For a couple months now, we’ve been subscribers to Plated, a fresh food subscription box service that delivers ingredients for recipes for homemade meals. Last week, we decided to give Hello Fresh a shot instead. The boxes are comparable in price – Hello Fresh is $69 a week for three recipes, which makes six meals; Plated is $12 a plate, so six meals is $72. First-time subscribers can get a discount off the first box for either.
Bratwurst on a pretzel bun with red cabbage slaw
The first meal we made was actually pretty easy. Unfortunately, when I opened up the package of dill for the slaw, it was half rotten and slimy. That was a first for me for a subscription box. On the plus side, Chris and I aren’t that big on much dill, so the half I used was plenty. The best part of this meal was the pretzel bun. It seemed a bit tough when I first opened the package, so make sure you follow the directions to toast the buns – it made a world of difference. I’m also really glad I have a toaster oven, because heating up the oven to toast two buns seems like a waste.
My brat, sadly, had two large chunks of gristle in the first bite. It would have turned me off from eating it entirely, but I was really hungry. Also, they only gave us 1 Tbsp. of mustard for two brats. Needless to say, we both added our own. Chris didn’t like this meal at all and ended up in the kitchen making Buffalo chicken with a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club.
Saffron-infused basa with basmati rice
Chris and I split on this one. He liked it, and I didn’t. There just wasn’t much flavor to the fish at all, and poaching it made it feel a bit rubbery. He thought it was a nice, buttery fish. I would have added carrots to the peas, red bell pepper and rice. There was a ton of broth left over after cooking, so the dogs got that on their food for dinner. Hey, very little goes to waste in our house!
Turkey meatballs with roasted carrots and mashed parsnips
This meal was a miss. While we both liked the turkey meatballs and the roasted carrots, the mashed parsnips were just too bitter and gross to eat. The recipe called to boil them (like potatoes), then mash, but that did the parsnips no favors. Chris wouldn’t even give the mash to the dogs. The roasted carrots were absolutely delicious, and the semi-burnt pieces were our favorite. Seriously, I think I’m going to roast all my vegetables from now on.
Chris and I agree that these meals are worth it if they ended up being something we would happily order in a restaurant. At around $12 a plate, that’s comparable to what we would pay if we went out. Unfortunately, none of these meals measured up. While we love how they are boxed (each set of ingredients is in its own shoebox-size cardboard box), and the whole box is delivered ice cold and packed well, that’s not enough to continue this subscription. If any of these three dishes had been a hit, we would have continued.
Hello Fresh offers five meals a week, two of which seem to be vegetarian. I like having a meat with dinner, so we were limited to three options (which is to say, no options at all). Plated offers seven options a week, as well as two “chef’s choice” options for an upcharge. Plated also has more options as far as subscriptions – we’ve gone down to the two recipes a week plan, so it’s $48 (though you do have to pay $6 shipping with that plan). Hello Fresh doesn’t currently offer less than three recipes a week.
We’re going to stick with Plated for the time being. This experience with Hello Fresh was a disappointment. But next on the list will be Blue Apron.
Overall, I love these boxes. We get fresh ingredients and recipes I would never have attempted otherwise. They have made me a better, more adventurous cook. Before, I had never cooked a protein on the stovetop (I’m more of an oven/pressure cooker/slow cooker kind of person), but now I’m not afraid to attempt to pan fry chicken or fish. I like that the meals aren’t full of preservatives or other ingredients I’m not aware of, and they are slightly less expensive than the cost of going out to dinner.
In the Meantime pays for these subscriptions.