Fresh Prep Meal Kit Review
Having reviewed the major meal kit companies, I decided to try out a smaller service. After some research, I found Fresh Prep. Their menu and company structure peaked my interested, so I signed up for one of their plans. After using Fresh Prep for one week, I have both positives and negatives. In this detailed review, I share my experience with Fresh Prep. Read on for my detailed review of Fresh Prep.
Pros and cons
Recipe cards do not have photos for cooking steps
Unique and delicious recipes
Menu only has six main recipes
Diet-specific recipes including gluten free, dairy free, and vegan meals
Recipe cards lack cooking tips
Expanded menu (prepared meals, seasonal items etc.)
Only available in select areas of B.C. and Alberta
Fresh Prep launched in 2014 out of Vancouver. Since its inception, Fresh Prep has expanded its range. It’s now one of the top meal kit services in western Canada. Like other meal kit companies, Fresh Prep has a flexible subscription service. You can skip any week for free. The change must be made by the Wednesday before your next delivery at 11:59 PM.
Note: Fresh Prep is not recommended for people with severe food allergies. While Fresh Prep uses best practices, they cannot guarantee the complete absence of food allergens. The meal kits are prepared in a facility containing tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, eggs, wheat, gluten, mustard, sesame, and sulphites. Inadvertent cross contamination with these allergens may occur.
Prices and availability
Fresh Prep offers two plans: 1&2 people and family. Both have two, three, or four meals per week. The first plan serves two people, while the family plan serves four people. The plan you select plus the number of recipes ordered affects the total price. The lowest price is for two recipes for 1$2 people plan ($54.00). The highest price is for four recipes per week in the family plan ($168.00). Various discounts are applied for new users. For example, you can get $120.00 off your first four orders; the discount is spread out between the orders. For my first order, $40.50 was taken off the price. I only had to pay $13.50 instead of $54.00. Fresh Prep was slightly cheaper than Goodfood and HelloFresh. I didn’t think the prices were too expensive; they were around a mid-range level for me.
Currently, Fresh Prep is only available in select areas of B.C. and Alberta. The delivery areas include: Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Greater Vancouver, Greater Victoria, Nanaimo, and the Okanagan. There is a map feature you can use to check if you fall within the delivery range. If Fresh Prep cannot deliver to your home, you can have the order sent to your workplace.
Ordering meals and dietary variety
Users can order meals four weeks in advance. Fresh Prep automatically selects your weekly recipes based on the preferences you set during sign up. If you select vegetarian, Fresh Prep will select vegetarian meals for you. If you’re unhappy with the selection, you can easily edit your order. Click the minus (-) button to drop recipes. Click the plus (+) button to add a recipe or increase the number of servings. The order screen has five tabs for recipes: all, vegetarian, vegan, dairy aware, and gluten aware. Clicking one of these taps brings up recipes in the specific category, e.g., only vegan meals.
There is an additional menu you can order from called add-ons. Grocery items, snacks, prepared meals, appetizers, and charcuterie kits are some of the foods you can order. Seasonal menus are also available during the year. Some example recipes and items include roast turkey dinner, NY striploin roast dinner, and a Swiss fondue kit for four. Additional menu items cost extra; prices range from $4.00 to $129.00. I didn’t order from the additional menu as it doesn’t fit in my budget. Still, the items looked delicious. The additional menus are best suited for large families/groups. Vegan, gluten free, and dairy aware recipes are available, usually 2-5 in total per week. Customizable meals are also offered. You can either swap ingredients or increase the portion of a particular ingredient.
The Fresh Prep menu was noticeably smaller compared to HelloFresh, Goodfood, and Chefs Plate. The main menu only had 10 recipes. Some weeks over less. For the week of December 24-28, only six meals are offered. I thought this was very limiting. If you don’t like four out of the 10 recipes, you aren’t left with many options. However, I will say that Fresh Prep kept their menu interesting. Each meal used a unique combination of ingredients. And based on the pictures, they all looked delicious. I actually had a hard time choosing my recipes for the week. The vegan, gluten free, and dairy aware recipes are great for people following those diets. Fresh Prep is the first company I’ve used that offers recipes for those three diets.
