Food & Wine
Meal Delivery Showdown: Plated vs Blue Apron
As you may know, I’m a big fan of meal ingredient delivery services (or whatever you would call that!?), particularly when coming back from an extended trip to an empty fridge. But there’s many players in the game and it’s hard to know which one to pick. I’ve tried a couple and Plated and Blue Apron offer the most exotic recipes. So here’s my take on Plated vs Blue Apron.
The main takeaway is that I like Blue Apron a little bit better because I’m learn how to cook more exotic dishes than my norm. Plated is solid but caught in a middle ground between Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.
Price: $12 per meal
Menu Variety: Land, Sea, and Veggie with (in my opinion) really interesting vegetarian options. You can even add desserts.
Ease of Ordering: They allow you to choose 2, 4, or 6 plates for each meal and have a lower minimum — 2 meals– than other places, though you’ll pay $6 shipping for orders under $50. They offer 3 weekday delivery options. Not a fan of the fact I can only see two months at a time for scheduling or cancelling shipments, but they do let you see menu options for 3 weeks in advance.
For the most part I haven’t had an issue with the produce staying fresh for at least week, and the proteins hold up pretty well if you freeze shortly after receiving.
A common criticism of these boxes in general is that you don’t always get to opt for a higher quality of protein. Plated has recently created a “Chef’s Table” option that allows you to get “specialty cuts of meat and market priced seafood.”
Unlike the other services I’ve tried, Plated sometimes require you to have more than just the usual oil, black pepper, and salt. Not a big deal, but a slight annoyance as I don’t usually check the “What You’ll Need” column until I’ve started cooking and after a 2 week trip for instance I don’t always have the requisite egg on hand.
All of these options tend to get the timing and sequencing off, but Plated is the worst. There have been multiple recipes where one part of the meal is done 15 minutes before the others and I’m scrambling to catch up.
That said, the directions are pretty straightforward even with slightly more complicated recipes.
Overall Plated Review
The meals are good, more exotic than Hello Fresh and for the most part things you can duplicate yourself without a trip to a specialty store. I’m somewhat bored by the weekly menu options, but if I were vegetarian I’d be pretty happy. I discovered a Tamarind chick pea recipe that is off the charts!
Slightly on the pricey side but good if you’re wanting to branch out of your normal cooking zone and add more recipes to your arsenal.
Price: ~$10 per plate, one of the cheapest boxes out there.
Menu Variety: They let you specify in greater detail the proteins you’re interested in — beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, and shellfish. I love that you can choose between fish and shellfish rather than a generic “sea” option.
Ease of Ordering: You can choose 2-plates or family size, locked in at 3 meals per shipment. They do offer 3 weekday delivery options. Cancelling is a huge pain because you have to click each week and then click twice to cancel.
My produce definitely held up more than a week. My only issue is the individual packaging. Whereas Plated tends to keep it mostly in one or two bundles per recipe, Blue Apron keeps everything separate which makes it feel like, as one friend put it, you’re having to go grocery shopping in your fridge.
My one complaint is that I’ve loved all the recipes I’ve tried but some of the seasonings and the Peri Peri rub will be hard to track down when I want to try them again.
Some of the timing and sequencing was a little off, but for the most part pretty good. The written text is pretty thorough and the pictures are helpful.
Overall Blue Apron Review
This is my favorite meal box to get! Blue Apron is not only slightly cheaper than Hello Fresh or Plated but the recipes are much more exotic and let me cook things I thought I’d only get in restaurants. The individual packaging and cancellation process is a pain, but the personalization options and ingredient quality far outweigh any criticisms.
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