Plated Subscription Box Review + Coupon – April 2017
Plated is a weekly meal kit delivery subscription that delivers you pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to help you make chef-designed recipes at home. They offer different weekly menus and randomly pick recipes for you based on preferences you submit when you sign up. Of course, if you’d rather pick your own recipes from the weekly menu, it’s easy as pie to hop in and change your order on their website or their handy-dandy app.
I’m still pretty new to meal kit boxes in general. I want to cook more meals at home, rather than eat out all the time. But the reason I eat out in the first place is because… uh… I’m not so hot at cooking. So! I’m excited to see if Plated can help me with my culinary education and keep me full and happy all week, to boot.
On that note—the minimum plan Plated offers is 2 meals for 2 people per week. The boyfriend is usually busy in the evenings, so during the week, I usually cook for myself. 2 meals for 2 people means I’ll have 4 servings total to spread out across the week. Fingers crossed these meals make great leftovers!
Plated is committed to using sustainably sourced seafood, seasonal produce, and meat that’s free from antibiotics and added hormones. Like most meal kits, Plated won’t include standard pantry items (think salt, pepper, olive oil). They will, however, email you to let you know what pantry items you should have on hand for that week’s box. Prep time and dietary details are listed with each recipe. And if you love a recipe, you can rate it and download a digital recipe card via your online account. (Highly rated recipes sometimes come back as “Encore” recipes for you to order again, so don’t forget to leave your star rating each week!)
Check out Plated Menus to see what’s coming in future weeks!
Note that this review is for the vegetarian subscription option since I prefer to follow a vegetarian diet. If you’re a meat lover, though, keep reading! I think you’ll still get a good idea of what the Plated experience is like. Plus, I figure if Plated hits it out of the park with a special diet menu, it’s a good sign that their regular menu is really awesome.
My Subscription Addiction pays for this subscription. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Subscription Box: Plated
The Cost: Recipes begin at $12 per plate.
- 2 recipes (4 plates)= $48 per week (+ $6 shipping).
- 3 recipes (6 plates)= $72 per week (with free shipping).
- 4 recipes (8 total plates)= $96 per week (with free shipping).
- Dessert costs $4 per serving (available after your first order)
COUPON: Get your first Plated Night free with any subscription plan (up to $48 value)
The Products: All of the pre-portioned fresh and seasonal ingredients you need to make chef-designed recipes at home in your own kitchen.
Ships to: 95% of the U.S. (Currently, Plated does not ship to Hawaii and Alaska, and there are also a few cities in Texas, including San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Midland, where they don’t yet ship.)
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
First, an FYI for my fellow vegetarians: Yes, Plated offers a vegetarian plan, but like most major meal kit services, the veggie plan is sort of bare bones. One of Plated‘s selling points is that you can pick and choose a menu that matches what you’re looking for, but I only found two or three veggie recipes per weekly menu. I also noticed that the third veggie item is often a Plated “Encore” recipe (meaning a popular, highly rated recipe that they bring back into the otherwise ever-changing menu). The only problem with that is that, for several weeks in a row, the third veggie choice can end up being the same thing. In other words, there really isn’t a lot of wiggle room for the veggie crowd.
Still, the recipes I was getting looked great. One really superficial thing I love about Plated is its branding. The site is clean and easy to understand, making managing my menu and delivery day really simple.
Little Gem Caesar with Crispy Chickpeas, Purple Potatoes, and Spring Onion
Calories per Serving: 710
Prep Time, According to Plated: 30-40 minutes
Actual Time It Took: Just under an hour
Before the box arrived, I got two emails from Plated. The first reminded me 1) that the box was coming, 2) what recipes I had ordered, and 3) what ingredients I would be responsible for. As I mentioned above, Plated (like most boxes) provides everything you need to make each recipe except for what they consider kitchen staples. Things on this week’s list included pepper, canola oil, kosher salt, olive oil, water, and eggs. I was a bit surprised to see eggs listed since most boxes actually ship eggs (often in cute, specially designed packages) in their boxes. Ah well. At least this lets you get eggs from a local source!