Packaging and recipe cards
For my Fresh Prep order, I chose the:
- Crying Tiger Thai Steak Salad
- Fried Egg & Pork Sausage Sandwich
Unlike the other meal kits I’ve tried, Fresh Prep does not use cardboard boxes for their deliveries. Instead, they use a cooler bag with thermal insulation. One recipe was packaged in a paper bag, while the other used the Zero Waste Kit (a reusable container that holds most of the recipe’s ingredients). The meat ingredients were stored in a thermal bag. Lastly, the lettuce was packed in a plastic bag. Ice packs were included to keep the contents fresh.
I was very impressed with Fresh Prep’s packaging. Out of the meal kits I’ve used, Fresh Prep uses the least amount of material in their packaging. I didn’t have to throw out a mountain of cardboard. I thought the Zero Waste Kit was a great idea: it’s convenient and environmentally friendly. Plus, I could reuse the container after cleaning it. The only issue I had was fitting the Zero Waste Kit in my fridge. The container is quite big, which causes problems when your fridge is already cramped. I was able to fit the container in my fridge after some careful rearranging.
The recipe cards were informative and neatly designed. The instructions were easy to follow. The cards also have helpful tips. For example, there was a blurb that said adding vegetables to a large bowl gives you more room on your cutting board. On the right-hand side, the included ingredients are listed with their respective photos. The photos were a nice visual aid. It helped with organizing and prepping the ingredients. The cards list the recipes nutrition facts, which is new to me. I’m used to the nutrition facts being printed on a sticker used as a seal for the ingredients bag. While it may not seem like a big deal, having the nutritional list on the recipe card was a major positive for me. In my opinion, having it on the card is more convenient. Instead of logging into your account to check the nutritional values, the list is right in front of you. I only have one complaint for the recipe cards. The instructions do not have accompanying photos. Even though the steps weren’t hard, having photos would have been helpful. People could use them as visual aids, to see if they are doing the step correctly.
Crying Tiger Thai Steak Salad
Nutritional values: per serving (500g)
For regular recipe:
- Calories: 900kcal
- Fat: 43g
- Saturated fat: 15g
- Cholesterol: 90mg
- Sodium: 2200mg
- Carbs: 93g
- Dietary fibre: 30g
- Total sugars (including added sugars): 30g
- Protein: 34g
Per customized recipe
- Calories: 1010kcal
- Total fat: 51g
- Saturated fat: 18g
- Cholesterol: 135mg
- Sodium: 2170mg
- Carbs: 92g
- Dietary fibre: 3g
- Sugars: 30g
- Protein 45g
Listed cook time: 30 minutes. Skill level: easy.
I ran into some problems while cooking the Crying Tiger Thai Steak Salad. The first problem was with the Zero Waste Kit. While it was convenient and well organized, the ingredients were not labelled. While some were obvious (e.g., the tomatoes, rice, and onions), others were harder to distinguish, e.g., the two soy sauces and the fish sauce. The only way I seperated the ingredients was by looking at the diagram on the recipe card. Constantly looking back and forth was a little disorienting. The second issue I had was with cooking the steak. The process wasn’t difficult, but I was worried about overcooking or undercooking the steak. The instructions say to cook the steak 1-2 minutes per side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 135˚F. Then let the steak rest until it reaches an internal temperature of 145˚F. I don’t own a meat thermometer, so I had to eyeball it. My steak ended up well done, while the recipe card showed a medium rare steak. I think listing the internal temperatures in the instructions threw me off. It made me think “I have to cook the steak to these temperatures otherwise it’s not safe to eat.” If the instructions said, “cook steak to medium rare (2-3 minutes each side)”, there would be less confusion. The last problem was entirely my fault. For cooking the coconut rice, the instructions say to add 1 cup of water to a small pot. I didn’t read this part and added too much water. The rice ended up soggy and sticky; it looked more like rice porridge. I tired to cook off the excess moisture to little success.
Even though I had problems with the meal prep, the Crying Tiger Thai Steak Salad was a delicious recipe. The steak marinade and the thai sweet chili suace gave the dish a sweet and sour taste. Although I overcooked the steak, it was still tender and juicy. The salad was probably my favourite part of the meal. The basil and cilantro gave it a refreshing flavour. The tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions tasted great as well. To cap it off, the roasted peanuts and crispy onions gave the salad a nice crunch. And to be honest, I enjoyed my rice pudding concoction. It reminded me of rice congee, which is a dish I like. What truly won me over was the coconut oil. It gave the rice a unique flavour. I had mixed feelings about the thai sweet chili sauce. In small doses, it tasted fine. But for larger serving, the sauce was too sweet for my liking. I would probably lower the amount of sugar used in the sauce (e.g., one tbsp instead of three).
