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FreshDirect and EatingWell Launch Line of Veg 4-Minute Meals

Filed under: Food Shopping
Hoppin' John

Hoppin’ John

FreshDirect, a purveyor of yuppie Meals on Wheels, and EatingWell magazine have partnered to launch a line of vegetarian 4-Minute Meals. The microwave-ready $7.99 entrees aim to “blend bold flavor with perfect portions of protein, grains and vegetables for deliciously well-balanced meals that pack fewer than 500 calories each.” Hmmm… Of the eight EatingWell options, half are vegan. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you notice that they are the only vegan 4-Minute Meals offered by FreshDirect! (Well, eveyone’s gotta start somewhere.)

Carmichael of The Vegan Hedonist; Shawn, an intern at Added Value‘s farm in Red Hook; Eva, a home chef who makes a mean batch of pirogies; and I sampled the vegan stuff. Here’s what we thought:

Hoppin’ John with Vegetarian Chorizo: Even though it tasted like only tomatoes and salt, three of us felt this was still the best.

Indian-Spiced Lentil & Quinoa Ragout with Roasted Vegetables: Despite its name, the seasoning of this dish left more to be desired; it wasn’t quite Indian enough.

Balsamic-Roasted Seitan with Beets, Basil & Farro Pilaf: We all agreed this was pretty good, as you can’t really go wrong with seitan. We especially liked the fresh basil seasoning and the inclusion of raisins in the farro pilaf.

White Beans, Pearl Pasta & Artichokes with Roasted Tomatoes & Rapini: We couldn’t fairly judge this one, as it seemed to have gone bad two whole days before its expiration date. This was very disappointing because it looked tasty. It would have been devastating had we actually purchased it or bought the meal to work for lunch in a neighborhood without good veg options. Grrr!

Overall, we felt the EatingWell 4-Minute Meals had quite a few things going for them. Unlike most convenience meals, these were never frozen. The vegetables looked and tasted fresh. The meals also made very good use of a variety of interesting whole grains and beans. The price seemed fair. We also liked that they come in #5 plastic containers, which can be recycled through the Park Slope Food Coop.

Was this enough to make us go online and order the 4-Minute Meals along with other groceries? Though the meals don’t fit into our lifestyles as vegans with limited budgets, decent cooking skills, and an interest in avoiding disposables, we concluded that we’d buy them if we were housebound by a full body cast and didn’t have friends to cook for us.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    olivia, thanks so much for sharing the taste test.

    i wanted to add that the portions were totally small. they’re marketed as health food and as under 500 calories each, and they were good about using real food as ingredients, but that doesn’t mean we still have to be hungry afterwards. even if the one meal hadn’t gone bad, we still would have been looking for second dinner. HOWEVER, if i were homebound for a long period of time in a full body cast, i’d probably not be as hungry.

  2. Comment by


    on #

    $7.99 for less than 500 calories??? there are much more reasonable meal choices that approach $1/100 cal, but i guess since these aren’t frozen… nope, still not worth it.

  3. Comment by


    on #

    Discerning Brute covered this as well – and I’ll just copy here what I wrote there. I wonder what y’all think?

    I think Fresh Direct is about the biggest environmental disaster since agribusiness? All those trucks driving all over the city just to deliver to people who are too lazy to get up and go to the store? Gosh, I sound negative about it, but it really seems wasteful!

    I think L magazine got it right when they said:

    ?Dear New Yorker who supports idling, bike-hitting trucks by forking over money for the luxury of not having to take time out of your very important day to walk to the market to buy food. Why don?t we just float boxes of produce down the street on rivers of oil??

  4. Comment by


    on #

    I think we should start a write-in campaign to get them to carry Liz Lovely goodies and other vegan treats. Although I think the soy cheese they make themselves is some of the best there is.

  5. Comment by


    on #

    Eightfold… It isn’t as black and white as that. Someone had to drive all that stuff to my local grocery in a truck. (Although I will redily admit that is a far more organized and concentrated drive than the 4 daily visits Fresh Direct makes to my neighborhood)

    But… my local grocery doesn’t carry produce from NY farms, meaning I end up being responsible for boating in fruits and vegetables from all over the world. On Fresh Direct, I really do stick to Red Jacket and Satur whenever possible, even if it means foregoing citrus for apples.

    I wonder if it evens out?