Have any of you tried a meal delivery service?
For the past six months I've been using Plated, after being given a two week free trial, and I just cancelled it last week. I'm so torn because I do miss the ease of grocery shopping, knowing that I don't have to worry about getting every single thing for the week, but at the same time I also am enjoying breaking out my cookbooks again (my sister turned me on to The Love and Lemons cookbook which is SO good) and being able to bring back some of our old staples. For those of you who are on the fence about trying one I figured I'd do a little pro and con list based on my experience.*
I signed up for a 2 meals a week delivery and I have to say that I really looked forward to those days. In the fall and winter the recipes were delicious and I loved being able to pull up my app while at the grocery store and know that I didn't even really have to think about dinner on those nights. The food was all really good, fresh, and all of the recipes were super easy to follow. I really liked that for each recipe you had all the liquids and seasonings included, so I didn't have to buy an entire bottle of some obscure ingredient to make the dish. It would have been so much better if everything was pre-chopped (and in fact that would have probably made me keep the service) but overall there weren't that many ingredients and most meals could be made in under 45 minutes. I found there was a lot of variety in the dishes and generally we were pretty happy with the taste. My husband definitely got a little tired of having something new each week (who knew the man would actually miss my spinach lasagna???) but I actually really liked having some variety and some nights it almost felt like we were eating out. I think the cost is pretty fair (I wish you didn't pay for shipping) but I think I probably spend the same if not a little more on a typical night when cooking from my own kitchen.
I'm afraid my cons are probably greater but I'm going to say upfront that this isn't that indicative of my enjoyment of Plated, it's just that I seem to remember better what we didn't love about the service than what we did.
For us the biggest issue was just that there wasn't enough food. Since we only eat vegetables and fish, our meal options were pretty limited. Plated, like most companies, seems to still be under the impression that people who eat vegetarian either 1) live on pasta and cheese, or 2) live on 400 calories of lettuce. We don't do either and in the end I decided we could get a healthier and better meal out of any of my cookbooks than we were getting from Plated. Some meals would only be 500-600 calories per person and since we are big dinner people (my lunch often consists of a smoothie or a yogurt on the go) this just wasn't cutting it. It took me a while to realize that the oil is actually counted in the calorie count and that meant we just wen't getting enough to eat to feel full. To try to even things out, if we were having a fish dish I would also make sure to plan for a side of vegetables and if it was a vegetable dish I would buy a piece of fish. This was clearly defeating the purpose of the all-in-one meal and ultimately it was why I cancelled. There really is nothing worse than finishing your meal and you realize you are still starving. I would usually give my husband more of mine to even things out (the meal is made to be shared evenly by two) and then I would have a bowl of cereal- again really defeating the purpose.
My other main issue was with the spring menu options. As I said we loved the fall and winter recipes but after getting a few weeks of the spring I actually started dreading having it eat them. It was just salad after salad or some weird corn thing and I started to skip weeks since some of the options look so bland. It was around this time that Gwyneth's It's All Easy was released and I found L&L and I found that I just wanted to make some of the recipes which looked so much better than the Plated ones. I've yet to be impressed with the Plated customer service and after calling to ask about canceling, I finally just decided to do it.
That was two weeks ago and it's funny because I miss it and don't miss it in equal parts. While at Whole Foods on Monday with my cookbooks in hand and a huge cart of groceries I was like "what did I do?" but for weeks like this one where we have lacrosse practice and my husband has a work dinner, I'm loving having the flexibly back to not have to make an entire meal out of concern that it will go bad if I don't. If they offered weekend delivery (we wouldn't receive our box until late on Monday at about 8pm) that would have helped but because we couldn't really use the box until Tuesday which meant I had 2-3 days to make the two meals. For some people who have set schedules this would probably work, but ours is somewhat fluid so for some weeks it just didn't.
Even writing this part of me thinks I will eventually go back. I'm thinking I will skip the spring and summer since we have a lot more late nights at the park and travel, and maybe try it out again in the fall. I feel like there is a new one of these services popping up every month so maybe by then the kinks will be ironed out. I didn't try any other services solely because the Plated menu options looked the best to me, but I am curious about the Blue Apron family plans because it would be nice to only make one meal versus two (I still feed the kids first while I'm making our "adult" dinner). If any of you have had any positive experiences with a different company I'd love to know! I know there are bloggers out there raving about other companies but you never know if it's just because they are sponsored or not so I'd really love your opinion!
I have to say I really do love the idea of a meal delivery service and I'm one of those people who fully applaud this type of business. More and more outsourcing seems to be the name of the game and I can only hope more companies come forward that can make things like the weekly dinner drag seem a bit more manageable (and fun!) In general the packaging really bothers me with these type of deliveries and hopefully someone will come up with something to ease that as well (biodegradable!!!) If I go back and have a different experience or try out someone else I will be sure to let you know! Xx
*See there is a little bit of the old attorney left in me after all. ;)