Monday, January 6, 2014

The Fresh 20 @thefresh20

A coworker recommended The Fresh 20 to me, knowing I want to cook more meals at home.  I liked the idea of having a pre-set grocery list of 20 unprocessed ingredients, with a handful of meals planned for the week.  Dan and I want to save money and eat less "fast casual" food.

I chose the Fresh 20's "For One" menu, because we don't need to cook for a family of four.  My hope was that since this smaller menu was billed as two servings (one for dinner, one to pack as a lunch) it would suffice for myself and Dan.  The recipes were also fresh and healthy enough to fit within my Weight Watchers requirements!

The grocery list took me longer than my usual shopping trip; part of this was the finding fresh ingredients I was unfamiliar with as I don't buy a lot of produce.  I got in and out of the grocery store in 45 minutes (usually it takes me about 30), though I know I'll get better.  The Fresh 20 also uses seasonal ingredients, so I can look for items at the farmer's market too.  The cost estimates from the shopping list were also fairly accurate; I spent under $35 total for all the ingredients.  It would have been even less if I had the option to buy smaller bunches of the vegetables at my store, i.e. one carrot instead of a bundle!

I also found I was able to finish most of the week's prep the very first night, so it was a lot more assembly than cooking when each meal rolled around.  We ate them a little out of order, and not five days in a row, but it WORKED!

Meal #1: Foil Wrapped Chicken & Vegetables (w/Brown Rice)
This one was tasty, but I should have added some more chicken to satisfy Dan's appetite!  I was happy with how easy it was, and my photo doesn't do it justice.  When I plated it up, Dan immediately walked to the dining room table, a place we don't usually eat... so I'd say this cooking at home thing is a winner!

Photo would have been better minus the foil, sorry!

Meal #2: Mexican Chicken (w/Warm Bean Salsa)
This recipe called for shrimp, but we decided to substitute chicken breast instead.  This was super easy, and Dan liked the seasoning on everything.  Black beans are one of his favorites. Instead of serving plain brown rice, I added some cilantro and lime juice to mimic the rice at Chipotle.  Dan loved this enough that he said he'd eat it again; it was his favorite of the week, and probably mine too.

I appreciated that the recipe used a half can of the beans and tomatoes, and that the remainder of the cans will be used for a later recipe; I hate wasting food and overcooking for two people!

This is Dan's portion... I added a bit more chicken and rice for him!

Meal #4: Chicken Broccoli (w/Soft Noodles)
This one was super easy, and I happened to have organic wheat udon noodles in the pantry.  Score!  The chicken was the same from Meal #1, but spent more time in the same marinade.  Dan really liked the flavor, and he even ate the leftovers I left in the pan!  This one definitely had an Asian flare.  (Note: we did not eat chicken three nights in a row, there was a gap!)

Mmm...  udon noodles.

Meal #3: Sausage Radish Bake (w/Sweet Potatoes)
I really liked the turkey sausage and apples, not sure about the radishes and the meal itself.  I think I might have liked the mixture on a hoagie bun or something.  It was alright.  It was Dan's least favorite of the week, though I really liked the turkey and flavor.

Meal #5: Mushroom Chili
This vegetarian chili just wasn't for me.  For Dan, however, who loves mushrooms and beans and whatnot, this was the perfect recipe.  My Mom gave me a small Crock Pot (our main one is huge) and this fit perfectly.  The recipe didn't call for the slow cooker, but on a lazy Sunday it was the perfect alternative way to make it.  So not my favorite, but Dan thought it was good.

All in all, I am excited about my first week with The Fresh 20!  I think the "For One" menu, with a little added protein, is perfect for a busy, working couple.  I don't have enough leftovers for lunches since Dan is eating the 2nd serving, so I may occasionally cook a little extra so I have a small portion for a packed lunch.  I think the 4-serving family meals would yield too much for us, defeating the purpose of this fantastic freshness and variety each week!

Disclosure: This blog post is completely independent of any connection to The Fresh 20.  I bought my own three-month subscription in an effort to cook fewer processed foods.


  1. i would be interested to see what their vegetarian plans look like! . . . but any chili with corn in it is a no-no for me. i don't know why people think that just bc there is no meat there should be corn in it. i'm so curious to know how this goes the whole three months!

    1. I'm curious too! I think it will really depend on our schedules. This week for example we decided to only shop for 4 of the 5 meals; our schedules just aren't aligned to do them all. And next week I'm traveling 3 days, so we may do 3-4 that week. We shall see!

      Dan and I agree (especially having eaten a Meal #1 tonight of this week!) that the majority of the meals are tasty but not "OMG-worthy". We like the unprocessed foods, the easy prep, and the variety throughout the week. Otherwise we'd fall back into our Panera/Moe's/Five Guys habit and spend too much and eat junk.

  2. I really like this idea. Every time I go into the supermarket I spent WAY too much money. I eat fairly healthy- but it would be nice to have it all planned out so I can save some $$$

    1. The cuisine isn't mind-blowing, but the grocery savings and the ease of cooking definitely make it worthwhile! Truth be told, I'll spend all the savings on nicer meals at restaurants, but opting for this over other stuff has helped me. Because I DON'T eat healthy!


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