Dinner Boxes: Plated Review

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Well, here we are, going into my fourth dinner box review, and this week I am featuring Plated!  I  was so excited to have had a referral code from a friend of mine to actually get to try my box for free!  

So far, I  have tried out and reviewed Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Home Chef.  You can read the reviews here.  Keep on the lookout for a review of Sun Basket and the Martha Stewart basket in the coming weeks.  

For now, please read below about my experience with Plated!

 Plated logo courtesy of website

Plated logo courtesy of website

HOW TO ORDER

Like the other boxes I  have reviewed, there are so many ways to order Plated and get a deal on your first shipment.  I was lucky to have had a referral from a friend to get my first box FREE!  You can google it, look in your email, or leave a comment if you want a referral code.   Please do NOT pay full price for your first order--you do not need to!

If you are a SmartPhone user, I have found that the best way to manage your food delivery is via the app.  Be sure to download the app via your Droid or Apple.  The Plated Service is $71 and change.  For that price,  I order two servings for three meals (which equals dinner for two for three meals, which is typical of most services).  You can indicate how many people you are cooking for (servings) and how many meals you want.  I  did one of the cheaper routes, so if you increase it, your weekly rate can be substantially more.  

As far as I know, Plated does not have a wine or wine pairing service, but they are one of the only ones that offer a dessert option.  You can pick a dessert for an additional $8 a dessert.  There are two options, so you could get both for $16.  

Once you download the app and begin to plan your delivery, you have the ability to enter your food preferences (mainly what types of meat you eat or do not eat), so they can easily identify meals for you.  The app will always provide their choices for you, but like the other services,  you can choose from a variety of meals for the week.  You have the ability to pick from a bunch of meal options, and you are not limited in your choices, as far as not being able pick one meal if you chose another.  

My thoughts on getting the most out of Plated or any food service is to always ensure you are ordering a meat or protein for each meal (e.g., fish, chicken, steak, pork).  This is the best way to get the most of your money in comparison to what is costs per meal if it were just veggies or pasta.  Obviously, this is not an option if you are a vegetarian, but I do think this is the way to get the most bang for your buck.  

My recipes for Plated were Seared Steak with Italian Street Corn and Basil Pistou, Turkey-Spinach Burgers with Creamy Aioli and Carrot Fries, and Chicken Bruschetta with Balsamic and Shaved Parmesan.  

 Plated Delivery Box

Plated Delivery Box

 Plated Packaging

Plated Packaging

 Like other services, ingredients are packaged separately by meal.

Like other services, ingredients are packaged separately by meal.

 Prep for Seared Steak Dinner

Prep for Seared Steak Dinner

 Seared Steak with Italian Street Corn

Seared Steak with Italian Street Corn

 Turkey Burger

Turkey Burger

DELIVERY, PACKAGING, AND RECIPE CARDS

I  have been fortunate that most of my dinner boxes have always arrived on time.  Unfortunately, my first delivery of Plated (which was supposed to come mid February) got shipped incorrectly and never made it to me.  I  ended up having no dinner box that week, so I  was extremely disappointed on how that worked out.  I called customer service, and they credited my account, and I was able to order another free box for two weeks later.  They indicated that I would get a dessert in the next box, but when I  did get the next box, it was not in there.  :(

Like Hello Fresh and Home Chef, the Plated ingredients were packaged very similar.  The meats were on the very bottom on the box and separated by cardboard.  The other ingredients were packaged in a plastic bag separately for each meal.  Some ingredients were not included in the bags, but it was minimal and not a big deal.  I really like the concept of separation of meal ingredients, as I'm able to throw away scraps and wrapping in the bag as I cook.  

The recipe cards were attractive, but I  thought how they were written out were not clean and easy to read.  They indicate that you MUST review the card before you cook, which I usually do, but I  can see why they suggest that.  There are a lot of words on the directions, so it's not easy to skim and follow.  In addition, sometimes the order they put the preparation and cooking steps in did not make sense to me, so I  changed that up a little bit in order to save time.  

Overall, the meats were high quality and tasty.  The vegetables were fine--I  would not say they were extremely fresh, but they were not old either.  I did end up having an issue with one of the onions in my last meal I made, as it was a little moldy on one side.  It was my sixth day of receiving the box and really the last day to cook any of the meals.  This is not a huge deal to me, as it is food and stuff like this happens with food, regardless if you get it shipped or pick it up at your grocery store.   I was able to save the rest of the onion after cutting off the one side.  

PREPARATION, COOKING, AND TASTE

Overall, here are my thoughts about these three things:

  1. I  really enjoyed every recipe I made.  They were all extremely tasty, and I  would make all of them again.  The turkey burger was probably one of the best dinner box recipes I have made (top ten for sure), and I don't even really regularly eat turkey burgers.
  2. The recipes were fairly easy and quick to make.  They did not take as long as other services, which I  liked.
  3. The recipe cards aren't super clear, and I do not love the order the steps are in all the time. Now that I've honed my cooking skills and have done these boxes, Iwas able to adjust accordingly.  I think this service would be difficult for a first time cook, just based upon how the directions are written.
  4. The portions are a good size.  I felt satisfied and not hungry after.
  5. The recipes were a mix of updated versions of everyday meals, as well as some unique recipes, which is a nice mix of tried and true recipes, as well as unique recipes.  You can get the best of both worlds.  

COMPARISON TO HELLO FRESH, BLUE APRON, AND HOME CHEF:

  1. Plated is about $11 more than the three above services for the same number of meals for two people.  This is a little expensive to me.  Although I  really liked the recipes and food, I'm not sure if I would want to pay that much more every week.  If you want to add more meals, servings, or dessert, you can easily spend almost $100 weekly.  
  2. Portions are larger and more satisfying
  3. The packaging is very similar to that of Hello Fresh and Home Chef (which I prefer)
  4.  The recipe cards are not my favorite

WRAP-UP

Wrap-Up Thoughts of Plated:

  1. Although customer service addressed my needs and concerns, I was a little disappointed I    did not receive a box at all the one week.  I'd rather get it late than not at all.  I  was also looking forward to trying out the desserts, as Plated is the only service that includes desserts, but I  was unable to do that since I  did not receive them, even after putting them in my box.
  2. I  absolutely loved all the recipes!  I liked each one, and these were probably some of my favorite recipes.  Even though the recipes are good, I  think Blue Apron and Hello Fresh have very good recipes as well.  If Plated was the same price as the other services, I  would definitely think of making it my go-to service.

I actually did end up ordering another week or two of Plated, because I liked the service so much, despite some of the disappointments I experienced along the way.  I will probably keep my subscription to this service going and will get it every now and then because I liked the recipes!  I probably will not get it every week though, because it can be a tad expensive.

What I  would like to see:

  1. Different ways of prep (why not integrate the crock pot or grill?!)
  2. Lower price
  3. Improved recipe cards

Let me know your thoughts on Plated, and if you have ever tried a Dinner Box service!  I  have linked up some of my favorite kitchen gadget items that I  often use in cooking these boxes below!