I know I’m not the only one who has the “What’s for dinner?” battle raging internally on my commute. "What's close/who delivers" and "What can I cook" constantly duke it out, but it's never a fair fight. If you're like me, you fall in the warm embrace of take-out, completely abandoning the "What can I cook" option.
Plated, a food service that aims to deliver fresh ingredients and exciting recipes straight to your door, wants to change all that. They are even extending an awesome offer to Gothamist readers to help stem the tide, so click here to try it out for yourself.
My meager dinner battles ended in me seeking a fix from the pizza place up the block, the Chinese buffet around the corner or the burger joint that delivers until 2 a.m. I'm very impulsive when it comes to food, so I mix things up as often as I can (an easy task with so many options). The convenience of take-out wasn't the source of my addiction: it was always the variety.
I've tried kicking the habit by doing the whole "responsible self-sustaining adult" thing by cooking my own meals, but the variety was sorely missed. I've weened myself off the frozen chicken fingers and mac and cheese that constituted my college years, and upgraded to frozen chicken breasts, usually with a side of couscous and some green beans. Go me!
And I mean, that's not a bad meal. It's healthy and fills me up after a tough workout. I even sub in rice or corn every now and then, but it doesn't alter the fundamental makeup of the meal. Switching up the the handful of spices I rotate between is practically negligible week in and week out. Though I like to cook and love the health benefits, needless to say, my impulsive palate was J-O-N-E-S-I-N-G, big time.
This novelty plate was crucial in making my bland meals more interesting
That variety was a huge reason I found Plated so appealing. Each week,a new menu is created with land, sea and veggie options. Just choose which meals might tickle your taste buds and order. No more fighting lines and dwindling inventory at a grocery store. No more pinning dozens of recipes you'll never get to. No more plain baked chicken breast and couscous!
I checked out three different meals, one from each category. My land was roasted chicken thighs with watermelon poke, my sea was pesto gulf shrimp orzo with summer squash carpaccio and my veggie was whole wheat spaghetti with grilled vegetables and lemon. Each was accompanied by a full-page recipe card with step-by-step instructions and color photos.
After I unloaded the insulated box (complete with gel ice packs to keep the meats fresh), I separated ingredients by dish and inspected them. It was easy to determine that everything was suitably ripe and firm. At this point I feel a grumble in my stomach.
Individual labels keep things organized
I set out prepping, which for these meals consisted mostly of chopping and peeling. I set aside the goodies and prepare for the big show. At this point I'm officially hungry.
Arranged in ROY G. BIV order
It was then time to cook. I'm no Bobby Flay, but I can time, pour, slice and stir with the best of 'em. Luckily, these kitchen basics were all I needed to make restaurant-quality meals. At this point my mouth is watering while taking these damn pictures.
Ummm.... wow. This food was delicious.
Land: The roasted chicken thigh was hearty and flavorful. The bed of watercress it sat on was light and crisp. The marinated mango and watermelon poke was a typhoon of sweet and tangy.
Sea: The bold, pesto-cooked shrimp had the perfect fresh-shrimp snap. The zesty, cheesy orzo was filled with ripe tomatoes and powerful basil. The citrusy, refreshing squash carpaccio complement the rest of the meal perfectly.
Veggie: The grilled veggies were tender and juicy. The olive oil, garlic and lemon juice combined to make a simple sauce with tons of flavor. The whole wheat pasta was filling and the pecorino cheese was great to sprinkle on top.
They all hit the spot and were satisfying in more ways than one. I achieved the food variety I craved, without resorting to take-out. I accomplished exciting, healthy meals with minimal effort. I Instagramed (#platedpics) my colorful dishes to make my foodie friends jealous. I basked in the praise heaped on by my roommate.
All-in-all, I had a great experience with Plated. Ordering was simple as can be. The meals didn't break the bank, coming in cheaper than some take-out options. The recipes offered more variety than I was accustomed to at home, plus I didn't have to grocery shop. I survived the junk food gymnasium and ate something healthy. Even my lack of serious chef skills couldn't hinder the process. In fact, I don't see a take-out relapse happening for a long, long time.
To check out Plated's awesome offer to Gothamist readers, click here. Be sure to visit them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.