At first glance, RealEats and Freshly are quite similar. Both are single-serving, ready-to-eat meal delivery services and both feature a varied menu from a wide range of cuisines. But things start to change when you take a closer look.
As a single, busy professional who wants to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, I wanted to see which of these companies was a better fit. While comparing the two services, I had to make a decision – did I want a convenient and affordable service or was I willing to pay more for customization and flexibility?
Therefore, I declare Freshly the overall winner of this competition due to its easy-to-prepare meals and affordable prices. If you want to know more, make sure to keep reading!
Winner: It’s a tie
Both meal services offer prepared meals that arrive cooked and portioned for a person to enjoy in one sitting. The only difference stands in the heating instructions since RealEats packs all its ingredients separately using the sous-vide method.
This means you’ll have to put some extra effort into unpacking the ingredients, plating the food, and then heating it in the microwave. There’s also the option of using boiling water (which is recommended by RealEats), but the process takes a bit longer.
Freshly, on the other hand, delivers the meals already plated in a microwave-safe container. So, you just take the container out of the fridge, poke the protective film, and stick it in the microwave – easy-breezy.
To be honest, I like the RealEats method more because I think the ingredients keep their texture and taste better when packed via sous-vide. Also, heating them up in boiling water prevents any dryness. However, the RealEats heating method isn’t as convenient as Freshly’s. So if you’re in a rush, a microwavable, put-together meal is the best choice.
In terms of cuisine variety, RealEats and Freshly are quite similar. Both services will have one or two meals from more exotic cuisines such as Mexican, Italian, Indian, or Korean, but most options are from American cuisine (or recipes from other cuisines adapted to fit the American palate).
For instance, I love the Chicken Tikka Masala from RealEats, but I don’t expect it to follow the authentic Indian recipe. True, in this case, the chicken is baked Tandoori-style and has a nice combination of flavors due to the spicy and creamy tomato sauce. Also, it pairs extremely well with saffron basmati rice and vegetarian curry.
On a similar note, Freshly puts a spin on an original Japanese recipe (Pork Katsu) and has created one delicious comfort food that soothes your soul and fills your mouth with the savory-sweet perfection of the katsu sauce.
Both meal delivery services offer extra sides and proteins, but RealEats’ offer is more diverse. Also, RealEats’ menu includes other options such as breakfast, soups, beverages (water and juices), and snacks. However, you shouldn’t expect much variety since there are only four to five options per category.
Both menus have an assortment of around 30 meal recipes per week which they rotate to keep everything fresh. Plus, in both kitchens, the focus is on seasonal ingredients and fresh produce.
RealEats is the ideal meal service for fussy eaters or people who enjoy playing with the ingredients to get something new. Each meal on the menu (except for the extras) can be personalized to fit your unique preferences.
Out of the three components of each RealEats meal (veggies, protein, starch), you can swap all of them. Plus, you have the option to save the newly created recipes on your account, so they’re easy to find for the next order.
This level of customization is possible because RealEats prepares and packs the ingredients individually. So it’s easy to swap broccoli with corn or meatballs with chicken. Freshly, on the other hand, prepares and packs the meals as a whole. This is why the Freshly menu operates on a what-you-see-is-what-you-get principle.
Due to the sides and proteins section, you can add to a meal by ordering something extra. But, for now, at least, the offer is limited (only five options when I checked) and you have to pay extra for any additions to the standard menu.
I did like the fact that both services offer detailed nutrition facts and caloric content. I think this level of detail is important when you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet. Also, both menus have offers for specific diets and you can use filters to find what you need quickly and swiftly.
The filtering system on RealEats is more focused on users’ dietary needs (options for dairy-free, soy-free, high-protein, and more), while Freshly focuses more on nutritional macros with fewer options for specific dietary needs.
In terms of specific dietary needs, both services have options for vegetarians, low-calories, high protein, dairy-free, and carb-conscious meals. However, when it comes to vegetarian meals, Freshly’s offer is better suited to someone actually following a vegetarian diet (around seven per week vs one for RealEats).
Freshly is certified as a gluten-free food service by the Gluten Intolerance Group, so it has a wide range of gluten-free meals and any meals that do contain gluten are prepared in a separate facility to avoid cross-contamination. On the other hand, RealEats has some wheat- and soy-free recipes (among others) but wouldn’t be suitable for someone following a gluten-free diet.
Both services cover a wider, more general diet, so they’re not a great fit for people with strong or unusual allergies such as chicken or beef.
In both cases, there isn’t a clear classification based on allergens, so the only way to check for them is to read the ingredients and nutritional content. This can prove to be quite time-consuming given the size of the menus.
Even though RealEats and Freshly are similar when it comes to ordering, I think Freshly’s more flexible. Plus, Freshly has a wider delivery area and there’s less plastic in its packaging.
Both services have a system where you can order 4-12 single-serving meals plus add-ons per week. You can order any meal on the menu, and in RealEats’ case, you can customize them to your liking.
I found Freshly to be a bit more flexible because there aren’t just the main four meal plans (as happens with RealEats). With Freshly, you can order as many meals as you like as long as it’s within the range of 4-12 meals. However, the add-ons offer is limited, which isn’t the case with RealEats.
