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Imagine your ideal meal-kit delivery service. Some
will imagine a perfect mise en place,
ingredients already clean, chopped, and measured, all neatly displayed on the
counter, ready for you to toss in a hot pan. Others may prefer even less prep
work. For such people, Daily Harvest is a vegan meal service that sends soups, smoothies, bowls, and a
few other items that take minimal effort to prepare. For smoothie and soups,
you supply your own liquid, and then you pop everything in a blender, or heat
it on the stove or in the microwave to finish it off. Bowls are heat-and-eat
ready. The company also sells lattes in the form of concentrated coffee with
added flavors and ingredients that also need nothing more than a spin of the
blender to prepare.

As mentioned, all Daily Harvest’s meals are vegan, and they’re also light on carbohydrates. You’ll also find some
“wellness” ingredients, like murasaki (Japanese purple yam) and
ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry,
and purportedly useful at reducing stress). Daily Harvest tags its items for
the benefits they supposedly bring, such as energizing, cleansing, and beautifying. I’m certainly not claiming
I felt more beautiful after drinking any of the company’s smoothies, but if
you’re into that sort of wellness (or the placebo effect), perhaps you’ll enjoy
choosing meals based on which ones will reduce your inflammation, for example.

What I like about Daily Harvest is that it delivers a
huge dose of vegetables (which is undoubtedly beneficial) into your diet with minimal effort. If you’re tight on
time or don’t enjoy cooking, these meals really can get you eating more plants,
particularly for breakfast and lunch. The menu options are hit and miss, so
you’ll need to be open to exploring what’s on offer. Some items sound great but
aren’t, and others seem a little out there but work better than you might
expect. One close competitor, Splendid
, is even more convenient because its items come
fully ready to consume. You don’t have to add your own oat milk or even water to them, as you may with Daily Harvest.

If you’re more interested in a meal delivery
service that has you cook, our Editors’ Choices are Blue Apron for those who want to learn to cook, Green Chef for people who like
plant-focused meals (vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike), and HelloFresh for omnivores. One last favorite pick and also an Editors’ Choice is Hungryroot, which
sends you a mix of groceries and recipe suggestions rather than standard meal
kits. It caters well to every diet, from vegans to pescatarians to meat-eaters.

Daily Harvest smoothie promo photo

Daily Harvest Pricing

Just as I received my first Daily Harvest box,
the company announced a change to some portion sizes, prices, and packaging. It
also announced a few new items, namely bites (small snacks) and flatbreads. As such, some images may reflect outdated packaging and portion sizes. The
prices below are as up-to-date as possible:

  • Chia or oat bowls: $5.99
  • Fatbread: $8.99
  • Harvest bowls: $8.99
  • Lattes: $7.99 (pack of 3)
  • Smoothies: $7.99
  • Snack bites: $7.99 (pack of 7)
  • Soups: $7.99

Not counting the lattes and snack bites, the
average cost of a meal is $7.99.

When I tested the service, the average cost of
an item was a little lower, but, as mentioned, the portion sizes have changed, too.

Your order options are to pick 9, 12, or 24
items per weekly shipment.  You can pause
your deliveries at any time. There’s also an option for a monthly shipment of
24 items. The subtotal depends on the items you choose. Everything is priced à
la carte
. You may end up paying tax or shipping. The company waived the shipping fee on
my first box (that’s customary among any meal delivery service) and I saw a $0
shipping fee for all other price estimates I ran. There’s no guarantee that
Daily Harvest won’t charge for shipping in the future, of course.

To give you a ballpark figure of the total cost,
the largest sized box filled with a variety of items that I chose at random
subtotaled $177. The smallest box came out to about $73. Again, the price
varies depending on which items you choose.

How Do Daily Harvest’s Prices

Because the most comparable service is Splendid
Spoon, it makes sense to compare its price to Daily Harvest. Splendid Spoon charges a flat
rate for a box of items rather than a per-item price. Like Daily Harvest, it
doesn’t charge for shipping at this time. The cost for Splendid Spoon works out
to be between $9.50 and $13 per item, depending on how many items you order at once. So, Daily
Harvest has a lower average per-item fee.

If you look at meal delivery services more
generally, the per-serving price hovers between $7.99 and $11.99. Mind you,
that’s for a dinner entree, rather than a cup of soup. There are a few low-cost
meal kit services, including EveryPlate
($4.99 per serving) and Dinnerly (between $4.29 and $4.99 per serving). Blue Apron cost
less than most others, too, charging between $7.49 and $9.99 per serving, and
with free shipping for all but the smallest plan.

