Have you heard about the new food delivery service called Plated? I discovered it on Facebook, via one of those sponsored page suggestions. Curious, I clicked through to see what it was all about. I’m not a big meal planning person, and only like to grocery shop if I know what will become of the ingredients (which requires a plan of some kind – now you see the issue) so I like to try out different food prep and delivery services when I get the chance.
Recently, Plated offered an introductory coupon to try out their service, so I ordered two dinners from them. I’ve since cooked both, so I thought I’d write up my thoughts in case you are curious about checking them out.
This is the first thing you want to know, isn’t it? I’m the same way. With free shipping, my trial for two dinners came to $30 ($15/meal, $7.50/plate). However, that was the introductory offer – regular price would be $60 ($30/meal, $15/plate). They do offer a $10/month membership fee which will save you $3/plate (and other perks), so that’d definitely be the way to go if this was something you wanted to do regularly. Shipping appears to be free no matter which route you go, but don’t quote me on that. Minimum order is four plates.
Meal 1: Chicken Tikka Masala
We launched into this with gusto and decided to start with the Indian dish. As you can see by the photos below, everything is very organized when it comes to you. You will also see our final product was a lot more yellow than the instructions indicated, and I’ve presented my theory in the results section below.
Results: Not a fan.
Now, in all fairness, this could be the result of one of two things: either we screwed up something when making the dish (a likely probability) or it’s the type of thing where someone else’s recipe just isn’t to our tastes. Or perhaps it’s a combination of the two. But my distinct impression upon tasting this dish was that the sauce needed to simmer for a lot longer. If you’ve ever made spaghetti sauce from scratch before, you know that when you first start out, it just smells like you’ve dumped a bunch of spices into a pot of tomato paste. However, after it’s simmered for awhile, everything starts to react chemically, and the end result is a cohesive, aromatic sauce. If you try to eat it too early, though, the results can be ghastly. I think that’s what happened with our Tikka Masala – it just didn’t taste like it’d finished its cohesion process. Many of the steps in the instructions combined three or four sub-steps, which made it complicated to follow, so I’m not sure the dish got the appropriate amount of time at each stage (hence the color difference and overall poor result).
Also, I don’t associate a side dish of cooked spinach with Indian food, but maybe that’s just me. We actually skipped that part and used the fresh spinach for something else. I’m not sure if this dish (in terms of its taste) is the exception or the norm for Plated, so it was a good thing we still had one other dinner to try. I went into that one cautiously hopeful…
Meal 2: Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese
I didn’t take photos of this one in progress, but here’s a shot courtesy of Plated’s website that shows the dish. The sandwich itself included roasted tomatoes and the side dish was a chickpea salad.
- Delicious! I will definitely make this again, but with store-bought pesto to save myself time.
- I didn’t care for the side dish. I don’t really think it needed one, either – the sandwich already had enough interesting flavors going on by itself. Then again, I’m kind of a “one item” dinner person, so do with that note what you will.
- I loved the addition of the roasted tomatoes – it tasted like tomato soup was inside the sandwich. I don’t always like tomatoes in my sandwiches (texture thing) but roasting them first broke down the structure enough that it was more or less hot tomato goo.
At the end of our trial, we emerged with split results: one good, one bad. Again, it’s hard to say how much of the Chicken Tikka Masala was our own error versus a recipe thing. It’s not likely that I would ever order it again to find out, so I’ll just have to leave that up to speculation. The grilled cheese was good, though, so I might give some other dishes a try down the road just to see.
Although Plated doesn’t seem to single out any one demographic for their service, after trying it out, I feel there is one: people who are well-versed in the kitchen, and who love the idea of gourmet cooking but don’t have the time or desire to pick recipes and do the grocery shopping (and who don’t mind paying for this convenience).
Even though each recipe is well organized in terms of its ingredients, and comes with a photo-laden instruction sheet, I didn’t find it “easy.” On average, it took me 20 minutes longer than the projected time to make each dish (about an hour total), and that was with two people working together. I prefer quick meals with a couple simple steps, not ones with overlapping, and sometimes complex, steps. It was certainly interesting to try this a couple times, but for me – the casual meal preparer – this was too much work to be a practical, long-term solution. However, if you’re just the opposite, and love puttering around in the kitchen, exploring new dishes and making everything from scratch (but want to skip the decision-making and shopping), Plated might just be your thing.