Daily Harvest Meal Delivery Review (Spoiler Alert: I Liked It A Lot)

This post is not sponsored, however it does contain referral links to the service I am reviewing. Readers who want to try the service can use my referral link to get $25 off their first order and, in turn, I will also get a $25 credit.

As many of you know from reading my monthly financial updates, I have been having somewhat of a hard time cooking lately. Between work and a constant low level depression, I’ve rarely had the energy or inclination to make myself food, however simple, leading me to order in food more than I should.

As a result, my waist has definitely widened and I’ve ended up in a bit of a spiral of being too exhausted to cook, eating unhealthy food, feeling lethargic from the takeout, and so on and so forth.

I figured to break the cycle, I’d probably want to try something new. It had to be low-effort so my depression brain wouldn’t get in the way. Traditional cook-them-yourself meal kits– like Blue Apron or Purple Carrot– are too much work in my opinion for too little value (it’s easy enough for me to find recipes and order groceries online, it’s the actual cooking I end up not wanting to do). So I was looking for some pre-made meal options. Cue: Daily Harvest.

What is Daily Harvest?

Daily Harvest is a frozen, pre-made meal delivery service. Their food is vegan and whole-foods based. When ordering, you can choose to have 9, 14, or 24 items delivered at a time. Items are priced by item type (e.g. smoothie vs. flatbread), and you get a (small) discount for ordering more items.

How does Daily Harvest compare to other frozen foods or meal kit services?

The food Daily Harvest tasted really fresh, in a way that other frozen foods do not, including from high end “healthy” brands like Amy’s Kitchen. Unlike Blue Apron-like meal kit services, Daily Harvest meals are mostly prepared already.

How much prep is involved?

The amount of work needed is akin to other frozen meals. For smoothies it’s popping a cup of prepared fruit into a blender, for harvest bowls, just throw in the microwave for a few minutes. I would say if you have enough energy to make a bowl of packaged ramen, you have enough energy to make these.

Pro-tip for flatbread makers: use a real pizza pan when making the flatbreads and put them in the oven as it pre-heats. The flatbreads have some vegetables on top which it seems like DH doesn’t cook down before putting as topping, which can cause the centers of flatbreads to get a little limp (though I found not particularly mushy or off-putting). A pre-heated pizza pan helps a lot in maximizing the crust crispness.

How does the food taste?

Daily Harvest uses whole foods in their meals and it shows. When eating their meals, they felt home-cooked, not in a stick-to-your-ribs just-like-mom-used-to-make sort of way, but still unfussy, wholesome, and clean.

DH has one-line descriptions for each of their foods to describe their tastes. I found those to be a mixed bag– a few were spot-on, a few were not quite.

Since DH is vegan, omnivores may find some meals are not fully satiating without a little bit of extra topping. Small additions of pre-cooked meat or shredded cheese can go a long way in rounding out the meals without adding too much prep work to feel burdensome.

I tried the following items:

  • Dragon Fruit + Lychee smoothie (4/5): light, tart, summery. Strawberry taste dominates.
  • Cherry + Almond smoothie (2/5): strawberry taste dominates. Was expecting more of a nutty blend
  • Banana + Black sesame smoothie (3/5): I was something similar to the glutinous rice ball taste and it got clooose but is in an uncanny valley in between. I think the lemon and blueberry were unnecessary additions and the tartness takes away from the enjoyability.
  • Coconut + Chai smoothie (3/5): a little spice to it, strikes me as a very fall/winter drink
  • Tomato + Cremini flatbread (4/5): basically a mushroom pizza. Crisp crust edges can still mean a limp center due to water from the tomato.
  • Spinach + Artichoke flatbread (5/5): my favorite flatbread, just add a pinch of salt and it’s chef’s kiss.
  • Pear + Arugula flatbread (4/5): less sweet than you’d expect, but still tasty.
  • Hazelnut + Chocolate bites (5/5): divine. Tastes exactly like it sounds. Had to keep from eating all of them in a single sitting.
  • Broccoli + Cheeze harvest bowl (3.5/5): not that cheesy. The sunflower seeds added a little texture that made this taste more like broccoli and water chestnuts.
  • Dragonfruit chia pudding (3/5): my husband said this was pretty bland.

How much does Daily Harvest cost? (And is it worth it?)

At the time of my writing Daily Harvest prices its items as follows (rounded to the nearest dollar, because I don’t support this $x.99 nonsense):

  • Smoothies – $8 each, which range from 90-570 calories
  • Harvest Bowls – $9 each, which range from 160-470 calories
  • Flatbreads – $9 each, which range from 330-460 calories
  • Soups – $8 each, which range from 90-380 calories
  • Oat Bowls – $6 each, which range from 230-380 calories
  • Chia Bowls – $6 each, which range from 310-430 calories
  • Scoops (vegan ice cream) – $9 per pint, which range from 780-990 calories
  • Bites (dessert balls) – $8 per pack of 7 bites, each bite ranges from 80-130 calories
  • Lattes – $8 each, which range from 80-110 calories

Boxes of 14 items get a $10 discount, 24 items get a $20 discount.

