Overall Score: Very Good

Plated earned the highest marks for taste in our recent tests of meal kit delivery services. It also is the most flexible when it comes to the number of meals you can order each week—up to seven for a two-person plan. While Plated doesn’t offer a defined “family” plan as other services do, the company will help you create custom options if you need to feed more than two people. The website indicates you can order nine meals weekly, but those extra two are “chef-inspired” and if you choose one of them, you will pay an additional fee, which vary based on the market price of specialty cuts of meat and seafood, according to the company.

Plated is the only meal delivery service that offers dessert options, which are priced at an extra $4 per portion. We tried two of the sweets on the menu during the week of our testing. The Sticky Monkey Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon had a buttery brown sugar and cinnamon coating on dough pieces but wasn’t overly sweet. The Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries, Coconut, and Pistachios was sweet and salty with an interesting combination of flavors. Both received “very good” taste scores.

As for the main meals, our tasters gave one of their three “excellent” scores to Plated’s Blackened Fish Sandwiches with Avocado Mash and Creamy Aioli. It had “notes of citrus and garlic” and overall was “flavorful and interesting.” The Little Gem Caesar with Crispy Chickpeas and Green Beans was a “homerun” for flavor as well. Tasters praised the salad’s “interesting combination of flavors and textures.” Of note: Our blind tasters unanimously said they would eat and/or make all of the seven recipes again, a designation unique to Plated.

Unfortunately that great flavor may be due to fat and sodium. The service tied with Purple Carrot for highest average fat content with four of the seven recipes containing more than 30 grams per serving. It also had the highest average amount of sodium, with three dishes of the seven tallying more than 1,400 mg. (The maximum recommended daily intake is 2,300 mg.) The worst offender was the Quinoa Fried Rice with Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas, which contained 1,680 milligrams in one serving.

Plated’s dishes were among the easiest to prepare according to our tests and most of the dishes took five to 10 minutes less to make than the estimated time of the recipe cards listed. Plated aims to make planning even easier by emailing you a few days ahead to let you know what extra ingredients you should have on hand. Also, when you’re ordering online, the service provides helpful tags that note whether meals have no added gluten, contain nuts, are low-calorie or are a staff favorite, among others. They also provide helpful cooking tips on the recipe cards, such as “wiping mushrooms clean instead of rinsing prevents them from absorbing water” and “arranging your potatoes cut-side down in a single layer helps them roast and caramelize instead of steam,” that kitchen novices might appreciate.

How We Tested

Consumer Reports evaluated five meal kit services that deliver nationally: Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, Plated, and Purple Carrot. Using our secret shoppers, we ordered every meal (except for one from Green Chef) available in each service’s two-person plan during a week in May, for a total of 27 meals. The weeks were chosen randomly and the type and quality of offerings were assumed to be reflective the service overall. Ingredients were examined upon arrival and weighed to compare what was received with the ingredient amounts listed in the recipe. Our food-testing team then prepared the recipes in our test kitchen without using any special equipment. A panel of professional tasters sampled every dish. Our dietitians scrutinized the nutritional content for the dishes and reviewed the available nutritional information for a month’s worth of each service’s meal options. Meals that were at or below 670 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 770 mg of sodium were considered to be healthier based on one-third of a day’s nutrition for a 2,000-calorie diet. To further assess the healthfulness of the meals, we considered portion size, whether they contained healthful ingredients such as legumes and whole grains, and roughly estimated the amount of vegetables per serving to assess the healthfulness of the meal. Overall scores are based on nutrition, taste, ease of preparation, time it takes to get the meal on the table, price, variety, and ingredient freshness.

Nutrition information is from Plated and is based on one portion of a recipe.