TWENTY. Plated

 

Ok, so as promised, I set out to review three different meal prep boxes.  This week I started with Plated.  This company was founded in 2012 in Washington DC by a couple of kids from Harvard…why does everything start with some kids from Harvard???  Anyhow, the goal was to create a service that kept the egregious process of grocery shopping at bay, but also to feed those creative minds that enjoy cooking.  The box comes with step-by-step recipes, locally sourced ingredients and other gourmet goodies all created by top chefs.  It kind of reminds of me of paint-by-numbers, but with food…know what I mean?  The idea is brilliant really, but as a chef and a consumer, I was curious enough to find out for myself.

Ordering:

First of all, the site is clean, simple and concise.  I was easily able to select which meal plan I wanted (see below for options).  I found a coupon code online to get my first box discounted and it was applied, no issues.  I gave them my dietary restrictions (no beef) and chose my delivery date and headed to checkout, which was a breeze.  Once I was signed up, I was able to login to my account and adjust the default menu selections to my own preferences and I was done!

Weekly Meal Options (all dinners are $12/pp)

2 Dinners, 2 People, $48

3 Dinners, 2 People, $72

4 Dinners, 2 People, $96

 

Delivery:

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Saturday afternoon, prior to my Sunday delivery, someone from Plated sent me an email introducing herself and the delivery process.  She also told me that even though my delivery date was a Sunday, she was accessible if I needed anything…. that’s nice. 20160410_164215.jpg Sunday morning I got a tracking email from Zipments, using a local courier, my box was to be delivered between 11am and 6pm.  The tracking information included real time checkpoints, courier name and number and the options to text or call her.  That’s pretty neat, at least I know if she drives off with my box!Delivery came by 1pm and I was ready to roll.  The box was smaller than I expected, but strategically packed with all the produce on top, other ingredients in the middle, then the icepack that sat on top of the chicken and 20160410_164757.jpgfish…was frozen…. hmmm…. the produce was fresh and the other ingredients were in travel size bottles and little baggies perfectly labeled (think travel size shampoo).  The three dinners I got were Chick Pea Bowls (vegetarian), Crispy Salmon, and Chicken Paillard.   First up, Chick Pea Bowls

 

 

Chick Pea Bowls with Fried Rice, Sautéed Spinach and Sesame-Ginger Dressing    

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Calories: 770 per serving  

Store Cost: $6.32 for 2ppl

 

Process:  

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This meal was easy to make.  I questioned the absence of peeling the carrots before slicing them, but upon further research, it bothered me less.  Also, the dressing is to be mixed in the Chobani Yogurt container, that was a mess.  I ended up having to transfer it to a new bigger bowl so I could incorporate all the ingredients for the dressing.  You will need a can opener as it wasn’t listed, so be aware when looking at the supplies needed, not everyone has everything.  The can of garbanzo beans was not a pop top, it required a can opener.  That is something I think they can make a little more efficient. The carrots cooked too long and some were burnt and the sushi rice could have fried in the pan another minute or two.  All in all, pretty well executed in 30 minutes.

Taste and Presentation:

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Dish tasted great, good textures and colors.  I liked the plating suggestion on the recipe card.  What I loved the most was that I could totally see myself making this again but using a different set of vegetables and maybe add some meat next time.  The versatility of this dish for a later time and use is immense!

 

Final Thoughts & Rating:

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I though this dish was awesome!  It was easy to make; the recipe card was well executed minus a few adjustments.  I think it was more of me getting used to how things are worded and that I was playing the role of an amateur cook following only what I am being instructed to do so I struggled with that for a minute.  I used my pepper grinder and adjusted the pepper to my taste which was about 10 grinds.  All in all, I give this dish a 4/5 (no decimals on my scale).  Next up, Crispy Salmon with Coconut Stir-Fried Vegetables!

