Thrive Foods Direct Review

Eggplant Chana Masala from Thrive Foods Direct (the official photo, not my own)

On the heels of last week’s post about eating vegetarian while traveling, it seems an opportune time to publish a review of a service that makes it easy to do that very thing.

During Brendan Brazier’s podcast appearance earlier this year, we talked briefly about Thrive Foods Direct, his new service that delivers healthy vegan meals (like those in Brendan’s book Thrive Foods) to your door, fully prepared and ready to heat and serve.

I had the chance to try Thrive Foods Direct several weeks ago. My four sample meals could not have arrived at a better time — just a few hours prior, Erin and our son had left on an overnight trip, and I was foodless. The arrival of TFD at my door at that time meant:

(a) I wouldn’t have to cook for myself; and

(b) I wouldn’t have to share any of it with the little table monster that steals food from people’s plates in our house. Or with my son, either.

Win win win. Here’s how it went down.

Question 1: Can it possibly taste good?

Since this was my first foray into mail-order eating — thus far, I consider myself fortunate to have avoided being seduced by Terry Bradshaw into ordering Nutrisystem  — my first concern was how the Thrive Foods Direct meals would taste.

Artificial preservatives obviously don’t jive with Brendan’s nutrition philosophy, so I was thinking these meals would be shipped frozen. And since a lot of Brendan’s food (especially in Thrive) is high-raw, I was half expecting that, rather than heat-and-eat, it would be defrost-and-eat-at-room-temperature.

As it turns out, this could not have been further from reality.

My four meals arrived in individual containers in a refrigerated (but not frozen) box. Each meal came with instructions for reheating, most of which gave the option of heating on the stovetop or in the microwave. No defrosting necessary, since nothing was frozen.

The four meals were Eggplant Chana Masala, Vegetable Ragout with Quinoa Masta, Lentil Soup, and Quinoa with Mixed Vegetables (it might have been the Moroccan Quinoa Salad; I can’t remember the exact name).

What struck me right away was the ingredient lists: literally every ingredient was organic and fresh. Without much salt, and without oil, either — Brendan later told me that although he’s not in the no-oil camp, he left it out so that people could choose to add it on their own if they desired, depending on their diet preferences. Same with salt.

Every meal was delicious. The one that sticks out in my mind as the best was the quinoa pasta with vegetable ragout, but any of the meals I tried would easily have passed for homemade. I added a good bit of salt to all of them — I am, after all, a devoted salt fiend — but other than that, the spices and flavors were perfect. And fresh.

The portions, unfortunately, weren’t huge. The more substantial meals were enough to fill me up, but others, like the quinoa with vegetables, left me needing a little something else to make a full meal of it.

Question 2: Can it possibly be affordable?

Okay, so Thrive Foods Direct exceeded expectations when it came the food itself. But there is a drawback, and you probably saw it coming. Price.

To buy and cook this kind of food for yourself isn’t exactly cheap. The few times I’ve bought quinoa pasta, for example, it has cost me three bucks for a half-pound box, when a normal box of pasta, at 12 ounces or a whole pound, costs half that much.

Add to that the cost of having your meal expertly prepared and shipped, refrigerated, to your doorstep, and of course you expect to pay a premium.

So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Thrive Foods Direct is expensive, at $45 a day for the cheapest plan. (Check out the other options here.) But here’s what’s pretty awesome.

As Brendan said in our podcast, and as he writes on the menu page:

As we grow, our goal is to actually lower the price to the point that the Thrive Foods Direct system (meal planning, nutritional balancing, ingredient shopping, preparation, and delivery) is actually the same price or even lower than if you were to make the meal yourself.

Now that would be incredible, and it would open up this way of eating to the zillions (I looked that up) of people who want to eat better but have neither the time to cook healthy food nor the budget to pay extra for its preparation.

When I’d order Thrive Foods Direct

Thrive Foods Direct is a little out of my price range. But my life and wallet swoll-ness are far different from a busy executive’s, and I can see how the convenience of having such great food delivered could be worth it for some people.

Where I can imagine myself using Thrive Foods Direct is when I’m traveling — they’ll deliver right to your hotel, and this is what they do for several pro NFL and NHL athletes who use Thrive Foods Direct.

But it’s not just for pros with make-it-rain-kinda-cash to spend. If you usually eat out for every meal while you travel, Thrive Foods Direct might not cost you any more than what you already pay for three meals at restaurants. And it’s likely a much healthier and tastier option.

So next time you have to go somewhere,  say, on a business trip, that’s not known for its vegan-friendliness, it might be worth it to get a week’s worth of Thrive Foods Direct instead of Happy Cow’ing it.

Oh yeah, and one more thing to help with the price, if you’d like to give Thrive Foods Direct a try: Brendan gave us the discount code BB1, which you can use to get 20% off when you order.

Question 3: Where are your pictures, Matt?

