I-Tried-Daily-Harvest-for-2-Weeks-Here's-What-I-Learned-About-This-Plant-Based-Company

I Tried Daily Harvest for 2 Weeks—Here's What I Learned About This Plant-Based Food Company

From pricing to preparation, here’s everything you need to know before signing up for Daily Harvest.
By Madison Yauger
July 28, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

I should start by saying, I am not a chef. In fact, I'm quite lazy in the kitchen—I don't prepare meals for the week, I have several takeout spots saved in my Google Maps app, and I'm not the most adventurous eater … really, the trifecta. I will occasionally get creative with ingredients, but only when there's wine and good background music nearby to encourage me along. I'm also vegetarian, so all in all, I prefer meal times to be meat-free and uncomplicated—two themes Daily Harvest caters to quite well.

Daily Harvest isn't your typical meal delivery service. This plant-based food company offers a number of food items, like smoothies, bowls, soups, flatbreads, and bites, to infuse your diet with more fruits and vegetables. While each dish isn't necessarily a "meal," some are definitely filling enough for a light breakfast, lunch, or snack. The beauty of this service is you can customize your order to include whichever items you prefer, and then the food arrives at your door frozen for maximum convenience. Just store it in your freezer until you're ready to eat!

I tried this service for two weeks to get a feel for it, and here's what I thought. 

How I tested the service

Daily Harvest review
Credit: Madison Yauger

I tried out the Daily Harvest items over a two-week period, incorporating them into breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. I usually prepared one or two items per day and had plenty of options to choose from since the large Daily Harvest box comes with your choice of 24 different offerings!

Between the harvest bowls, soups, smoothies, and more, the flavors were unique and varied. Full disclosure: I tend to gravitate toward more classic flavor combos in my day-to-day routine, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked some of the more diverse ingredients included in these snacks, like dragon fruit, miso, mango, and matcha.

It's also clear that there is a conscious effort by Daily Harvest to be sustainable in all of its practices, which I appreciated. Daily Harvest uses a regenerative approach to agriculture, meaning the company only works with farms that restore their land by growing organic produce, avoiding harmful practices like pesticide use, and planting trees.

Not only did I feel like I was worshipping my body by supplying it with high-quality and healthy ingredients, I also felt good about where the food came from and the low impact its production had on the planet—plant eaters, rejoice!

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Pros

  • Frozen food is convenient to store, stays fresh, and locks in nutrients longer
  • Packaging is almost all recyclable
  • Organic high-quality ingredients
  • Free shipping
  • Subscription is easy to manage
  • Can customize for many dietary needs and preferences

Cons

  • Dry ice in packaging is inconvenient to dispose of (wait 24 hours for evaporation before touching it)
  • Some items require overnight refrigeration as part of prep, which isn't as convenient
  • Not all items are filling as stand-alones and needed extra ingredients, like grains, to satisfy hunger

Signing up for Daily Harvest

You can sign up for Daily Harvest in three simple steps. Using the intuitive website prompts, submit your zip code and email to gain access to the plans and pricing. Select your plan, choosing from three box sizes—small with nine items, medium with 14 items, and large with 24 items. Now it's time to fill your box! The Daily Harvest menu is extensive and provides plenty of options for different dietary preferences. Before you begin throwing items in your virtual cart, notice the filter option in the upper left corner of the order page. This handy tool allows you to completely customize your food options based on different diets and preferences. For example, if you're like me and cilantro isn't your jam, the filter will remove all dishes that have cilantro. Alternatively, for someone who maybe has an unhealthy obsession with avocados (*cough also me*), you can use the filter to highlight dishes with your absolute favorite ingredients. You can also choose to filter dishes by different dietary restrictions like those that are gluten free, high protein, keto, low cal, low carb, low sugar, paleo, and vegan. Each item has customer reviews to help you decide, and once you've tasted the items, you can rate them as well.

When placing your order, you'll notice that the small and medium boxes only have weekly delivery options, whereas you can order the large box as a weekly or monthly delivery. You can also choose the day of the week you want the food to be delivered for ultimate convenience. Once you've placed your order, you can easily manage your account either online or through the Daily Harvest app, with options to change up your items between deliveries, pause your order, skip a week, or cancel at any time.

