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A Review of Plated (Cooking While Traveling Often-the Plated Review)

Plated Review

I’ve mentioned before that I try to find ways to cook in between my frequent work travels.  I use Amazon.com to keep my non-perishables stocked (and I usually order from the airport!)  And I’ve been using Hello Fresh lately to get ready-to-cook meals delivered to my house.

I found an amazing promotion on Plated over the holidays.  I hadn’t heard of it before, so I scooped up the offer to try it out, plus I figured I could do a Plated review after my review of HelloFresh.

Plated is similar to Hello Fresh in that they send you ingredients portioned out according to the recipe.  They may send you a teaspoon of cumin, or a tablespoon of white vinegar.   (Though occasionally, Hello Fresh has sent me full sized spices, which rocks.)

I noticed immediately that the Plated ingredients didn’t seem as adventurous as Hello Fresh’s, but the recipes seemed easier/faster to make.

You can choose how many meals you want to order vs. Hello Fresh’s standard three meals per order.  You also have more control over what you order.  Hello Fresh gives you a choice of three out of four.

One of the things I ordered was the chicken ramen.

Plated Food Delivery Plated Review

 

It arrived with all the ingredients packaged up neatly with a warning not to use the seasoning inside the ramen packet.

Plated Food Delivery Plated Review

 

Basically, everything is thrown into a pot of water to be cooked.  The bok choy, scallions, and chicken needed to be chopped ahead of time, but that was the majority of the prep work.

Plated Food Delivery Plated Review

 

I set up molds in my pan for the fried eggs for the ramen, but because I’m a dork like that 😛

Plated Food Delivery Plated Review

 

You basically add the ingredients one at a time, so all I had to do was leave them staged on my cutting board and push the next batch into the pot after a few minutes.

Plated Food Delivery Plated Review

 

I cracked the eggs into my molds.

Plated Review

 

And viola!

It was not the most complicated dish I’ve ever made from these food services, but it was fast and tasty.

Plated is $12 a dish per person if you subscribe to their membership, and $15 if you do not.  There is no shipping fee unless you are redeeming free plates.  You can get two free plates through my link (though it will also give me two free plates as well!)

 

But before you click through, here are the pros and cons to Plated.  (I make some references to Hello Fresh, so here’s my review of that).

Pros:

  • Easy to cook
  • Dishes are fast with minimal prep work
  • Great variety/selection when ordering
  • You can change how many plates you get at a time (great for weeks you’ll be gone a lot, or you can boost up a plate order if you want to have a small dinner party)
  • Prices seemed reasonable for what you were getting
  • Flexible Membership plan

Cons:

  • Meals are more simple than Hello Fresh delivery service
  • I don’t feel like I’m learning new techniques and tips the way  I have with Hello Fresh
  • The ingredients don’t feel as exotic as Hello Fresh’s BUT it looks like this has changed since the holidays.  I also looked at older reviews of Plated and saw more exotic ingredients.  I think they did a huge special and toned down the offerings for that promotional period.
  • Need to pay a $10 monthly membership fee to save $3 per plate
  • The ordering process felt a little more confusing than Hello Fresh.  It took me a few to figure it all out.

All in all, they are two different products.  Plated seems to be for those who want to cook a good meal quickly, and Hello Fresh seems to be more for learning more complicated dishes.  I’ve found the process of getting the ingredients in the mail really easy for both services.

If you are interested in trying out Plated, if you use my link, we both get two meals for free.

If you are interested in trying out Hello Fresh, my promo code will get us both $20 off our boxes.

There’s a third service, Blue Apron, that I haven’t tried.  I’m considering trying it out so I can compare the three together.  Any interest in this?

Note: I did this Plated review at a time when it appears they did a lot of promotions and dropped the quality temporarily.  I will follow-up with another Plated review soon.

