Been dying to try a meal delivery service, but don’t know what’s the best option? Check out my review of Blue Apron vs Plated and see who comes out on top!
I’ve been a Blue Apron customer for awhile now. A co-worker hooked me up with a trial membership and I fell in love with the idea of this service immediately. Three well-documented, pre-portioned and adorably packaged meals delivered straight to my front door once a week – a foodie’s dream come true!
I was super into it for about 4-5 months, whipping up culinary delights that I would never have challenged myself to cook on my own. I was really enjoying the process of learning about new foods and expanding my repertoire of eats. But after a couple of months, I experienced two key drawbacks:
- It was time consuming! There were evenings where I was still cooking well past 9pm. The prep time of dicing, mincing, etc. just wasn’t very realistic for a busy working (and half marathon training) gal.
- Sometimes, I didn’t like the meal options that they sent me. And, aside from selecting whether I wanted the vegetarian or non-vegetarian track, I wasn’t allowed to customize which recipes I received each week.
And then, one gloriously drunken Friday night, Michael and I were watching Shark Tank. My favorite shark, Mr. Mark Cuban, invested in a meal delivery service called Plated. At first, I didn’t want to abandon my precious Blue Apron. But then, after receiving incorrect (or, sometimes not enough) ingredients three weeks in a row from Blue Apron, I decided to test-drive this Plated service and see if the grass really WAS greener.
- Meal Options: you can select your plan from 2-3 high-level options: vegetarian, meat + fish, meat-no-fish (or something like that). But within those buckets, there is no further customization available. For example, you have to receive all three meals that are part of that week’s schedule – no exclusions (which kinda sucks, because if you know you won’t eat a recipe, it’s just wasteful). Also, you can only order meals that either serve two, or four. Which is a bit of a bummer because in my household (at least on the weekends), we have three mouths to feed.
- Time to Prepare: they claim 35 minutes or less on their web site, but I call bullshit. As I mentioned, it’s not uncommon for me to take over an hour to prepare a meal due to all of the prep work.
- Level of Deliciousness: pretty damn good, for the most part. Blue Apron does a nice job of highlighting what’s in season and introducing just the right amount of ethnic diversity to its recipes. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything that was not at least passable.
- Packaging: I adored the recipe cards! Each meal comes with one, and includes a back story on the meal (so, this is a learning experience and not just a sensory one) as well as step-by-step instructions accompanied by photos. Really helpful when you’re dealing with unfamiliar ingredients or techniques. Everything is packed up in a refrigerated cardboard box so that the ingredients stay fresh. In the last month of my subscription, Blue Apron began packaging each meal’s smaller ingredients together in labeled bags (e.g., “Knick Knacks for Mahi Mahi”) so that I didn’t have to sift through a large box to try and group all of the smaller items together by recipe.
- Social Media Prowess*: surprisingly, no CTA to share photos on the recipe cards. As a social media strategist, I feel this is a missed opportunity to drive engagement from brand loyalists.
- Price: $59.95 per week (for three meals that serve two)
- Other: you can skip a week or two if you’d like. Generally, a week in advance, you can preview what recipes you will receive and then decide if you would like to skip or not.
*Because, let’s be honest, people love taking #foodporn pics (and by “people,” I mostly mean me).
- Meal Options: so much more robust! You can filter meal options by “Land,” “Sea,” and “Veggie.” You can select from 7 choices of meals to hand-pick and add to your weekly cart – no “all or nothing” approach like Blue Apron. AND, you can buy two, four or six servings. Bonus: you can look ahead by several weeks to begin adding meals to your cart for those weeks.
- Time to Prepare: now, I have only received one delivery from Plated so far, but each meal took 25-30 minutes to prepare. Everything was much more straightforward in terms of prep and active cooking.
- Level of Deliciousness: holy shit. Amazing. We had a hickory burger, shrimp roll sandwich and a buffalo cauliflower – all delish.
- Packaging: the recipe cards aren’t as cute as Blue Apron’s, but they get the job done. All of the ingredients are also bagged by recipe (not just the smaller items like Blue Apron does). The actual delivery box was smaller than Blue Apron’s which I suppose was nice (for my FedEx guy).
- Social Media Prowess*: social media CTA right on the recipe cards, inviting people to post pics with #plated pics. And, Plated’s web site has social media elements sprinkled throughout. I appreciate that they recognize that cooking and eating is a communal thing and sharing those experiences are a natural part of them.
- Price: $12 a plate (so, if you get three meals per week for two people, that’s about $72)
- Other: I like that Plated tells you what at-home ingredients and tools you will need to make a recipe. And, they feature each recipe’s chef on their web site so you can see who crafted your meal. What a nice touch!
Overall, I appreciate the degree of customization that Plated offers as compared with Blue Apron. Bonus that my man Mark Cuban backs it. 😉
The winner: Plated!
What’s your take? Have you tried either service (or maybe something else entirely)?