Additionally, it’s easy to manage your weekly subscription and you can skip or cancel at any time, as long as you don’t miss the deadline. With RealEats, the deadline is 11:59 PM ET on Thursdays while Freshly is a bit more mysterious since it depends on your location and preferred delivery day (you’ll be notified via email about the deadline).
Both services allow you to choose the most convenient delivery date, with the mention that Freshly is a lot more flexible. With RealEats, you have only three days for delivery (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday in the following week), while Freshly gives you about two weeks to schedule your delivery.
You also need to pay attention to each service’s delivery area. Freshly has a wider coverage and delivers within the lower 48 states while RealEats only delivers to 39 states (HI, AK, AR, KS, LA, MT, NM, ND, SD, OK, and WY aren’t on their list). Still, RealEats is working on developing its network.
Both services will send an email confirmation with trackable delivery information once your box is marked for shipping. Speaking of boxes, both companies use insulated cardboard boxes and frozen gel packs to keep the contents cold (not frozen) during shipping. Freshly also adds an extra bio-degradable denim insulator to the mix.
RealEats sends its ingredients packed individually in 100% food-safe, vacuum-sealed Fresh Packs™ that can be heated in boiling water and last up to seven days in the fridge. To make it easy to put the meals together, RealEats groups the ingredients using a cardboard bellyband that also contains all the necessary information about the dish.
Freshly, on the other hand, sends full meals in microwaveable containers that you can recycle after use. Each container has a cardboard sleeve with the name of the dish and other important information such as the “consume by” date.
Lastly, even though RealEats uses a bit more plastic, you can recycle all the packaging from each box. Still, I like that Freshly has a cute video on their website explaining the entire process – it makes it a bit more fun to recycle.
Since both companies deliver prepared meals, it was quite difficult to choose a winner. However, if you want the most convenient and less time-consuming service, then Freshly comes at the top (ready to eat in three minutes).
The difference isn’t as significant when you have a bit of time to prepare your meals. That’s because RealEats recommends using boiling water to heat the meals since this is the best way to maintain the taste and texture of the ingredients. However, you can also take them out of the bags, place them on a plate, and microwave the entire meal if you’re in a hurry.
I have to admit, the boiling water method ensures the ingredients won’t dry out in the microwave and that each item is heated up as needed. However, this method can take around 6-10 minutes, depending on the instructions.
Freshly’s containers are designed to retain moisture if you follow the heating instructions on the sleeve. Therefore, it all boils down to the amount of time you want to spend in the kitchen.
Freshly wins this one because you can reach out to them anytime you have something to ask. The customer service team is available 24/7 via live chat, phone, or text and you’ll typically get a reply to your emails within 30 minutes.
RealEats also has live chat, email, and phone but only operates Monday to Friday between 9 AM and 5 PM EST. If you reach out to them during operating hours, you’ll receive a quick reply, but it may take between one to three hours via email.
Both customer service teams are available for customers and curious people looking around, so you can reach out whenever you have an inquiry. If you don’t feel like getting in touch with the customer service team, both companies have a well-developed FAQ section and are active on various social media channels where you can send messages or post comments.
In both cases, the price per serving goes down for large orders, but Freshly is the more affordable service ($6.90 per meal). In comparison, RealEats is quite pricey ($9.09 per serving), especially for weekly recurring orders.
True, RealEats does give you the freedom to play with your food and the add-ons section is well-stocked, but if you’re on a budget, Freshly makes more sense. However, the shipping cost varies between $9.99 and $11.99 per order depending on your location. With RealEats, shipping is free.
Busy singles and people on a gluten-free diet
$9.09 per serving
$6.90 per serving
$9.99 to $11.99
4 meals per week
4 meals per week
30+ choices per week
30+ choices per week
6 to 10 minutes
3 to 5 minutes
5 to 10 minutes/None
In the list of ingredients
In the list of ingredients
Special Dietary Options
Vegetarian, Low-calorie, High Protein, Dairy-free, Carb-conscious, Wheat-free, Soy-free
Vegetarian, Low-calorie, High Protein, Dairy-free, Carb-conscious, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Peanut-free
Online chat, email, phone
24/7 online chat, and phone/text, email
If you’re looking for an affordable single-serving meal delivery service with plenty of menu variety to keep things interesting, Freshly is a great option. Plus, the company delivers in most states and has gluten-free and vegetarian recipes.
However, if customization is the most important factor for you, ReaEats is the better fit (even though it’s a bit pricier). Just make sure you’re in the company’s delivery area.
And, if neither RealEats nor Freshly fit your needs (maybe you’re looking for a meal kit delivery service), make sure to check our list of the best meal delivery services!
The Freshly food philosophy is all about delicious and nutritious meals that are ready in minutes. For this, the company works hard to create meals that aren’t processed and contain fresh veggies, and are low in added sugar. As a result, the meals offered by Freshly are suitable for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Yes, you can microwave a RealEats meal, if you take the ingredients out of the pouches and place them on a plate/ bowl/ microwave-safe container. However, the best way to enjoy a RealEats meal is to boil the Fresh Packs™ following the instructions on the packaging.
RealEats uses sous-vide to make sure all the meals reach your door in the best possible state of freshness while maintaining texture and maximum nutrients.
Sous-vide is a process that seals the food in an airtight, vacuum-sealed bag to maintain freshness and stop the dehydration process. The food is usually cooked in the bag, using temperature-controlled water.