I became aware of Plated through a social media buddy/co-worker. If you search the #platedpics on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you will see some great photos of the food. They have an excellent and easy to understand website. I’ll try to point out the highlights below as the what Plated is all about. As their website states:
Eat better. Live better. Fresh ingredients and unique recipes delivered directly to you each week.
This was my first meal – it turned out quite lovely I’d say!
- Your food comes in a recyclable and biodegradable box. The ingredients are fresh and pre-portioned for you. The ingredients are packed to stay cool. They say you can put the ingredients in the fridge and they will remain fresh for the next 4-5 days. (There is a lot of plastic packaging inside to keep items separate.)
- Ingredients come from local and seasonal produce when possible and they source the meat from local, family-owned purveyors. When ordering fish, they make sure it is fresh and wild-caught when possible. (I think the statements when possible are a bit vague – when possible? Like 20% of 90% – I would like more info.)
- They deliver to 80% of the U.S. You can enter your zip code and see if you qualify. I was thinking Hazen wouldn’t qualify, but was surprised they do. They don’t offer a map showing which areas are covered.
- This is a membership service. If you sign up, you are automatically enrolled for recurring plates. However, you can cancel that right away with ease if you prefer, skip weeks, etc. Members do receive weekly shipments, special promotions and reduced per plate rates.
- You can pick which recipes you would like from a set menu. If you do not pick, as a member, plates will be sent based on your past taste preferences. You can sort food by LAND (poultry, beef, chicken), VEGGIE or SEA (fish) to see which recipes are available. Each plate offers details such as calorie count, gluten free, difficulty to prep, time to prep/cook, what they send in the box and what you should have on hand to make the plate. What you need on hand are very basic staples like salt & pepper, eggs, tinfoil, olive oil, a pan, etc.
- You must order 4 plates per order to check you. If you don’t want to join, you can pay as you go for $15 per plate. If you are a member the cost is $12 per plate. They do offer promotions if you refer people to Plated. I got my 4 plates for only $20 through a referral by my friend. I figured at this low cost I would be silly to not try out the service – I couldn’t buy the items for that cost!
Plated keeps you in the loop very thoroughly. When order, you sign up using your email address. I ordered my plated to be delivered in about a week and a half. The day before delivery, I was sent an email reminder to tell me to expect my plates the next day. I don’t know what time it was delivered, it came via FedEx. My husband was home first and he set it on the counter for me to unpack. Naturally, I ripped into it like a kid at Christmas. The box was smaller than I imagined it would be, the inside was lined with silver insulation on the sides and top. As I peeled back the top, the ingredients that didn’t require refrigeration were on top (sauces, herbs). At first I was slightly concerned as it didn’t really feel cold at all. As I peeled back some tissue, I got to colder items (veggies) and below that were 3 still frozen ice packs and the meat was below them. Everything was indeed fresh and cold. I was happy. I put everything in the fridge to make the next two evenings for supper.
OK – so onto the meals. I ordered the BBQ Chicken Burgers with Baked Zucchini Fries. A lot of the vegetarian meals appealed to me but I don’t think they would to my husband. On the other hand, he really enjoys fish and I don’t, so I went with LAND meals. What I enjoyed about this meal was it was served with a lot of vegetables and I love veggies. I really feel a meal should include protein, fat, veggies and carbs. The food comes packed with a recipe card, glossary, cooking tips, photos and more for each recipe. They encourage you to read the recipe before you begin. They even have a YouTube page set up when you can watch helpful videos. I appreciated the photos as I thought my chicken was a bit black, but indeed that is what the photo looked like and was probably just the BBQ sauce cooking.
What I liked:
- Fresh ingredients. All the veggies were super fresh and no concerns at all.
- The taste was good.
- The instructions and photos were very thorough.
- I LOVED the cabbage.
- I also loved the zucchini fries, they are good dipped in ketchup.
- The recipe was very easy to follow and straight-forward.
- The buns were fresh and were even sliced.
- Parchment paper was included for clean-up ease.
- The cooking times stated were spot on.
- All I needed was a pan, baking sheet, olive oil, 1 egg, salt and pepper.
- Serving size. The size was ample and we had leftover zucchini.
What I disliked:
- The packaged meat smell. There was a warning that the vacuumed meat would have an odor to it. Of course, I had to take it out of the package and smell it. It was not good. It wasn’t foul smelling, but not good. They tell you to rinse the meat and I did and the smell went away. I was nervous though since we vacuum seal a lot of our meat/game and there is never an odor.
- The BBQ sauce had onion in it and they instruct you to mince enough for ½ cup and discard the remainder. They sent me a very lovely and large onion. I had a lot leftover. I prefer they instruct the cook to reserve the rest for another application/meal. I am assuming this service might be used by those not real familiar in the kitchen, so they might take it literally.
- In two different spaces you are instructed to salt generously – I really think a ballpark measurement would be good to mention.
- The buns – while fresh, I felt they were way too big for the meat. I only ate half of my bun.
- Sauce. Personally I would have preferred more sauce (maybe some to go ON the burger) and I did add water to help thin out the tomato paste that was included.
- The cooking time (a plus above, but negative here) – the cooking time for the zucchini was 15 minutes. This was accurate. But I had to take my zucchini out of the oven before the burgers were done. This wasn’t a huge deal for me but the recipe makes it seem like you can do all the burger cooking within those 15 minutes I felt.
Pork Banh Mi with Sriracha Mayo and Shallot Jam was my next meal. Sounds pretty fancy, right?
What I liked
- The veggies were fresh.
- I liked cooking with shallots, I typically do not buy them.
What I disliked
- Again, the odor from the packaged meat. I rinsed it and it was fine.
- The calorie count was higher for this dish (750 per serving). I altered it to cut that back by switching out the mayo for some light sour cream, used half the sugar suggested and hollowing out my baguette.
- The baguette was crusty and quite good tasting, but again, just too much bread I thought.
- This wasn’t served with veggies. I made my own to eat on the side.
- The baking time was not accurate, it took me quite a bit longer to finish my meatballs than the 10-12 minutes suggested. The recipe says to bake them under the broiler, but not which shelf.
- My basil was very sad looking. I couldn’t use it and had to throw the whole bunch out.
- I in general just like more spice to my food and could easily add that from what I had on hand in my fridge.
The sad basil is in the middle.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Plated experience and am glad I did it. Would I do it again? Perhaps if I had another discount code/option. For me personally, at $12 per plate I’d rather have someone cook for and serve me. I enjoy cooking and could have easily made the BBQ chicken meal. However, the Pork Banh Mi isn’t something I would regularly make. It was nice to try a new recipe. And I just love trying new things with my food.
I would recommend this service to the following people:
- Busy professionals (if you have kids or not).
- Someone learning to cook.
- As a gift to someone, especially new parents or new homeowners who might be limited on time to shop.
- Someone living in the city (as a “rural” person, I typically stock up on groceries for the week and have plenty of vegetables in the garden and local meat in the freezer).
- A person up for trying new things.
People who might not care for or need the service:
- Those on a budget.
- People who prefer to cook at home.
- Cooks who prefer to know where their food was sourced from.
- People limited on time (you still have to assemble and cook everything so if you eat out a lot this might not help you).
- Those concerned with waste. It says all items are recyclable but not everyone has access to recycle certain products easily.