The second email was a notification that the red little gem lettuce that was supposed to be in the recipe had to be swapped out due to a supplier error, so I’d be getting green little gem lettuce instead. I have to say, I giggled a bit at the fact that this very serious, considerately written customer service email was sent to me just because I was getting a different color of lettuce than I’d expected. (I didn’t even expect it, actually—I just thought, “Oh, a salad with lettuce.”) That said, what a great testament to Plated‘s customer service! To notify you on something as simple as the color of the lettuce you’re getting? It’s nice that they take their customers’ experiences and expectations seriously.
In elementary school, I was always the impatient kid who never wanted to follow the “read all the instructions first” rule. As an adult—more specifically, an adult who’s very aware of her sub-par cooking skills—I made sure to read every word on this recipe card page before getting started!
The ingredients were all mixed in the big Plated box. (Other boxes package each recipe’s supplies in separate bags or boxes so they’re easy to find.) That said, everything was clearly labeled, so it only took a moment for me to dig up all of the ingredients listed on the recipe card.
The spring onion, I noticed, was a little flopsy and tattered on the green ends, but I decided to dismiss it. At the grocery store, I’d probably pick around to find a more photo-ready onion. But here, I had to remind myself that I don’t really know what a spring onion “should” look like. And who am I to trash what might be a perfectly good spring onion?
The front of the recipe card describes this dish as a “knife-and-fork salad.” While there’s no meat here, there are meatier textures and richer flavors in it than what I’m used to having in a spring salad. The keys are chickpeas and these beautiful little purple potatoes, which you pop on a pan, season, and roast to soft, warm, perfection.
I was thrilled to see the potatoes in this recipe. One, because they’re a gorgeous color that you’d never associate with a humble potato. And two, because I love potatoes. Mashed, roasted, baked… I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like. I poured out the bag of potatoes and gave them a good rinse and a gentle scrub. I took them over to my cutting board and started slicing. Slice. Slice. Slice. Clang! Wait a minute… why is this potato not slicing?
One of these things is not like the others. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…
I GOT A ROCK!
So, I can totally see how this round little rock could go unnoticed in a batch of dusty, purple-gray potatoes. I completely understand how, when you’re packing a ton of meal kits, a rock (that really is about the same size and weight of a potato) could go easily missed. But I’d also be lying if I didn’t get a good laugh out of this unexpected surprise. Getting a rock instead of another potato didn’t impact the recipe at all, so I didn’t really sweat it. If my whole potato pouch was rocks, that would’ve been an issue. But for now, I’m setting this rock on the corner of my stove as a souvenir of this Plated adventure.
Okay, it’s not as exciting as a rock, but my favorite part of making this dish was the dressing! I love caesar salads, but as a vegetarian, I tend to skip it due to the fact that anchovy often appears in the dressing. This recipe helped me learn how to make my own perfectly vegetarian caesar dressing, trading anchovies for capers. I found the briny, salty, deliciousness to be as good or better than the anchovy-based dressings I’ve had in the past. Plus, I got to use what is probably the most adorable jar of mayonnaise I’ve ever seen. (So tiny!)
This dish was delicious and surprisingly easy. As a beginner-level cook, it did take me a bit longer than the recipe card stated to make this salad, but that extra time was mostly spent prepping and chopping—things I hope to get faster at with more practice. The warmth of the salad is the best part. There are so many meaty textures and salty notes that make the crisp, fresh moments all the more magical. This salad’s also quite the looker, thanks to the watermelon radish slices that you use as a garnish. They have a light, mild radish flavor that’s really refreshing and peppery. I probably would’ve cut them into slightly smaller pieces for easier eating, though I love how the half-moons look like bold, bright rainbows. This dish is healthy, hearty, incredibly filling, and purple and pink, too. So good!
