My First Week of Plated Meals

Note: I started writing this post several weeks ago, but forgot about. I didn’t take pictures of the second 2 meals and I don’t remember a ton of specifics so I am working off my limited memory (it’s been a long month).

Last month, I tried Blue Apron. It was completely free with no strings attached, but I did not think it would be worth it to continue. I was also disappointed with the upcoming meal choices. I am still frustrated that once you select one meal, several others disappear so you are pretty much forced to pick either three meat meals or three vegetarian meals, with very little flexibility, and that’s a huge turn-off for me. I also never heard back from them regarding a missing key ingredient (the tempura mix for the tempura avocado meal). I didn’t necessarily want another $10 discount (they gave me $10 off my next delivery when I told them the lemon arrived crushed and unusable), but a reply would’ve been nice.

While discussing my general disappointment with Blue Apron, a coworker told me she had tried it with the same impression and had switched to Plated. She offered to send me a free week of meals. OK!

From Plated.com:

Skip the “What’s for dinner?” debate so you can focus on everything else you have going on. In less than 5 minutes you can choose recipes, set your delivery day, and find out how delightfully simple meal planning with Plated can be. There are lots of recipes out there.

Luckily our culinary team is here to create a balanced range of new choices each week. Choose from 9 thoughtfully crafted recipes designed to save you time and fit your unique tastes.

Plated offers a variety of plans that Blue Apron can’t rival. You can get meals between 2 and 7 nights a week, and either 2 or 3 servings. 3 seems odd but they explain that 1 serving will feed 1 adult or 2 kids, so I guess the 3-serving meals would work for a family with 2 parents and 2 younger kids. Anyway, I only need the 2-serving meals, and since you get up to $72 for your free week, I wanted to take full advantage so I went with 3 meals. 2 meals costs $48 + $8 shipping. Blue Apron does not charge shipping and neither does Plated for 3 or more meals, so that was a bit of a surprise to me. I get that the shipping materials are quite elaborate, but it should be built into the price. It’s like they are penalizing you for only choosing 2 meals.

Right off the bat, I was impressed by the number of meal choices – 7 weekly options, plus 4 meals called “Encore Recipes” that are available all month (I realize it says 9 above but the number is actually 11!). I ended up opting for one of the weekly options (Salmon Poke Bowls) and two Encore Recipes (Chicken Sausage Pretzel Rolls & Korean Beef Tacos).

Monday: Unboxing, and Salmon Poke Bowls with Avocado and Brown Rice

One of the mistakes I made with Blue Apron was saving the fish (which arrived on Monday) till Thursday. It was not super fresh and actually the cucumbers had gone completely bad as well. So I planned to make that Monday, but I was a little nervous when I got home at 6:30pm and the shipment still hadn’t arrived. I was literally on the phone with my mom telling her how my dinner plans were now ruined when the doorbell rang. Finally!

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I ran downstairs to retrieve the box and immediately began prepping dinner.

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View inside the box.
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So much plastic!

My first impression: the packaging was…interesting. My food honestly didn’t seem very cold. The ice packets on top of the meat/fish were still frozen, but the produce wasn’t cold at all. Blue Apron also clearly prioritizes presentation much more than Plated. There seems to be a lot of waste that isn’t recyclable – namely plastic bags (OK OK I know those are recyclable at grocery stores/Target, but not in my recycling bin), both Zipl0c-style and grocery bags. I was also shocked to receive two takeout packets of Kikkoman soy sauce and drive-thru equivalent mayo and Sriracha packets. This may or not be less wasteful than Blue Apron, but it just wasn’t very nice to use what I could snag from a local fast food joint.

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The cucumber was already starting to go bad and the avocado skin was brown and it had been partially crushed, so I was pretty disappointed before I had even started to cook.

I got the rice going because it said it would take 23-25 minutes. I honestly haven’t cooked anything but instant (my defense, at least it’s always brown) rice in years, so I wasn’t planning for this additional time. Then I prepped the veggies. Again, the cucumber was on its way out, but I made do. I love scallions but they had an odd scent – not as much kick. I made the soy sauce/garlic mix and the mayo/sriracha mix and then started preparing the salmon.

