Plated is one of the oldest meal kit services around. It allows customers the convenience of receiving fresh ingredients at home so they can cook cheaper, healthier meals than ordering take-out or delivery or going out for meals. It also handles meal planning, grocery shopping, and ingredient preparation to minimize work and save you time. The meal kits come with step-by-step recipe cards with images to help you create the meals. This review looks at Plated and similar meal kit services so that you can decide which, if any, is right for you to try.


What Is Plated?

Plated Meal kits

Plated is a meal kit service that was founded in 2012 by Nick Taranto and Josh Hix, two Harvard Business School classmates. Plated delivers meals in boxes sent to customers weekly. The boxes contain ingredients and recipes, and the customer cooks meals from the ingredients. Albertsons acquired the company in 2017 and now offers meal kits in some of its supermarkets.

To begin using Plated, you need to sign up for the service. You can choose meals up from two to four times per week and select which day you’d like to receive the delivery. You can also decide on which recipes you want every week. The subscription plan is flexible, allowing you to switch recipes, skip weeks, or even cancel. There is no required commitment. The plans come in either two, three, or four servings. There are 20 recipes, including dessert, offered every week, and you can mix and match in any combination you wish. There are options for vegetarian, low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free diets. You can manage your account online from a desktop or laptop computer or from Plated’s iPhone or Android apps.

Some vegetarian options include grilled cheese sandwiches, summer vegetable pasta, chickpea and eggplant tostadas, and three-cheese calzones. Fish and chips, pork tacos, steak fajitas, meatballs, and chicken empanadas are some other popular recipes. Two featured desserts are oatmeal cookie sandwiches and lemon cream tarts.

The boxes stay cool with insulation, and the ingredients are meant to stay fresh until midnight of the day of delivery. Plated recommends cooking seafood dishes within two days of receipt and all other dishes within five days. The ingredients are pre-portioned and packed by recipes, which are designed by chefs and have step-by-step instructions. All the ingredients you need to make a meal are included in the box, but you may need some items, which should be pantry staples, such as salt, pepper, olive oil, vegetable oil, and eggs. Meats, seafood, and poultry are sourced from trusted purveyors.

The cardboard boxes themselves can be recycled. Some boxes are lined with jute or denim insulation, depending on the location and the season. The brown jute insulation is compostable and can be used in a garden as a weed barrier or disposed with regular garbage. The denim insulation is made from recycled materials and can be reused, disposed with garbage, or donated to a textile exchange. Gel packs, which keep the food cool, are reusable. If you must dispose of the gel, it can be placed in the trash. The plastic container can be recycled in a plastic facility or at a local grocery store. Any plastic bottles sent can also be recycled. Plated’s fulfillment centers donate any leftover perishable ingredients to local food banks.

Plated prides itself on offering quality. It uses poultry and pork that have been raised without antibiotics. The produce is fresh and seasonal, with organic versions provided when possible. The menus are updated to reflect seasonality. Plated’s chefs also create recipes influenced by world cuisines. Seared steak bibimbap with crispy rice, vegetables, a fried egg, and sriracha is an example of a Korean-inspired recipe. The beef is raised with no added hormones and the fish is sustainably caught. Artisanal ingredients are also used, particularly hand-crafted and small-batch specialty items.

For people who have food allergies, Plated’s facilities also process eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, nuts, soy, wheat, gluten, and sulfites. The company recommends that customers use their best judgment when considering dietary needs and encourages them to omit ingredients they wish to avoid.

Product Spe​​​​cifications


Vegetarian Options:
Yes
Vegan Options:
No
Extra Delivery Charges:
Yes
Availability:
Nationwide, but limited to the continental U.S.

Pricing

Plated offers plans based on how many servings you want per night and how many nights per week. Currently, Plated offers a 25 percent discount for the first month for new users, and free shipping for plans that cost more than $60 per week. The price per serving for the Two Servings Per Night plan is $11.95, and for the Three Servings Per Night and Four Servings Per Night options, the price per serving is $9.95. Besides its own website, Plated offers some of its meal kits for sale at Albertsons and Safeway supermarkets.

Why Are Meal Kits So Popular?

Meal kits are popular, especially among people who are beginners in the kitchen or do not have time to plan and shop for meals. Meal kits are delivered directly to people’s homes, where they can cook meals at home for themselves and for family. Most meal kits are simple enough to prepare and can be created within a relatively short amount of time. They are a healthier and cheaper alternative to going out for dinner or ordering delivery from a restaurant. Recipes and cooking tips are included with the pre-measured ingredients.

Using meal kits saves people time, and when customers sign up for a subscription service, the meals arrive regularly so that subscribers only need to worry about unpacking the box and cooking meals. Meal kits are also easy and convenient for people on certain diets since everything has already been sourced and put together for them, so they don’t have to spend time researching recipes, checking ingredients, and visiting grocery stores. If anything, the meal kits help these people stay on their specific diets.

For beginning cooks who are unsure of their kitchen abilities, meal kits help them learn basic skills. For more advanced chefs, meal kits offer a change from routine, providing new menu ideas. The recipes are usually printed in color on large cards and have easy-to-follow instructions and images of the food. They can also be found online.

