Chefs Plate Meal Kit Review
I’ve always wanted to try Chefs Plate. Some of my friends have used the service before and highly recommended it to me. I’ve looked at the weekly menu from time to time, and all the meals look amazing. There were several times when I almost signed up. However, I never made the jump and created and account. The main roadblock was a question I kept asking myself: is Chef Plate worth it?
To finally answer my question, I decided to test out Chefs Plate for one week. After completing this trial period, I have some positives and negatives for Chefs Plate and their meal kits. If you want to learn more, then this review is for you. I’ll share my experience with Chefs Plate and give you my final thoughts on their recipes. But first, here’s a basic overview of this meal kit company.
Pros and cons
Not available in Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador
Recipes easy are easy to make
No options for vegan, gluten-free, low-carb diets
Meals are tasty
Lots of packaging
Editing/updating weekly order and account is simple
Recipes use many appliances, leads to longer clean up time
Additional menu items are available
Nutritional facts on website and package are different, creates confusion
Recipe cards are informative and easy to understand
Meals could use more spice
Discounts for new users
Chefs Plate’s origins date back to 2014 when the company was founded in Toronto. After selling more than two million meal kits in Canada, the company was acquired by HelloFresh, one of the biggest meal kit providers in the world. Chefs Plate now operates as a division of HelloFresh, and since the merger, the company has significantly grown. It is now one of the top meal kit companies in Canada.
Chefs Plate operates like other meal kit services. Users select meals over a four week period. The order is then delivered to the person’s home on a designated date, e.g., Mondays between 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. If you live in an apartment or condo, the package can be left with your concierge/security service or with a neighbour. You can also have your meal kit delivered to your work. Chefs Plate uses a flexible subscription service which lets you skip weeks if need be. Any updates to your account must be done by 11:59 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time) four days before your delivery.
Note: Chefs Plate should not be used by people with severe allergies. The meal kits are prepared in facilities that contain common allergens. While Chefs Plate does their best to keep their kits allergy free, they cannot guarantee that cross contamination does not take place.
Price and availability
The price for Chefs Plate will depend on the plan you choose. The cost per serving will be $9.99 for two people and $8.99 for four people. The weekly total will change based on how many meals per week you order. For example, I selected three meals a week for two people, which came to $59.94. Shipping is free as long you order more than three meals per week. If your order two meals for two people, a $6.00 shipping fee is included. New users get discounts on their first orders. I got 50% off on my first delivery, which changed the weekly total to $29.97
As of October 4, 2022, Chefs Plate delivers to every province except Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. If you’re unsure if you are in the delivery range, you can enter your postal code during sign up. Chefs Plate will let you know whether they can deliver to your area. Thankfully, Chefs Plate delivers to my location. But if I lived in Quebec or Newfoundland, I would be very disappointed.
I thought Chefs Plate’s prices were fairly reasonable. In fact, their cost per serving is one of the lowest I’ve seen. The discounts helped keep my subscription affordable, and not having to pay a shipping fee was appreciated. Most Canadians will fall into the company’s delivery range (except for Quebec and Newfoundland residents). However, if you live in a remote area, you may not be in the delivery range.
Selecting my weekly meals was a seamless process. But there is one thing to be aware off. Chefs Plate will automatically choose the recipes for you, which I didn’t notice at first. This preselection was not a major issue since all of the meals looked appetizing. But it was slightly annoying since it picked meals I wasn’t interested in. The good news is that you can easily edit your order. Click the “Edit Meals” button to bring up the weekly menu. To drop a recipe, click the minus (-) sign on the servings button. If you want to increase the servings size or add another meal, click the plus (+) symbol. Once you’re finished, hit the “Save Meals” button.
For certain meals, you can swap out ingredients, like ground turkey for ground beef. You can also add a protein to some vegetarian meal. For example, you can add shrimp to the Creamy Veggie Pasta Primavera meal. These additions or substitutions cost between $0.99 – $3.99. Making the edits is very simple; it takes only three clicks to complete. While I did not make any swaps/additions to my meals, it was nice to have the option. It adds more variety to the recipes, and it is useful for health-conscious people (swapping in healthier ingredients).
After you’ve selected your meals for the week, you can add bonus items: extra ingredients, desserts, and side dishes. These add-ons will cost extra ($3.99 – $10.99), but provide more variety. Plus, many of the side dishes look and sound delicious (e.g., the BBQ bacon mac n’cheese). I did not select any of the add-ons since I found the prices to be a bit too high. However, they would be great for large families or for dinner parties.
Placing my weekly order was uncomplicated and took me 10 minutes, most of which was spent trying to decide which meal I should get. I had plenty of options to choose from, and each recipe looked good. Skipping a week is also simple to do. Click the “Change or skip delivery” button and select the “Skip week” option. There are also options for rescheduling the delivery date and changing the order size. I liked that these options were available. It gives users more flexibility; they can adapt the service to their lifestyle.
I did notice that the weekly menus had similar dishes. For example, there were many rice bowels and pasta recipes. I had no problem with this; I’m not that particular when it comes to meals. But some people may get bored with the similarity.
