Plated makes cooking fun, but is it worth the price?

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Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Managing Editor & Certified Financial Planner™

Hanna Horvath, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and former managing editor at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in NBC News, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Best Company, and HerMoney.

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This is the latest edition of our series, “Lifetime Subscriber.” From clothes to food to vitamins, I review popular subscription services and decide if they’re worth the price.

I consider myself a novice chef. I cook frequently, but most of my meals consist of five ingredients. I hoped Plated, a meal-kit delivery service, would inspire my quest to chefdom.

The mission of Plated is to “create worthwhile meal experiences” and its “diverse menu encourages discovery in the kitchen,” according to their spokesperson. I decided to try Plated and learn to cook (hopefully) good food — and avoid burning down my kitchen along the way. Here’s how it went.

How does Plated work?

The service is simple to use. First you select recipes on their website or app. There are 20 to choose from each week, with plenty of options for those with dietary restrictions, as well as two dessert options.

Enticing pictures of meals guide your search. Each recipe provides a snapshot of the cooking appliances you need to make the meal, how long it will take to make and how many calories each serving contains. I liked that the nutrition facts were listed, which makes it easy to fit any of the Plated meals into an existing diet.

I chose the cavatappi alla norma (spiral pasta with eggplant and ricotta), as well as the seared steak and quinoa bowl. The food arrived arrived on a Monday evening in a temperature-controlled box. The ingredients for both meals were mixed together, though each bag had a label telling you which ingredient went with what meal. They also sent printed recipes with step-by-step instructions.

How much Plated costs

Plated has a number of plans, depending on how many people you’re cooking for and how many nights per week you’re cooking. Two meals, for two servings each, would cost $47.80 per week, or $11.95 per meal. If you’re cooking for three or four people, the cost per meal is $9.95.

Becoming a chef for the night

For both recipes, the instructions were simple and included tips on how to prep and time out your food.

I made the cavatappi al norma first with my boyfriend, who is a much better cook. The recipe said it would take about 20 to 30 minutes, but it took a bit longer. I cooked the seared steak and quinoa bowl alone, and it took forever. This is probably because: 1. I didn’t prep properly and tried to do everything at once. 2. I accidentally threw out the recipe and had to look it up online. 3. I am not a real chef.

Plated won’t cut down on cooking time. Though you won’t have to go to and from the grocery store, you still have to cook everything. For those who are short on time or don’t enjoy cooking, this service may not be for you.

Overall, the pasta was amazing. Though I would love to say it’s a testament to our cooking, it’s more likely the fresh ingredients and detailed instructions led to the delicious taste. The seared steak and quinoa bowl was also wonderful, but more of a struggle to cook. I would make and have both again, as long as I had help. And by help I mean my boyfriend would do everything while I “supervised.”

Plated made for a perfect date night. It provided a fun, new twist on the conventional dinner out and we (namely, me) learned a thing or two about cooking. We both had generous portions and leftovers for lunch the next day. The steak salad produced two huge portions that I had for both dinner and lunch the next day.

Is Plated worth it?

Plated is ideal for the wannabe chef or for someone who buys a ton of groceries only to let them go to waste. Though it could be used by someone cooking for one, it’s probably better for two or more people. Plated was designed to not only to get you to enjoy the food you cook, but have fun cooking it along the way. I had a much better experience cooking with my boyfriend than I did alone.

The overall cost is cheaper than eating out, but more expensive than buying groceries on your own. I eat almost all my dinners at home, save for one or two on the weekends. I spend around $60 on groceries per week, which is about $6 a meal (assuming I eat 10 meals at home). So Plated feels a bit too pricey to replace all my meals.

While I may not get Plated, I would consider getting the service again for a special occasion, like a date night or get-together with friends. If you’re tired of spending a ton of money to eat out and are willing to take the time to cook, Plated is perfect for you. And you’ll likely get a bonus lunch out of it.

If you love to eat out, here are some ways to save.

Want to read more from the Lifetime Subscriber series? Check out my review of Rent the Runway.

Image: Phillip Blackowl

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