Plated Meal Delivery Review11 minute read
11 minute read|
Updated for March, 2019
Like the companies with which it competes neck-and-neck, the New York-based Plated has served restaurant-grade boxed meal kits since 2012. It boasts one of the richest menus on the meal kit scene, fresh and artisanal ingredients, and a cult following of die-hard fans. Will older adults soon be among them?
Starting at $9.95 per Serving
- Diverse weekly menu featuring 20 dinner recipes
- Vegetarian, gluten-free, low-calorie, and low-carb dishes
- Some of the highest quality ingredients among its competitors
- Carefully crafted artisanal foods not available in stores
- Plenty of options for any cooking skill level
- Some reviewers feel they offer more options than competitors
- A reputation of impressively fresh ingredients, from produce to meat
- Very inventive recipes
- A higher price point than many competitors
- Shipping requires a $60 order to be free (also higher than competitors)
- Difficult to obtain all nutritional information of a recipe online
- Some viewers may find the website annoying to navigate and find important facts quickly
- Only delivers to 95% of the US, excluding some cities
- Only two dessert options
- Uses Styrofoam Packaging
- Everything is wrapped in plastic – even single vegetables like corn on the cob
Hormone & Antibiotic-Free Meats
Plated distinguishes itself as a meal kit maven with its carefully selected suppliers and farmers that employ the best sustainability practices. Its meat is raised without any antibiotics or added hormones, and the produce is touted as “exceptionally fresh, always natural, and organic whenever possible.” Plated has relationships with sustainable fisheries and farms, and offers a diverse array of options for vegetarian, gluten-free, low-carb, and organic diets.
History and Popularity
Founded by Harvard Business School classmates in 2012, Plated was chosen for the Spring 2013 Techstars NY class. The startup raised $1.4 million in seed round financing with high-profile angel investors…and delivered more than 100,000 meals by July 2013. After an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank raised its profile, it earned $5 million of Series A venture capital funding the next year. In 2015, Plated raised $35 million in Series B funding, extending it by $20 million in the third quarter of 2016.
On September 20, 2017, Plated was acquired by supermarket parent company Albertson’s for $200 million. The following spring, Albertson’s began selling Plated meal kits in some of its stores and plans to help deliver them with its trucks in the future.
How to Order
A Plated account starts with deciding how many times a week you want to cook, and then whether to cook for two, three, or four people. One of the most flexible plans in the industry, you can modify everything from your headcount to your delivery date every week. After that point, you can move on to choosing among 20 dinner recipes.
One of the most flexible plans in the industry, you can modify everything from your headcount to your delivery date every week.
Using the Website
Plated’s site sorts its meals by categories. Depending on your dietary preferences, you can filter the meals by main protein source and view dishes featuring meat, seafood or even vegetarian options. Other filters enable you to view meals that are gluten-free, low-carb, quick-prep, stovetop-only, or under 600 calories.
However, the home page is heavy on slick copy and beautiful visuals but light on actual information, and it isn’t the only page with that issue. The biggest potential deal breaker for seniors is the difficulty in accessing full nutritional information. While the menu offers basic facts like the number of calories, protein, total carbs, and total fat, the amount of sodium is a big question when perusing recipes for Prosciutto Pizza, Black Bean Chilaquiles and Spicy Crunchy Shrimp Bowls. Sugar is also a major issue for the aging population, and it is nearly impossible for seniors with dietary restrictions to determine whether they can eat a dish. Planning a delivery of Plated meals can be more trouble for diet-challenged seniors than it is worth.
Before going through so much extensive research, however, be sure to feed in your ZIP code at the registration window to determine whether Plated even delivers to your town. There are a few large and middle-sized cities outside of the company’s service area.
Subscribers can change recipes, number of servings, or the delivery day on Plated’s Weekly Menus page.
Selecting Your Plan
Subscribers can change recipes, number of servings, or the delivery day on Plated’s Weekly Menus page. You can skip and recommence delivery weeks as you like without being charged for those blackout weeks. The company only requires that customers make any changes by 12 p.m. six days before a scheduled delivery day.
Each week there are recipes suitable for omnivores, vegetarians, individuals allergic to gluten, and people who prefer low-carb and low-calorie meals.
