If my life were an episode of Top Chef, it wouldn't exist because I'd be eliminated before the first round. My cooking skills can best be described as "knows how to fry an egg and little else." Luckily, I live in New York City, where you can eat at a new restaurant every night of the week, or order delicious food delivery via Seamless on nights in. I was okay with spending all my money on eating out because food is one of my greatest joys in life. It still is. But now that I've been at home, I've developed an entirely new relationship with it. Food used to be the thing I would wait for with bated breath, lovingly twirl onto my fork (or pick up with chopsticks), then enjoy in bliss. Now it's something I have to...make? Needless to say, I was feeling as lost and helpless as Joe Exotic's supposed husband after Joe was sent to jail. I was suddenly untethered, unmoored, lost at sea in my (tiny) kitchen with no idea what to do or where to begin. I wanted to follow recipes but didn't have the majority of the things required for them—or the patience to make them. I wanted healthy, flavorful food that didn't take long to make and was easy to prepare. But it seemed impossible.
Then, I fell in love. Well, I fell in love with a person (who is a great cook!), but I also fell in love with a thing, and that thing is Daily Harvest. If you've ever thrown something in the microwave or on the stove and thought, "I wish this existed but in a healthier organic version that still tasted good," then your wish is granted. Daily Harvest offers everything from soups to smoothies to bowls to dessert bites, all frozen at the ideal time for the organic ingredients to retain their nutrients, all easy to make, and all really, really delicious. All you have to do is add water or milk, then either blend the smoothies, lattes, and soups or throw the bowls to head up on a stovetop. Suddenly, I was able to whip up a satisfying, nourishing, gourmet-tasting meal in just a few minutes. I finally felt like Ina Garten and I were one step closer to becoming friends because we now had something in common (other than the belief that it's never too early for a giant cosmopolitan): the ability to make delicious food. Keep reading for all the reasons I love Daily Harvest.
Another thing I love about Daily Harvest: it just seems like a company that really cares. Though I loved that all my Daily Harvest smoothies, bowls and soups came in convenient-sized cups, I always felt a little tinge of guilt when I'd toss all the packaging into my garbage can each time. According to Foodtank, a large portion of the packaging waste in the U.S. comes from food and beverage products, which is something I didn't know until Daily Harvest informed me upon the launch of their new and improved packaging. On March 16 of 2020, the brand announced that the new Daily Harvest products would come in 100% compostable + recyclable packaging made from plant-based, renewable fiber that breaks down naturally instead of sitting in a landfill for thousands of years. "We are making the commitment to always use the most sustainable options possible and are working to eliminate all single use plastic and non-recyclable materials throughout our supply chain," the brand says.
Did I mention the brand is constantly innovating? Daily Harvest also launched gluten-free flatbreads in a variety of flavors that all taste really delicious, like a healthy pizza. I can attest to this because I eat a lot of pizza and also tried three flavors of the flatbreads within two days. They also hosted a virtual bingo night with Neil Patrick Harris in 2020 and gave away Flatbreads to all of the winners, in addition to donating 400,000 meals to City Harvest. An innovative company with a conscience? Also, Neil Patrick Harris?! What more could a millennial New Yorker ask for!
It's Easy to Mix
The best thing about Daily Harvest is that you can use it in different ways depending on your skill level. When I first started out, I would stick to the ingredients the smoothies or bowls already came with. That was perfectly fine, but relationships are about growth, and soon I found myself wanting to take things to the next level. Over the past few weeks, I've started treating Daily Harvest more as convenient, flavorful bases for me to mix whatever else is in my fridge with. I'll toss a banana and handful of spinach into Mint Cacao Smoothie (my favorite) before blending. Or for dinner last night, I added a handful of kale to the Brussel Sprouts + Tahini Harvest Bowl, mixed in some leftover rice from the night before, then added a fried egg on top with a side of hummus—my very lazy version of a Mediterranean bowl. My boyfriend took things to the next level and added some salmon to Sweet Potato + Wild Rice Hash Bowl for a yummy stir-fry.
As it turns out, food does taste better when you cook it yourself and you know the ingredients are nurturing your body. Who knew?
