About two months ago, a Facebook friend said they had a voucher to get a free box from EveryPlate. I took him up on it, and I’ve stuck with it thus far. Every Friday, I get a box with enough ingredients to make three different meals, with approximately two servings per meal. I pay about $38 per box, shipped.
It’s important to know what one is paying for, and what one isn’t. If you’re looking at it as a replacement for grocery shopping or grocery deliveries…yeah, you’re going to be unhappy, because there is maybe $12 in groceries each box. By that metric, it’s definitely overpriced and you won’t be happy. If you’re looking for something that’s one step above TV Dinners, where the instructions are “throw this half in a pot, wait ten minutes, throw that half into the pot, wait two minutes and eat”, yeah, you’re not going to like it, either. You’ll still be washing and peeling, dicing and mixing: vegetables are delivered whole. So, with those disclaimers in mind, here’s what I like, and what I don’t…
Like: New Recipes.
I’ve been cooking for quite some time, and while I can do a good amount of cooking, I like being exposed to new recipes. I’ve got a folder full of things I’ve saved from Facebook that seem amazing, but I’ve never tried them. I haven’t loved, ehm, every plate, but being exposed to different food combinations is already a positive experience. The fact that I have a box full of stuff that will spoil if I don’t cook them gives me a reason to prioritize cooking them.
Dislike: Recipes are a bit confusing.
This may well be a personal preference, but I am not a fan of how the recipes are written. Now, to be fair, after doing a few, I see that they are indeed written to optimize for all components of the meal to be finished cooking at the same time. This is very understandable as an outcome, but the process ends up being very confusing. This makes it difficult to assess what things to substitute.
For example, one recipe had me preheating my oven to 425F…to toast two rolls. I could have done this in the toaster oven, but it wasn’t clear until three steps later that that’s all I was doing.
In another scenario, a single step involved mixing two separate things in two separate bowls…but the fact that it was two bowls was super unclear until several steps later when only a subset of the ingredients was referenced.
Overall, the recipes are clearly written in such a way that they fit in a very specific amount of space, as the recipe cards are attractively designed and obviously intended to be kept. I can appreciate wanting an attractive layout, but the number of times I had to read the same paragraph four times to figure out all six actions in that single ‘step’ is the sort of thing that makes it clear that EveryPlate optimizes for form over function.
EveryPlate gives me the ability to order three new recipes every week. I can re-order things I’ve had already if I want, but the ability to try new things is part of the draw. While there are premium ‘plates’ that have more expensive cuts of beef or some such, there are always enough bundled options to ensure that my box always has something new.
Dislike: Portion Sizes
I’m one dude. This works out well, because I can almost finish both servings of a meal by myself. Some have this issue more egregious than others; some I’ve genuinely had to come back to in order to finish everything, others I’ve eaten something else after I’ve eaten all the EvetyPlate things. Perhaps it’s a bit healthier to eat a bit less each meal, and that’s fine…but I feel like there’s a happy medium between what EveryPlate ships and “the appetizers at Applebee’s which are two meals by themselves”.
Like: What Ships
The boxes come with insulating wrap and three ice packs, all of which are reusable. If you have a cat, I am certain the box is the perfect size for your cat. I’ve had the box sit outside for six hours and the ice is still solid. It’s a well done shipping solution.
Likewise, the produce is always fresh. Every pepper is clean, every tomato is perfectly red. Meat and poultry is shipped in thick, vacuum-packed plastic. It lasts for days in the refrigerator, and is always cleaned beforehand.
Dislike: Sometimes…What Ships
If you grew up in a similar household to me, you know that garlic is measured with your heart, not your measuring cup. If two recipes call for half a bulb of garlic, I get one bulb of garlic. My dude…first off, not every clove is fit to cut and chop; you can’t assume that. Second, if a recipe calls for three cloves of finely chopped garlic, it needs five. I have run out of garlic every single time I get a box. It’s cheap, but if you’re going to be that way about it, at least give me the option to add an extra bulb the way I can add extra chicken.
One recipe I had gave me the option to pickle an onion using lime juice. This seemed interesting, but I got a single, tiny lime whose juice could barely wet the bottom of the bowl. I made it work, but again, I feel like a second lime could have been helpful since not every lime juices the same.
Like I said in the beginning, it’s maybe $12 in groceries. I feel like ‘just a bit extra’ would make me feel far happier with what I receive every Friday.
This certainly isn’t the sort of thing that EveryPlate explicitly sells, but EveryPlate has given me motivation to cook instead of grabbing Chipotle on the way home. Even assuming I eat both ‘servings’ and the amount ends up being $12/meal, it’s not out of line with what a barbacoa bowl ends up costing. I have done other shopping in terms of making things a bit differently than I used to, and recognize more things I can potentially make. This is helping me improve some overall habits I’ve had for some time.
Many of the things I cook are optimized for a single pan, a cutting board, and maybe three utensils. I hate dishes. EveryPlate meals seem to assume I have a dishwasher, apparently. It’s common for a meal to involve a frying pan, a pot, a baking pan, a cutting board, two bowls, and five utensils, in addition to the actual forks and plates used for consumption. There’s a sink full of dishes after I finish, and it’d be far easier to not-mind them if the recipes had time for simmering or something similar where I could wash dishes in between…but alas, they do not.
So, that’s my summary of being an EveryPlate subscriber. Will I keep it for now? Yeah, probably. Will I keep it for a year? Ehhh…jury’s out. We’ll see.