Plated

I recently took advantage of a special offer from Plated that gave me 2 servings each of 2 meals (normally $15 each) for just $20 total. Plated is an online subscription/meal delivery that provides recipe cards for simple gourmet meals and includes all of the ingredients except for the basics (salt and pepper, oil and water). I received my shipment today and aside from a slight snafu in the receipt of the shipment, it was pretty good! 

Disclosure: I purchased the meals myself; nothing was given to me in exchange for a favorable review.

I ordered the Chimichurri Beef and Shrimp Scampi. This was the scariest thing about getting my shipment a day late. Long story short, I wasn't vigilant enough in checking the reception area at work for my expected and known to be perishable package. Totally my fault. However, a couple of my coworkers saved the day by grabbing the contents and sticking them in the fridge. While a bit melty, the meat and shrimp smelled and tasted fine. 

The side dish for the Chimichurri Beef came first. The ingredients were very fresh, all the way down to cilantro, still on the stalks. I found the instructions very easy to follow. They're accompanied by images to show you what each stage should look like. My husband normally hates cooked carrots, so I cut the time down a bit to avoid sogginess in the carrot slaw. It worked well, and hubby ate all of his carrots! I thought the chimichurri sauce would be better if I left it to macerate a bit while I cooked the beef, so I skipped forward a step before searing the skirt steak.

The results were very tender, and though I don't think I would purchase this again through Plated (without a significant price break such as this, anyway), I would definitely make this recipe again. The flavors were quite strong together--citrusy carrot slaw with vinegary chimichurri--but they were very enjoyable and only took a few minutes to prepare.

As for the Shrimp Scampi, which I made immediately since I was afraid the shrimp may have gone off in the day they were stuck inside the box (which still had some ice in it when my coworkers found it, thank goodness), they were just as delicious. The portion was very generous, already peeled and well-deveined. The shrimp were actually quite huge. One thing that bothered me was that some moisture from the melted ice had seeped into the baggie for the linguine, and that soaked up quite a bit and formed a stuck plug on one end of the noodles. This was easily fixed by cutting it off, but still--it is weird to think that some of the packaging isn't quite airtight.

While the shrimp scampi was indeed very tasty, it triggered my shellfish allergy. I only get a reaction when it's not quite so fresh. It's not even an issue of quality--for example, frozen shrimp from Trader Joe's makes me quite sick--and I admit I tempt fate by eating it so often. I usually know where I can get away with it, so I'm just making a note that I can't get shellfish at Plated from now on.

I do appreciate the fact that the folks at Plated seem to have tried to think of everything. I can't be sure about every little piece of packaging, but they're probably biodegradable. Many people will probably also have to weigh the costs of meals and shipping vs. their normal food budget. As for their claim to serve healthy meals, I think that as long as customers keep to the given ingredients and don't add extra fat or overdo the salt, that's pretty believable.

Customers with allergens or special diets (gluten-free, vegetarian, no nuts etc.) can set their preferences on the website. People with busy schedules can also set up auto-shipping.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced with the promotional offer
  • Shipping is free but you have to order 4 plates (they do charge shipping for promo orders).
  • Very fresh produce
  • Tender and flavorful meat
  • Well-prepped and very large shrimp
  • Cute tiny bottles for the apple cider vinegar and white wine
  • Ingredients were labeled well and the portions were very close to spot on (I only have about a tablespoon of Pecorino Romano cheese and a pat of butter left over from the whole thing) 
  • The recipe is simple and easy to follow, a great way for beginners to learn how to cook
  • The photos do illustrate well what you're supposed to do that might not be that obvious from the written instructions (like how large or small your onion and carrot dice should be) 
  • As for the website, it's really easy to navigate, adjust your delivery and subscription preferences, etc. 
  • Their marketing department kind of rocks. I'm impressed.
  • Bonus: in cold/controlled weather apparently the perishable parts can stay quite safely cooled in the shipping box for about a day. 

Cons

  • At regular price, even with a little discount for subscribers, it's a bit pricey at $12-15 a plate, vs. buying everything at cost at your local supermarket
  • Some packaging waste. Those little plastic baggies and bottles aren't exactly reusable, though the box it ships in is recyclable. 
  • You really have to be vigilant about getting your package! Lesson learned.
  • For a cooking pro, the recipes are pretty basic. The recipes I see in the menu either look like things I already know how to make (case in point, Chimichurri Beef), or things I probably wouldn't eat anyway (Sweet Chili Eggplant with Coconut Cashew Rice, which sounds brilliant but risky).
  • I can't ever order shellfish there again. More life lessons...

Find Plated

Overall, unless something catches my eye on the menu, or they offer another really good deal, I don't think I'll be getting Plated for myself very often only because I don't think it will fit in my budget. It might make a nice gift. It might also make more sense for someone who is a less confident cook, and can afford to spend $12-15 a plate on a regular basis--sort of a mail-order cooking school. That said, I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not I should cancel my monthly subscription before I'm billed at the end of the month. The membership would give me a couple of bucks off each plate ordered for just $10 a month. Even as I type this, I'm already eying the Skirt Steak with Compound Butter & Pear Gorgonzola.

Want to try it out? Click my referral link or go directly to plated.com (you get a discount if you use my link, though :)