6:00 pm EST on the day before you’re usually charged for your monthly delivery. You can call or use the live chat to cancel your subscription.

Since Freshly’s meals are all individually packaged, unboxing is super easy. Meals arrive clearly labeled and ready to be refrigerated, heated, or re-frozen.

Nutrisystem is more complicated since you will be following strict meal plans and need to organize your food according to your meal plan consumption schedule. Some food will need to be refrigerated, some will need to remain frozen, and some can be placed in the pantry.

Regarding the recyclability of packaging materials, both services offer reusable ice packs. Freshly's and Nutrisystem's ice packs are reusable and 85%+ biodegradable over several years. Packaging is all recyclable and both websites offer recycling guidelines.

Meal Prep

Winner: Freshly

Both services offer fully prepared microwave-ready meals, but Nutrisystem doesn't fully prepare everything. Freshly and Nutrisystem microwavable meals arrive in microwave-safe trays that you can pop in and heat for 2-3 minutes. Some Nutrisystem meals have an oven-heating option that you must place on an oven-safe tray.

While Freshly meals may sound like simple TV dinners, these fully prepared meals are anything but. Freshly meals are made-to-order to ensure freshness upon arrival and are prepared with minimally processed ingredients, including 100% non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil.

Freshly includes some preservatives in its meals, but none are artificial, and there are zero sugars or artificial sweeteners added to preserve ingredients or increase flavor. Freshly recommends eating meals within 5-7 days of arrival, or according to the use-by dates on individual meal packaging. Seafood is recommended to be eaten first and is clearly labeled.

Freshly recommends freezing meals for a maximum of two weeks. To reheat, you can place a frozen meal directly in the microwave and add an extra few minutes to ensure it's thoroughly defrosted and heated.

I asked customer service what preservatives Freshly uses in packaging meals, and my agent David responded as follows:

Screenshot of chat with customer service agent about Freshly's preservatives.

Customer support was helpful in answering my query about preservatives

Read more in my next section about Freshly’s outstanding customer support.

Nutrisystem loses some points in this category because you’ll need to go shopping for some meal essentials starting in the second week or the second month depending on your plan. Ingredients you need to purchase include dairy, meats, and veggies.

This is significantly inconvenient considering this is a meal delivery service, but the site offers plenty of guides and videos on selecting the best produce and prepping your food.

One thing that concerns me about Nutrisystem’s prepped meals is that the amount of recipes offered under the Non-frozen category – meaning the meals have never been frozen – is about half. Nutrisystem foods can be frozen for sixty days or more! And plenty of breakfast and dessert recipes have added corn syrup and sweeteners for added flavor.

Foods that can last in the freezer typically have significant preservatives added to protect the food from degradation and freezer burn. Such preservatives are unnatural substances that might be determined safe for consumption but aren’t the healthiest over time.

In chatting with customer service, I couldn’t receive a direct answer about how Nutrisystem’s food is prepped and stored, except that it can be frozen for extended periods. While ingredients are listed for each recipe, there’s little information about how and when Nutrisystem prepares its meals for delivery.

Customer Support

Winner: Freshly

Nutrisystem and Freshly both have a live chat, but Freshly’s live chat agents were more friendly and knowledgeable, answered more quickly and consistently, and ensured we were still connected.

If your questions are related to an existing account, the bot will take you through several question-and-answer exchanges to determine whether it can fulfill your requests before it sends you to a live agent. I had a food prep-related question and the bot immediately sent me to a live agent.

If you already know you want to chat with a human instead of a bot – just type in “human” or “agent” and hit enter for both chats, and the bot will immediately start connecting you to a live customer service agent. I started speaking to customer service agents within a few minutes with both services.

Nutrisystem’s live chat didn’t work in my Google Chrome browser but did work in Safari, so if the customer service live chat doesn’t work for you – perhaps try a different browser!

Freshly’s customer service agent Luisa answered all of my questions within 30 seconds and in a very friendly manner. I believe Luisa was a human as she endearingly spelled my name incorrectly the first few times after I spelled it for her earlier in the chat. She eventually got it down.

Customer support conversation with Freshly

My customer service representative from Freshly was incredibly helpful

Luisa ensured we stayed connected throughout the conversation if I ever paused my communication. This was true for each customer service agent I’ve chatted with since then. I was always connected within a minute and agents answered my questions quickly and clearly.

With Nutrisystem, I had a ton of questions about their ingredient quality, sourcing, and recipe composition. When the agent couldn’t answer my questions, she immediately transferred me to a “Program Specialist” – which was very helpful! However, the Specialist still couldn’t answer many of my questions.

I chatted with a few Specialists and they each gave me different answers regarding ingredient quality, sometimes even contradicting information on the website. They were also very slow to respond – sometimes taking up to 15 minutes between responses in the live chat.

Freshly’s FAQ is also much more easy to navigate. Search menus are more visible and organized, and search terms pull up much more related information than Nutrisystem’s.

Nutrisystem does have an FAQ but it’s difficult to work through and doesn’t offer as complete answers as Freshly’s. You can find some basic information about shipping and weight loss, but more detailed information like ingredient quality isn’t as available as Freshly’s.

Pricing

Winner: It’s a tie!

While Nutrisystem has a cheaper per-meal price, you must make a much higher upfront financial commitment to meal plans. Nutrisystem requires a one-month minimum while Freshly requires a four-meal per week minimum.

