Order’s Up: Meal Kits for People Who Love Fast Food
Plated vs. Blue Apron - Head-to-Head Comparison
Since first entering the food sphere about a decade ago, the meal kit delivery market has exploded in popularity, and there are now more than 150 meal kit companies operating in the U.S. alone. It’s not just the number of services that has evolved. While the meals were relatively straightforward at first, they now range from vegan to keto, diabetic to kid-friendly and everything in between. With so much choice, selecting the meal kit delivery service that is right for you can be overwhelming. To make that process a little easier for you, I compared 2 of the most popular companies on the market: Blue Apron and Plated.
|Best for||Weekly variety||Mediterranean and seafood lovers|
|Meal Variety||20 options per week||8 options per week|
|Quality of Ingredients||100% antibiotic- free meats||Hormone-free meats|
|Recipe Quality||Asian, Southwestern, and Mediterranean recipes||Mediterranean-inspired|
|Delivery cost||Free on orders over $60||Free|
|Price per meal||From $9.95||From $8.99|
Both launched in the summer of 2012, Blue Apron and Plated are 2 of the most established and popular brands on the meal kit delivery market. Both companies are well known for their chef-inspired recipes and focus on high-quality ingredients, and both offer a flexible product with great customer service that makes it easy and stress-free to use.
Blue Apron, which is largely considered one of the meal kit pioneers, may have had more headlines about its business struggles than the quality of its recipes, but it continues to be at the forefront of this growing industry. It offers arguably the most well-rounded of all the meal kit deliveries with a service that goes far beyond the delivery of meal kits and extends to add-ons such as a wine or cheese subscription, as well as a retail offering that includes anything and everything a home cook might desire. Blue Apron continues to innovate by entering partnerships with the likes of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and Beyond Meat, making it the only meal kit delivery service to offer WW Freestyle-inspired recipes and Beyond Meat’s meatless products on its menus. But what impressed me the most is Blue Apron’s unwavering commitment to sustainable business practices, from its food distribution to its packaging, which is not only 100% recyclable but also collected by the company if customers aren’t able to recycle locally.
Plated, which launched almost at the exact same time as Blue Apron, is the market leader when it comes to flexibility. Its service offers many different subscription options and ways to design a box: from the number of servings to the selection of the meals themselves, and when and how often they're delivered. It caters to specific dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, low-carb, and gluten-free meals, and features family-friendly meals as well as add-on options for brunch or appetizers. In short, Plated has so much variety, it gives customers the ability to design their meal plan to suit their needs down to a tee. What’s more, Plated is dedicated to serving high-quality ingredients, including organic produce, hormone and antibiotic-free meats, sustainably sourced seafood and artisan ingredients from small-batch producers.
For these reasons Blue Apron and Plated are 2 of the top meal kit deliveries available in the U.S. today. But which one is better overall? Here’s a breakdown of how they stack up against each other when it comes to variety, quality of ingredients, ease of use, added extras, and value for money.
One of the major reasons why people choose meal kit deliveries is to escape the rut of making the same meals each week. If you’re looking for a service that offers a selection of recipes that is both varied and interesting, Plated will likely come out on top for you.
Plated offers 20 dishes per week, regardless of which plan you have signed up for, while Blue Apron only features 8 recipes with its Signature Plan, and a measly 6 with the Family Plan.
While neither company has a vegan plan, both provide a diverse range of ingredients, with recipes incorporating meat, poultry and seafood, as well as vegetarian options. Blue Apron also serves Beyond Burgers – the plant-based alternative protein.
However, when it comes down to it, Plated not only offers a larger selection of meals but also more variety, featuring more vegetarian meals, brunch options and appetizers as well as family-friendly, low-carb, gluten-free and even stovetop-only meals.
Quality of Ingredients
As 2 of the pioneering brands on the market, Blue Apron and Plated both focus on high-quality ingredients and farm-fresh produce. Blue Apron states that it works with more than 100 family-run farms that use sustainable farming practices and all of its ingredients are non-GMO, while all its meat and poultry are free of hormones and antibiotics and its seafood is sourced sustainably.
Plated too uses antibiotic-free pork and poultry, beef without added hormones, and sustainably sourced seafood. In addition, Plated provides organic produce whenever possible and includes small‑batch and hand‑crafted specialty items from artisan producers whom you wouldn’t be able to find in grocery stores. This gives Plated a little bit of an edge over Blue Apron.
Ease of Use
Besides taking the guesswork out of meal planning and grocery shopping, meal kit delivery services also supply detailed, easy-to-follow recipes that simplify your dinner preparations.
However, the level of culinary skill required for the recipes varies and it’s important to know what you’re signing up for to avoid disappointment. Both Blue Apron and Plated provide step-by-step recipes that include the estimated preparation time as well as pictures of the various cooking stages.
Generally speaking, Blue Apron’s recipes are a little easier to follow than Plated’s. Meals rarely involve advanced cooking methods, and the recipes are suited to all levels of home cook, from novice to culinary wiz. Plated meals, meanwhile, can be a bit more involved, but the company provides recipe tips to explain anything tricky. With Plated you’ll be able to further your cooking abilities, and for that reason, it beats Blue Apron in this category.
As the meal kit delivery market has expanded, so have its offerings. Simply supplying recipes and ingredients is no longer enough to satisfy eager home cooks in search of variety and convenience. After all, a good meal isn’t complete without some add-ons such as a wine pairing, side dish or dessert. This is where Plated and Blue Apron arguably differ the most.
Each week, Plated offers 2 different appetizers ($12 each); side dishes ($9 each); and desserts ($8) that can be added to your box. Blue Apron, on the other hand, has a market section on its website that features a huge array of add-ons. It offers a sizable wine selection that also includes corkscrews, carafes, glasses and coolers; and the company recommends specific wines to pair with the meals you’ve selected. There’s a pantry section with spice blends, chocolate and coffee; a cheese vault, complete with cheese boards and knives; and a huge range of kitchen tools — from pots and pans to knives, peelers and strainers — that make cooking a breeze.
Winner: Blue Apron
Value for Money
The cost of a meal kit delivery service is, of course, one of the most important factors to consider. You want to be sure that the service you sign up to not only caters to your culinary preferences but also works with your budget.
Blue Apron charges $9.99 per serving for a 2-person signature plan of 2 or 3 meals per week and shipping is $7.99 a week with 2, and free when you choose 3 meals. The family plan, which feeds four people starts at $8.99 per serving for 2 meals, and decreases to $7.99 for 3, and $7.49 for 4 meals per week, with shipping always included. This means that if you order 3 meals a week it will cost you $59.94 for a couple and $95.88 for a family of four.
By comparison at Plated the price for a 2-person plan is $11.95 per serving and $9.95 per serving for a family-plan for 3 or 4 people regardless of the number of meals selected. Shipping is free for plans over $60. For 3 meals a week, this works out to $71.70 for a couple, ad $119.40 for a family of four.
The price difference isn’t massive, but Blue Apron comes out ahead with slightly lower prices.
Winner: Blue Apron
Who Comes out on Top?
Blue Apron and Plated are 2 of the top brands in the meal kit delivery market and both companies undoubtedly provide a great service. Both companies focus on quality ingredients and sustainable sourcing and offer interesting yet easy-to-prepare dishes.
However, there can only be one winner and, to me, Plated comes out ahead. While it’s slightly more expensive, Plated has benefits that make the added cost worthwhile. It offers a larger variety of meals, more convenient packaging and a range of recipes and ingredients that will help even the most novice home cooks expand their knowledge and ability in the kitchen.
And the winner is... PLATED