 

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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29 comments

  1. I don’t really understand the purpose of these services? Is your life really that busy that you can’t find time to shop and cook?? It seems to me that you could easily avoid the need for a ridiculous service like this by taking the following steps:

    1) Take an hour one day and look up a bunch of recipes online and create your own “catalog” of meals. You could easily compile a list of 50-60 recipes that will keep you satisfied for 6 months at least.
    2) At the beginning of the week pick the recipes from your catalog that you would like to make.
    3) Go shopping once a week and portion out the groceries into the different recipes.

    This method avoids ridiculous monthly fees and allows you to create large portions at a much lower cost with leftovers!

    $15 per person for the dish described above is a RIPOFF. Services like this just seem completely useless to me. You pay a ridiculous premium for a service that saves you maybe a 90 minutes at most. The more dishes you order and the amount of time you are saving per meal goes down dramatically.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      If I go to the grocery store right now, it will be the same meals I always make plus a bunch of bertolli instant cooked meals.

      Buying full bottles of spices to try out new recipes I might not like really ads up, and the cost of living in Washington, DC makes these boxes not hugely more than what it costs to purchase items in the store (unfortunately :() If I lived in Texas, the cost would be hugely different. (Tiff laughs at how shocked I am at everything as I walk around the grocery store with her).

      What I am doing is compiling the recipes that I’ve liked from Hello Fresh over time and I hope at some point, I can create a rotating list of things I am making in the future and planning out the meal plans. But in the moment, it’s not working out for me. I think about what you say as the ideal, but I still end up with Bertolli meals and take out!

      So my point is your idea sounds great and is my ideal, so I hope to get there some day! Thanks for the tips.

    • “I don’t really understand the purpose of these services? Is your life really that busy that you can’t find time to shop and cook??”

      Yes, and because of that I end up going to restaurants a lot. But I don’t have time to cook either so that could be an issue.

      “$15 per person for the dish described above is a RIPOFF.”

      I think I agree on this, I have been looking at Plated and haven’t pulled the trigger because of that. However, I usually end up spending 15-25 dlls per meal at a restaurant. The difference is that I need to cook it. But I’m sure I can shop myself and get the meal at a cost of $5-6 dlls per plate.

      Maybe next year I’ll get an assistant and have them do my shopping for me, although that would be more expensive than Plated.

      • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

        Someone suggested I re-review Plated because they dropped the quality for some deals they were doing (which I don’t necessarily agree with) but I’m going to try it again plus Blue Apron just to compare.

    • Seth,
      I think these services are all about novelty and convenience. I think the price per meal ($12) can be a bit high for a family, but it might be more ideal for a single person. I wrote a review on it as well: http://justmeandyoukid.com/fix-me-a-plate-my-review-of-plated-com/

  2. Jeanne – Please do tell us what Blue Apron is like. I use Hello Fresh and really like it. It is actually a little bit of a bargain compared with supermarket prices here in Massachusetts. I guess that’s because they buy in bulk. It costs me about $70 up here every time I pop into a supermarket just to pick up a few things.
    And Seth, you are obviously way more organized than I am. I find a meal service saves a lot of time rather than culling for recipes, figuring out what I have on hand and what I need, compiling shopping lists then hunting down the precise ingredients in a supermarket, buying expensive full-size containers of spices I may never use again and starting a recipe then realizing I was out of something kind of critical. I just have so many other things to do! I find the service incredibly convenient and I get to try foods I wouldn’t have thought to otherwise.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I will try out Blue Apron and one more week of Plated since it seems like they upped the ingredients you can get since their Christmas promo.

  3. I love these meal delivery services so I’m with you! Not only do I not know how to grocery shop for fresh items, I don’t want to spend the time doing it. Plus I’m cooking for one. I don’t want too much of anything especially since I travel every week for work. Overall though, I don’t cook so these services are bringing me into the cooking world. I’ve only tried Plated so far and made out-of-this-world salmon burgers. In addition to Plated and Hello Fresh, there’s also Blue Apron and Peach Dish.

  4. just fyi, I think $12 for ramen is kind of expensive. If you were trying Ippudo or Totto Ramen in NYC, then I understand. I recommend Nissin ramen 🙂

  5. 15USD per plate is expensive as I spend 2 USD per meal for my cooking. I will never ever order it!

