Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Fresh 20 Review

Hi there!  I've tried and reviewed many different weekly meal planning subscription sites.  In addition to this review, check out my other reviews.  Thanks for stopping by!  I hope this is helpful.

Website: www.thefresh20.com
Cost: $49 per year or $15 every 3 months (renews automatically)

The idea behind The Fresh 20 is that every week, you get a shopping list with only 20 ingredients.  These ingredients are (are you ready for it?) FRESH!  They don't include any processed food, frozen food, or canned food - ever.  They provide meals (a main dish and a side) for 5 days.  Each week has make-ahead tips or things you can prepare in advance to save some time on busy days.

They do have a second list of 20 items that are pantry staples that you'll need also.  This list contains things like butter, eggs, salt, pepper, sugar, flour - all things you probably have in your kitchen already.  The only things that might come in a can are on this list.  They include chicken stock (you can make your own very easily), black beans (you can buy dried if you prefer), and tomato paste (mine comes in a tube, so that doesn't really count, right?).

They offer 3 different dinner plans: a classic plan, a vegan/vegetarian plan, and a gluten free plan.  All plans serve 4.  Meal plans come in a PDF document which you download from their website.  They archive 3 weeks for you, unless you have an annual subscription, in which case you can access your entire archive.  They also have a six week lunch plan.

This is probably the healthiest menu plan I've tried.  They have vegetarian meals fairly often in their classic plan, and encourage you to buy local and organic when possible.  The meals include an abundance of fresh vegetables and healthy grains like quinoa.  Meats are more limited, usually only including two different meats a week, and eating them two or three times throughout the week.  That's one of the drawbacks about this menu plan.  They do a great job combining different flavors to give some variety, but with only 20 ingredients, you're eating the same ingredients a few times over during the week.  Side dishes are sometimes overly simple.  One week, pears are served as a side dish twice.  Obviously this was done to save an ingredient on the list.  I'd rather have pears one night and another kind of fruit another night.  It's not an additional cost because pears are purchased separately.  I think sometimes some simple things that pack a lot of flavor are left out for the sake of sticking to just 20 items.    We tend to use a lot of different spices, and I almost always found myself adding them to these meals.

This is a great, healthy meal plan, but it just doesn't work for our family.  There isn't much flexibility and trying to sub out meats for things I can eat was labor intensive.  What ended up working best for us was using the vegetarian menu and adding meat where ever possible.  Sometimes I'd add chicken to the dish, and sometimes I'd make red meat for the Sailor and serve it alongside the meal.

Because there are only 20 ingredients each week, you do end up using everything you buy if you're cooking for 4.  We usually had some food leftover because I cook for two and produce doesn't aways come in the amount I need.

The Fresh 20 is a great idea and would probably work for your family if you're not picky and don't mind eating the same things several nights.  It's a great way to get more fresh fruits and veggies into your diet.  You may save some money since there are only 20 ingredients and you use up everything you buy.  However,  if you don't regularly use fresh fruits and veggies, you might suffer from sticker shock and end up spending more.   There's not much room for flexibility and you'll probably find yourself having to scale recipes and add a few additional items.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this review. I am trying to decide whether to sign up for the Fresh 20 and this is very helpful information. That is kind of funny about pears as a side dish twice.

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  2. Don't try Fresh 20 if you have kids who are picky eaters.
    My kids like veggies such as corn, brocolli, cauliflower and carrots, but they won't eat brussel sprouts or food with any spices. Wasn't worth the money if can only use one or two of the recipes in the week. It is really made if you will use for the 5 days.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this review. I just heard about this plan today and searched reviews of thefresh20. Yours is to the point, and I now see this probably isn't the best plan for my family!

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    Replies
    1. I hope you got a chance to check out the rest of the blog! The Fresh 20 might not be the best plan for your family, but there are lots of options out there. Check out Relish or Saving Dinner. :) Keep on cooking.

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