Plated

Yes, I know I tend to do more reviews on beauty products, but it’s not all I do– hence why I didn’t give this blog a pretty, flowery beauty blog name. So here’s a rare review on something that hits on three of my favorite things in life: cooking, saving money, and not putting on pants.

I’ve been using Plated for a while, now, and I adore the service. The concept is simple:

  1. Take a look at their menu; it changes weekly. Either select the recipes you want to try that week or skip the week if you don’t want anything. There’s no obligation whatsoever to buy something every week.
  2. Plated ships you those recipes AND all the ingredients to make it, with the exception of a few things you’ve already got in your pantry– usually salt, pepper, and oil.
  3. You cook it up and eat it.

It could not be easier. So here are the deets:

The Subscription

One of the first things you’ll do when setting up a new account is going to your subscription page. Here you’ll set up Plated’s automatic subscription services, namely what day of the week you prefer your delivery (Wednesday or Saturday, unless there’s a holiday that interferes with that) and how many plates you’ll typically want. Don’t worry. None of this is set in stone. If you want your delivery on a different day or more/less dishes, you can change that when ordering. The real important thing on this page is the calendar. If there’s a week you need to skip for any reason at all, you click on that week, and it’s skipped. There are no questions to answer about why you’re skipping, and you can skip as often as you like.

Ordering

Every week, Plated will offer you a selection of nine dishes, with at least three of those dishes being vegetarian. Two of those dishes are premium selections that cost a little bit more while the other seven dishes cost the standard $12 per plate. Dishes are ordered in multiples of two plates. (There are no single serving dishes that you can make, but you can always cook up extras and refrigerate/freeze leftovers.) You must also purchase a minimum of four plates for a shipment (two dishes with two plates each, or four of the same dish, depending on how you roll). You can always, of course, order more than four plates. That’s just the minimum. If your order is over $50, you get free shipping. Otherwise, shipping is $6.

The Cost

The least amount of money you will spend on an order is $48 for four plates + $6 shipping, or $54. Alternatively, you can add a dessert at checkout ($8 for two plates) and pay $56 with free shipping. A lot of people go with this second option. I know that sounds pricey at first, but consider that each plate is a restaurant-size serving, and you might end up splitting one plate into two servings for dinner that night and lunch the next day. (You might not, but I tend to do this a lot.) So consider that you’re essentially paying for four adult-size entrees to be delivered directly to your doorstep AND you’re being sent the exact quantities of ingredients you need for those meals. There’s no buying an entire jar of Spice X just so that you can use 1/2 teaspoon of it. This is why I say I feel like I’m saving myself money by using this service. Yeah, sure… I can throw together a lasagna or chicken and dumplings at a fraction of that price, but I’m trying out new recipes here with ingredients I wouldn’t normally have on hand. So compared to eating out or buying lots of ingredients, I’m definitely saving money.

The Box

So you’ve placed an order. Here’s what you can expect.

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Again, when I say they send everything, I mean it. You get the recipes and all of the ingredients– produce, meat, spices, stock, etc. All of it. The only things you’ll likely need from your own pantry are water, eggs, salt, pepper, and canola or olive oil, and Plated specifies what you’ll need both on the menu while you order and in the email they send when your order ships. There shouldn’t be any surprises. Plated also includes the recipes for the meals you’ll be preparing, which also lists both what should be included and what you’ll need in addition to that.

I’ve never had an issue where Plated failed to send me an ingredient that should be included or the recipe cards, but my mom did end up with no cards once. So if this does happen to you, you should know that Plated includes these recipes on your account for you to pull up in pdf format if you need to pull them up at any time.  The full nutrition information beyond the simple calorie count listed on the recipe card is also listed in the FAQ section of their website.

All of the above comes in insulated packing with ice packs. You might be thinking to yourself that it looks like a lot of packaging. It is. Fortunately, Plated lists ways to reuse and/or recycle all of it on their website in the FAQ section. My personal favorite is the insulation, which can be used to line my planters.

The Food

The recipes are incredibly easy to follow step by step, even taking you through prep and what should be cooking while something else is being tossed together. You’re not just cooking one dish at a time, you’re preparing a full meal, and the steps will make sure that everything is ready to plate all at once.

First, of course, you’ll gather all of the ingredients together. Everything is labeled so that you know which recipe it’s for.

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Prep is of course usually one of the first steps.

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Magic happens, and you’ll create a beautiful meal with ease.

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Every. Damn. Time.

I’d show the cooking process, but I apologize… I got so caught up in my cooking that I forgot to take more pictures along the way.

Thing is, I’ve learned so many new techniques and how to cook foods I’d have never considered cooking before, and I’ve started to implement these new techniques and food into my own creations. It really is a great learning experience.

Tips

There are a few final things that I absolutely want to mention here.

  1. Try it for free, first. Most Plated members have a referral or two on hand, and they can send you one. Check Twitter and Instagram for the hashtag #platedpics to find out who is using the service and ask around. They’ll need your email address and a name, so be prepared to give that out. Once you have your referral email (check your spam folder), you can get your first box of three meals (six plates, a $72 value) free. This is a great no-risk way to try out the service and determine if it’s for you. If you hate it, you can cancel, and you’ve gotten a free box of food. I actually have two such referrals myself, and if you’re okay with leaving your name and email in the comments below (or to the email address I’ve listed on my contact page), I’ll be happy to send you one.
  2. Stick with ordering 2-3 meals per delivery. The food you order is going to be delivered to your door fresh, and the produce will be ripe. That means you can’t leave it hanging out in your fridge all week. It will likely only last a few days. Unless you plan to cook up a lot of food and freeze it, just order what you’re going to cook over the next 3-4 days. If you see several items on the menu that you like and absolutely must order 4-5 dishes that week, split them between Wednesday and Saturday deliveries.
  3. If you’re counting calories, utilize the FAQ. As I’ve already mentioned, all nutrition information is listed there and can be entered into MyFitnessPal.
  4. If something arrives damaged, spoiled, or late, contact customer service. Almost all of my deliveries have arrived in perfect condition, but I’ve had a few things that did end up squished and had to make a grocery store run to purchase tomatoes or a substitute ingredient. Let customer service know. You’re paying for this food, after all. They’re incredibly helpful and will usually credit your account for the damaged meal.
  5. For moms, the recipes are not necessarily kid friendly. That said, I’ve enjoyed demonstrating the recipes for my daughter, and she’s helped a bit and even tried a few of these and liked them. Then again, my nine-year-old also hates mac and cheese but likes (and asks for) spinach and Brussels sprouts, so your mileage may vary. (Yes, that was a brag.) It’s a great way to get them to try new things, but if you find your kid isn’t interested, you can always just fix a nice meal for you and the spouse while the kids enjoy a pizza night. We don’t always have to eat the same thing. It really is the eating together that counts, if you can find time for it.

If you’d like to try out plated, you can click here. That’s not a referral link, but again, I do highly recommend getting a referral and trying it out for free first.

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