At the time, we noticed numerous commenters on Facebook point out some flaws in the meal kit industry (not necessarily with Freshable itself), especially in the context of Malaysia, where eating out can be very inexpensive.
“I can’t think of a customer persona for this service locally,” one commenter from the above post wrote.
Meanwhile, another shared: “Can’t speak for every busy urbanite with disposable income but for me, it’s very unlikely I’d go for it.”
They continued, “Even setting aside my preference to avoid too many delivered things that generate packaging waste, if I’m cooking at home it’s a form of creativity and relaxation, so I don’t want the recipe dictated and confined by the ingredients in a meal kit.”
After seeing all the constructive feedback, we decided to try out the service ourselves to see what kind of values Freshable brings to the table.
A library of unique and interesting recipes
Exploring the library of dishes available on Freshable, I felt a sense of decision paralysis—there were so many recipes available, and unique ones at that. We counted 94 options at the time of writing this article.
Their latest campaign is named La Tomatina, referring to a tomato-related festival held in a Valencian town. As such, it features Spanish dishes such as churros, Tortilla de Patatas, Crema Catalana, and more.
The Freshable team offered us two recipes to try from its La Tomatina collection, so after collecting the thoughts of my colleagues, I selected the Chicken Pintxo (RM24.90) and the Wild Caught Shrimp in Romesco Sauce (RM41.90).
Each dish feeds two and both are labelled as easy, so… they should be pretty easy, right?
For novices, experts, or someone in between?
Arriving in a lovely cyan box, each dish’s ingredients were put into labelled brown paper bags. The meats were further separated into their own insulated packets with an ice pack inside to keep them cool.
The founder, Adeline, shared with us in June that the team vacuum seals their ingredients, and although you may find that some ingredients like the romesco sauce, olive oil, and parsley may not look vacuum sealed, the team reassures that they are airtight and kept fresh.
Unpacking the box on the next day, everything still seemed to be nice and fresh. If you’re not immediately cooking the meal kit, do store it in your fridge for maintained freshness.
The tiger prawns were quite big and the other ingredients such as the garlic, baguette and parsley were fresh.
The cooking process itself was relatively straightforward, with the deveining part being the most challenging portion of both dishes since we were a group of amateur cooks. Thankfully, the deveining for the prawns was done by my colleagues, since we cooked the Wild Caught Shrimp in Romesco Sauce in the office.
Had I done it at home alone, it would’ve taken me a good 20 minutes just to finish deveining. The prep and cook time stated online is 35 minutes for the shrimp dish, mind you, so just be prepared to spend more time than stated if you’re not that skilled in the kitchen. The Freshable team believes that this duration should be sufficient for mid-to-experienced home cooks though.
For those who like to add their own spin, there is room for creativity with these dishes.
Cooking the Chicken Pintxo dish at home myself, I found it to be too protein-forward and not green enough for my liking, so I decided to add onions to the skewers. Some bell peppers (or capsicum) and cherry tomatoes would have paired excellently too.
That said, both dishes are labelled as a “tapa”, which means an appetiser or a snack in Spanish, so it’s not supposed to constitute a full meal. Yet, while this label was used on the recipe sheet itself, it’s not made known on its website, so the serving size isn’t obvious when placing an order.
Those qualms aside, both dishes were a hit for us flavour-wise.
For the prawn dish, the pre-made romesco sauce was really delightful and unique, as we hadn’t tried a tomato-based sauce mixed with vinegar before. The bread was delicious, the prawn was sweet and juicy, and everything just worked well together.
The Chicken Pintxo’s flavours were on point as well. Personally speaking, you really can’t go wrong with spices like paprika and cumin.
Potential room for improvements
While we managed to cook both dishes without many issues, I believe that the dishes do require a basic knowledge of cooking and aren’t suitable for total beginners.
For example, for the Chicken Pintxo, it did not say to chop the parsley, but I believe, based on my intuition and the sample image shown, you’re supposed to chop it.
There were a couple of things I felt were off about the recipes too. For the Chicken Pintxo dish, it says that the prep time is only 15 minutes, which might give busy people a false impression that they can cook the meal quickly.
However, the truth is, once you actually read the recipe, you’ll see that you need to marinate the chicken overnight. On top of that, you’re supposed to soak the bamboo skewers for 30 minutes too.
I believe all this is worth noting online before a customer makes the purchase. A note such as “requires overnight marination” would suffice.
On the note of bamboo skewers, Freshable actually sent us five. While we appreciate the addition, “bamboo skewers” was listed under the “what you need” portion on Freshable’s website, meaning customers should prepare it themselves.
This might inadvertently cause wastage if the customer buys skewers only to be provided with some in the kit.
After all, one thing that meal kits such as Freshable aim to tackle is sustainability. Through perfectly portioned ingredients, it eliminates food waste from excess, unused groceries.
The volume of plastic bags used might be a cause of concern for the more eco-conscious, too. Each ingredient, from the parsley to the garlic, was bagged into a separate plastic packet. I wonder if there might be a more sustainable way to package the food?
Yet, a 2019 study argued that meal kit delivery services actually have a smaller carbon footprint than equivalent meals brought from a grocery store and prepared at home.
So, you might be glad to know that Freshable works directly with ingredients suppliers rather than buying the food from grocery stores, thus cutting out a middleman there.
Sustainability concerns aside, though, I found the recipes to be a little lacking, not in terms of the flavour or anything like that, but just the way it was presented.
Considering that one of Freshable’s USPs is its unique, often foreign dishes, I think it would’ve been nicer to have more detailed explanations and context behind the food.
For example, it would’ve been nice to read what romesco sauce is or what Pintxo means, and even the relevance of La Tomatina. After all, there’s a lot of white space left on the recipe card, so a lot more can be added to provide more value for the consumer.
That said, some people do prefer more straightforward recipes without all the fluff, so the simplistic recipe sheets might be preferable for that audience.
Elements of fun and convenience
As someone who enjoys cooking once in a while but doesn’t usually venture out of my comfort zone, Freshable provided an opportunity for me to try some new dishes without needing to invest in certain ingredients I won’t use again, like extra virgin olive oil, or romesco sauce.
Using the meal kits in the office as well provided for a fun bonding experience, so this might be a good incentive for friends to get together and enjoy a meal.
Health-conscious eaters would also appreciate the nutritional information provided on each dish. There are also options catered to a variety of diets, such as vegan, diabetic-friendly, and low-carb ones.
And of course, the end result of both dishes was great too. While I think that inexperienced chefs might struggle a bit with the recipes, it might be less daunting to approach cooking through meal kits like these rather than from scratch.
Especially as Freshable works towards offering its products to a wider audience, I look forward to seeing just how the brand will continue to grow and perhaps even improve on some of the points mentioned above.