"It is always a good idea to have health-supportive, frozen foods readily available in your freezer," Alice Figueroa, MPH, RDN, CDN, a New York-based registered dietitian nutritionist, cookbook author, and founder of Alice in Foodieland, tells Health. "During the hectic work week when you may be too busy or tired to cook, frozen foods are easy to reheat and can provide you with nourishment without the hassle of cooking and cleaning up. While many frozen foods are ultra-processed and high in salt or added sugar, it is promising and exciting to see new brands of frozen foods in the market that are made using fiber-rich whole foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits."

Daily Harvest menu: varied & healthy

Daily Harvest review
Credit: Madison Yauger

When signing up for Daily Harvest, you should note that it's a completely plant-based, vegan food company and understand what that entails. "A well-balanced plant-based or vegan diet should prioritize increased fruits, whole grains, legumes, and vegetables consumption instead of relying on ultra-processed vegan food alternatives," says Figueroa. 

When weighing the merits of plant-based diets, Figueroa emphasizes that "there is no one-size fits all approach to healthy eating. Each individual person has diverse and unique needs." Figueroa also warns that any diet that restricts certain foods can trigger disordered eating and recommends reaching out to a trusted health professional before making any extreme changes to your diet.

The fact that Daily Harvest's foods arrive frozen may give you pause. I get it. But there are actually some health benefits for choosing frozen foods over fresh—I'm not talking about frozen dinners you find at the grocery store, but actual whole foods like fruits and veggies that have been frozen directly after harvest. "Frozen foods are usually harvested at the peak of their ripeness and then promptly frozen within hours," Figueroa says. "As a result, frozen foods may retain a fresher taste and a better nutrient profile, since freezing prevents foods from spoiling and losing vitamins and minerals." 

Not only can these types of foods be better for you when frozen, they're also more long-lasting, saving you extra trips to the grocery store. "Most fresh foods will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days, while frozen foods can remain fresh for one to 12 months, depending on the food," Figueroa says. 

Currently, Daily Harvest has more than 90 offerings on its website to choose from, within nine different collections. For those who want something savory, there are flatbreads, soups, and harvest and forager bowls. Lighter snacks include smoothies, lattes, mylk, bites, and scoops, which is Daily Harvest's version of a plant-based ice cream. 

The Daily Harvest dishes & snacks in my box:

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Breakfast:

  • Dragon Fruit + Lychee smoothie
  • Cold Brew + Almond smoothie
  • Mango + Papaya smoothie
  • Tart Cherry + Raspberry smoothie
  • Mint + Cacao smoothie
  • Mulberry + Dragon Fruit oat bowl
  • Vanilla Bean + Apple chia bowl

Lunch & Dinner:

  • Sweet Potato + Wild Rice Hash harvest bowl
  • Artichoke + Lemon harvest bowl
  • Roasted Eggplant + Red Pepper Caponata harvest bowl
  • Spinach + Shiitake Grits harvest bowl
  • Raspberry + Mulberry Seed forager bowl
  • Leek + Fonio Grits forager bowl
  • Cauliflower + Leek Stew soup
  • Green Chickpea + Turmeric soup
  • Sweet Potato + Miso soup
  • Tomato Basil flatbread
  • Tomatillo + Pepper flatbread
  • Artichoke + Spinach flatbread

Snacks:

  • Chocolate + Ooey Gooey Midnight Fudge scoop
  • Cold Brew + Roasted Espresso Bean Chip scoop
  • Vanilla + Sticky Sweet Salted Caramel scoop
  • Matcha + Lemongrass latte
  • Almond + Vanilla mylk
  • Cacao Nib + Vanilla bites

Daily Harvest delivery and packaging: efficient

Daily Harvest review
Credit: Madison Yauger

When the Daily Harvest Box arrived, it was slightly bigger than I expected, but it was packed with a boatload of yummy goodies, all kept frozen with dry ice for convenient storage. The box arrived on the set date around mid-morning, and upon opening, everything was cold to the touch. Most of the items remained upright, though some had been jostled sideways or upside down, which likely occurred during delivery. The box, internal liner, and cardboard dividers were all recyclable, so the only thing that went to waste was the plastic wrapping around the dry ice. The individual food containers can also be recycled and the bowls for the harvest, forager, and oat bowls are even compostable. You do have to let the dry ice sit out for 24 hours to evaporate since you can't dispose of it like normal ice (i.e. by letting it melt), which is slightly inconvenient but not a deal breaker by any means.

