They say, “all good things must come to an end”. For meal kit connoisseurs, never has this been more true than when Plated closed down.
Back in November 2019 Plated officially shut its doors, citing Albertsons Companies (the new owners) goal of focusing on in-store experiences instead. Unfortunately, this left thousands of Plated customers without their favorite meal kit.
If you were a past Plated customer or you happened to catch them on a rerun of their appearance on Shark Tank, and you’re on the hunt for a similar meal kit experience, I’m here to help.
Having spent over half a decade trying every meal kit I can get my hands on, I can tell you from experience that there are some great alternatives to Plated out there. In this article, I’m going to share them with you.
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What Made Plated Special?
Before jumping into the specific meal kits, it’s important to first understand what made Plated special in the first place. We can then use that criteria as a means of judging which other meal kits are truly the best alternatives available.
Having spent time using Plated back when they first gained popularity, I have my own thoughts on what made them special. I also spent time researching what others enjoyed about the Plated meal kit experience. This includes food bloggers, mom bloggers, and many reddit forum conversations.
Here’s what I narrowed it down to…
- Quality & Quantity Of Recipes: At the time, Plated was known for having more eclectic recipes on their menu than most other meal kits. This includes cuisines from around the world. They took the time to make those recipes as authentic as possible. Because of that, many Plated customers (including myself) were able to try new ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques.
- Easy To Follow Recipe Cards: Plated leaned into more complex recipes that catered to those who already had experience in the kitchen. That being said, they did a great job of designing their recipe cards to be easy for even novices to understand.
- Hefty Portion Sizes: In my opinion, what really made Plated stand out among the other popular meal kits at the time was the fact that they didn’t skimp on portions. Small portions is a common complaint I still hear about many meal kits.
- Delicious Meals: At the end of the day, what we all care about is the taste of the meals and Plated consistently knocked it out of the park with theirs.
Now that we have a general outline of what made Plated one of the top meal kits of its time, let’s use it to narrow down our search and find the best alternative meal kits.
Best Meal Kit + Marketplace
When Sunbasket first popped up on the meal kit scene, I was intrigued not only by the amount of diets they covered (everything from vegan to paleo) but also how exotic their menu was.
You can find meals such as Jamaican rundown soup with pollock, sweet potato, and coconut milk and blackened sole with pickled carrots and sweet mini peppers. That said, they have some more pared back meals for those who aren’t as adventurous.
What I enjoy most about Sunbasket is the fact that they’ve slowly evolved their service from being a pure meal kit to becoming an all-in-one marketplace too. Now, in addition to meal kit meals, they offer pre-made meals, breads, pastas, snacks, desserts, drinks, and more. They’re one of the few meal delivery services that allows you to almost fully eliminate grocery store trips.
Best For Gourmet Recipes
When Plated finally shut down, many people made the switch to HelloFresh since they were seen as the next best popular meal kit option.
Where I believe HelloFresh really shines in comparison to Plated is how they take fairly complex recipes and make them simple to follow. As mentioned above, this was something that Plated was very good at.
HelloFresh has also released more “premium” meals (at an additional cost) which are pretty comparable to the types of meals that Plated mainly focused on. They label these meals as “Gourmet Plus” and include options such as steelhead trout in cranberry dijon sauce. Not only do these meals include more interesting ingredients and flavors, I also found them to be bigger portions too. You can actually watch us cook one of those premium meals in the video above.
Also worth noting, HelloFresh has started to evolve their meal delivery service in a similar way to how Sunbasket has. Now you’ll find more than just meal kits. This includes marketplace options such as snacks, produce, desserts, and even ready-to-heat meals.
Best For Recipes Comparable To Plated’s
Out of all the meal kits I’ve tried, Marley Spoon seems to check all the same boxes that Plated did.
They partner with Martha Stewart, hence the full name of the brand being “Martha & Marley Spoon. I found this partnership to be more than just a marketing gimmick. They really do a good job of capturing the essence of Martha Stewart’s recipe and cooking style—what I would call “luxury homestyle meals”.
I found many of the recipes to be fun, interesting, and (most importantly) tasty. However, in a few recent tests we did have more “dud” meals than many of the other meal kits on this list. While this may have been a fluke, I feel it’s important to point out.
On their menu you’ll find meals such as food truck caramel pulled pork tacos with sriracha mayo and skillet beef moussaka with tomato & eggplant. In addition to gourmet offerings, they also offer more traditional “meat and veggie” style dishes as well as lighter meals such as grilled caprese flatbread with basil pesto & arugula salad.
While Marley Spoon doesn’t have a marketplace of add-ons as extensive as Sunbasket or HelloFresh, they do allow you to include some other items in your box such as desserts, smoothies, and even additional meats.
Best For Flexibility & Customizability
Home Chef is one of the most flexible meal delivery services that I’ve reviewed. That’s to say, you can personalize it in a way which matches what Plated offered.
On the surface Home Chef seems like a pretty generic meal kit. They don’t have a “cool” brand like Sunbasket or a high profile partnership like Marley Spoon. It’s only when you actually get to use Home Chef that you see just how remarkable they are. Much of this is due to their “Customize It” feature which allows you to upgrade, swap, or even double up proteins with certain meals.
What’s more, Home Chef’s menu is extremely versatile. This means you can try your hand at more intricate recipes such as crispy fried mahi-mahi and preserved lemon tartar sauce or try any of their oven-ready meals for days you don’t feel like cooking (here’s a video where we review those oven-ready meals). On a personal note, I found this amount of recipe variety and flexibility makes it easier to conform Home Chef to my hectic (and often long) work weeks.
Which Meal Kit Is The Best Plated Alternative?
All things considered, I believe Marley Spoon is the most comparable to Plated. It’s not exactly the same but given that Marley Spoon generally leans into more eclectic and diverse cuisines, offers bigger portions (without added cost) than most other meal kits, and tends to have some very delicious recipes, I have to say they’re the closest alternative that I’ve tried.
While Plated was adored by many and positioned as one of the best meal kits, they weren’t without their faults.
Their meals came out to be around $10 per serving, which even today makes them one of the most expensive options I’ve seen. Many meal kits start around $7 to $8 per serving and work their way up based on customizations, plan options, etc.
Plated’s recipes were more advanced, allowing people to learn new cooking techniques and interesting recipes. However, that level of complexity also involved more time and effort in the kitchen too. Not everyone wants to spend over an hour making dinner every night. Today we see many meal kits offering recipes with varying levels of effort needed. Some, like Home Chef, are leaning into quick oven-ready meals, whereas others, like Sunbasket, offer fully prepared meals.
Last, and arguably most important, Plated simply didn’t offer the same amount of meals that meal kits of today do. For example, meal kits like Sunbasket can cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of the week, whereas Plated could really only cover dinners 3-4 times per week.
All of that is to say, while you may have been looking for a meal kit that is a comparable alternative to what Plated previously offered, you may be surprised to see that there are meal kit options out there today that supersede what made Plated so good in the first place.
Have a question about one of the meal kits mentioned in this article? Have you tried one of them? Let me know in the comments below!