For the past few years, meal kit delivery services have been all the rage. And although I’ve written about them from time to time, I hadn’t actually tried any first-hand — until now. Recently, on the recommendation of a friend, my wife and I decided to try out EveryPlate (which, funny enough, is owned by HelloFresh).
Like other services, this one sends you weekly recipes along with pre-portioned ingredients. But, with me being a picky eater, would I like what it had to offer? Plus, what about the cost of the service? To answer all of those questions and more, let’s take a look at the basics of EveryPlate along with my experience and thoughts so far.
EveryPlate plans and pricing
Let’s jump straight into the nitty-gritty of EveryPlate: the cost. With the service, you can choose between three different “Plate” plans as well as select how many people you’ll be feeding and how many meals you want to be delivered per week. Starting with those “Plate” options, in addition to the “ClassicPlate” selection, the service also has a VeggiePlate plan with “veg-forward” meals and a “FamilyPlate” plan with more kid-approved options. Once you choose one of those three, you’ll then choose the number of people (2 or 4) and how many meals you want per week: 3, 4, or 5. According to EveryPlate, the most popular plan is ClassicPlate for two people with four meals per week — which just so happens to be what we tried out.
As for price, EveryPlate charges $4.99 per serving. So, a plan for 2 people, 4 times a week comes out to a base of $39.92. However, unlike some other services, shipping is not included in this price. Instead, you’ll pay $9.99 for shipping each week in addition to any applicable taxes.
Something else to mention about EveryPlate plans is that you can currently choose to have your weekly delivery on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Keep this in mind when setting up your plan — although you can change it later if needed (within a certain amount of time before you planned delivery, of course).
Each week, you’ll have 16 different meal options to select your allotted meals from. Typically, your options will be available to view a few weeks before your box is set to ship. Then, you’ll need to finalize your picks five days before your planned delivery date. If you don’t do this, then the default options that EveryPlate selects for you will be what you get.
When choosing your meals, there are a few upgrade options to be aware of. The first ones are Premium and Premium+ meals. Selecting a Premium meal will add $3.99 per serving to your price for that week’s delivery while Premium+ adds $5.99. As some examples, we decided to try the Herb Butter Steak, which was a Premium option. Meanwhile, the first Premium+ selection I’ve seen so far is the Creamy Dijon Salmon I could have selected for this week.
Elsewhere, on some meal options, you can customize your recipe with an upgraded side, protein, or other ingredients. We’ve done this as well, swapping out carrots for asparagus at a cost of $0.49 per serving, while I’ve also encountered the option to go from chicken to shrimp ($2.99 per serving) or add bacon ($1.99 per serving). Not every meal has an upgrade option — in fact, I’d say the majority don’t — but they may be of interest when they pop up.
What’s also nice is that you can add extra portions or extra meals if you’d like. For example, if you’re having company or the menu just looks particularly good, you can add portions or meal selections for an additional $4.99 per serving (excluding Premium or Premium+, which will add $4.99 on top of the extra Premium fee/Premium+ fee). Alternatively, this means that you can double up on a recipe to fill out your order if other options don’t excite you. Finally, there are also Protein Packs available with items such as chicken breasts, ground beef, etc. The prices for these vary but I’ve seen some for $2.99 per serving or $3.99 per serving.
By the way, all of these cited options apply to the ClassicPlate plan. While I assume that the VeggiePlate and FamilyPlate plans have similar customizable factors, I can’t say for sure.
Skipping weeks or canceling
One of the downsides of a subscription service like EveryPlate is the commitment it brings. To alleviate that, EveryPlate makes it easy to skip a week. Whether you’re going to be out of town or just don’t care for the menu options, you’ll just need to hit the “Skip week” button. Again, you’ll need to do this at least five days before the planned delivery.
If you’re looking for a more permanent change, you can also deactivate your EveryPlate account. While I haven’t personally done this, the option is easy to find on the Settings page (just scroll to the bottom). Therefore, I feel fairly confident that it should be a simple process.