Freshly’s starting meal price is higher and starts at $6.90 per serving, but its subscription plan is only weekly, and your initial order minimum is four meals per week with a maximum of 12 meals.

Since Nutrisystem offers multi-month plans, you have two different payment options. You can choose monthly payments or upfront payment plans.

To get the cheapest per-meal plan with Nutrisystem, you have to make a six-month commitment to the Complex Plan and commit to paying the $1,799 upfront. You can pay in installments, but you’re committed to completing the entire payment. Here’s what you get with the plan:

Screenshot of Nutrisystem's Complete Meal Plan.

Nutrisystem’s Complete plan provides you with food for six months

This makes the per-item price about $3.22 – which includes all snacks and shakes (that are often complementary in meal plans), and Nutrisystem states that the per-day price works out to about $9.99 per day.

The five other meal plan options – Women’s, Men’s, Partners’, Diabetes-Friendly, and Vegetarian – each have three price point options with different starting prices. The lowest is $8.54 per day for a few of the plans with the Basic option.

For example, you can order a Diabetes-friendly plan in the Basic, Uniquely Yours, or Uniquely Yours+ option. The Diabetes plan and pricing options look like the following:

Screenshot of Nutrisystem's Diabetes-Friendly three plan options.

Nutrisystem offers three plans within each dietary category

Freshly pricing is much simpler as its menu offers per meal prices that decrease as you add more meals to the cart. To get the cheapest per meal plan – order 12 meals per week! Prices update in the cart as you choose your meals.

Screenshot of Freshly's filter options and how prices update as you add meals.

Freshly filters are easy to use

Features Comparison: Freshly vs. Nutrisystem


Best for

Affordable prepared meals

Calorie-conscious weight loss

Starting price

$6.90 per serving

$8.54 per day

Shipping cost

$9.99 to $11.99

Free

Minimum order

4 meals per week

5 days per week of 3 meals per day for one month

Menu variety

40 choices per week

150 choices per week

Prep time

2 to 3 minutes

0 to 10 minutes

Low-prep options

Microwave-ready

Microwave-ready, oven-ready, shakes, frozen

Allergies catered to

Gluten-free, peanut-free, soy-free

None

Special diets

Plant-based, Carb-conscious, Calorie-conscious, Vegetarian

Diabetes-conscious, Vegetarian

Customer support

24/7 live chat, Call or text 7 days per week from 6 am - midnight EST, extensive FAQ

Live chat Mon-Fri 8am-8pm ET and Sat-Sun 9am-5:30pm ET, Call, email, FAQ

Promotions

Get $175 off your first 7 boxes!

50% Off All Plans + Free Shipping!

And The Winner Is: Freshly

Freshly and Nutrisystem are two very different services, but Freshly is my favorite for the quality of its ingredients, ordering simplicity, cuisine diversity, and dietary and allergy accommodation.

While Freshly’s per-meal prices are higher than Nutrisystem’s, there’s also a much smaller upfront financial commitment. Plus, the subscription is weekly, so you can easily pause, cancel, or restart your subscription any time before the cutoff times.

Freshly’s for you if you’re short on time, want minimal meal prep yet still want high quality, freshly prepared, minimally processed meals. All you have to do is unpackage, heat, and eat – no hassle, no prep, no clean up!

If you have more specific allergy concerns, check out our updated list of the 10 Best Allergy Meal Delivery Services!

FAQ

Are Freshly meals healthy?

What's healthy will be different from one person to the next. Healthy features of Freshly meals  include that they’re made to order by the company's in-house chefs right before they’re packaged and delivered. They’re only frozen to maintain freshness while in transit from the kitchen to your front door!

For those interested in a more raw food and plant-based diet, Freshly meals aren’t for you. All foods are fully cooked and microwave-ready. However, the company mostly uses 100% non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil. This type of canola oil is a non-harmful option with a mild flavor.

Ingredient lists are simple, and each meal's prep process is transparent in the FAQ and when you chat with customer service representatives.

Are Nutrisystem meals healthy?

If your approach to health is a low-calorie version of the standard American diet and eating six times per day, Nutrisystem is healthy for you. Recipes are dietitian-designed for weight loss and meal plans include 1-on-1 coaching.

However, all meals are carb-heavy, have long shelf lives, and ingredients are extensive and complex. There are also few dietary accommodations except for Diabetic-friendly and Vegetarian.

Is Freshly family-friendly?

Freshly can be family-friendly, depending on the size of your family and how many meals you want to order per week. While the maximum amount of meals you can order per week is 12, you can create a second subscription under your first and order another 12 meals from there. That means you can order up to 24 meals per week!

However, you’ll want to ensure that the meal price is affordable for your family. Per meal price starts at $6.90 before tax, or shipping. To make Freshly meals more affordable, you can use our discount code: 50% Off All Plans + Free Shipping!

Is Nutrisystem family-friendly?

No. Nutrisystem is designed for adults who want to lose weight. Meal content and program structure are designed for fully grown adults committed to a lifestyle change. However, Nutrisystem does offer a Partner Plan if you and your significant other want to support each other in Nutrisystem’s program.

About The Author

Chelsea Legay
Contributing Writer, Delivery Rank
Chelsea is passionate about nutrition and eating in a way that promotes energy, longevity, and mental health. She's a freediver, musician, and jack-of-all-trades content writer with an endless curiosity for all things that reduce stress and promote healthy, balanced living.
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