I have really good intentions to cook most meals at home. First of all, I know for a fact that it is healthier. And second of all, in this crazy city where a casual night out to dinner can quickly cost a pretty penny, cooking at home is significantly cheaper. Bottom line: it saves money and calories.
But here’s the rub: take out is so seductively simple. I didn’t use Seamless in DC but since moving to NYC, its “but your too busy to cook” siren call is always blaring. Particularly when you come home after a long day at work, carrying three bags, having just made it 30 minutes on a crowded and smelly subway to the relative safety of your tiny apartment. Takeout is just a click and a delivery man away. Within minutes, a full meal will magically show up at your door, ready to eat. And when you’re finished, just throw the contents back in the plastic bag and toss it down the garbage chute. No dishes. No clean up. Easy. So very, very very easy.
But I am trying my best to not fall into the takeout trap too often – with the realistic understanding that at least once a week, I will summon the Seamless gods to deliver something delicious to my door. Last month a little service crossed my radar that helped me stay on track, and I wanted to tell you about it in case you were looking for a little no-takeout nudge as well.
PlateJoy is a service that delivers customizable recipes to your inbox every week. Unlike other services that deliver the actual ingredients along with the instructions, PlateJoy takes a step back and provides the inspiration and motivation to get back on the cooking bandwagon at your own pace.
They offered me a month trial to test things out. Here is what I loved:
- You fill out a survey at the beginning of your membership that allows you to completely customize your selection of recipes. I mean completely. For example, I asked PlateJoy to deliver only dinner recipes that were paleo – but using fish instead of red meat or pork. I added in my favorite ingredients, whether I like to chop my veggies or not, where I do my food shopping, etc.
- For those with allergies (like gluten intolerances or FODMAP foods) – PlateJoy has a whole host options for you as well.
- Since I pretty much stick to the same rotation of breakfasts and eat lunch at the office, I opted to have PlateJoy deliver only dinner and snack recipes.
- Each week, I received three new dinner ideas and a few snack ideas, complete with a printable shopping list so I could do all of the ingredient prep in advance. Every meal had two portions, but you can customize it to include more or less.
- Speaking of ingredients, you can add items you already have on hand (maybe you already have butter, rice, and eggs) to a virtual pantry. This way, your printable shopping list is truly only the things you need to add to the mix.
- You can choose how long you want your meals to take. Since I know I typically don’t get started in the kitchen till around 8 p.m., I wanted ideas that were fast and took no longer than 30 minutes to make from start to finish.
- I had access to my weekly recipes online at any time, so I could log in and see what was in my queue next. If it didn’t look great, I could pass and PlateJoy would send another recipe. Easy!
How did I do? Well, to be very honest and totally transparent, I only made two of the PlateJoy recipes. Why? I discovered that I do my best cooking when flying by the seat of my pants. I enjoy going to the store a few times a week and getting my inspiration from the ingredients I see. I also tend to stick to a standard rotation of meals and I’m fine with that. So despite the enormous ease and convenience of having PlateJoy send step-by-step inspiration to my inbox – I opted to make zoodles and meatballs nine times out of ten. That’s the truth.
Would I recommend the service to a friend? Absolutely! I look back at how I shopped, cooked, and ate back in DC and think PlateJoy would have been a total home run for me in that time and place. It’s great for anyone who loves to cook and enjoys cooking from a recipe, but doesn’t want to spend hours combing through Pinterest boards or cook books to find that perfect new idea. And for those with particular dietary restrictions, PlateJoy is awesome because it will never send you anything you can’t eat. So it takes the guess work out of trying Paleo or working with a new gluten allergy.
How much does it cost? $14 a month. You pay month to month and can pause or cancel at any time.
What didn’t I like? Through this trial I discovered that I don’t like using recipes when I cook (I’m a “throw it all in a pot and see how it turns out” kinda gal), so you can imagine that revelation being a bit of a damper on things! That said, there’s truly nothing negative that stood out to me about this service. It’s convenient, affordable, fun, easy to use, and really offers a wide selection of recipes to choose from to help jump start your home cooking each week.
Thanks again to PlateJoy for the fun trial and for introducing me to something new. I can proudly say that it inspired me to be a little less trigger happy with the Seamless button and that I’m cooking more at home since my experience. A win-win in my book!
Screenshots via PlateJoy.