In my order, I tried a smattering of smoothies, harvest bowls, flatbreads, and bites. I felt, based on the amount of food I got and calories in each meal to satiate my hunger that:

  • Bites were unambiguously worth the $8. I’d order these anytime to tide over a sweet tooth.
  • Flatbreads are somewhat overpriced, though I would happily pay around $7 each
  • Smoothies are somewhat overpriced, given the size (around a cup without added liquid). I would probably value them around $5 for most (or up to $7 for the ones with fancier ingredients)

To my slight chagrin my husband did get the oat and chia bowls, which are very easy to DIY, but at least they did make for a relatively filling breakfast. I would normally not be inclined to buy either, but if I did I’d say $4 (or $5 for the most fancy ones) seems to be a fair price. Though I did not try them this week, Scoops seem worth it to me– at $9 they are in line or slightly less than artisanal ice creams like jeni’s splendid. I don’t drink lattes or eat soup much so I can’t tell you if those are worth it.

When I ordered from Daily Harvest, they were having a buy one, get one free special for Cyber Monday. So I ended up getting two 24-item boxes for around $175, or roughly $3.65 per item (as compared to the $8.13 average per item cost from our order without the BOGO or $20 bulk purchase discount).

In short: I think most items are somewhat overpriced for the amount of food you get, but not grossly so. Too expensive as an everyday option for most people, but definitely more affordable if you can score the right discount code.

How would you rate Daily Harvest? Would you recommend it?

Overall, I feel like Daily Harvest is:

  • Taste 4/5 – The food is good and, despite the variety of ingredients, surprisingly unpretentious.
  • Convenience 5/5 – Easy to order to prep. By far the easiest meal kit service I’ve tried.
  • Healthiness 5/5 – About as healthy as pre-made meals can get. Whole foods, plant-based, freshly frozen and taste like it too. However, and this is true of most fruit-based meals, be careful with the amount of sugar in the smoothies, bites, and scoops– just because they are plant-based doesn’t mean they aren’t also mini desserts too.
  • Price 3/5 – It’s expensive for what you get, but not obscenely so (relative to other meal delivery services).
  • Package Waste 3.5/5 – Compostable and recyclable packaging. Still a decent amount of packaging, one the order of buying a crate of TV dinners. Not great, but probably as good as a service like this can get. In terms of sustainability, it’s nice these are plant-based too (some amount of carbon footprint offset there).

Overall score: 4/5

I would whole-heartedly recommend Daily Harvest to people who are crunched on time, looking for a healthy food option, and are in the financial situation to afford the service. With discount codes, Daily Harvest can be a good way to tide a professional working couple over with healthy lunches and snacks for a hectic week. That said, the price is pretty steep for what amounts to a frozen meal (albeit a good tasting, healthy one) and is probably no suitable as an everyday food option for most people due to cost alone.

Have you tried Daily Harvest? Are there other meal delivery services you would recommend?

Donations & Taxes

Thinking about where to donate this year. Even having done a round in the summer, we’re still looking to give away around $15K during the holiday season. We’re nearing the point where I’m considering moving all our brokerage stuff to Schwab so I can easily transfer appreciated stocks to donor advised funds. It’s weird to be in a position where “rich people” tax loopholes start becoming relevant to us. Before now, our brokerage holdings were small enough that it didn’t matter much and I was naive enough to believe I’d be willing to go through the process and paperwork of transferring stock directly to a charity. That’s not really the case any more.

Anyway, we’ll be donating to our usual list, but interested in hearing if there are any local charities you all would recommend, particularly focused on environmental, social justice, or food insecurity. We have our list of national charities and those local to us, but I’d like to push money out to other areas of the country (particularly those with less affluence than we do in our state).

What local charities would you recommend?

Do you have a donor advised fund? Do you like your provider?

Trust The Process

I am drafting this post less than a week after quitting my job. I have more or less completed all the niggling little errands I’ve needed to get done. Now, all that’s left is the task of figuring out what I want to do with my life and career, etc. No big.

One of the things I was hoping to feel coming out of my job was a sense of elation, like a weight lifted off my shoulders. That… didn’t happen. After I left my last job, in the month of downtime, I was feeling light and airy and serene. (I also had a job nearly lined up, so that low-grade anxiety wasn’t an issue at the time.) This round I don’t have that same positive sentiment, but not a negative one either. Leaving my job has afforded me a gap where the acute stress or anxiety that I’d been feeling the past few months resided. But there is no joy or optimism in its place.

I feel as though I could live this lazing about life indefinitely. Not that I’ve really been lazing about– I’ve been going to various medical appointments while my health insurance is still active, tidying the house, returning old library books, and the like. How did I have time for a job, I wonder, with so much to do around here?

I’ve been trying to think about what I want to do with my life and I keep drawing blanks. I look at my list of post-FI plans and they seem quaint. Those aren’t life plans, those are hobbies. I don’t feel motivated enough to even take on hobbies right now. I could just sit in the quiet buzz of my brain for a good, long time.

The tiny rational-anxiety part of my brain (which has felt desperately miniscule and muffled, which is nice) worries: What if this means my ambition is gone? Does this mean that any job is going to feel awful? Will I ever be able to return back to the working world? And to all that I think: Calm down, will ya? You’re harshing my chill.

That is not to say anxiety-brain is entirely wrong, but it is probably misguided. My husband has told me a thousand times that I need to take time to relax. He’s seen me day after day, week after week, stressed and anxious and unhappy. And he’s right. I’m burnt out. It’s going to take time to feel like I can be optimistic or excited again. I quit my job to give myself that time. Until then, I know the empty lack is going to feel uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary step to get from where I was to where I will (eventually) want to be.

It is not fun, but I need to trust the process.