I'll admit, I was a little biased when I started my comparative study between HelloFresh and Plated. I was expecting HelloFresh to win every aspect because not only is it a popular meal kit delivery service, it also made it to the third spot in our list of The Best Meal Delivery Services.
Plated, meanwhile, has had its subscription service discontinued and the business model completely revamped. So, naturally, I didn’t have high hopes. However, it surprised me by bagging a few wins.
If you’re not in the know, Plated was taken over by Albertsons and the subscription service was discontinued. Instead, you’ll find all the Plated recipes on Albertsons and its subsidiary websites including Safeway, Jewel Osco, Tom Thumb, and others. Along with each recipe, you’ll also have the option to purchase the required ingredients at the click of a button. I’ll tell you more about this as we go.
Vegetarian, Calorie-Smart, Pescatarian, Family-Friendly
27 dishes per week
599 recipes in total
$3.32 per serving
$5.19 per serving
Neither HelloFresh nor Plated is for people with strict dietary restrictions or food allergies. You won’t find any options for keto, paleo, vegan, or other diets, and neither will you find any allergen filters. What you will find are good, healthy recipes created with a wide variety of meat, fish, and seasonal produce, at least as far as HelloFresh is concerned.
Given that Plated is no longer a meal subscription service, there aren't many dietary preferences offered. Actually, let me rephrase that – there are no dietary preferences offered. There isn't even a filter to sort the recipes by protein type.
The good thing is, it's just a recipe, so you can alter it to suit your taste and diet by replacing or eliminating ingredients you don't like. It'll have to be a personal call, though, because Plated’s recipes don't give you any alternative suggestions.
HelloFresh, meanwhile, has six different plans to choose from, including Veggie, Pescatarian, Family Friendly, and Calorie Smart.
Winner: HelloFresh is the clear winner in this case, thanks to its range of meal plans.
When it comes to variety, HelloFresh and Plated both fare well, but we do have an obvious winner.
HelloFresh promises a minimum of 22 recipes to choose from each week, but that figure is usually around 25. You can select your recipes from your chosen meal plan, or you can choose from the menu based on prep and cooking time, and even the level of difficulty.
Most of the menu details can be viewed online without having to log in. However, if you want to view the list of ingredients and the popular allergens the recipe might contain, you need to log in, place an order, and then open up the recipe to see these details – something I definitely think can be improved upon.
Plated, on the other hand, boasts a remarkable 599 recipes. Despite the complete absence of dietary filters, you'll find other helpful filters to sort the recipes, such as by cuisine type, cook time, difficulty, and even cooking technique.
You’ll have to open each recipe to see the difficulty level and cook time, and unfortunately, you won’t find any nutritional information anywhere. It’s up to you to check individual ingredient labels and figure out the nutrition.
Winner: Even if we consider the monthly total of HelloFresh recipes, Plated is still the winner when it comes to variety.
The pricing is tricky to compare given that the services are both very different.
HelloFresh’s meals start at $3.32 per serving if you’re ordering a minimum of three meals per week for four people. If you’re only ordering two meals a week for two people, the price per serving goes up to $12.49. Considering the ingredients come portioned and prepped, and you don't have to worry about measuring or managing leftovers, I feel it's worth the price.
Look out for offers from HelloFresh, too. There are often discounts for first-time customers, like money off your first four orders and no shipping charge on your first box.
As for Plated, the cheapest recipe I found was the Broccolini and White Cheddar Soup in Sourdough Bread Bowls, which came in at $20.76. This is the total for all the required ingredients. Since the recipe serves four people, the price per serving comes to $5.19.
The price may be less if you have any of the ingredients at home already. Then there are ingredients like oils and seasonings that come in large packs and won’t need to be purchased again next time, so technically the price per serving goes down even further.
For certain recipes though, the price might go up. For example, in the case of its Jerk Chicken with Coconut Rice and Summer Vegetables, priced at $24.22, the recipe requires four chicken breasts but the price only accounts for a pack of two.
When it comes to shipping charges, HelloFresh has a flat rate of $8.99. For Plated, since the ingredients are being purchased from a supermarket, you can either pick them up from your nearest store or have them delivered. Based on whether you want the items to be delivered by the company’s one-hour partner, two-hour partner, or four-hour partner, the delivery charge will be $9.95, $5.95, and $3.95 respectively.
Winner: Given the convenience, HelloFresh offers a great price but if we’re strictly talking numbers, I guess Plated wins the race here.
HelloFresh is pretty much available everywhere in the US, with Alaska and Hawaii being the only exceptions. Technically, it does offer delivery every day of the week but that's only in selected cities. From what I can gather from the website, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday delivery is available across the board. In Fairfax (where I ordered from), HelloFresh delivers every day except Tuesday.
Since Plated ingredients are available at Albertsons and its subsidiaries, the delivery days would depend on the respective store. I have a Safeway about a mile from my house so I was offered delivery as early as the next day, and the delivery is available seven days a week.
While the two are neck and neck when it comes to delivery, the packaging is a different story.
Since Plated ingredients are coming from a grocery store, there's no special packaging except for the bag it's in. As for the individual ingredients, the packaging will depend on the individual brands.
HelloFresh meal kits, meanwhile, come neatly packed in a recyclable cardboard box with insulation and ice packs to keep the produce fresh. The ingredients for each meal are packed in brown paper bags so you don't have to rummage through the box when starting each dish. The proteins are separately packed to avoid contamination.
Almost all of the packaging is recyclable. I say almost because while the box, paper bags, insulation, and ice packs are all recyclable, the #4 plastic it uses for individual ingredients (too much, if you ask me) can be recycled in some places only, not all.
Winner: There's a tie with regards to delivery but in the case of packaging, HelloFresh has the upper hand.
Here's the thing – my fridge is a treasure chest. There's everything in there but rummaging and thinking about what to cook at the end of a long day is hard. Having the portioned and prepped ingredients, and the step-by-step instructions, that HelloFresh provides makes things a whole lot easier.
That, however, cannot be said about Plated because it's essentially shopping for groceries online. Once your stuff arrives, you still have to sort, measure, prep, and cook everything.
Then there’s also the matter of the recipe instructions which I thought were clearer and easier to follow from HelloFresh. I also found that it's handier to have the recipe card in front of you while cooking, rather than having to keep revisiting a webpage with dirty hands every few minutes, as you’ll have to do with Plated.
Winner: HelloFresh is simpler, more convenient, and the clear winner of this segment.
While HelloFresh is our clear winner, Plated didn’t scale as bad as I thought. In fact, it didn’t scale badly at all but it doesn’t offer the same level of convenience that HelloFresh does.
Plated is more of an organized and relatively easy grocery shopping experience, with the added benefit of finding new and yummy recipes. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might consider Plated. However, if it’s quick and easy ways to prepare meals or simply a good meal kit delivery service you want, HelloFresh is the obvious choice.
And talking of good meal delivery services, you might want to take a look at our expert list of The Best Meal Delivery Services before you make your final choice.
Overall winner: HelloFresh