  6. Wow, that’s expensive for instant ramen. It’s not like it’s Ippudo or Totto Ramen in NYC 😛 You should try Nissin ramen, you might like it more 🙂

  7. I’m a budget shopper for groceries. I have a list of staples that I purchase when they are on sale. I clip coupons and use them to help decrease my food costs. I have a couple vegetarian main courses that I can always make out of pantry ingredients. I buy most of my spices at the dollar store. Basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, chili powder and ground cinnamon are always available there. If you need a little bit of a certain spice for a recipe. Most major cities have a spice market where you can buy the spices by the ounce. I keep the spices that I buy at the spice market in watch maker tins. They hold about an ounce of spice.

  8. I had a similar reaction to Seth’s, but I think it’s probably due to the fact that I visit Chinese/Japanese markets regularly and eat ramen pretty often. The chicken ramen meal seems stunningly overpriced to me (I would guess it’d cost me less than $3 if I purchased at the market). I visited the Plated website, and the meals featured on the homepage seem vastly more complex and “worth” the $15 meal cost. This particular dish doesn’t even compare to them – couldn’t they have at least given you fresh noodles and chicken broth? I really hope the other meals you get to try are better. :/ For $15, I think it would be cheaper + healthier to order a simple won ton noodle soup plus a side of fresh vegetables from your local Chinese restaurant. It would certainly be less processed and just as convenient.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Yup, I agree with that part. Looking through the site, I think they “dumbed down” the meals for the promotional period to make them cheaper, so maybe I’ll try another order just to make sure.

      The other item they sent me were beef tacos which were again, really easy, but not like the panko crusted mahi mahi I get from Hello Fresh. They gave away entire boxes over the holidays.

  9. I live in DC area myself. With my busy schedule it is always a hassle to do grocery shopping. Also many of the groceries end up being wasted due to lack of use. Plated meals are actually on per with my average take out cost (which I tend to do 6 out of 7 days). At least with plated I can have a healthier option. No doing a weekly recipe planning isn’t feasible for me (I’ve tried and failed). Based on my calculation plated is actually cheaper for me.

  10. The ease of knowing that you’ll have everything on hand, the ease of execution, fresh ingredients, not having to shop, and portions that guarantee practically no waste are all factors in this seeming–to me at least– to be an actually budget-friendly way to eat. Particularly when you consider the waste and hassle of those of us who usually eat solo or solo plus one, to go the traditional route of shopping and cooking.
    I can spend 15 bucks for two meals in a drive thru and not get the quality (loaded with sodium and fat and crap food) or i could do this every now and then, and actually have a decent meal.

    Plus no throwing out the old limp celery that I only needed 2 stalks of, or chunking all that left over cilantro after it’s turned to black mush in the produce drawer.

    I don’t see doing this everyday, and it wouldn’t make the same sense for, say, a family of four, but I personally think it has it’s advantages, and is both practical *and* economical under certain criteria.

  11. I would have to agree with Ri
    I too am from the DC area. With my busy schedule and my husbands busy schedule we tend to eat out a lot, or I get home late and have an empty fridge. Also the outrageous cost of everything in DC. I signed up for Plated because at least a few nights of the week/month I don’t have to worry about what to cook.
    I have not received my first order yet, but I am praying the portion sizes are large so I can get 2 meals and some leftovers for my lunch the next day. I also think this will be great for my husband and I because we are not the most creative cooks so I think this will open our eyes to new cooking.
    I think the price isn’t too bad. usually our grocery shopping bill is about $100 a week and that is with 4 dinners for 2 people.
    looking forward to trying it out.

  12. I’ve used the service 3x a week for about 6 weeks and love it. Honestly, I think it works out cheaper than grocery shopping for me. Typical grocery scenerio for me is go to the grocery store, spend $100, make a meal, and wonder how in the heck I spent $100 and only managed one dinner for 2 and some yogurt and fruit. Plated is great because if, for example, I need 4 kumquats for a meal, they send 4 kumquats. I don’t buy a bag of 30 and throw out 36 after they rot in my fridge. Also, I find the portions to be huge – they’re easily 2 dinners and at least one lunch in our house (and we’re not small eaters). Downside is the only meat I eat is fish and some weeks their vegetarian or fish options aren’t very appealing.