Daily Harvest soup frozen

Daily Harvest’s offers a heavily plant-based menu.
You’re not going to find noodles or dumplings anywhere in the ingredients list.
Many items include an exotic ingredient or two that I would describe as popular in the health and wellness industry. I had to look up chaga
(a mushroom), lion’s mane (a kind of fungus), reishi (yet another mushroom),
chlorella (single-celled algae), and cordyceps (a genus of parasitic fungi that
grows on the larvae of caterpillars in the mountainous region of China).

Harvest bowls sometimes come with a “tastes
like” tagline. the brussels sprouts and lime pad thai bowl tastes like all-veg pad thai (it narrowly meets the description, but could use some
peanuts). The broccoli and cheeze [sic] bowl tastes like
broccoli and cheese sauce, only this one is made with nutritional yeast and no
dairy. Sweet potato and wild rice hash tastes
a breakfast burrito bowl.

Daily Harvest sweet potato soup

For soups, smoothies, and oat or chia bowls, you
have to add your own liquid, such as water, broth, or nondairy milks. Soups
range from slimming low-calorie options, like turmeric and lemongrass broth, to
more hearty and filling one, like lentil and mesquite chili or sweet potato and
miso. Oat bowls and chia bowls consist of oats or chia seeds plus fruits,
spices, and the occasional obscure (to me) superfood that I had to look up. Smoothie
flavors can get a little weird. A black sesame and banana smoothie sounded
better than it tasted and looked. It had no discernible flavor, just a jumble
of blueberry, spinach, zucchini, pine pollen, banana, and black sesame. One
smoothie has chickpeas in it, another cauliflower; you get the idea.

Lattes comes as little pods of frozen goop that are
also BYOL—bring your own liquid. Blend and consume either hot or cold. There
are only five flavors: coffee and almond; chaga and chocolate; matcha
and lemongrass; ginger and turmeric; and coffee and cardamom. Each one
seems to have some nondairy ingredient that makes it creamy and thick, like
tahini or coconut cream.

Flatbreads are a new addition, with three
varieties: kale and coriander; tomato and cremini; and artichoke and spinach.
Finally, Daily Harvest’s bites look like rolled balls of cookie dough, but they have
no egg or butter. The flavors are espresso bean and tahini; hazelnut and
chocolate; cacao nib and vanilla; and coconut and lemon.

Daily Harvest packaging

Daily Harvest’s Packaging

By their very nature, no meal delivery service has supremely
environmentally friendly packaging. Some are better than others, however.

As of this writing, Daily Harvest is changing
the materials and design of some of its containers so that its bowl-based
food actually comes in bowls, rather than cups. More importantly, these bowls will be 100 percent compostable or recyclable.

All the food contents ship frozen and you’re
meant to keep them frozen until you’re ready to consume them. Boxes arrive with
your items packed inside a cooler bag with dry ice, which is much easier to
dispose of than frozen gel packs because the dry ice simply evaporates. If the
ice is still intact when you open the box, however, you have to be extremely
careful not to touch it with bare hands or else risk burning your skin.

Compared to Splendid Spoon, Daily Harvest uses
less plastic. Splendid Spoon’s items come ready to eat or heat-and-eat-ready in plastic containers. At least you
can reuse the containers for food storage. Daily Harvest’s line takes a little
bit more prep work, and the plastics are limited to seals on the tops of cups
and lids, which in many cases don’t seem necessary at all. The pods that hold
the latte goop are all plastic, too, and these are perhaps unnecessarily packed
inside yet another cup with yet another plastic lid.

The new packaging that’s rolling out now should reduce
some of the excess waste.

Daily Harvest unboxing

Cooking and Eating With Daily Harvest

Your items arrive frozen, and you keep them
frozen until you’re ready to consume them. When you open a smoothie, soup, or
bowl, you see chunks of ingredients. They appear to have been frozen
separately. When you pour the contents into a bowl, you get many frozen pieces
rather than a block of ice-meal.

I chose two smoothies, a couple of soups and
bowls, and one set of coffee pods. A mint and cacao smoothie was a highlight
for me. It tasted like a mint chocolate chip milkshake, with crunchy cacao nibs
instead of chocolate. I couldn’t taste the heaping of spinach behind the minty
flavor, which was probably for the best.

A mango and turmeric chia bowl tasted drab
rather than sweet, despite a healthy amount of diced pineapple and mango. I let
the concoction soak overnight in rice milk and ate half for breakfast. The
nutritional label indicated it had two servings, though, with the new changes in
packaging, the container holds 25% less. In any event, I dumped the leftovers
on top of a rice bowl that I made the next night. The mild, fruity
flavor actually went well with kale and brown rice.