What do I look like, a food blogger? Okay, so I should have taken pictures, but I didn’t. Sorry about that. My pictures never make food look good anyway, and besides, I was too busy doing nothing for the first time in many months with the fam out of town.

But check out my friend Gena’s Thrive Foods Direct review, which she just posted this very same day. She’s got pictures aplenty. And actual good writing, too!

So there you have my take on Thrive Foods Direct. It’s a high-quality service, nothing less than we should expect from Brendan Brazier when it comes to plant-based food, just like his Vega supplement line. And also like with Vega, you pay for what you get. It’s certainly not cheap — not yet, anyway — but for the right person, it could be worth every penny.

If you’ve tried Thrive Foods Direct, feel free to chime in and let us know what you thought!



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  1. Dudes, your writing is always excellent. And lately, I’m a veritable factory of grammatical errors. I can’t believe anyone ever paid me to edit stuff.

  2. Wow..sounds like a dream come true….except the price! I will wait hopefully for a price drop…………..

  3. Carissa says:

    I’ve been using the Thrive Foods Direct ever since I bought their one week trial period on OpenSky. I have a crazy hectic schedule, between my 50+ hour work week, volunteering, and marathon training, and I’d never quite gotten around to going to the grocery store, stocking up on all the essentials, and then cooking on a regular weekly basis, since I first read Brendan’s “Thrive” book last September.

    I had started following the principles in his book “Thrive” as much as possible then, by using his Whole Food Health Optimizer (now Vega One) every morning for breakfast and large green salads for lunch, and noticed an immediate change in my energy, sleep, and mood. I was even able to cut an hour off my marathon time. The only thing I was missing were the dinners. Living in a studio in NYC, I usually opted for some vegetarian take-out. This was not ideal. It is expensive (always a $10 minimum, and who ever orders just the minimum), and the ingredients are, well, standard. There’s no fresh, organic, vegan take-out.

    When I saw the opportunity for an organic, Thrive based, home-delivery service, I was thrilled. And, yes, initially the cost was the main thing keeping me from ordering. However, what I figured out was that between the hours I saved in a week alone, going to the store, carrying everything home, cooking for one AND cleaning up after, it was worth the extra expense, for me. Not to mention, all the ingredients are organic. It was healthier, and I believe my health is the basis for everything.

    So I tried it. And it was so easy, and SOOO delicious. As a result, I kept it going. Two months in, I managed to cut another 35 minutes off my marathon time. I have to agree with Matt about some portions; however, it was during the taper part of my training that I was needing to eat an extra salad or Vega One shake.

    It’s been almost 3 months now since I started, and I plan to keep ordering TFD. The salads they create are my favorite (there’s one Oriental Cabbage Salad that is to die for). I also find it exciting to find out what meals they’ve creating for the next week. It has made my life far simpler, both at home and at work. I really enjoy not having to figure out what or where I’m going to eat next.

    After starting TFD, I’ve been eating far healthier, better food than I was before, I have more energy throughout the day, and I have more time in my days to do things I enjoy, rather than cooking for myself.

  4. Diana Coleiro says:

    I would love to try Thrive Foods but I live in Canada. Hopefully it will be available here soon.

    Canada is waiting!!

  5. Shelley says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Carissa. I started TFD intending only to subscribe for 1 week.. and now I have been ordering it for over 2 months. It is perfect for me since I am busy at work, marathon training, and going to meetings. It takes all the stress out of planning and preparing meals.

    Though at 1st I thought it was expensive… like Carissa, I agree that when you think about the time and effort it saves.. it is worth is… especially to a busy professional like me.

    I thought the entrees were not substantial enough at 1st, but now most usually fill me up. I always add a green salad with my dinner meal, supplement some meals extra veggies and nutritional yeast, & eat extra granola if I am still hungry ( the granola is AMAZING!).

    I too have noticed that since starting TFD I am running faster, have more energy, and am developing more defined, lean muscles. For all these reasons, I highly recommend TFD. It is a dream come true for a busy, active, vegan, gluten intolerant athlete like me!
    Thanks, Brendan, for such an amazing service 🙂

  6. I’m in the middle of a week of this right now. I agree that it’s good, but it isn’t amazing to me. I personally think that, inexpert cook though I am, I make tastier meals myself, and for much less money. I’ll probably use them again once in a while when I’m busy, but not otherwise.

    Also, having ordered online, canceling was a nightmare. You have to cancel by Tuesday night. Nobody answers the number on the letter they sent with the first shipment, and the name on the voice mail doesn’t match Thrive, Fresh n Lean (the company that actually makes the food), or the name of anyone I know to be associated with either company. I emailed the customer service address mentioned in the letter, but haven’t received a response.

    Eventually I found the “Questions/comments?” number on Thrive Food Direct’s website and called it. The eventually quite friendly and helpful man that answered did so like you would a personal line. “Hello?” No indication that I’d gotten the right number until I told him what I was calling about.

    So, in summery, the food is good, but the business end could use some serious work.

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