Paris Buchanan would do just about anything else rather than shop for groceries.
“I despise it,” he said.
His feelings on the matter are now a running joke among his coworkers at the University of Mississippi, where 31-year-old Buchanan works as the Associate Director of Marketing and Fan Experience at Ole Miss Athletics. The fact that his loathing for grocery stores has trickled down into an equally intense abhorrence for cooking is also common knowledge.
So when a colleague mentioned Freshly in August 2018, Buchanan was instantly intrigued by the concept of fully-prepared nutritious meals being delivered to his doorstep. Plus, he thought, the service also had the potential to help him eat better and lose weight—a goal he’d been putting off for two years.
Buchanan decided to give Freshly a whirl, fully expecting to abandon it in a few weeks.
But that didn’t happen.
Fast forward ten months since he ate his first Freshly meal, Buchanan, a resident of Oxford, Miss., has dropped 65 pounds, and is feeling “refreshed and energized.” We chatted with Paris to learn about his nutrition and fitness goals and how boarding, what he fondly calls, the “Freshly train” helped him achieve them:
Q: Why did you initially decide to sign up for Freshly?
A: With our busy work schedules, a coworker and I were talking about not having a ton of time to cook, and how we were just trying to figure out different ways to eat better more efficiently. Freshly stood out to me because unlike other meal kit services, you don’t have to cook anything. You can just warm it up and it’s ready. I decided to try it out and have just been going ever since. I think the whole Freshly experience is super easy, from ordering a meal to putting it in the microwave and then actually eating it.
Q: What aspect of the meals appealed most to you?
A: What initially drew me in is the convenience piece of it. I remember being amazed during my first week by how easy it all was. But once I started doing it, I realized also that the food tastes really good. I’ve tried a few different food companies, and all have their pros and cons, but Freshly stands out because of the flavor of its meals. It’s not a “chalky, kind of gross, but you get through it” kind of thing.
My coworker and I even joke about how I could invite people over to my house, and put Freshly food on a plate and serve it. My guests would think that I cooked them a really nice meal when, in reality, it was all just microwaved or oven-baked.
Q: Why do you dislike grocery shopping and cooking?
A: Taking the time to fight crowds and stand in lines overwhelms me. Often I go to a store looking for a particular item, and come out with items I had no intention of buying. With Freshly, I do not have to plan out a grocery list. I simply pick the meals I want, and it’s done.
When it comes to cooking, it really has nothing to do with being good or bad at it. For me, it’s all about the time commitment: grocery shopping, prep time, cleaning up, and so on. With Freshly, I’m able to avoid all that.
Q: What’s your favorite Freshly meal and why?
A: The Veggie Baked Penne because it tastes like something you could get at a restaurant. When people ask me why I have been able to stick with Freshly for so long and why I don’t cook, I try to explain that I don’t like cooking — that’s the first thing — but beyond that, the food tastes authentic. Even if you’ve had the pasta sitting in your refrigerator for a couple of days, you could warm it up and it would taste good. I also enjoy the Country Chicken and Mash Bowl. I like that I can eat different things that I’d likely have to stay away from, if I were on a traditional “diet.” With Freshly, I can enjoy those foods and they taste just like the real thing.
Q: Was weight loss a goal of yours for some time or was it a happy accident?
A: I spent two years thinking about losing weight, and saying, “Maybe in the summer, I’m going to start” or “Maybe in the fall, I’ll start.” Then some relatives started watching their food intake and being more active, which motivated me.
I knew I wanted to take better care of myself, and making different food choices was the first step. I’ve always had a pretty strict exercise regimen, but if you want to lose a good amount of weight, you have to also watch what you eat. With Freshly, I love how I can eat two meals and still come in under 1,000 calories a day.
Q: How do you feel now?
A: My weight loss is the most obvious physical benefit, but there’s so much more. I sleep better; I used to wake up three or four times a night and chug water, but now I rarely do that. I also feel better and have more energy.
Q: Has Freshly made it easier for you to make other healthy choices?
A: I’m more conscious about what I eat. More restaurants are putting nutritional information on menus, and I used to be the person who never looked at any of that. But now, when I go out, I’ll look at something and say, “Well, I’m definitely not eating that. That’s like three or four Freshly meals combined.” So Freshly really changed the way I interact with my food every day.
Q: What did you learn about eating healthy from Freshly that you take with you even when you’re not eating our meals?
A: Probably the biggest thing I learned was portion control. During my first week, I remember thinking, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this” because I was used to eating a lot more. But I quickly realized that the amount of food in the tray is literally all I need. Now, even when I eat out, I know I don’t need all of what is served, and that’s been eye-opening.
Note: Following his positive review, and prior to his interview, this customer was given one week’s worth of Freshly meals as thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by our marketing team.