Let me start with a confession: I’m not currently following the keto diet. I’ve done it before—and have the leftover pee test strips to prove it—but I just couldn’t get into a diet that gave fruits the cold shoulder just because they had carbs.
That said, I started lifting heavy again a few months ago (I’m following Michael Matthew’s Thinner, Leaner, Stronger workouts—the “lady” version of his Bigger, Leaner, Stronger program for dudes). Matthew’s plan includes a diet but, another confession: I’ve been too busy (or lazy, take your pick) to full adopt it yet.
But I have embraced one of its core tenets, increasing my protein intake. I try to get about 35-40 percent of my daily calories from the muscle-building macro.
Which is why when our Senior Lifestyle Editor Will (hi, Will!) asked me if I’d try a week’s worth of keto meals from meal delivery service Fresh N Lean, I was all in. And after microwaving the protein-heavy meals for a week, here’s my thoughts.
What Is Fresh N Lean?
Though I hadn’t heard of Fresh N Lean until Will offered me a week of subsidized meals, the company has been around since 2012 with a mission to get people to eat more fresh food and less packaged crap. That’s an ethos I can get on board with. The company uses organic, non-GMO ingredients and free-range, certified-humane animal proteins
Fresh N Lean relies on chefs and nutritionists to plan their menus and meals, so you can rest assured that everything will be both tasty and nutritionally sound. I can’t say the same for the lunches I usually eat. There are plenty of days I grab a plate of leftovers (tasty but because there aren’t leftovers of the whole meal, not always well-rounded nutritionally) or a carton of Orgain (good nutrition, but I like to chew my midday meal) between meetings.
While I was testing the keto meal plan, it’s not the only option. Fresh N Lean offers six other plans: Protein+, Mediterranean Diet, Whole 30 Approved, Paleo, Standard Vegan, and Bulk.
The website says that there are more than a hundred meals to choose from each week (across all of the plans, I’m guessing), plus snacks and other extras.
What’s Good About Fresh N Lean’s Keto Plan?
Loads of Choices
Some meal plans only offer a handful of options each week—many of them including salmon, which I’m not a huge fan of—but with Fresh N Lean I had lots of options that didn’t involve microwave fish.
I wanted to try a variety of meals and flavors for the week so I picked a few chicken dishes—including Mediterranean chicken, curry grilled chicken, and cheesy chicken bacon—a BBQ beef and veggies meal, turkey meatballs, and shrimp with roasted cauliflower.
I ordered two of each—and four of the Mediterranean chicken—so my husband could share lunches with me and we could have at least one family dinner. My kids, who are neither exceptionally picky or exceptionally adventurous, enjoyed the chicken dinner (both eschewed the bed of kale it nested on). That’s not Fresh N Lean’s fault, and I was happy to supplement with frozen peas, so still winner-winner in my book.
Part of the reason I didn’t stick with keto in the past was that measuring every bite of chicken and eggs and tracking my every macro was, to be frank, a giant pain in the ass.
With Fresh N Lean’s keto plan, there’s no measuring, and no guesswork. The macros for each meal are clearly labeled on the wrapper and they generally fall within the averages Fresh N Lean set for the keto meals: 30 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs, and 32 grams of fat. Most meals clock in at around 460 calories a portion, which feels filling and and enough to help fuel your muscle gains.
Easy and convenient
Signing up for the plan was simple and straightforward and only took a few minutes.
After subscribing, I chose how many meals I wanted (I went for 14; a weeks’ worth of lunches and dinners) and then cruise around the meals to pick which ones you want. You can click on any meal in the menu to see specifics like how many calories it contains and its macro breakdown.
If you want to mix plans you can do that too, using the a la carte option. You can also choose add-ons like snacks. I ordered a strawberry muffin, which was the most disappointing item in my order (it tasted like sawdust and I threw half away). I also opted-in for two packs of almonds—Smokey BBQ and Rosemary—which made prime snacking. But my favorite, hands down, was the almond butter cups. I had to hide them from my kids because mama’s keto Reese’s were not to be shared.