The meals I ordered from Chefs Plate were the:
- Mediterranean-inspired chicken
- Harissa-sesame chicken
- Tex-mex beef rigatoni
The entire order came in a carboard box with each meal coming in separate cardboard bags. There was an additional bag that held the refrigerated ingredients (e.g., chicken, cheese, ground beef). The recipe cards were at the top of the box. A criticism of meal kits is that they use excess packaging that goes to waste. To combat this, Chefs Plate’s boxes are 100% recyclable, and the kit bags and cooler pouches are made from compostable material. Going into this review, I was concerned about the excess packaging, but I was able to recycle/compost most of the material. I even let my cat play with the boxes for several days (he put them to good use). Still, there was a lot of packaging to deal with. I now understand why people think meal kit packaging is wasteful. For me, it was more of a nuisance; my kitchen quickly became cluttered with cardboard bags. The bags were easy to store though. I could easily fit them in my fridge. However, I would have liked all the recipe’s ingredients to be packaged together. Having some of them in a separate bag led to some confusion. Since I ordered two chicken dishes, I forgot which one used the breast and which one used the tenders. This wasn’t a major issue; I just had to look at the ingredients list on the recipe card. But having the ingredients in the same bag would be more convenient and less confusing.
The recipe cards were very informative. Each step was described in a way that was detailed and easy to understand. The card also included pictures, which were useful visual aids. I often looked at the pictures to make sure I was on the right track. The cards also had helpful cooking tips. For example, the Mediterranean-inspired chicken card said to occasionally stir the orzo as it cooks in boiling water. This prevents it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
The nutritional info on the website was detailed, listing the values per serving and per 100g. While I’m not super restrictive when it comes to nutrition, I still like to have some control over what I put into my body. The nutritional info helped me make smart decisions for my diet. The website nutritional values do not list trans fat, which is something I try to manage in my diet. The sticker nutritional list does include trans fat, which is a plus. However, having the trans fat amount listed on the website would have helped me make selections. I would be able to pick recipes with little or no trans fats instead of going in blind.
The nutritional info on the sticker and on the website were different from each other. For example, the website said that the Harissa-Sesame Chicken has 790kcal per serving. The sticker said there were 340kcal per serving. The fat, protein, sodium, and cholesterol amounts were also off. These differences were confusing and left me wondering which version was correct. I eventually realized the sticker lists the values for the corresponding serving size. The info for the Harissa-Sesame Chicken was for a serving size of 172g. Now things made more sense. I’m sure I’m not the first person to get confused by the different nutritional values. If Chefs Plate used a uniform nutritional facts list for the website and the packages, that confusion would be eliminated.
Now that I’ve covered the packaging and recipe cards, let’s look at each meal.
Nutritional values: per serving
- Calories: 780kcal
- Fat: 35g
- Carbs: 70g
- Sugar: 5g
- Dietary Fiber: 5g
- Protein: 46g
- Sodium: 490mg
- Cholesterol: 122mg
Listed cook time: 25 minutes. Skill level: easy
This recipe was a great way to start my Chefs Plate experience. The only food prep I had to was pat the chicken dry and rinse and cut the baby tomatoes. Everything else was ready to go. The cooking did not take very long; it took me about 27 minutes to complete. To save some time, I prepped the chicken and tomatoes while boiling the orzo. Trying to do both things at once was a little tricky since I had to make sure the orzo didn’t stick to the pot. But other than that, cooking this dish was easy. Each step was simple and straightforward. I did not have to perform any fancy cooking technique. The recipe does use multiple kitchen utensils: a large pot, large pan, a medium bowl etc. This led to a lot of dishes to be washed. This was not a major problem for me, but I still prefer to wash a small amount of dishes after supper.
I really enjoyed the taste of the Mediterranean-inspired chicken. The tomatoes were fresh and had the right amount of sweetness. I’m not the biggest fan of tomatoes, but this dish may have changed my mind. The chicken was tender, juicy, and the perfect size for this meal (i.e., it was portioned well). The orzo was soft but still firm and had a buttery texture. The real star of this dish was the feta vinaigrette. It had a tangy taste that worked well with the cheesiness of the feta. Adding it to the chicken and orzo enhanced the dish’s flavour. My only disappointment is with the Mediterranean spice blend. I thought it was a little bland; I barely tasted it while eating. Maybe it’s because the vinaigrette was so flavourful, or maybe I didn’t add enough spice to the chicken. Either way, I added some spices from my pantry to the seasoning to improve the taste.
All in all, the Mediterranean-inspired chicken was a delicious meal. I plan on making this recipe several more times in the future.
Nutritional values: per serving
- Calories: 790kcal
- Fat: 48g
- Carbs: 47g
- Sugar: 4g
- Dietary Fiber: 5g
- Sodium: 910mg
- Cholesterol: 130 mg
Listed cook time: 25 minutes. Skill level: easy
This recipe required a little more food prep. I had to cut the tomato, shallot, and spinach into smaller pieces. I also had to make a vinaigrette and a mayo sauce. These tasks were not difficult, but they lengthened the cooking time. It took me about 30 minutes to cook this dish.
