Smart Home Cooking with Plated
Our next adventure in smart home cooking is Plated. Plated seems to be Blue Apron’s first serious competitor in the boxed meal delivery market. We are big fans of Shark Tank, and we saw the episode when Plated originally got funded, as well as the Beyond the Tank that featured the aftermath of their original investment and some of the growing pains they were experiencing as they expanded to new markets. Watching that episode inspired us to try it for ourselves.
Plated’s web site is probably one of the best we’ve used in this category. It flows well, is well designed, and includes full recipes for the meals that are on the menu for the week. When you set up your profile, you can store your food preferences, something that is really important to us since we don’t eat beef. You can also choose your meals from a pretty wide selection. For us, every week they have seven regular selections and two “chef’s table” selections plus a couple of dessert options. There does not seem to be any restriction to which ones you pick together; with Blue Apron we sometimes can’t get certain combinations of meals. When we signed up, we didn’t get any choice of delivery date, maybe based on the time of week we ordered. In our area it seems to vary between Tuesday and Friday, though we got our first box on a Thursday.
The box and the packaging were nice, similar to Blue Apron in size and content. There is a foam wrap inside that insulates everything, and all individual meal ingredients were gathered in small green bags, outside of the meats and herbs, which were both stored separately. Plated seems to have made a big commitment to fully recyclable and biodegradeable packaging though I’m not sure absolutely everything was recyclable, for instance the individual honey packet and the lids on the bottles.
Our first three meals were Chicken Paillard with Farro, Soy Trout en Papillote, and Turkey Sausage with Apples. Our meal history is stored in our account with links to PDFs in case we need them, and because all the ingredients are itemized we could easily make the meals again if we wanted. Plated also is the only service we used so far that provides complete nutritional information and not just an estimate of calories. We also really liked that the directions are specific about what kind of pans and other ingredients you need so you can have them all ready to go.
All the meals were generally tasty with generous portions. It was neat to be able to make the papillote meal; cooking fish in parchment was something we have always wanted to try at home. All three had very large portions of the side dish, especially the turkey sausage and chicken meals, too much really. We were not able to finish all of either side. One thing that felt strange was that two of the meals had apple cider bases. The taste was fine, but it’s a very strong flavor to have in back-to-back meals.
In general, compared to the other services, the Plated meals seem to demand a lot more prep. One of the three we got was estimated at 40-50 minutes of prep time. This feels like a lot considering this is supposed to be a convenient service. The prep itself wasn’t that difficult, but some of the ingredients took a while to cook.
While not the most expensive we have tried, Plated is more expensive than Blue Apron. It runs $12 per meal per person, with $18 per plate for the chef’s table selections. On average, Din is the most expensive but the extra prep seems to make up for the difference, with Plated even the expensive meal on their site took 40 minutes to make.
Next time we plan to go back to Blue Apron, since it has been a few months since we have used them. Afterward we plan to summarize and compare all four services here on our site.