After picking my meals I chose a delivery date and waited for my meals to show up. Fresh N Lean delivers anywhere in the continental US, including Hawaii and Alaska.
What’s Not Good About Fresh N Lean’s Keto Meal Plan?
Apart from the doorstop of a strawberry muffin, everything I ate from Fresh N Lean was good. But not great. The curry in particular was clearly dialed down to appeal to people who don’t love heat and spice in their food. Most dishes were a little on the bland side and needed a bit of extra seasoning—salt, pepper, some chili sauce.
My total bill—for 14 meals, 1 heinous muffin and 3 snacks—was $185. Inflation has caused most people’s grocery tabs to skyrocket and I often drop between $250 and $300 a week on food, but that’s three squares a day for four people, plus snacks.
Of course you’re also paying to not cook. I enjoy cooking when I have time, and actually missed making dinners from scratch. But if you’re on a first-name basis with your local Door Dashers, then the cost is pretty equivalent to what you’d pay for take-out. And there’s no driver delivery fee, so you may even save a few bucks.
Not great frozen
This quibble may not be entirely fair because by the company’s very name, their meals are meant to be eaten fresh. But my meals came the week of Thanksgiving, when we were traveling for a few days so I tossed a few of them in the freezer.
The problem? All the “cooking” times are from fresh, so I had to guess at how long it would take to heat them up. And the veggies like asparagus and broccoli, which were probably fine if you ate them fresh, were soggy and limp. No bueno.
Hard to cancel
I only ever intended to trial Fresh N Lean for a week, so set myself a reminder to cancel the service after my shipment arrived.
Look, I know companies make it hard to cancel subscriptions on purpose, but unsubscribing from my Fresh N Lean membership was HARD. I tried the instructions in their email— “Canceling is easy! Just go to your account!”—but endlessly cycled through all the pages linked to the account and still didn’t know how to stop getting shipments.
In the end, I had to Google how to sever my relationship with them, which left almost as bad of a taste in my mouth as that godawful muffin.
I’ve tried a few meal kit delivery services in the past like Hello Fresh and Sunbasket but was a meal delivery plan virgin before Fresh N Lean. And I was pleasantly surprised.
Apart from cancelling, the process was seamless. And pretty Seamless, too: I ordered food, and it showed up ready to eat. I really appreciated the variety of meals, and that they change weekly, so there’s always something new to add to the rotation.
Would I sign up again though? Probably not. Firstly, because I do enjoy cooking. There’s just something relaxing about making a meal that you miss out on when all you’re doing is hitting the start button on the microwave.
And the price tag is a little too rich for my blood too. I don’t order out too often, so using Fresh N Lean on the regular would end up costing me money that I’d rather spend on gym gear or well, almost anything else.
Diet-to-Go totals $168, with a hefty tax that could vary from state to state. At $17 a meal, it’s far more expensive than Factor 75, and it doesn’t allow you to customize your first week of meals. The “chef-prepared” meals are also flash-frozen so you lose that sense of freshness that you get with Factor 75.
Eat to Evolve
If the $17 price tag per meal on Diet-to-Go is just too much to stomach, try Eat to Evolve, which comes in just below that at less than $15 per meal. The food gets high marks for taste, and the nutritionals are clearly displayed, but the customization abilities leave much to be desired.
Trifecta Want the tried-and-true keto meal plan that celebs and influencers are raving about? Try Trifecta ($240 total/$16 per meal). Their website provides transparent and detailed nutrition information for each meal. You can’t pick individual meals, only which plan you’d like. And you better like dairy—there’s a slice of cheese on everything.
The Bottom Line
Fresh N Lean is a meal delivery service that caters to scores of different eating plans, including keto. If you’re sick of eating plain grilled chicken and want some new meals for your keto rotation, it has plenty of tasty options with a price tag that’s only a little painful.