 

Crispy Salmon with Coconut Stir-Fried Vegetables

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Calories: 620 per serving

Store Cost: $15.30 for 2ppl

 

Process:  

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Ok, this meal didn’t go so well.  First of all, the fish was still frozen after being in the fridge for 6 hours.  Also the instructions for thawing the fish were so small that I didn’t even see it until I took it back out of the fridge when I was ready to use it.  The thawing instructions should be on the recipe card as a “Recipe Tip”.  So note to you guys, when there is frozen meat involved look on the package for thawing instructions.  So the biggest faux pas, during the stir-fry vegetables process, the recipe card makes no mention of when to put the Chinese broccoli into the pan.  As an amateur, I would have totally gone through the recipe not even realizing that I didn’t use the broccoli until it was too late and I was done cooking.  Luckily, I can’t turn my chef brain off and knew when to put the broccoli in the pan.  I mean, how does that happen? Where is there quality assurance department or is that an editor’s oversight?  20160412_123320.pngPlated did however rectify this with an email sent yesterday with a recipe card correction download.  However, they were too late for me and if this were paint by numbers as I mentioned earlier, we’d have some white spots…fail.  I did not like the salmon cooking process, as I didn’t understand coating the already stunning coral flesh of the salmon with rice flour to crisp it up.  Skin side, sure!  Everyone loves a good crispy skin.   I just didn’t think it was necessary.  I also used 3 grinds of pepper just for your information.  Ultimately, I thought the eggplant was overcooked and the stir-fry left a lot of residual water.

 

 

Taste and Presentation:

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Dish was not good…at all.  The fish was unnecessarily crispy, the rice flour dulled the color of the flesh.  The skin was perfect, but I couldn’t get past the horrible flesh.  The vegetables were ok, as I wasn’t a fan of the stir-fry sauce.  The presentation…well, you can see it below…EH.

Final Thoughts & Rating:

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The dish could have used soy and some texture.  The highlight was the Chinese broccoli, that added some dimension to the dish.  The frozen fish wasn’t great and I ended up overcooking the fish because I was all sorts confused.  All in all, I give this dish a 2/5.  Final dinner…Chicken Paillard!

 

Chicken Paillard with Parmesan-Roasted Asparagus and Smashed Red Potatoes

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Calories: 660 per serving

Store Cost: $8.12 for 2ppl

Process:  

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Ok, so now I am on my third meal and finally getting used to the Plated ways.  This went really well and smooth.  This time my chicken was thawed, but it was in the refrigerator for almost 36 hours at this point.  The cooking process was perfectly outlined and was easy to execute.  I used 8 grinds of pepper for the seasoning on the chicken breast.

Taste and Presentation:

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This was delicious!  It looked amazing on the plate and was so basic.  This dish proves the point that sometimes simplicity is best.

Final Thoughts & Rating:

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At first glance, I will admit that I thought that it may be a bit dry as there was no pan sauce for the chicken.  I actually was armed, locked and loaded with a lemon.  However, it didn’t need a thing.  The seasonings were perfect, the asparagus was roasted beautifully and the chicken was moist (ugh, hate this word SO MUCH).  I couldn’t have asked for a better executed dish!  Bravo!  I give this dish a 5/5.

 

Conclusion/Wrap-Up:

Soooo, Plated….not bad, not great.  I think the price point is a bit high as compared to when I shopped for the ingredients as you can see the store costs for each dinner.  This box was $72 versus the total cost had I bought everything at $29.74.  However, I understand that it’s not all about just the ingredients.  With that said, I think the packaging is exquisite and perfect, as a matter of fact I am keeping those bottles for my own use for dressings, oils, etc.  The recipe cards are nice and bright, some editing issues which they rectified, but I’m never going to let that one go. 🙂  The produce tasted as fresh as it looked, but they can work on the seafood quality.  The portion sizes were perfect for two people and the nutrition factor was decent.  As an amateur, I think that a glossary of cooking terms on each recipe card would be great…not everyone knows what “mince” means.  With that said, this may be better suited for someone with a little culinary knowledge.  I loved the ease of the website and the delivery process, the recipes could use a little work and finesse, but I give Plated a 3.75/5.  Yes, now I will use decimals.

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Next week….HELLO FRESH!

 

 

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