The snack squad is back at it again and serving up Bobby Flay realness this month with our first food box from Plated! As one of the most popular boxes out there, we were super excited to whip up and dig into the goodies they sent us. But first, some preliminary questions: What happens when you put Chinese 5-spice powder in tacos? Can red wine jus get you drunk? What exactly is rainbow chard, and does it have magical powers? The answers to these and more — coming at you sizzlin’ hot!
First of all, this box looks great. From the design to the the ingredients were neatly organized and labelled for quick setup and use — praise the Lord. After reeling from our last box’s breading mix-up, we were relieved to have everything in working order from the start. For this review, Plated sent us two tasty recipes to test: Hoisin pork tacos with miso corn and cabbage-cilantro slaw and seared steak with red wine jus and crispy parmesan potatoes.
Spoiler alert: It was good, y’all. Real good.
Getting started with Plated was super easy and intuitive. Upon creating an account, you’ll be given a questionnaire to determine which recipes are best suited for your tastes and/or diet. The preference options given here were less in depth than those for Home Chef, only giving basic selections for meat, vegetarian, omnivore, etc. At first, we thought this might affect the quality of our dish matches and leave us with less-than-ideal recipes. It seems, however, that the system provides flexibility in other areas to make up for its broad filtering parameters.
Unlike some other food box providers, you’re also given extended control over what gets shipped to you each week. Don’t like the recipes they automatically pull for you? No problem. You can go in and swap out dishes anytime you like (until they ship, of course) with an inventory of preselected meals fit to your preferences.
If you’re not satisfied, cancelling or postponing deliveries is made simple in the box manager. And yes, you can actually cancel your order. As in close the account, remove card info and ghost. This is not always the case with food box providers, as we’ve seen, so having the option to cancel is pretty nice.
The recipe cards were highly organized, with step-by-step instructions accompanied with visuals. Each card comes with a panel that lists the ingredients provided, recipe tips and other ingredients and equipment needed. This section was incredibly useful as it detailed ways to limit your pot/pan use or expedite cooking by prepping multiple ingredients simultaneously. As beginners, these were things we didn’t consider, but it definitely made the experience much more efficient.
Despite these features, though, the cards failed to describe the level of difficulty expected with each dish and did not give a complete list of nutritional facts (it did list total calories). These are features we’ve previously found to be helpful, especially if you are new to cooking and adhering to a strict diet.
Once again, the food box didn’t come with every ingredient needed for each recipe, leaving us scrambling last minute to make do. We experienced this before with Home Chef, so maybe it’s just a food box thing? Who can say. Either way, it’d be super cool if all significant ingredients could be included, like olive oil, which is not something everyone keeps in their pantry. (Especially if we’re paying $50 plus for a single box. C’mon guys.)
This is by far the area where Plated exceeded all expectations. Of course, they tout their procurement and selection process as one of Plated’s main differentiators, but we figured this was just light embellishment to grab the health nut crowd. Oh boy, were we wrong. The quality of ingredients used for each recipe was honestly outstanding, with vibrant chard and potatoes, fresh ground pork and butcher-quality steaks. I didn’t even know what chard was until Plated! Although it tasted magical, rainbow chard does not, in fact, have magical powers. Bummer.
Once cooked, both the wine-soaked steaks and hoisin tacos held a substantial amount of flavor — even as 3-day-old leftovers! Seriously, this box may have outdone Whole Foods.
The Final Verdict
Overall, Plated provides a solid, educational cooking experience for anyone new to the kitchen. What it lacks in recipe details, it more than makes up for with premium, farm-to-table quality ingredients. Was it our first time eating chard? Yes. Would we eat it again? Heck yes.