Because the ingredients are pre-portioned and recipes have been tested by chefs before meal kit boxes are sent out to customers, the final meal portions have been worked out, with the worst case scenario being that there are some leftovers. This is another area where guesswork has been removed for the consumer. For people watching their diets, meal kits provide just the right amount of healthy food. Since the ingredients have already been measured, you only use what you truly need to make the recipe and therefore, reduce food waste. On your own, you may only be using half an onion or a few sprigs from an entire bunch of cilantro, or you may get stuck buying an entire jar of spice that you don’t normally use.

In some cases, meal kit services use ingredients that are not readily available in your own area. Using a meal kit with a unique recipe exposes you to something new or hard to attain. Also, you may live in a region where fresh produce is not as accessible. People who do not live on either the West Coast or the East Coast do not get fresh fish that easily and are more likely to receive fresh fish in their meal kits than if they went to their local store to buy some, where the fish has likely been frozen first, then thawed for display and purchase.

Home Chef, Farmhouse Family Favorites Meal Kit Box. 2 Meals, Serves 4...
  • Sherry Wine Demi-Glace Sirloin Steak (4 servings)
  • Southern Fried Pork Chop (4 servings)
  • Recipes change every Tuesday afternoon

HomeChef was founded in 2013 by Pat Vihtelic, who worked with a chef to create delicious and easy-to-follow recipes. It aims to save customers time in preparing home-cooked meals, making the process simple, yet inspirational. The recipes tend to be safe and not very adventurous, which is probably a good option for beginner or novice cooks or people with limited palates. The cooking education and how-to-cook tips are limited. The pre-portioned ingredients help make meal preparation easy. When signing up for the service, customers are asked whether they like vegetables, meat, or seafood, then questioned about avoiding certain ingredients, such as soy, nuts, and gluten. Low-carb and low-calorie recipes are also an option. There are also add-on options, such as breakfast, smoothies, fruit baskets, and premium meals. Deliveries are limited to Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays.


Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: Yes
Extra Delivery Charges: No
Availability: Nationwide


PeachDish

PeachDish

PeachDish offers farm-fresh ingredients sourced from Southeast farms in its meal kits. It offers healthier versions of Southern recipes designed by chefs and restaurateurs in collaboration with nutritionists. Most dishes have 600 calories or less. There are options for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free eaters. Customers can either start a subscription or order one box at a time as a guest. The subscription plans involve automatic deliveries that can be skipped, and customers can pick their own meals, or allow PeachDish to pick them. The ingredients are portioned but will require you to prep and cook them. Most meals can be made within 30 minutes and can be handled by home cooks with little experience. Besides the menu options, PeachDish also has an online market that sells items from meat and seafood to condiments and seasonings.


Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: Yes
Extra Delivery Charges: Yes, depending on your location
Availability: Nationwide, except for Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico

Green Chef

Green Chef

Green Chef sells certified organic meal kits, promising that 90 percent of its ingredients are organic. Its meals are meant to be prepared within 30 minutes and can accommodate all diets, including carnivore, omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, and gluten-free. The premium ingredients, which are GMO-free and come from sustainable and traceable sources, farmers, and manufacturers, come with easy-to-follow recipe cards. Meal kits are ordered by subscription and can be delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. In living up to the “green” in the company name, the brand works to be as eco-friendly as possible, using packaging that is recyclable, reusable, or compostable. Since “green” could imply that the cook may also be a novice, the recipes are designed to be easy.


Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: Yes
Extra Delivery Charges: No
Availability: Nationwide, excluding Hawaii, Alaska, and parts of Louisiana

Plated Pros And Cons

Pros
  • Convenient
  • Easy to prepare
  • Variety of subscription options
  • Delicious food
  • Recipes could please a wide audience
  • Offers dessert
  • Meals are hearty
  • Enough food to provide for leftovers
  • Good quality
  • Environmentally friendly packaging
  • Responsive customer service
Cons
  • Meals could be pricey
  • Explanations could be better
  • Lacking on the educational information side
  • May not be the best option for beginning cooks
  • May require use of many pots and pans
  • Recipe cards may have errors that were not caught prior to printing

How It Compares


The meal kit service you ultimately choose will depend on what you are looking for besides convenience. Some will focus on helping you learn more about cooking while others are more about introducing you to new cuisines and helping you work with new ingredients to add to your culinary knowledge. There are also meal kit services that accommodate your specific way of eating, especially restricted diets.

PRODUCT

IMAGE

RATING

PRICE

Plated

Plated

PeachDish

PeachDish

Green Chef

Green Chef

Conclusion

Plated is a good, consistent option for people who do not enjoy planning meals and grocery shopping and would prefer convenience. This meal kit service allows you to eat well but does require having more cooking knowledge beyond basic skills. Plated’s pricing offers a good starting point for those new to using a meal kit service. The food uses premium quality ingredients, the menu is approachable, and the final resulting meals are tasty. While the recipes are generally easy to make, they may not always be perfect. Beginning home cooks may struggle if they don’t completely understand how to do something or how to correct problems in the recipes. While Plated offers vegetarian, low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free diets, it may not be the best option for those following paleo, vegan, or allergen-free diets.


 

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