It passed my leftovers test, too! I’d recommend storing the lettuce and radishes separately from the cooked ingredients and dressing, just to keep the veggies as crisp as possible. But it tasted just as good the next day (even cold!).
Little Gem Caesar with Crispy Chickpeas, Purple Potatoes, and Spring Onion
Calories per Serving: 800
Prep Time, According to Plated: 40-50 minutes
Actual Time It Took: Just over an hour
I’d never tried bibimbap before, but I’m wild about Asian foods and flavors. The photo makes it look pretty simple, too, with the different piles of ingredients neatly arranged in separate sections on the plate.
The majority of the ingredients here go towards the sauces and seasonings, which are really what end up driving the flavor of the dish.
I think my main struggle with this dish was just not knowing what these ingredients were supposed to end up looking like. I haven’t had a lot of pickled vegetables (nor pickling them myself), but I felt like there just wasn’t nearly enough vinegar in the box to adequately soak and pickle all of the cucumbers. (That bowl above has all of the vinegar and all of the cucumber in it—see how shallow the pool of vinegar is?) The resulting flavor seemed a little weak, too—more like cucumber in dressing rather than cucumber that’s been fully infused and pickled.
And the rice (ohhh boy, the rice) was supposed to be cooked, then fried, but not in a Chinese-restaurant-fried-rice way. Here, the rice was supposed to be spread in a single layer over a hot pan, then fried until the bottom was golden brown. Then you flip the rice and repeat the same process, browning the other side. But doing so ended up making the rice into little crunchy chunks that felt more like cracked-apart rice cakes than filling, fluffy rice. It looked a good bit like the rice in the recipe card photo, but it didn’t end up being anything like what I expected. Did I goof up? Or is that how bibimbap rice typically is?
The recipe card also says “A perfectly fried egg adds the final flourish!” I’ve eaten my fair share of fried eggs (especially on breakfast sandwiches… my favorite), but never have I made one myself. I think I did okay, though the egg in the recipe card photo looks a bit more symmetrical… You’re supposed to fry the egg until the “whites are set but yolks are runny,” but the way my eggs naturally spread out made it so that part of the whites were probably all the way done while the whites closer to the yolk were still too runny to call “done.” It tasted pretty good in the end, but I’m going to have to practice this whole “cooking eggs” thing…
Here’s the finished product. My absolute favorite parts of this dish are the roasted veggies. The sweet potato and shiitake mushrooms are seasoned with soy sauce with brown sugar and gochujang, a sweet, spicy paste. By cutting them into smaller (or thinner) pieces, they roast really thoroughly, giving them a meatier, super-savory flavor. I prefer my mushrooms on the drier side, and these were deliciously tender but still packed with flavor. Unfortunately, the “pickled” cucumbers didn’t really do it for me, and the rice, as we’ve discussed, didn’t have that fluffy quality I would’ve loved to stir together with the rest of the ingredients on the plate.
Verdict: I liked my first experience with Plated, though it didn’t really wow me. Plated is about $12.00 per serving, which is a bit more expensive than most of the other major meal kits (Home Chef, Hello Fresh, and Blue Apron are all a bit more affordable). The recipes have a gourmet flair to them—they seem like menu items at a fresh, modern bistro. But I’m tempted to say that this box isn’t the best for beginners. The salad was super successful, but the bibimbap had some nuances to it that I could’ve used more guidance with (egg tips, rice tips, etc.). I do feel like Plated is solid from a support standpoint. They’re great with emails and notifications about what to expect, and they do offer a phone number and email address right on the recipe—I should’ve reached out for rice advice! And I also appreciate how balanced both meals were (lots of veggies, proteins, and hearty textures mixed with fresh ones). I did get a rock, but I’m still eager to see how my next round of Plated recipes go!
Do you subscribe to Plated? What do you think?