This Meal Delivery Service Has Cut My Stress Levels in Half

I face the same conundrum every year. As the weather becomes increasingly gorgeous, I feel even more inspired than usual by all the amazing seasonal produce at my local farmers market. Yet I'd rather spend my weekends hiking, beaching, and generally hanging out outside than chopping vegetables in my kitchen as I meal-prep for the week.

When voicing this dilemma to a co-worker, she suggested I try out a meal delivery service. Truth be told, I've always been a little wary of this, even as the market has expanded to include countless options for every dietary restriction and palate. As someone who changes her mind about what to eat on a minute-to-minute basis, I don't particularly like the urgency of certain services that drop fresh ingredients on my doorstep. (What if I don't want lemongrass tofu curry that evening?) I also love the ritual of grocery shopping and would prefer to exercise control over the majority of my meals—even if I'm lazy about preparing them.

My ideal service would grant me the flexibility to change my mind about my dinner. Better yet, it would include breakfast, which is usually my most rushed meal anyway. It would need to be relatively affordable and require minimal prep time. Oh, and it would need to be health-minded and vegan-friendly. Too much to ask?

Apparently not. In a serendipitous turn of events, I connected with a rep from Daily Harvest just a few days after this exchange with my colleague, who kindly offered that I give the buzzy service a try. And in spite of my very specific stipulations, I leapt at the chance—if only because from first glance, it already seemed a little different from the brands I had encountered.

For starters, Daily Harvest's meals are farm-frozen: The company packages seasonal and superfood ingredients in extremely convenient containers that can be heated (or blended) at any time. That means I can store all my meal options in my freezer to be used whenever I want—and still have the opportunity to prep and eat fresh produce from the farmers market if I so choose. Convenience and flexibility: check, check. And as my time with Daily Harvest has continued, I've found the rest of my demands to be completely realized.

After my first delivery arrived, I sat down on the floor of my kitchen and pored over the ingredient lists printed on the side of each container. There was the Mint + Cacao smoothie, which contained a delicious-looking blend of banana, spinach, cashew butter, and brain-boosting chlorella. (Spoiler: This would soon become my favorite grab-and-go breakfast.) The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto harvest bowl boasted organic spinach and basil, as well as sundried tomato and nutritional yeast—a light yet surprisingly substantial dinner. There were also a few soups, tahini-infused latte packets, and even an overnight oats bowl (just add almond milk!). I decided right then and there that I would not be visiting the grocery store that week as initially intended.

Past experience has allowed me to assume that convenience and quality are mutually exclusive things, which is ultimately what made this experience such a pleasant surprise. I am hopeless—hopeless—at cooking dinner after coming home from a long day at the office, which is why Sunday meal prep is typically my only option if I don't want to spend the week consuming bowl after bowl of cereal. So I found it incredibly pleasant to come home from work and just pop a Daily Harvest harvest bowl in the microwave—moreover, find the end result to be downright scrumptious. And because there's such an emphasis on light, healthy ingredients, I actually felt good about what I was eating.

With every kind of of mealtime stress out of the way, the tenor of my weeknights shifted. I no longer had to think about hitting the grocery store after work for some last-minute essentials. I was no longer subjected to the monotony of a week's worth of leftovers. And while my actual routine didn't change all too much, I found my mood changing for the better; I felt more empowered to truly unwind on weeknights. Apparently my previous strategy had been kind of bumming me out. Who knew?

Even my breakfasts got a makeover. I've written about the very boring green smoothie I drink every single morning, and it was nice to change things up without actually changing things up. Many of Daily Harvest's smoothies are packed with kale and spinach, but they also contain ingredients like matcha, dragonfruit, and wheatgrass. Every variety I've tried has been nothing short of delicious. Not to mention convenient: On mornings when I have to rush out the door, I just pop the ingredients out of their cardboard container and into my Vitamix ($550) with some almond milk, blend, pour it all back into the container, and go. 

At this point, it shouldn't be a surprise that the logistics of ordering from Daily Harvest are as foolproof as the meals themselves. Once you confirm that the delivery service is available in your area, you can choose between a weekly or a monthly plan. The weekly plan allows you to choose between six, nine, 12, and 24 cups—all with varying price points starting at $7 per cup—while the monthly is fixed at 24 cups. From there, you get to choose exactly what goes into your box, and Daily Harvest lets you filter your options by best sellers, flavor preferences, key benefits, and dietary needs.

Now that I'm wrapping up my initial assortment of Daily Harvest meals, I'm already excited about picking out some of my favorites as well as some new-to-me varieties. It almost feels like I'm participating in the fun part of meal prep without doing any of the actual legwork, which is the stuff of my lazy-girl dreams. And it didn't stop me from hitting the farmers market this past Sunday to snatch up some fresh zucchini and some of the incredible stone fruit that's currently in season.

But the difference is that after I stopped by the market, I didn't make the usual beeline for my kitchen. Instead, I got lunch with a friend, went for a long hike, and basked in the contentment of a weekend afternoon reclaimed. 

Next up: Meet the "non-diet diet" that helped one editor find peace with her body.