My Report on Plated

Plated just sent me a link that allows all my friends to get a free box, valued up to $72. If you’re interested in giving it a try, this is a good way to do so. (You can cancel at any time).* Here’s where to sign up for the free box.

Here’s my report on Plated:

Although meal kit delivery services took off a few years ago, they never really snagged my interest. But after a friend sent me an offer for a free box from Plated, I realized that these kits—which deliver ingredients and recipes for meals to cook at home—aren’t just for novice cooks or harried families.

Turkey-Spinach Burgers with Quinoa and Pesto Ricotta, via Plated.

Here’s why I’m happy to occasionally spend $55 a week for two dinners for two:

• I’m officially out of my rut: Sure, I’ve authored three cookbooks and have worked as an editor or feature writer on dozens more. And yet sometimes I grow weary of my own style of cooking (French, Italian and classic American). Plated has nudged me to cook Cuban empanadas, Vietnamese caramel chicken, Vietnamese Chicken Thighs, Chimichurri Steak Kabobs, and other dishes that aren’t generally in my wheelhouse.

Vietnamese Chicken Thighs with Jasmine Rice, Sautéed Green Beans, and Pickled Onion, via Plated. Quite possibly my favorite Plated recipe so far. If you do order this, see a few tweaks I made to the recipe, at the bottom of this post.

• I trust these recipes: As someone who writes and edits recipes as part of her métier, I’ve been impressed by how accurate, practical and straightforward the recipes are. Out of 17 recipes, I’ve only found one questionable timing, and that was easily fixed by just a little more time in the oven. Also, I tend to cook my green beans longer than they specify in their recipes, but that’s a personal preference

• I admire the ingredients: With the minor exception of an unripe tomato, all ingredients—from produce to meats and seasonings—have arrived fresh and in great condition.

Ginger-Soy Chicken with Cabbage, Edamame, and Peanuts. And Mizuna, via plated. I can’t find Mizuna anywhere near where I live….so was pretty darned happy to get it delivered.

• There’s no waste: Have you ever bought some obscure condiment or a fresh herb, used a bit of it for a recipe, and had the remainder go forgotten and unused for the rest of its life span? Plated gives you just the amount you need of everything you need, except salt, pepper and cooking oil.

• I avoid dining out by default: When I’m in the mood to dine out, there’s no other place I’d rather be than in a local restaurant. But if I just wander into a place because I haven’t thought ahead, I usually leave annoyed at myself. These kits stay fresh for two days (for seafood) to four days (for most other recipes). That makes it easier to avoid spending $12 for a glass of wine in a restaurant those times when I would have been just as happy with a glass from a $12 bottle at home.

So. I’ve become a fan of Plated. And I’d love to hear if you’re trying any other meal services out there, and if so, which ones? Please share!

P.S.: Plated just sent me a link that allows all my friends to get a free box, valued up to $72. If you’re interested in giving it a try, this is a good way to do so. (You can cancel at any time).

* Full total discloser: Yes, I will get a $10 credit if you end up buying a box after the freebie, but honestly, if you just give it a try and cancel after the first box, you’ll get no hard feelings from me! It’s worth a try, since it’s free. The offer expires October 6th. Here’s where to sign up for the free box.

Want recommendations? Here are the recipes I’ve enjoyed the most so far, with asterisks for my tip-top favorites:

• Seared Steak with Horseradish-Mustard Sauce and Green Beans
• Chimichurri Steak Kebabs with Bell Pepper and Spinach
• Vietnamese Caramel Chicken with Roasted Chinese Broccoli and Basmati Rice
• Vietnamese Chicken Thighs with Jasmine Rice, Sautéed Green Beans, and Picked Onion* (also, see some tweaks I made on this, below).
• Duck Ragu Rigatoni with Peas and Mint
• Vietnamese Beef Meatballs with Chile-Lime Dressing*
• Turkey-Spinach Burgers with Quinoa and Pesto Ricotta*

And seriously, if you’ve tried other meal kit delivery services, please let me know about them–I’d love giving some others a try, but I’m not sure where to start.

About the Vietnamese Chicken Thighs from Plated: I made these for a fourth time last night, and absolutely love this recipe. I have, however, made a few tweaks to the recipe that improve it.
• The instructions say to peel the hunk of ginger and add it, whole, to the marinade/sauce mixture. I mince it fine so that you get more of the ginger flavor through and through.
• The pickled onions are great, but incredibly a bit more sharp than I liked. To the mixture of onions and rice vinegar, I add about one tablespoon of sugar and a little salt and pepper. Much more balanced!
That’s it! And it’s one of the best recipes I’ve discovered in ages!

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2 comments to My Report on Plated

  • Tricia

    I think I’m going to give this a try. I was at my local Fareway and realized they had Hello Fresh meal kits for two. I’m an adventuresome cook, but since I live alone, I’d gotten into a rut. My 2 person kit easily could have been four meals for me with the addition of a tossed salad. Plated’s menus are very interesting!

    • Wini

      I was totally in a rut until I did Plated. I’ve particularly enjoyed their Asian specialties. I used to cook Chinese-wok stir-fries all the time (in the 90s), but fell out of the habit when I started cooking French. The ingredients that are now available to cooks today have made Asian and Southeast Asian cooking SO much better than back when I was trying my hand at it.

      What I like about Plated is that they send you just enough of things like fish sauce, sambal oelek, Gochujang and other specialty ingredients to use in the recipe. Once you use them, you understand them better. You know that they’re worth investing in. This service has helped me expand my flavor repertoire immensely!

      Also–the friend who introduced me to Plated also lives alone. She likes it that she gets four meals out of each week’s delivery.

      P.S.: I’m going to check out Hello Fresh at Faraway. Thanks for the lead!

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