Daily Harvest frozen bowl

For bowls, I tried the one that tastes like pad
thai, plus Brussels sprouts and tahini (lentils, Brussels sprouts, butternut
squash, hazelnuts, tahini, turmeric). Before I microwaved the bowl, I marveled
at the little ice cubes of tahini sauce, wondering how they would melt. After
about two minutes of nuking, I took the dish out to stir it. The tahini cubes
had been blasted down to molten and had that bubbly look of over-microwaved
cheese. A good scraping and stir blended it back in with the vegetables,
thankfully. I ate it with a piece of sprouted flatbread from Hungryroot.

Daily Harvest’s bowls are unlike Splendid
Spoon’s. Daily Harvest provides you with frozen vegetables, spices, and cubes
of sauce that you microwave into a savory assortment. Splendid Spoon’s bowls
arrive already in their final texture. In some cases, you get separate
components, like black beans and plantains served over rice. Other bowls are
more stew-like. In short, Splendid Spoon’s bowls are more varied.

Daily Harvest cooked bowl

When it came to eating Daily Harvest’s soups, I
left some chunky and blended two of them. I also had a semi-blended gazpacho.
For creamy soups, Daily Harvest’s instructions say to add water first, then
blend the frozen ingredients with the liquid and only then heat it. Blending
first seemed backward to me. Wouldn’t you want the vegetables to be soft before
pulverizing them? Frankly, the end result wasn’t as smooth as I would have
liked. For example, a sweet potato and miso soup tasted good, but lacked a
silky, pureed texture that I was hoping to achieve. I ended up adding some freshly
sliced scallions to brighten it up.

My test coffee pods—I chose coffee and cardamom—were
better than expected. They’re sweet and have a milkshake-like quality.
I drank all three of them cold, and seeing as there were three, I had multiple
chances to experiment and figure out the best way to prepare them.

The directions say to take a sealed pod and run
it under hot water for 10 seconds. Then pop the pod contents into a blender
with 10 ounces of liquid (non-dairy milk recommended). Whirl it in the blender,
pour into a cup, and enjoy. I had some issues.

First, running the pod under hot water doesn’t
really release the goop. You need a small spatula to pry it out. Second, 10
ounces of liquid was way too much. Eight ounces still made a weak coffee. I
ended up going with about half as much liquid. Third, a couple of ice cubes
made this drink better. One time I blended the ice, another time I threw whole
cubes into the glass to chill the final beverage. The second method had an
ideal taste and temperature, in my opinion.

Daily Harvest blended coffee

I ended up enjoying these lattes more than I
anticipated. My go-to coffee is a pour-over, black, but from time-to-time, I
enjoy a sweet and slightly fatty pick-me-up. The cardamom came through, but not
too strongly, and the creaminess from the tahini was a pleasant surprise.

Would You Eat It Again?

For people who struggle to eat enough vegetables
or rely on take-out more than they would like, Daily Harvest offers a superbly
convenient way to eat better. I like its heavily plant-based selection, and
the method of freezing ingredients separately for bowls and soups helps
preserve their textures and flavors in most cases. Finding menu items that suit
your taste could take some trial and error. I’d especially caution new
subscribers to not lets the exquisite marketing photos hyponotize them. The
images in this review are much more representative of what you can expect.

If you’re too busy to make your own breakfast
and lunch, Daily Harvest is a good low-effort option. Splendid Spoon takes even
less work, as you don’t have to bring your own liquid or blend everything. Its
smoothies are ready to drink, and bowls and soups only need to be heated. That
said, Daily Harvest offers a few additional types of foods you can’t get from
Splendid Spoon—lattes, flatbreads, and snacky bites. Head to head, I
would say their quality is about the same, but there are clear differences
between the two services. Do you want meals that are ready to consume? If yes,
go with Splendid Spoon. Do you want more options and the ability to customize
soups and smoothies with a liquid of your choice? If so, Daily Harvest is better.

Our overall Editors’ Choices in this category are Blue Apron, for novice chefs who want to learn; Green Chef, for plant-focused meals; and HelloFresh, for omnivores.  Finally, Hungryroot is a top pick for both grocery and meal-kit delivery . 

Daily Harvest Specs

Starting Price Per Meal $5.99
Vegetarian Options Yes
Vegan Options Yes
No Extra Delivery Charges Yes

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