Before we get started let me issue a couple of disclaimers…
**I am not in any way affiliated with The Fresh 20 other than I am a subscriber to the meal plan service. I am not being paid nor am I receiving any incentives to endorse this service, I’m simply discussing it out of my own free will.**
**I will not and cannot share any recipes with you because this is a subscription service. The folks at The Fresh 20 work really hard to bring us a great product and their business’ livelihood depends on paying subscribers.**
Ok, glad we got that out of the way! Phew!
A little over 3 months ago, my husband and I made the decision to become Fresh 20 subscribers! For years, we sat down every Sunday to try and figure out what we were going to cook for the week and what groceries we would need. This was always a task that involved a lot of decision-making and little coordination between ingredients needed for one meal that weren’t needed for others. We had staples like Mexican (my husband is Mexican) meals featuring tacos, rice and beans and Puerto Rican (I’m Puerto Rican) food which also involved meat, rice and beans. There was a lot of pasta and ground meat and prepacked short-cut foods. All in all, incorporating a lot of produce was not always easy without having to research recipes so it was much easier to buy a salad for lunch or get veggies while eating out and just stock up on fruit as snacks. We just didn’t have the time with us both working full time, me being in school and then eventually having our daughter.
How It Works
We came across The Fresh 20 (F20) in October right as I was preparing to got back to work full time. Taking a look at the website, we learned that the whole concept behind F20 is that you need 20 fresh ingredients every week to make 5 dinner recipes meant to serve a family of four. You can choose from the Classic plan which includes 4 nights of meat or seafood and a 5th vegetarian meal, the Vegetarian plan or the Gluten-Free plan. We are on the classic plan and the biggest perk about this plan is the huge amount of veggies in every meal! That was one of our struggles, incorporating more veggies into our day to day. What was really mind-blowing though, is that everything is coordinated for the whole week of recipes which means that nothing goes to waste.
For example, if you’re on the classic plan, you might have to roast a chicken on Monday. That chicken will then go into 2 recipes that week. List calls for 2 lbs of chicken and an 8 pack of pita? That’s because on Monday you cook up some pita for fatoush, then on Tuesday you bake all of the chicken, half for dinner that night, the other half for chicken gyros later (which is where you also use the rest of the pita!). All required ingredients are typically a cart full of veggies, lean meats and fish (there is one seafood dish every week on the classic plan) and whole grains. F20 recommends that you buy organic, low to no sodium canned goods (usually just tomatoes and beans) and whole wheat flour and pastas, brown rice and an occasional new grain like quinoa, couscous or the new-to-us farro. There’s also a list of pantry staples such as seasonings, broths, vinegars and healthy oils. And that’s it! It’s almost completely clean eating (with the exception of the occasional canned ingredients) and since these recipes are for a family of four, my husband and I get lunch out of each meal too! So really, we get 10 meals out of this until we have enough little monsters around to actually gobble up the rest of the dinner servings each night.
Pictures of Deliciousity
Here are a few pictures of meals we have made thus far:
How Much Are We Talking Here?
After the first month we were hooked and fortunately, we also came across a Groupon for a year long subscription for only $26 dollars (normally $49)! A year-long subscription also provides access to all of the archives so you can use weekly plans from year’s past! If you’re not ready for a year-long commitment, you can do a monthly subscription at $5/month, billed 3 months at a time. Weekly plans are based on seasonal ingredients therefore, it’s rare that you’ll be shelling out for expensive, out of season items. A typical week of Fresh 20 groceries runs us $60-$80 in Chicago which fits right into our weekly budget on groceries! The biggest financial perk for us, however, has been our dramatically decreased spending on eating out! Monday-Friday, you will rarely find us having dinner out or ordering in and unless we have lunch meetings planned, we rarely buy lunch out either. That’s easily $60-$80 back in our pockets every week!
Is It Weight Watchers/Diet Friendly?
Finally, the best part about this meal plan is the fact that almost every recipe has been pretty points plus friendly. I do say almost because there are some heavier meals here and there or the portion size is actually more than I can actually eat which means that the points might be higher than what I actually consume. The recipes use very little fat, usually just olive or grapeseed oil and the occasional cheeses. The flavor comes from really great combinations of seasonings, using chicken or vegetable broths instead of butter and if dairy is needed, low fat sour cream or non-fat greek yogurt is recommended. Every meal has at least 3-5 different veggies in the recipe so you get most of your servings just from your dinner! One of the best WW-friendly features is the fact that you get all of the nutritional information every Friday so you can literally plan your dinner and lunch points out for the next week! This is what I do on Mondays and then plan other meals and snacks accordingly.
All in all, we are hooked! We get to cook and try new things all of the time, we are never bored, we are getting nutritious meals and check this out: my 21 month old is eating salmon and quinoa! What?
If you’re considering checking out this meal plan, let me know if you have any questions! Also, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a possible groupon deal in the future, $26 for a year is not bad!
Will You Please Give Us A Recipe?
Nope! Not a Fresh 20 recipe! BUT I will give you a recipe we came across for making your very own homemade vegetable stock! We recently tried this recipe so that we didn’t have to keep buying stock for our weekly F20 recipes. For the price of about 4 carrots, 6 celery stalks, an onion, radishes, peppercorns, salt and olive oil, you can get WEEKS WORTH OF STOCK! That’s like 10-12 cups of stock (in a stock pot) for roughly $3. Also, per the instructions, if you leave the skins on the onions, radishes and carrots (just give them all a really good scrub) you get an even more nutritious veggie stock. The olive oil is the kicker, this adds that chicken-like flavor back into the stock without having to use any meat! This website has some other really great ways to make recipe-ready foods for cheap!
Have you tried Fresh 20? Let me know what you think! Happy Cooking Unfluffers!