Types of Meals
Unlike Blue Apron and HelloFresh, which strive to provide something for everyone at the lowest price point, Plated is an unabashedly niche market. It champions small batch, handcrafted, sustainable foodstuffs with the slightly elevated price to go with them.
Although the service does not offer separate meal plans for individuals with special dietary needs, its menu features plenty of options for all the most common diets. Every week, there are recipes suitable for omnivores, vegetarians, individuals allergic to gluten, and people who prefer low-carb and low-calorie meals.
A typical Plated meal is anything but typical; it can be Seared Steak with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Gratin, Sicilian Turkey Meatballs, Cuban Beef Picadillo, or Salmon Burgers with Chive Aioli and Watercress. The meals are usually ready in no more than 45 minutes and some may take as little as 20 minutes to make, although some reviewers report that it can take longer.
While the “Ingredients Not Included” are made clear, some consumers may find it unreasonable to be expected to provide items like olive oil, canola oil, kosher salt, and baking sheets at Plated’s price point.
The freshest possible ingredients, the best vendors, and the most ethically raised meat are Plated’s stock in trade. Some recent reviews have complained not only of food quality but customer service since the company was bought out by Albertson’s in 2018, with less generous portions. However, it has not lost a fan base of food lovers who swear by its inventive recipes and fresh produce.
The price exclusively depends on the number of servings per meal:
If you’re preparing a table for two, you will pay $11.95 a serving. That means $47.80 for two recipes, $71.70 for three, and $95.70 for four each week.
The three-person plan – an option most competitors don’t offer – is $9.95 per serving. Two weekly meal kits will cost you $59.70 and three will cost $89.55, with four meals for $119.40.
A family of four pays the same $9.95 price as with the three-person option. Crunching the numbers, this means $79.60 for two meals, $119.40 for three, and $159.20 for four.
No signature is required for a Plated delivery, and the insulated boxes can usually keep the enclosed food fresh at least until midnight of the same day. The delivery window lasts until 8 p.m. to accommodate unforeseen route issues. Most deliveries, however, arrive at customers’ doorsteps by 5 p.m.
The company currently serves 95% of the continental U.S. Not only does its service area exclude Alaska and Hawaii, some large cities like San Antonio do not currently receive Plated deliveries. Unlike at least one competitor, however, it is possible to enter a ZIP code before going through registration to determine whether Plated serves your area.
Plated insulates its boxes to keep contents fresh until the midnight of their delivery day. It recommends cooking seafood within two days of receipt and other meals within five days.
Yet while the company focuses on sustainable seafood, it doesn’t put its best foot forward on reducing its carbon footprint. Each ingredient is individually wrapped in plastic, and it is one of the top-four meal kit leaders to use foam. To be fair, meals are organized individually and the company does offer advice on how the foam can be reused.
Plated plans are organized not by the type of meal, but first by the headcount and second by the number of meals per week.
Subscriptions and Plans
Plated plans are organized not by the type of meal, but first by the headcount (“number of servings”) and second by the number of meals per week. The verbiage can be somewhat confusing, but once you have made those two decisions, the registration process is less confusing beyond that point. Again, it is a matter of choosing between two, three, and four individuals and two, three, and four dinners a week.
More Things to Know
After the Albertson’s acquisition, some consumers complain that Plated meat became lower quality, that the number of box icepacks were reduced from four to two, and that certain concerns stopped receiving responses from customer support. The new owners never replied to concerns, unlike previously, and there were multiple complaints of delivery issues.
A Plated subscription can be cancelled on the customer account page at any time.
Cancelling Your Plan
A Plated subscription can be cancelled on the customer account page at any time. Any boxes marked “confirmed” at the time of cancellation are already being processed, and they will be both delivered and invoiced. All other upcoming boxes will be canceled.
Plated focuses on sustainable seafood, responsibly farmed meats, and farm-fresh seasonal produce. What is not so sustainable is a website that makes it difficult to research important nutritional information for two to four meals each week. There are too many user-friendly features that make Plated’s competitors a better match for senior consumers for them to quiz customer service about multiple meals and then pay a higher price point. Time will tell how the acquisition by the grocery giant Albertson’s will affect Plated’s overall quality…and its appeal to an older population.