Order’s Up: Meal Kits for People Who Love Fast Food
Plated vs. Blue Apron - Head-to-Head Comparison
Cooking creative, healthy, and delicious meals at home has gotten much easier in the past few years, as the home meal kit industry has caught on across the country. When you order a meal kit you get fresh ingredients and inventive, easy-to-follow recipes delivered straight to your door. It’s a great way to get acquainted with new ingredients and learn some real cooking skills - even if you're a stranger to the kitchen.
In addition to healthy, delicious meals, meal kits help you break up the monotony of the usual simple fare and to do so without struggling to think of new recipes or having to run to the sore to get the ingredients.
Not only that—it’s fun, and that’s a big part of why this industry is bigger than ever before.
One of the biggest names in the industry is Blue Apron, but Plated has also made a name for itself as one of the best options out there. Which is the better meal kit? Let’s take a look at the what makes both tick, and which one takes the crown.
Wide variety of seasonal recipes
Shipping is always free
Flexible plans, easy to cancel or pause
Strong focus on sustainable, well-sourced food
No lunch, snack, or dessert options
No options for more than 4 person families
Blue Apron was one of the pioneers in the meal kit industry, and even if you have no experience with meal kits, chances are you’ve heard this name. The company has built its reputation through interesting, easy recipes that use high-quality, well-sourced ingredients that reflect the company’s commitment to sustainable food.
How does it work? Let’s look at the plans:
|4-person family plan,|
|4-person family plan,|
|4-person family plan,|
*Shipping costs $7.99 for the 2-person, 2-recipes/week plan. All other plans have FREE shipping.
Many recipes feature organic produce and antibiotic-free proteins
20 recipes to choose from each week.
Solid customer service
Available only in continental US
No specifically vegan meal options
Plated has a recipe for success in the meal kit industry, and it’s all about high-quality ingredients and a wide variety of simple, exciting recipes to pick from. Customers get 20 recipes to pick from each week, all of which use fresh and seasonal produce. And if you have any issues with your order, Plated is known for having reliable customer service.
Not only that, Plated also features 2 desserts per week, and allows you to mix and match recipes and tweak the serving sizes.
|Plan||Cost per week||Cost per serving size|
Which Meal Kit Provides a Better Service?
It might just seem like produce and meat, but to Blue Apron, these aren’t just ingredients - they’re part of “building a better food system.”
The company has placed a big priority on providing environmentally-conscious food to its customers. This includes hormone-free meat, sustainable seafood, and non GMO produce. The company also has developed close relationships with farmers who use low impact methods and is devoted to creating a farm-to-table pipeline for its produce.
When it comes to protein, the seafood is approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, and the pork, beef, and poultry is free of hormones and GMO. Many of the ingredients the company uses are USDA certified organic as well.
Plated provides 100% antibiotic-free meats, hormone-free beef, and “seasonal, hand-packed produce from trusted purveyors,” according to the company website. Plated aso puts an emphasis on using organic produce, locally-sourced ingredients, and sustainably sourced fish when possible.
Plated’s produce is fresh and seasonal, which means you only get produce when it’s at its peak. When it comes to fish, Plated uses a number of trusted fisheries and supports sustainable fishing.
In addition, Plated works to use artisanal ingredients, so customers can enjoy small-batch and hand-crafted specialty items that can bring some real variety to the weekly menu.
WINNER: Blue Apron
Both Plated and Blue Apron have gone all-in on supporting sustainable farming and locally-sourced ingredients. With Blue Apron though, the commitment to such ingredients has gone further, into a sort of all-encompassing support for food sourcing that is also environmentally friendly and sustainable.
2. Value for Money
Like most meal kit companies, Blue Apron and Plated have pricing that is simple and straightforward.
On Blue Apron, the per-serving price ranges from $8.99 to $10.99 depending on the number of servings you order to week. On Plated, the prices range from $9.95 to $11.95 per serving, and like with Blue Apron, the more servings per week, the cheaper the plan.
Both companies keep things pretty straightforward and simple when it comes to prices. With HelloFresh, both the veggie plan and classic plan cost $9.99 per serving. The family plan on HelloFresh costs $8.74 per serving. All HelloFresh plans come with free shipping.
The main difference is with shipping. On Blue Apron, once you order at least 3 meals per week, the shipping is free. With Plated, shipping is only free once you order more than $60 in meals for the week.
WINNER: Blue Apron
Both companies have affordable pricing, but the difference in shipping costs gives Blue Apron the edge here.
3. Meal Selection and Recipe Difficulty
Cooking at home can be a fulfilling and healthy endeavor, but coming up with new recipes to break the monotony is often the real challenge. Meal kit companies are a fun way to learn new recipes and ingredients that you may never have thought of.
This is part of why variety and the number of recipes offered by a meal kit company is key - it’s simply one of the best ways to create the value of the plan you’ve signed up for.
On Blue Apron, the recipes and ingredients are top-notch, but there just aren’t as many as you’ll find elsewhere. The weekly menu consists of 6 choices for the 2 person plan, and 4 options for the family plan.
On Plated, every week includes 20 different meal options, in addition to 2 desserts. Four of the meals are vegetarian, so if you’re living meatless, you should still be able to find some unique recipes to test out.
With both companies you can find easy-to-follow, healthy and delicious recipes that you should be able to whip up in about a half hour. Plated simply has much more on offer each week, so it gets the nod here.
4. Environmental Impact
It’s no secret that with meal kit plans there is a whole lot of packaging. Most companies have taken serious measures to deal with this issue, as it’s one that is important to more customer than ever before.
With Blue Apron you can recycle all of the contents of your packaging by putting it out with your curbside pickup, or you can return it to Blue Apron for free with labels provided by the company.
Plated also allows you to place the package outside on the curb. In addition, much of the material used in the packaging for Plated is compostable and/or reusable.
While Blue Apron has made a big effort to promote sustainable food production, the fact that Plated uses more compostable and reusable materials is a real plus here.
If you’ve got a vacation coming up or just don’t have a hankering to do any cooking at home, its good to know that you can pause your account or skip a week here or there.
If you’re a Blue Apron customer you can skip any meal order up to 5 weeks in advance and you can cancel your subscription any time. You will need to do so at least a few days before your next delivery date or else you will be billed for it.
With Plated you really get a lot of freedom to change your delivery dates, menus, and serving suggestion. You can very simply change your subscription from daily to weekly or whatever suits you. When it comes to the recipes you can mix and match your dishes and the serving sides and even toss in a dessert if you’d like.
Both companies understand that customers live dynamic lives, but with Plated it’s just a little bit simpler.
And the Winner is...
This was a close one that went down to the wire. Blue Apron has really knocked it out of the park when it comes to the quality and sustainability of its ingredients, and the prices and free shipping are nothing to sneer at either.
We gave the trophy to Plated through, because of the wider variety of recipes on offer each week. Basically, when it comes to price, ingredients, and environmental impact, both companies were quite close to one another. The only parameter in which one company really stood out was in regard to the number of menu items per week—and that’s where Plated left Blue Apron in the dust.