Like the first recipe, the harissa-sesame chicken was easy to make. The only problem I had was making the couscous. I added too much water to the pot, which made the couscous soggy. I had to drain the water excess water and place the pot back on the burner to cook off the remaining moisture. However, this issue was entirely my fault; I didn’t read the instructions carefully. The chicken took slightly longer to cook as well. The card does not specify an oven temperature, it only says to broil the chicken on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes. I first set my oven to 350˚F, but after 10 minutes the chicken wasn’t fully cooked. I set my oven to broil on low heat, and after three minutes the chicken was finished. This recipe also used plenty of cookware, which meant lots of dishes had to be washed.
The harissa-sesame chicken was another tasty recipe. The two things that stood out to me were the tabbouleh salad and the harissa mayo sauce. The mayo had a nice creamy texture with a zesty taste. Adding it to the chicken and couscous enhanced the flavour of each. The dill-garlic spice, vinegar, and shallots gave the salad a tangy and zesty taste. The sweetness from the tomatoes perfectly complimented this flavour. The Tabbouleh Salad was probably my favourite part of this dish. I ended up finishing the entire bowl. And last but not least, the chicken was very tender. Cooking it in the oven made it chewy and juicy. My one complaint for this dish is with the spice blend. Even though I could taste the flavours, it didn’t have enough kick for me. As a spice lover, I want a spicy dish to pack some heat. My tongue should feel a slight burn, and I didn’t get this sensation from the meal. I ended up adding some chili flakes and cayenne pepper to improve the the spice level.
While I would’ve liked more spice, the harissa Mayo and tabbouleh Salad more than made up for things in the taste department. This is another recipe I plan on making time and again. Out of the three dishes I ordered, this one was my favourite.
Tex-mex beef rigatoni
Nutritional values: per serving
- Calories: 830kcal
- Fat: 39g
- Carbs: 78g
- Sugar: 8g
- Dietary Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 43g
- Sodium: 1150mg
- Cholesterol: 114mg
Listed cook time: 25 min. Skill level: easy.
The tex-mex beef rigatoni was a little trickier to make. Cooking the beef, vegetables, and pasta was the easy part. Making the cheese sauce was slightly harder. After the beef and vegetables were fully cooked, I had to add the spice blend and cream cheese to the pan. I then added a ½ cup of reserve pasta water to the pan, stirring often to prevent clumps. I turned the temperature to high and waited until the sauce started to boil. Once the liquid started boiling, I turned the temperature to low so that the sauce could thicken. This process wasn’t extremely difficult. Getting the timing right was the tricky part. Depending on how long you cook the sauce, it will either be too thick or too soggy. Ideally, the sauce should be thick but still have a liquid texture. Finding this sweet spot took some skill and I may have cooked the sauce for too long.
Food safety was something I took into consideration with this recipe. The instructions said to cook the pepper and onion before the ground beef. I was worried about cross contamination; bacteria from the raw meat transferring over to the vegetables. I ended up cooking the two separately, just to be on the safe side. However, after doing some research, cooking vegetables and raw meat is perfectly fine as long as both are cooked fully (doing this kills off bacteria).
This recipe took the longest to make (about 35 minutes). The cooking the rigatoni took longer than I expected, and cooking and the veggies and ground beef separately wasn’t the most efficient strategy. Plus, my brother was making his own meal at the same time, which meant I didn’t have full access to the kitchen. We both had to share the oven and counter space, and this lengthened the overall cooking time.
Even though this recipe took slightly longer to make, it was well worth the wait. The poblano peppers and the spice blend gave the dish a sweet and spicy flair. The cheese sauce had a rich and creamy texture that worked well with the beef and pasta. Like the previous dishes, I added some chili pepper flakes and cayenne pepper for an added spice kick. Lastly, the rigatoni was tender but still firm to bite.
The tex-mex rigatoni was an excellent finish for the week’s order. I now have another recipes stored for the future.
Overall, I enjoyed my Chefs Plate experience. The recipes were simple to make, and each meal had a unique flavour. I also liked how convenient Chefs Plate was. On most weeknights, I have very little time to prep and cook a meal. But since Chefs Plate prepares most of the ingredients, I could cook up a delicious meal in no time. These recipes taught me some new cooking techniques. For example, I learned to fluff couscous once its finished cooking to prevent it from clumping. I believe the recipes helped improve my cooking skills.
There are a few minor improvements I would make to Chefs Plate. Their recipes could have use more spice (e.g., an additional cayenne pepper or chili flake mixes). The amount of packaging could be reduced by having each recipe’s ingredients in a single container. Having different nutritional information on the website and recipe sticker was very confusing. Having a single list for both formats would be simpler and less confusing. The recipes used multiple appliances (pots, pans, bowls etc.), which led to lots of dishes. While this wasn’t the end of the world, I would have liked to see more one-pot meals being offered. This would make clean up easier. Lastly, Chefs Plate’s menu could be more inclusive. There are no options for vegan, gluten free, or low carb diets. This wasn’t an issue for me, but it is for people following those specific diets.
Despite some minor issues, Chefs Plate is still a great meal kit company. Based on the meals, price, and convenience, I would use this service again in the future.
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