One of the cheapest meal kits
Prep work is fast and easy
Recipe cards included
Limited recipe selection
No options for restricted diets such as vegan, keto and paleo
Shipping isn’t free
We're continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation with regards to whether or not some meal delivery services will be altering their operation schedules, geographic restrictions, and/or frequency of shipments. As of now, most meal delivery services seem to be operating under a normal schedule, expanding inventory to continue to provide meals, are complying with FDA regulations, and are monitoring CDC recommendations closely. However, there are a handful of companies (and we have noted them below) who have had to scale back deliveries and are having delays of one to two weeks.
A Note from a Medical Professional:
"Meal delivery services (and restaurants doing take out/delivery) should be following the same precautions for their employees that are recommended for other businesses: social distancing, frequent hand washing, frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, etc. Coronavirus is thought to be spread primarily through direct contact and inhalation of respiratory droplets from infected persons, rather than through infected items."
– Anju Goel, MD, MD, MPH, Verywell Health Medical Review Board Member
In a sea of premium meal kit companies that cost $10 or more per serving, Every Plate stands out for offering kits that costs half that price. Launched in 2018 by Hello Fresh, one of the top meal kit brands, Every Plate allows cooks with a limited budget as well as limited time get out of their dinnertime ruts. Of course, the big question is whether or not they include flavor and freshness in the bargain. To find the answer, we signed up for Every Plate and tested it out. Read on to find out what we thought.
How It Works: Simple to Sign up
Every Plate keeps things simple and offers just two plans. With the two-serving plan, subscribers can choose to buy three, four or five kits each week. But with the four-serving plan, you’re limited to just three meals per week. Presumably, this is to ensure all the ingredients will fit into one box. You can let the company automatically send the default meals or choose from the eight rotating choices.
The kits are delivered once a week and include everything you need to prepare the meal, except for a few staples. Like most companies, Every Plate assumes you’ll have your own cooking oil, salt, and pepper, but it also expects you to supply your own flour, sugar, butter, and milk.
Depending on your area, Every Plate delivers Tuesdays through Fridays, sometime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. We only had the choice between Thursday or Friday. The kit arrived in the afternoon, but we waited until 7 p.m. to open the box and the ingredients were still cold.
Switching plans, selecting recipes, skipping weeks, and deactivating your subscription are all easy to do online and in the app.
Choosing Meals: Tight Selection
One way Every Plate keeps costs down is by only offering a small selection of recipes to choose from. Each week brings just eight new options, only one of which is vegetarian. Most of the recipes are built around inexpensive proteins such as ground beef or sausage, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or pork chops. Anything with steak costs an extra $2.99 per serving.
Each week brings just eight new options, only one of which is vegetarian.
With so few options there aren’t many labels to differentiate them from another. We spotted a hot pepper symbol on the purportedly spicy dish and a "veggie" sign for a vegetarian dish, but nothing else to clue us in to what’s fast, low-carb, gluten-free, and the like. If you’re following a restricted diet, this isn’t the meal kit service for you.
All of the recipes include a starch of some sort, and it usually comes in the form of bread and pasta, with three of the dishes using rice or potatoes instead. The dishes were generally pretty familiar with very few international flavors, and about a third following the “hunk of protein with a veg and starch on the side” format. Think chili glazed chicken breasts with rice and carrots.
Most of the recipes are built around inexpensive proteins like ground beef or sausage, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or pork chops.
Most dishes can be made in 30 minutes, or at least under 40 minutes. And thankfully we could click on a dish’s photo to get all the details, including the instructions, cook time and allergens, so we could decide if it was something we really wanted to make.
· Beef Banh Mi Bowls with Sriracha Mayo, Carrot, and Pickled Cucumber
· Cheesy Pork Sausage Sloppy Joes with Garlic Butter Buns and Potato Wedges
· Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Zucchini
Support Materials: Compact Cards & Simple App
Every Plate’s recipe cards are about half the size of most meal kits’ cards, but they’re still easy to follow. The use full-color photos to clearly show the ingredients included, the five or six steps each recipe would take, and the finished dish. There was even a cooking tip included on each one. The photos don’t look as beautiful as those from other meal kit companies, but they get the job done. Another bargain meal kit service we tried didn’t even include recipe cards, so this was a definite improvement.
We could also view and download the recipes online, or view them in the app. The app itself is very simple and easy to use. It simply shows the recipes for the upcoming weeks, lets you skip if you want, and you can change your account information.
Packaging: Minimal But Still Plenty of Plastic
When Every Plate’s box arrived we noticed it was quite a bit smaller than most other meal kit companies we’ve tried. It seems they cut down on space by simply packing most of the items for all the meals into one small cardboard box within the bigger shipping box, with the meats tucked between the ice packs below. We appreciated the smaller box, but kind of missed having everything neatly organized into separate bags for each kit.
The cardboard boxes are curbside recyclable. The insulating liner is made of cotton batting that can break down in the garbage, and the film plastic covering it, as well as the gel packs, are recyclable depending on where you live (that kind of plastic is not recyclable in our area). With the exception of tougher stuff, like potatoes and onions, most of the ingredients were packaged in plastic bags as well.