Cooking Daily Harvest offerings: novice-proof

Despite my lack of cooking skills, I managed to prepare each food item without difficulty (no burning, spilling, or any other kitchen mayhem occurred). The instructions are simple and concise, and most items can be prepared using a blender or microwave. For smoothies, you can simply add water, juice, or milk (or Daily Harvest's vegan version—"mylk") to the pre-packaged ingredients and then blend. The various harvest and forager bowls can be popped into the microwave. The flatbreads go in the oven, and then items like the oat and chia bowls just have to sit in the fridge overnight once mixed. The scoops (or ice cream equivalent) need to be left out of the freezer for about 10 minutes to thaw enough to scoop, but then you can dive in. Overall, I think these snacks and dishes were extremely user-friendly, so novice chefs should not be intimidated at all!

Daily Harvest ingredients and sourcing: sustainable

Daily Harvest prides itself on being socially and environmentally conscious, and its regenerative agriculture system meets that goal. This company works with farmers to "reverse the damage ... done to the planet and ensure fertile land for our future." Daily Harvest also takes aim at labor and wage disparities by "putting more money in the pockets of the people who grow our food" and practicing fair equitable labor. 

Daily Harvest is combating climate change by investing in agriculture partners to create more organic farmland, which, in turn, creates more accessibility to organic foods through "lower prices, fewer food deserts, and more organic to go around." Among these 283 partners worldwide are organic coffee company Vega Coffee, whose beans are sourced from Nicaragua and Colombia, and a third-generation farmer who grows figs in San Joaquin, California. 

Eating vegan or plant-based is not a new concept—back in 2015, Beyonce even started her own vegan meal delivery service, called 22 Days Nutrition, based on the notion that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Daily Harvest allows you to do this, too, by consistently including organic healthy foods into your diet to create better eating habits. By using 95% organic plant-based ingredients in its dishes, sourcing food from sustainable farms, and reducing food waste by 47% using a farm-frozen format over refrigerated food, Daily Harvest is a company you can feel confident in when it comes to sustainable ingredients and sourcing.

Daily Harvest flavor and quality: elevated

Daily Harvest review
Credit: Madison Yauger

Excuse the cliche, but when it comes to the quality of ingredients in Daily Harvest food, the proof is in the pudding. Daily Harvest uses mostly whole organic ingredients to ensure the highest level of health. The company advertises its food as having "no fillers, gums, refined sugars, harmful oils, stabilizers, or anything artificial." If I had to describe Daily Harvest flavors in one word, it would be elevated.

I think I'm so used to artificial flavors that I was rather surprised by how some of the Daily Harvest snacks tasted, and then I thought, "Oh, right it's real food, hence the authentic flavors." I did make some modifications to suit my personal taste preferences, adding some fresh berries to the oat and chia bowls and some carbs to pair with the other heartier dishes. A couple of the dishes were outside of my comfort zone. For example, I'm not a fan of grits, so I didn't love the Spinach + Shiitake Grits harvest bowl or the Leek + Fonio Grits forager bowl. That being said, you can optimize your order to eliminate ingredients you don't like, which is an option I would take advantage of next time. 

There was significant contrast in tastes among many of the snacks, with mild heat and spices in some of the bowls and flatbreads and tropical and tangy flavors in the Dragon Fruit + Lychee and Mango + Papaya smoothies. The scoops and bites were a nice after-dinner treat on several occasions, and while you can't really expect vegan ice cream to hold up against the real McCoy, the flavors—espresso, midnight fudge, and salted caramel—were pretty good! 

While I won't strictly cook vegan following this experience, I did gain an appreciation for all the ways you can include healthy foods in your diet, particularly organic produce. Next time I'm at Trader Joe's, I might even take a lap through the organic section to see what gems are waiting for me there.

Daily Harvest cost: competitive

Daily Harvest is very competitive price-wise with similar companies like Sunbasket, Blue Apron, and Home Chef. 

  • Oat bowls, lattes, chia bowls and forager bowls are $6
  • Smoothies, soups, bites, and mylks are $8
  • Harvest bowls, flatbreads, and scoops are $9. 

My total was $171 for the food I included in my large, 24-item box, which is the monthly box size. Of course, if you order a medium or small box, there will be fewer items (14 or nine items, respectively), and therefore a lower cost. For even more savings, Daily Harvest is offering a new member special, where you can get $20 off a small box, $25 off a medium box, and $35 off a large box. An added bonus? All shipping is free.