  13. I love Plated and I am blogging my weekly shipments:
    http://platedblog.blogspot.com/

  14. $12-$15 per person is a bit too steep for me and is the reason I haven’t tried it yet. If I was learning to cook maybe, but I can go shopping and spend $5-ish per person, or get tasty, healthy take out from a number of places for $10-$15 AND not have to cook it myself.

  15. I have to chime in here because I am in LOVE with Plated. I live in a rural community and consider myself a foodie. I work all week and we have ONE grocery store here that we are lucky to get 2nd hand produce let alone gourmet spices. Plated is my vacation at home a few times a month where we can enjoy different meals, cheaper than driving 60 miles to the nearest chain restaurant. Its not for everyone, but there are people out here for whom the service is a real treat!

  16. I agree with Tris. The $30 off was worth giving it a try. By no means will I be making it my main means of cooking, but is a cool way to mix it up at home. I don’t always want to spend the money on spices to experiment and I can’t always find what I am looking for without going to multiple grocery stores. Thanks for the promo link!

  17. I have tried all the services out there. Plated, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Appetites. It seems like each one is pretty much a duplicate of each other except for Appetites. They have a very slick app for you iPad that has step-by-step video cooking classes. It is absolutely wonderful. (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/appetites/id405170698?mt=8)

  18. Hi Jeanne Marie; Thank you for your review. It was quite informative and well-balanced. I liked how you compared the features of each service on comparable scales. I imagine you’ve tried Blue Apron by now. That is the only Meal Delivery Service I have had experience with. It is LESS EXPENSIVE than the other two at $59 per week for 6 meals/for 2 people, so it comes out to $9.83 per meal. The consumer has no choice in Menu choices, only in whether they want Meat & if so, type of Meat (Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Venison, Pork);Vegetarian; Fish/No Fish. Those are the only choices. Oh yes, one gets to choose the Delivery Day. The really GREAT news is that the meals are exquisite! Full disclosure: I have the taste buds & eating habits of a 9 year old. However, I was raised in a civilized home by a bonfide gourmet cook. I’ve dined in Paris, but that was many years ago. So, for me, this has been an epicurean adventure of discovery. I’ve been eating so well on ingredients that surprise me. I would never think to prepare some of these dishes.Each week, one of the meals is Vegetarian. Here are 4 of my favorites: (1) Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce & Marinated Green Tomatoes, (2) Vietnamese-Style “Shaking” Beef with Lime-Jasmine Rice & Dressed Plum, (3) Lamb & Beef Sliders with Harissa-Labneh Sauce & Cucumber Salad, (4) Fresh Gnocchi & Maitake Mushrooms with Sweet Corn & Tyme Brown Butter.
    In case you’re interested, there’s yet one more ‘Meal Delivery’ Service, but this one delivers Prepared food. The concept is similar but they have their own kitchens in cities all over the country. It’s called The Munchery. Prices are obviously higher (a little bit) but substantially less than restaurant delivery. Their menu is about 15 items: main course, side dish, and dessert. Thanks for reading my VERY long post!

  19. Was anybody disappointed by the fact they’ll send canned/jared ingredients for some of the recipes? And also wonder if there are any chemicals in their food flavorings – you know, when they send small containers to add flavor onto broths, etc?
    To me, the whole purpose of cooking from scratch is lost when they send processed food as ingredients.

  20. I’m all about Home Bistro. This very happy diner wants to come home and have a creative, delicious meal with no preparation by me. I heat up the prepared meal, eat and relax. I don’t have to worry about taking care of utensils, and pans that would need to be cleaned, i.e. more work! Really, who has time for it? I know there are those who enjoy cooking, but for those of us who don’t and yet want a delicious meal, Home Bistro fit the bill for me.

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