HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.
I worried about a lot of things related to becoming a parent. Lost sleep, breastfeeding and the end of my social life all topped the list. Working full time during a pandemic at home in a one-bedroom apartment without child care? That one somehow didn’t even cross my mind!
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., I was suddenly confined to a very small space with my husband and our 5-month-old daughter, who was getting more active by the second. As the months sped by, she learned to crawl, stand up, clap and babble — and she also made the transition from drinking exclusively milk to eating real food. Between that and the fact that I had totally stopped eating at restaurants and only felt safe getting takeout once or twice a week, I felt like I was in a constant cycle of cooking and washing dishes.
As the months wore on, I knew I needed a break. Expensive, unhealthy takeout that often required more human contact than I felt comfortable with didn’t feel like a great idea, so I started searching for other options.
I’d heard good things about Daily Harvest — like how their pre-prepped plant-based meals are not only tasty and healthy, but are also ready in just minutes with minimal cleanup — and wanted to give their fruit- and veggie-based, farm-frozen food a shot. I was sent a week’s supply of Daily Harvest’s healthy prepared food to try out for myself. (If nothing else, at least I would get a break from the relentless cycle of quarantine cooking and cleanup!)
Here’s what happened.
For the uninitiated
In case you’ve never tried Daily Harvest, it’s a weekly or monthly food plan of chef-crafted frozen prepared recipes made of clean and organic fruits and vegetables. Options include smoothies, bowls, soups, bites (aka snacks), lattes, oat bowls, chia bowls and new flatbreads and plant-based ice creams. You can build a box of either nine, 14 or 24 items to be delivered weekly or monthly from a variety of more than 75 different food options. You can switch up your items before each delivery, skip a week as needed, or add to your box at any time. The price depends on how much you order, but typically averages about $8 per item.
Once you’ve selected your box, it will be shipped to you (frozen), and each recipe takes one step to prep — blend, soak or heat — and can be consumed at your leisure in the packages they arrived in. Depending on how much you order, it’s ideal to either integrate into your week alongside some cooking, or you can exclusively live off of Daily Harvest — either option is great.
What makes Daily Harvest unique is that all of the food options are free of gluten, dairy, refined sugars, fillers, preservatives or anything artificial, and are instead all plant-based and packed with organic fruits and vegetables.
One of the most chaotic parts of my day is the morning. My daughter Emma is my alarm clock, and she needs a lot of things immediately: a diaper change, milk, food, and lots of kisses and hugs from me. I’m good at making coffee for myself immediately (hey, a girl’s gotta survive!) but breakfast often falls to the wayside, and by the time I get to it I’m practically shaking from too much caffeine and no food.
Daily Harvest immediately eliminated this problem for me. Their ready-to-blend smoothies are literally life-changing and ensured I had a healthy and delicious breakfast even on my most chaotic mornings. I tossed the frozen smoothie ingredients in a blender with whatever I had on hand — sometimes that was almond milk, other times it was just water — and I could take comfort in knowing that I would be satisfied for hours on food that was genuinely good for me. Their Mint + Cacao Smoothie, which tastes a lot like mint chip ice cream, is my favorite.
Have it your way
Say what you want about eggs, but they’re a practically perfect food, in my opinion: They have a great nutrition profile, they’re inexpensive, you can prepare them in a million different ways, and they’ve become my favorite way to customize a Daily Harvest flatbread or Harvest bowl.
I absolutely love the Daily Harvest flatbreads. (Once you try the new Kabocha + Sage Flatbread, your life will be changed.) Daily Harvest’s flatbread crusts are actually made of veggies and are free of artificial and highly processed ingredients. They do take longer to prepare than other Daily Harvest options because they’re best when toasted in the oven. My favorite way to hack Daily Harvest’s flatbreads is by putting fried eggs on top of them for lunch. Daily Harvest’s flatbreads are single-serving, but sometimes when I’m short on time (i.e. all the time!) I will cut one in half, layer it up with a fried egg or two, and save the other half for another lunch the next day or even dinner that night — with more fried eggs on top, obviously.
Flatbreads aren’t the only Daily Harvest item you can dress up, either. Daily Harvest’s bowls are great with an egg on top, too, but eggs certainly aren’t the only option in terms of additions. If you want a little extra protein, adding a handful of chicken or your favorite meat alternative to a bowl or flatbread is a great option to stay full for longer. I’m all for adding a scoop of almond butter to a smoothie (pro tip: it’s great in the Mint + Cacao Smoothie) when I know it’s going to be a while before I have a chance to eat again.
For low-effort customizations, other reviewers recommend a spoonful of ricotta or a drizzle of hot honey on a Daily Harvest flatbread. There’s really no lack of ways to make these meals your own.
While it can be hard to find silver linings in the midst of a global pandemic, there are times when I stop to think about how grateful I am to have all this family time. In another (more normal!) universe, Emma would be at daycare, and we would only spend a few hours a day together. So while I’m thankful for all this togetherness in her first year of life, one thing I have not enjoyed has been the constant turning to my husband and saying, “Ugh, what are we going to give Emma for breakfast/lunch/dinner?”
Preparing food for a tiny human is time-consuming. Thanks to the very small amount of teeth she has, all of her food needs to be cut into small pieces, which means a lot of time slaving over a cutting board to cut up tiny avocado and strawberry slices that she eats at an impressively fast speed.
Daily Harvest solved both of these problems for us. Not only could I save time by giving her bites of the smoothie I quickly whipped up for myself, but a lot of the items in the Harvest Bowls were cut up small enough that I could scoop them onto her high chair tray and feel confident that she wouldn’t choke on them.
It was also such a relief to know that none of the food I was giving her from Daily Harvest was super-processed or made with strange ingredients.
It was also such a relief to know that none of the food I was giving her from Daily Harvest was super-processed or made with strange ingredients. As hard as I try to eat fresh, healthy ingredients myself, I’m even more mindful of what I’m putting in Emma’s tiny growing body.
She was also more than willing to share my Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites with me which, while chickpea-based, do indeed taste exactly like chocolate chip cookie dough. They helped me (and Emma) beat the afternoon slump every day.
Bye, late-night cookies
One of my worst habits since becoming a pandemic parent has been how I eat after Emma goes to bed. While we usually eat dinner around the same time, I love relaxing with a Netflix show and a few cookies after her bedtime. While I know this isn’t the worst thing, I often feel a little sick from the sugar, which can lead to a bad night’s sleep.
Daily Harvest’s Scoops are the brand’s plant-based answer to ice cream made from 100% whole, nourishing ingredients and none of the artificial ingredients you might find in other plant-based ice creams. They became the perfect solution to my late-night snacking: I can feel like I’m having an indulgent and delicious dessert while knowing it’s actually healthy. The Vanilla + Salted Swirled Black Sesame is my absolute favorite.
Daily Harvest took one thing off my plate at a time when my plate was already overflowing.
There were a few great things about my week living off of Daily Harvest. One was the relief of knowing my family was eating healthy food without the effort, and then there was the fact that I ate most of my meals straight out of the microwave-safe and compostable bowls they came in, which meant few to no dishes.
The best part though? Daily Harvest took one thing off my plate at a time when my plate was already overflowing. These days, when I’m juggling work and taking care of Emma, the last thing I’ve wanted to worry about is what to make for breakfast, lunch or dinner that will be both healthy and delicious for all of us. (Forget about grocery shopping, recipe planning and meal prepping.)
Sometimes you just need a little break — and I take comfort in knowing that Daily Harvest will always be there when I need it.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.