This is part of a series offering reviews of the top meal delivery services, plus tips and tricks on how to get these subscriptions shipped straight to your kitchen for a fraction of the advertised price. Other posts include How to Hack Hello Fresh, Save Big on Blue Apron, and Home Chef Coupons and Cash Back.
Cost: Regular list price for the three meal per week plan for two people is $72. I was unable to find a cash back rebate through Ebates or MrRebates.com, or points and miles for purchasing through any other shopping portal. I used Google to find a $30 off coupon code, which is better than their currently advertised offer of your first night free, valued at $24. After coupon redemption, my total cost was $42 or $7 per meal.
Delivery dates available: Wednesday and Saturday. Plated also required more lead time than the other meal delivery companies I reviewed. The earliest weekday I could receive an order placed on Thursday, January 5 was Wednesday, January 18.
Meal choices: Plated offers two, three or four meal per week plans for families of two, three or four. They also offer a great deal of flexibility when it comes to choosing your menu. Each week you can pick between eleven different meals, seven unique to that week, as well as four “Encore Recipes,” top-rated customer picks available all month.
Packaging and ingredients: Produce, spices, starches and other ingredients were divided by meal and situated at the top of the box, with the proteins at the bottom.
In addition to several large ice packs to help keep the contents cold, Plated lines their boxes with strips of plastic covered polyurethane fiber insulation. While this worked well for its intended purpose, I wasn’t a fan of the waste. Other boxes have been lined with bags that could be reused for grocery trips during hot summer months or to transport warm pot-luck dishes during the holidays. But I didn’t foresee a way to re-purpose these strips of plastic and polyurethane fiber, so while it pained me, into the trash they went.
On their website, Plated says you can recycle these liners at polyurethane facilities. But the recycling facility locator they suggest, Earth911.com, didn’t find one near me.
Recipes and instructions: The choices I made for the week were Chicken Shawarma with Tomato, Cucumber and Tahini, Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Kale and Parmesan, and Garlic Butter Salmon with Spinach Rice Pilaf and Roasted Lemon.
The week before my box arrived, I received an email from customer service telling me one of the recipes was missing a step and providing several options to view the amended instructions. A few days later, I received a second communication from customer service letting me know that on the day my box was to arrive I would receive an email with tracking information. That email also provided other key information, including a reminder that I wouldn’t need to rush home from work because the contents of my box was guaranteed fresh until midnight the day of delivery and a recommendation to cook any seafood dishes first.
Level of difficulty: My three meals were easy to prepare and I really appreciated that they were also reasonably low calorie at 590-660 calories per serving.
They were all delicious, but I think my favorite was the Chicken Shawarma. The naan was fluffy and filling, the cucumber and tomato salad fresh, and I could have licked the tahini from its bowel . Were it not so tasty, we likely could have shared one portion and saved the second for sacked lunches.
Ease of cancelation: I cancelled my subscription the day my box was received.
In the frequently asked question section of their website, Plated offers the following information about cancellations: Subscription can be canceled at any time and at no cost. Simply visit the “Subscription” tab of your account page to manage your preferences. At the time Subscription is canceled, any boxes with an “Open” status will be canceled. Any box marked “Confirmed” or “On its way” will still be delivered and charged as your final box. To confirm your final box status, see your account.
This seems intentionally vague and annoyingly confusing. A separate FAQ answer indicates you have up to noon six days prior to its delivery date to modify your box. Since their answer about deactivating your account was so unclear, I assume this is the also the cut-off to cancel before you’re locked into your next delivery.
Overall impression: Compared to the other meal delivery services I tried during this experiment, Plated offers the most freedom and variety of recipes from which to choose, as well as more flexibility on the number of nights per week and diners per order. However, the delivery days are limited, it took nearly two weeks to get my first order, and the company lacked transparency about their cancellation policy. Most importantly, (this is a series about getting the most for your money, after all!) their first time and subsequent orders are significantly more expensive than other subscriptions.