It's Worth the Price
At $8 a smoothie and $9 a bowl, it's certainly not as cheap as what you'd normally find in a frozen foods aisle. But I think of it this way: I'd 100% be spending more than that if I was ordering out, or even trying to buy the ingredients individually to cook from scratch—so really, it's worth it price-wise for the convenience alone. The quality of the ingredients and organic produce in the products is an added bonus.
It Tastes Good
I know I've already mentioned this, but I just want to reiterate that not only is Daily Harvest healthy, but it also tastes really flavorful and delicious. There isn't a single thing that I've tried that I would describe as "bland." Also, I know I've just waxed poetic about their bowls and smoothies, but don't sleep on their Bites: they're little sweet desserts that taste like cookie dough but are actually made with things like organic date paste and avocado puree.
Like anyone in the honeymoon phase of their relationship, I started talking incessantly about Daily Harvest and my newfound cooking prowess to anyone within earshot, and that's when I realized something: my coworkers at Byrdie were just as obsessed with Daily Harvest as I was. Though we love and support each other, we all have very differing tastes on most things, so this felt like a revelation. Curious, I asked them to share their love for their Daily Harvest favorites, which you can see below.
The Best Daily Harvest Products
Lindsey Metrus, project director, Byrdie: "I've been a fan of Daily Harvest for a while now, specifically their smoothies and soups, so when I saw that the brand was coming out with flatbreads, I was immensely curious. A bread-based product seemed like a bit of a deviation from their fruit- and veggie-rich standard offerings, but as it turns out, these "breads" are actually made with cauliflower, broccoli, or sweet potato (depending on the variation you choose) and drizzled with a delicious sauce and real roasted veggies. They're a dream for this gluten-free, dairy-free editor who ironically adores pizza. They've also been the perfect lunch—all I do is take them out of the box, pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, and boom: a gourmet entrée before my eyes. It makes sheltering in place a bit more enjoyable."
Leah Wyar, GM & SVP, Byrdie: "My staple in every box is the Blueberry & Hemp Smoothie. It’s under 200 calories, gives me some protein (thanks to the walnuts and hemp protein) and veggies (spinach and kale), and the fig and blueberry mix is so good. I always mix my DH shakes with coconut milk base. I will be stocking up as soon as I have this baby. I think it’s a new, nursing mom’s dream because you get so much nutrition without having to cook—which is impossible when you are feeding a new one every two to three hours!"
Kelly Gallagher, former social media director at Byrdie and current assistant social media director at Allure: "I love the Sweet Potato + Wild Rice Hash; it's such a versatile grain bowl. It's full of flavor and delicious veggies like sweet potato and Maitake mushrooms. If I'm having this for lunch/brunch, I like to crack an egg on top while it's in the frying pan to add a little extra protein, and if its a late lunch/dinner meal I add some grilled chicken or salmon. It's also delish all on its own!
I'm a 4-cups-of-coffee-a-day kinda gal, so naturally, I love all things coffee-flavored, including the Daily Harvest Cold Brew + Almond Smoothie. It's both filling and energizing, thanks to the green coffee beans in it. It also has almond butter for a great source of fiber and cacao for some added flavor."
Star Donaldson, social media editor, Byrdie: "I've always been really into smoothies and the Tart Cherry + Raspberry Smoothie is my absolute fave. It tastes like sherbet but is actually super good for you—it even has cauliflower in it! I swear I finish it in like two minutes."
Hallie Gould, associate editorial director, Byrdie: "I'm not usually a sweets person, but there's just something about a chai latte that tastes like heaven in a cup. It's like Christmas on any day of the year. That said, ordering it at a coffee shop often makes for a super-sweet, over-the-top indulgence that doesn't make my body feel great. Daily Harvest has remedied that with all the delicious flavors, but from real, nutrient-rich ingredients. Organic zucchini, coconut, cauliflower, chai, MCT oil, and hemp protein are blended together to reveal a frothy, delicious, dessert-like treat that isn't too sweet and doesn't make me feel sluggish (in fact, quite the opposite). I like to blend in a bit of cold brew in the morning and eat it with a spoon. I mean, are you drooling yet?"
And there you have it. It's not often I write lengthy love notes to frozen food companies, but Daily Harvest isn't your average frozen food company. It's truly made this lazy, cooking-challenged millennial's life so much better, and I know deep down in my heart that this relationship will last through this year and beyond.
Foodtank. 16 Companies Rethinking Packaging. Published June 2019.