The Cooking Process: Fast & Easy
Every Plate helpfully posts the prep time for each meal right at the top of its recipe card, and they averaged just 5 or 10 minutes. Each recipe only required a few ingredients, which meant there was minimal chopping. And we usually needed just one skillet and a pot or a baking sheet, which made clean-up fast.
Most dishes can be made in 30 minutes, or at least under 40 minutes.
For the most part, even beginners would have no trouble following these recipes. The instructions were clear and there were no tricky techniques required. However, one recipe had a flaw in the rice cooking instructions. It called for 3/4 cup of rice to be cooked in 1 cup of water, which is not quite enough liquid when cooking rice on the stovetop. We weren’t sure if maybe there was something special about the rice that allowed it to require so little liquid, so we followed the directions against our better judgment. Sure enough, the rice was not cooked through in the end. We added more water, simmered again, and it turned out fine.
Flavor, Freshness and Quality: Middle of The Road
There wasn’t much produce included in our meals so it’s not easy to judge the freshness, but the one carrot, zucchini and cucumber we did receive were in fine shape. And overall the portions for the meals were quite generous.
The flavor of most meals, however, didn’t wow us. It seems the service does better at classic “meat with sauce, vegetable and starch” types of meals rather than its attempts at creative, global-inspired plates.
The flavor of most meals, however, didn’t wow us.
The Cheesy Pork Sausage Sloppy Joes lacked any of the tart-sweet notes that are hallmarks of real sloppy joes. They mostly tasted like oregano-heavy spaghetti sauce on a bun, and the melted mozzarella didn’t help. The accompanying roasted potatoes were good though.
The Beef Banh Mi bowls were our least favorite since they lacked any Vietnamese flavor whatsoever. The ground beef was sautéed with onion and garlic and given a splash of soy sauce. We were supposed to add 2 teaspoons of sugar but we started with one and it was plenty sweet enough. It was served on steamed rice with grated carrots, cucumbers doused in lime juice and sugar, and sriracha-spiked mayonnaise. But without any fish sauce or lemongrass, and with the vegetables barely even tart, the mix tasted like meatloaf on rice with mayonnaise. Not a great combo.
Our favorite was the Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Zucchini. Sure, it was simple and predictable, but it was a delicious and well-balanced entrée. The potatoes get diced and boiled in one pot, the zucchini roasts in the oven with the garlic, and the boneless skinless breasts get tossed in lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil, then cooked in a skillet, with a quick pan sauce at the end adding a boost of flavor. However we did make one major change that ensured its success: We skipped the ridiculously small packet of dry rosemary — it truly had about 10 tiny dry leaves — and snipped a sprig of fresh rosemary from our yard. There was no way that tiny packet of dried herbs was going to add much flavor and it seemed a crime not to use fresh.
Who It’s Good For?
Every Plate is a good option for people who have limited time, cooking skills and grocery budget, but who want to steer clear of take out.
Who It Isn’t Good For?
Adventurous cooks, or those who love vegetables, will probably find Every Plate’s meal options lacking.
Customer Service: Always Available
For such a budget service, Every Plate offers pretty comprehensive customer service options. Perhaps that’s because it’s owned by Hello Fresh. Customers can e-mail, call (during Eastern business hours) or live chat with a rep 24/7. And the Frequently Asked Questions link both online and in the app answers most of the big questions.
Making Changes and Canceling: Very Straightforward
It’s very easy to skip weeks and make changes to your subscription. The “skip” button is prominently displayed, as is the deadline for making changes each week. The website is simple and uncluttered, and just about everything you need is located in the Plan Settings tab. There you can change your delivery date, your plan, your address, and payment information. You can also deactivate your plan indefinitely and restart with one click.
The Competition: Every Plate vs. Dinnerly
Every Plate and Dinnerly offer the two cheapest meal kits on the market, charging an average of $4.99 per serving instead of $9.99 and up. And both charge $8.99 for shipping. Both services offer a similar selection of meals — familiar dishes that are easy and ready in 30 minutes. The biggest differences between the companies are in the small details. Dinnerly offers more choices — 14 recipes each compared to Every Plate’s eight, and those on the four-serving plan can order 3, 4 or 5 meals while Every Plate limits that plan to three meals. However, Every Plate includes handy recipe cards, more customer service options, and slightly less packaging.
Inexpensive, but a bit boring.
For under $40 per week, Every Plate saves the hassle of planning and shopping and provides three fast and easy meals that can feed two people. It’s definitely cheaper than takeout and likely a lot more healthy, too. Some recipes can be a bit boring, but if you select carefully, you can end up with relatively tasty dinners on the cheap.
- Product Name Every Plate
- Price $38.93
- Standard Plan 3 meals for 2 people: $29.94
- Shipping $8.99
- Typical Cost per Serving $4.99
- Weekly Meal Options In the two-serving plan choose three, four or five meals per week from 8 options. In the four-serving plan you can only choose 3 meals.
- Promotional Deals Refer friends for $20 off their first box and get a $20 credit when they order. Students get 18 meals for $2.50 each.