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Yes, I’m lazy and use a garlic mincer. I have had this thing for like 6 years!

I don’t know why, but I used my brother’s ceramic pan for the fish. Again, I don’t know why I do this to myself. I actually hate ceramic. Even with a gallon of oil, food sticks. So my salmon could’ve been a disaster if I needed nice full filets. Fortunately, the recipe called for the salmon to be broken up in chunks so I was already halfway there by the time I flipped them over. But even following the recipe, the salmon was still rare in some parts. I decided I did not care after I turned off the heat and covered the pan and they still didn’t cook much more. I didn’t want dry fish.

Finally the rice was done – or so I thought because the water had evaporated. I guess there just wasn’t enough because in the end, the rice was still very chewy but not quite still crunchy, thank goodness.

Because the avocado was past its prime, peeling it resulted in mostly squishy non-slices. I also had to cut off some brown parts.

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Salmon Poke Bowl – you can’t tell but I used a wide, shallow bowl.

I plated everything (haha get it? plated?) as the recipe said, but only did one serving because my brother had already eaten something else. Because of that, I gave myself more like 2/3 or 3/4 of the meal. I was starving. Bad call. I filled up immediately (seems to be happening a lot – my reflux was really raging last month). I had about two bites of the seaweed salad. I’m admittedly not a huge fan to begin with, but it just did not taste fresh to me. The furikake seasoning on the rice smelled awful on its own, but the taste was pretty great so I ate it all from my bowl. However, the chewy undoneness of the rice ended up making me throw out the leftovers. Note to self: cook rice with more water than you need, and drain it if you have to!

Plated asked to rate this meal, so I gave it 3 out of 5 stars and noted the lack of freshness in the salad and produce. I’m pretty bummed, but again – this week was free.

Wednesday: Chicken Sausage Pretzel Rolls

Full disclosure: I was rushed when cooking. I’m in a social bowling league that plays on Wednesdays, so go to work early and I leave by 5pm so that I have time to walk Rags and have dinner before our game. I should have known I wouldn’t have enough time to make a decent meal from scratch, but I tried anyway.

I LOVE pretzel anything. I’ve made pretzels buns from scratch before and they were delicious. So I was pretty excited to make this meal, but it fell flat. The sausage was not cooking. They were huge sausages, which is good (I got my money’s worth, for sure), but they were taking forever to cook all the way through, even though the recipe has you slice them in half. It’s also sausage, so combining greasy meat with sauteed veggies meant everything was sliding around on the bread, which was way too small for the serving size of toppings. The flavors were great, but I ended up having to deconstruct the sandwich and eat everything with a fork. For leftovers the next day, I didn’t even attempt to put the chicken and veggies on the roll – I just ate it separately.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars for the flavors alone. I deducted a star because the food didn’t cook per the instructions and it was way too messy to eat.

Friday: Korean Beef Tacos

I honestly don’t remember what I was doing Thursday that caused me not to cook this meal then, but alas it had to wait until Friday. I am not a fan of kimchi so that went right into the trash. The lettuce was also bad by then (my fault) so I went without it. Otherwise, these were pretty basic, underwhelming soft tacos with a little bit of seasoning I wouldn’t normally use. The beef was grass-fed, which is why I gave this 4 out of 5 stars instead of the 3 I think it deserves.

Overall Impression

All-in-all, I was no more or less impressed with Plated than I was with Blue Apron. I was on a tight budget the rest of the month, so even though I was interested in trying out a couple of meals from both places, I opted out. I do have 2 meals coming on Monday – I switched to the 2 meals option because 3 wouldn’t have made sense the week of Thanksgiving, and also it’s pretty expensive. I picked 2 of the Encore meals that are available all month. Funny enough, both Plated and Blue Apron had Thanksgiving-esque meals on their menus this week. That’s exactly what I don’t want when I’m already planning to cook an entire Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday.

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