After learning from my mistakes, I’ll probably make the crying tiger thai steak salad again.
Fried egg & pork sausage sandwich
Nutritional values: per serving (500g)
- Calories: 1170kcal
- Total fat: 71g
- Saturated fat: 18g
- Trans fat: 0.5g
- Cholesterol: 385 mg
- Sodium: 740 mg
- Carbs: 90g
- Dietary fibre: 10g
- Sugars: 8g
- Protein: 43g
Listed cook time: 30 minutes. Skill level: moderate
The fried egg & pork sausage sandwich was much easier to make. The cooking process was very straightforward, and the food prep was minimal. I only had to chop the tomato and basil leaves and form the ground pork into two patties. The sweet potato even came pre-cut, which was convenient. However, I did run into some issues while cooking. The instructions say to place the sweet potato onto a baking sheet lined with foil, then cook them for 15-17 minutes. I followed the instructions closely, but the sweet potato ended up sticking to the foil. I painstakingly had to rip the pieces from the sheet before I could go to the next step. Spraying the foil with cooking spray might have kept the sweet potato from sticking. Even flipping the pieces halfway through would have helped. The instructions should have included those tips. The second problem I had was with the pork patties. Cooking them was simple, but they took longer than expected. After cooking the patties for 3-4 minutes each side, the outer layer was crispy and golden brown, but the inside was still raw. If I kept cooking the pork on medium-high, I would have burned the outer layer. I decided to slow cook the patties by turning the burner to low and covering the pan with a pan lid. After about 10 minutes, the pork patties were finished. I may have made my patties too thick, which could be the reason why they took longer to cook. The last issue I had was cooking the eggs. I’ve always had problems flipping sunny side up eggs. Since they’re so fragile, I usually break at least one. The same thing happened for this recipe. While one egg survived, the other split apart when flipped.
I thoroughly enjoyed the fired egg & pork sausage sandwich. The brioche bun was fluffy with a delicious buttery texture. The pork sausage patty was tender and juicy. It also had a slightly sweet flavour. The spice blend provided an extra zest to the patty. The basil gave the burger a refreshing minty flavour. Despite my issue with the sweet potatoes, they turned out well. The pieces were crispy but not overdone; they were still soft and tender. The fried egg was a little bland and could have used some seasoning. But it worked well in the burger. The mayo sauce was the perfect condiment for the sandwich. It had a creamy texture with a sweet and tangy flavour. The red pepper flakes gave the sauce a spicy kick. For me, the spice level was just right; it was hot without being overpowering. The mayo sauce was the star of the recipe. Without it, the meal would have been bland.
Out of the two recipes, the fried egg & pork sausage sandwich was my favourite.
Overall, I enjoyed my Fresh Prep experience. The meals were unique and delicious, but they were a bit tough to make. This is more of a reflection on my skill set rather than the recipe’s difficulty. While the menu options were limited, there was a lot of diversity. Each recipe had their own distinct qualities. Also, having vegan, gluten free, and dairy free meals gives Fresh Prep an advantage over their competition. Fresh Prep does a great job with their packaging. Most of the material is reusable (the cooler bag and Zero Waste Kit), which cuts back on waste. I basically got a free bag and container from Fresh Prep.
There are some areas to improve. Ingredient labels could be added to the Zero Waste Kit. The recipe cards need photos to accompany the instructions. They would be useful visual aids for new chefs. More cooking tips could also be added to the cards. For example, tips on how to properly cook a steak. These tips would help people avoid some of the issues/mistakes that I dealt with. Lastly, more meals could be added to the weekly menus. As I said earlier, having only 6-10 meals to choose from is very limiting. Adding more could increase Fresh Prep’s customer base.
Fresh Prep is a solid meal kit company that continues to grow. If they implement some of my suggested improvements, the company could become one of the biggest meal kit providers in Canada. I recommend Fresh Prep for people following specific diets and for people who support eco-friendly companies. I’m 50/50 on whether I would continue using Fresh Prep. If they expanded their menu and lowered their prices, I would definitely continue my Fresh Prep subscription.
Pricing and plans
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