The first thing I like about EveryPlate is that the meals manage to nudge me out of my comfort zone while still allowing me to make changes if needed. For example, while I haven’t previously been a fan of onions, I decided to give their French Onion Chicken a try and quite enjoyed it! Meanwhile, though, my aversion to mayo led me to just skip one of the sauces featured in our Ponzu Beef Bowls. For the record, I did also give a brussel sprout a try and, while it wasn’t as offensive to me as I would have thought, I wasn’t excited to eat the rest (my wife was obliged to take my portion on that one).
My wife and I have enjoyed every meal we’ve had from EveryPlate so far. Naturally, we liked some more than others but we have no big complaints. That said, I will share a single nitpick: while we both think the chicken we’ve had from the service tastes good, we’ve noticed that the texture was slightly rubbery on a couple of bites. Other than that, we’ve been impressed — although we may be easily pleased.
Let me say off the bat that I’ve found the portions we get with EveryPlate are just about perfect for us. Sure, I sometimes wish I had a little extra (a testament to their tastiness) but I don’t really need more. On that note, I should point out that my wife does occasionally give me a slightly larger share of sides while the proteins are split evenly. This has worked well and neither of us has any complaints.
Opening our first box from EveryPlate, I liked how all of the “dry” ingredients were placed in a removable cardboard tray that I could easily lift in order to start putting the items away. Meanwhile, closer to where the ice was stored, are all of the proteins. Speaking of the packaging, EveryPlate notes that the box and separator are 100% recyclable while the gel ice packs and box liners can be recycled after a couple of steps are taken (you can find details on their FAQ page).
As for the delivery itself, our packages have been brought to us by FedEx. And, for the most part, they’ve arrived on time. However, on one occasion, our box arrived a day late — despite being “out for delivery” on the correct day (FedEx said the box wasn’t deliverable because I wasn’t home… even though I was and they don’t require a signature anyway). Luckily, despite the delay, the ingredients all stayed at a safe temperature. Yes, the ice packs were definitely more melted than usual, but the meats remained cold. According to EveryPlate, their packages are designed to keep items fresh for up to 48 hours in their box, so the delay wasn’t too big of a deal. Nevertheless, I sure hope FedEx doesn’t make a habit of delivering to us late.
I do want to mention some of EveryPlate’s promotions. Not only did I sign up using a “free box” promo from a friend of mine (where all we did was pay shipping) but, soon after becoming members, I was able to activate an offer sent to me in my email presenting us with 20% off our next three orders. Thus, the first box that we’re actually paying full price for is still coming up.
On the other end of the equations, EveryPlate also has incentives for referring people. From time to time, you may be able to share free boxes with friends by providing their email. Meanwhile, if you want $20 off your first box, you can feel free to use my referral link as well. I’m honestly not sure how competitive that offer is but, hey, if it helps…
Has it saved us money?
Here’s the thing… since my wife and I were already fairly frugal in the dining department, adding a meal kit to the mix actually costs us a bit more per week. However, at a cost of around $50 a week, it’s significantly cheaper than eating out. Heck, even at cheaper table service locations like Chili’s, you could easily spend $50 on dinner for two whereas the same $50 gets us four meals for the two of us.
In our case, what I like about the meal kit life is that it adds some variety to our menu. Admittedly, up until now, we’ve really relied on the same few staples. While that’s great for saving money, it’s nice to mix things up. To that point, this experiment is also giving us some ideas for meals we can add to the mix even if we do end our subscription. Therefore, I’m satisfied to try this out for a while even if it does cost a bit more than buying groceries and making our own meal plans.
Overall, my wife and I have really enjoyed EveryPlate so far. In fact, we’ve just decided to try it out for a bit longer but to downgrade to the three meals a week plan. While I can’t say how long we’ll be subscribers, what the long-term experience will be, or how it compares to other meal kit delivery services, I can say that I’d at least recommend giving it a shot.
Originally published at Money@30.