We are onto part two of our subscription meal kit experiment that we started last month. Plated was started in 2012 as a slightly more 'high end' option to the more budget friendly meal services like Hello Fresh. They gained notoriety on Shark Tank in the Spring of 2014, a show where a handful of self-important billionaires are pitched by promising businesses or crush the dreams of idiots who have poured their life savings into likely failed businesses. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks (Mark Cuban) and a douche-venture -capitalist from Montreal (Kevin O'Leary) both invested in the company. After a quick google and pulling up the first article I saw, all signs point to the likelihood it has not yet been able to turn a profit.
Website & Ease of Ordering:
Upon first impression the Plated website is great, it's very simple and couldn't be easier to navigate from page to page. The home page offers multiple places to start your subscription, and by entering your zip code you can find out if you are the 1% of locations in the continental United States they don't deliver to.
Website & Ease of Ordering Score:
9.8 / 10
Plated has numerous meal plans that offer plans as little as 2 days per week up to a whole week of meals. I am not sure who would want a whole week of meals delivered to their door but I respect the hustle of thinking someone would go for that. There are seven (7) meals they offer each week on the basic meal plan, at least two (2) being vegetarian and sometimes three (3) options. There are additional meals you can purchase for $12-$30 called 'chef's table' which I do not believe is affiliated with the Netflix series, these are typically a fish and a red meat meal option. Finally there are two (2) dessert options which I regret not getting as they look very good, and curious is how much is pre-prepared.
The basic meals from the seven meal list is pretty boring from week to week, there is rarely anything that different from pasta, pizza, sandwiches & salads. The 'chef's table' items seem to be the best option and the fact they offer dessert options really helps the unscientific score here.
Meal Plan Score:
8.2 / 10
Delivery Time & Packaging:
Plated arrives in a surprisingly compact box with a giant red plated logo on all sides. I had the box delivered to my backdoor (due to my paranoia about theft) which showed up sometime between 7pm and 8pm. After opening the box you will see a stack of recipe cards (we will get to those later) and a bag full of what looks like skinned cats surrounding your food. The ice packs are clearly labeled not to dispose of down your sink drain, which if you read the previous blog you would know why that is truly great idiot-proof labeling. Each meal is bagged and labeled with what recipe it belongs to, and the meat is separated from the produce at the bottom of the box with additional ice packs. The bag of dead cat carcasses that is labeled 'made from recycled material' keeps everything shockingly cold, which the hipster part of my brains appreciated in lieu of expanded polystyrene based insulators like styrofoam. There's no reason to knock the packaging here and I can respect the compactness & lack of wasted space or materials, but the thin boxes in the Hello Fresh order were much easier to store in my fridge.
Website & Packaging Score:
9.0 / 10
There was not much to choose from when I ordered Plated, and I opted for three relatively simple dishes. The ingredients were about as fresh as I could find at my local grocery store and all the ingredients were in the box with the exception of oil, salt & pepper (even butter & cream were included). The recipe card were very well done, easy to read, and included all the steps it took to cook each recipe. The cards were an improvement from Hello Fresh and were exactly what I would be looking for if I were a novice home cook (let the record show I think I am a professional amateur chef). The recipes however were not very interesting or something I haven't seen on a menu at TGI Friday's, minus the seven free appetizers and the diabetes margarita special. This could be due to a 'bad' week of recipes however I can only judge this on what I received.
6.9 / 10
The cost per each meal off the basic meal plan is $12 per meal which you can only purchase in multiples of 2-person meal quantities. Right now Plated is offering $24 off your first delivery, which makes the plan I ordered $48 (normally $72). The whole box of food if purchased at a local grocery store (assuming you can buy the quantities included which are much less than what can be bought in stores) is about $30. When I read they had been struggling to make a profit this made complete sense that the box is overpriced and under delivers. I imagine if you ordered the entire seven meal plan Plated would make even better margins as some of the meal option are very simple and cost effective dinner options. Overall a great business plan but offers little value to the consumer.
"Well that might be your problem, it's not what you like, it's the consumer."
- Joe Dirt
5.4 / 10
When it comes down to it I was disappointed by Plated. The basic meal options are way too simple, not worth the money and ultimately I do not feel the need to revisit this. I wish I added the more premium options into my cart which look great and if Plated wanted to ship me those (wink wink, nod nod) I would be open to change my opinion. As stated in the introduction the company is looking to turn a profit and this came through in the box. The meals offered reminded me of when I graduated from and rented my first apartment, where I lived off sandwiches and pasta because it is the most cost effective way to feel satiated. Plated's marketing team will tell you that you 'don't have time to go to the grocery store' and you 'don't have no time to look for recipes'. There's nothing about these recipes that impressed me or made me feel any value for paying a premium for someone creating a recipe for me or the delivery 'locally sourced' meat and produce.
7.86 / 10
Plated, it would be nice if you could make offer codes available to anyone because there's no way I am going through the effort to contact you to promote your product.