Daily Harvest customer service & reviews

Daily Harvest has earned a 3.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot, based on 931 customer reviews. Most positive reviews highlight the exemplary customer service, the accommodation to different dietary needs, the quality and flavor of the food, and the health benefits of including more whole fruits and vegetables in one's diet. Some customers expressed mild frustration with items arriving thawed (a hazard of frozen food delivery) but were pleased with Daily Harvest's solutions and response following the incidents.

One five-star reviewer writes, "I started getting Daily Harvest delivered a few weeks ago and have been really pleased with their products. I've enjoyed about 80% of the food that I've chosen, and they have a great rating system so you can rate the foods you love and those you don't. Each food has reviews on the site as well which makes it easier to choose. The quality has been top notch. There's no junk in this food whatsoever, which is important to me."

Another reviewer, who rated Daily Harvest three stars, wrote, "I love the organic, high quality ingredients. I also love the regular use of foods not normally used by any other food box company … some are even hard to find in grocery stores. However, I feel that the amount of calories and protein in these meals would not support life over a long period of time. If people need to lose weight, this could be the way to go. Temporarily." Daily Harvest replied to the review within two days, passing along its customer service email, and offering to speak with in-house chefs about the various nutritional needs mentioned. 

My Take: I want to note that I don't think these items are intended to be full meals. I frequently added extra ingredients like rice to the harvest bowls, extra fruit to oat and chia bowls, and some bread to go with the soup, as whole grains are important and shouldn't be cut out of your diet completely, per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That being said, I found some food items to be quite filling as is. Several days in a row, I had one of the smoothies for breakfast and didn't feel hungry again until lunch. For example, in the Mint Cacao smoothie, there were ingredients like spinach, banana, and cashews, which contain dietary fiber, protein, and fats that can keep your hunger at bay. Depending on your personal health goals, Daily Harvest could be a wonderful aid in eating healthier ingredients while cutting down on portions (which also reduces food waste).

I think if you order Daily Harvest and are expecting full meals that will satisfy your hunger and curb all of your cravings throughout the day, you may be disappointed, and some of the reviews implied that's what some people expected. However, if you're looking for easy ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, through whole food snacks without artificial ingredients, Daily Harvest is a great choice

Who's Daily Harvest good for?

This service works best for students or young professionals, rather than families, because of the smaller portion sizes. While I found some of the individual dishes to be filling, the food isn't enough to make meals for families or larger groups. These items are also great for quick preparation and on-the-go eating (especially the smoothies). And because the food arrives frozen, if you have to travel for work, you can just store your items, rather than having to pause or cancel your order. So, for those who want to make healthy dietary choices but don't have time for serious cooking preparation, Daily Harvest is a solid option.

Testing methodology

I gave Daily Harvest a rating of 9.5/10 after considering the ordering and delivery process, food variety, portion size, ability to customize the plans based on dietary needs, sustainability, quality of ingredients, and more. Using each of the factors below, I arrived at a weighted score out of 10.

Factors

What it means

Numerical ranking (1-10)

Taste

Meals have a balanced and delicious flavor and consistency.

8

Ease of Preparation

The service provides easy-to-follow instructions for preparing and cooking the meal

10

Quality of Ingredients

Ingredients are high quality and fresh. They are in good shape when they arrive.

10

Dietary Customization

There are options for users to note dietary restrictions and preferences. Choosing these options is easy to do, and there are plenty of meal/food options for these preferences.

10

Meal Variety

This service provides a variety of meals, cuisines, and flavors to avoid meal repeats and provide users with new dishes to explore.

10

Health

Meals are healthy and provide balanced nutrients.

10

Availability

The service is available to consumers in a variety of locations.

10

Portion Size

Portion sizes are reasonable and filling. You don't need to supplement the meal with additional food because you're left hungry.

8

Price

The price is reasonable for the quality of food you receive.

10

Subscription

The subscription/plan offers reasonable customization. You're able to adjust or cancel your order within a reasonable time frame.

9

Shipping

The meals arrived on time. The packaging kept things fresh and in good condition. You're able to provide delivery instructions if needed.

10

Customer Service

How quickly customer service responds to queries, the level of detail they provide, and how helpful the team is overall.

9

Social Impact

Takes into consideration a company's social missions, charitable causes, and sustainability efforts. Products are sourced ethically. Packaging is recyclable or sustainable.

10