I follow the kind of diet that would make your mom (and doctors) cringe. I’m what some might call peckish, and—if you haven’t noticed—chips, cookies, and candy come in bite-size, bird-friendly portions. My palate is also extreme in that food must be either (a) bland, or (b) how you think the word neon would taste. It’s probably because I’ve eaten so many Hot Cheetos, Hot Cheetos Limón, and Chester's Hot Fries that my taste buds are essentially burned off my tongue. That, and the fact that I’ve been drinking black coffee since high school.
Suffice it to say I am not the picture of health. Yet when I do peel my hands away from the nearest chip bag and eat “adult” food, I opt for generally healthy options. I’m basically a raccoon: often eating garbage, but sometimes that garbage is raw vegetables. Still, a healthy meal or snack here and there doesn’t make up for my lack of eating whole foods on the regular. So I decided to try a meal-kit service with the hope that I would improve my habits and make sure that I am, in fact, eating protein and not subsisting on a permanent caffeine or sugar high. Enter Daily Harvest.
So what exactly is Daily Harvest?
The fro-yo shop of healthy meal kits. Daily Harvest sends bowls and ready-to-blend smoothies in frozen cups. Everything comes portioned, and all you have to do is throw the food in a microwave, pan, or blender before eating. Like a good millennial, I was drawn to Daily Harvest because of its branding. The brightly colored smoothies looked like candy masquerading as protein shakes, and since moving to the East Coast from Los Angeles, finding ripe, nonbruised fruit has been hard to come by.
Is Daily Harvest organic?
Yes, 95%. Anything organic is marked on the back of the cups.
Is Daily Harvest vegan?
It’s complicated. Daily Harvest isn’t exactly a vegan meal delivery service—even though its recipes are built on fruits and vegetables. That’s because you add whatever kind of liquid you like to the cups (oat milk was my preference, but you can add whole milk, water, hemp milk, etc.) and because of the customization, the brand likes to call its recipes “plant-based and vegan-friendly.” Everything comes free of gluten, dairy, fillers, preservatives, refined sugars, and artificial anything—but what you do with it after that is up to you.
So how good is the actual food? (My Daily Harvest meals review)
I opted for nine cups (the lowest number) on a weekly basis, because small Brooklyn apartments come with small Brooklyn freezers. In total, I tested Daily Harvest over a three-week period and tried a cup from each of its categories—smoothies, bowls, lattes, bites, and soups.
Strawberry + Peach Smoothie
I would eat this every day if I could, but (and here’s one of the main issues I had with Daily Harvest) “communal” blenders don’t exist at most offices. Even if they did, tell me one person who’d unabashedly whip a blender out and disturb their coworkers just to make a smoothie. Anyway, I made it for lunch one day and gulped it down like water. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t had water that day, but you can’t go wrong with the combo of strawberry, peach, and raspberry. And I really liked the addition of oats, flaxseed, and goji berry in the smoothie, which made it feel like an actual lunch rather than a fun drink.
Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl
Yes, a thousand times, yes. I brought this one to work and heated it up in the microwave for lunch. Instead of putting the mix back into the cup (an integral but off-putting Daily Harvest concept), I poured it into my favorite W&P bowl (that, yes, I bought just for this review process). The cauliflower “rice” holds its texture despite being reheated, the pesto isn’t overpowering, and the roasted pepper offers a subtle kick. Next time I may spread this over slices of toasted baguette (because I’m a chef now).
Black Sesame + Banana Smoothie
I’m used to getting my tahini in cookies (but you already knew that). The nutty, savory flavor is balanced by the tart blueberries and creamy banana. I’ve never had a smoothie quite like it—and even though I loved it, it was so filling I couldn’t finish it.
Cinnamon + Banana Oat Bowl
This one smelled better than it tasted. Daily Harvest gives you the option to eat its oatmeal warm or cold, so I went with hot and added water (since I don’t have a stash of oat milk at the office). I’m sensitive to food texture, and I found it really weird to have once-frozen bananas reheated…. There’s something not right about heating up fruit unless it’s in pie. Same goes for the butternut squash, which felt random. There was too much happening and not a lot of flavor—but it should be mentioned that I prefer my oatmeal “unloaded,” so this was a stretch from the get-go.
Cold Brew + Almond Smoothie
This tastes like something you’d order off the Secret Menu at Starbucks. I added oat milk, threw it in the blender, and took the smoothie with me while I walked my dog. It. Was. So. Good. I also value a crunch, so the cacao nibs were a nice touch. I’d eat this for breakfast or lunch, but since there’s a bit of coffee, I’d steer clear for dinner.
Quinoa + Chipotle Harvest Bowl
Don’t be disappointed in me, but I paired this with Ghost Pepper Chips from Trader Joe’s and it👏🏻was👏🏻banging👏🏻. This was like an imitation Chipotle bowl, minus the avo on top. To prepare, you could throw this on a stove-top pan, but I opted for the microwave (obviously). This meal is ideal for the person who doesn’t know how to cook but wants to feel like they aren’t heating up frozen food for dinner—even though that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites
I’m always looking for healthy snacks—or at least ones that aren’t so addicting that I inhale the entire bag in five minutes, so this was promising. My only gripe with Daily Harvest Bites is that you can’t defrost them (??). So what do you do when there’s a train delay and you forget to refrigerate them at the office? Wish I knew—the bites look like cookie dough, which you also aren’t supposed to eat, but I ate them anyway...then refroze the rest.
How much does Daily Harvest cost?
Daily Harvest is considered one of the pricier meal kits, with a weekly subscription of 9 to 12 cups costing from $6.99 to $7.75 per cup. That shakes out to at least $45 for your first box—with $25 off coupon code GLAMOUR. Monthly subscriptions cost $6.99 per cup (24 total). High-quality smoothies are upwards of $10, so you’re saving some money—with the added bonus of having them delivered right to your door.
Is Daily Harvest worth it?
There are definitely some nits worth picking with Daily Harvest. Apart from the price of the food, it also requires some equipment before you start. Here’s everything I used.
Once you stock up on the essentials, you need to clear room in your freezer. And you need to go into it knowing these aren’t so much meals as they are “light bites” to supplement your actual food. So don’t expect to be loosening your belt after finishing most cups. And finally, there’s a lot left to be desired with the service’s sustainability, especially its reliance on single-use cups. Since the packaging is all the same size, I would gladly take the extra step of returning reusable cups to Daily Harvest if it were possible.
Still, if you’re like me and are trying to eat less junk food but don’t want to take the time to cook (or to skip out on things that taste good), Daily Harvest could be the service for you. No, it didn’t magically turn me into a healthier eater overnight, but it certainly made it easier for me to feel good about what I was eating. The one-step prep is convenient enough, and my insides have never felt more f r e s h. Let’s face it, chip bags are always out there, but when you’re trying to be healthy, it’s hard to beat fresh food in a cup.
If you want to give it a try, use our Daily Harvest coupon code, GLAMOUR, for $25 off your first box.
$45.00, Daily Harvest
Shanna Shipin is the commerce editor at Glamour. Follow her @shannashipin on Instagram.
Originally Appeared on Glamour