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      November 15, 2018

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Gourmet Station vs Plated

Best Prepared Meals

To help you find the Best Prepared Meals, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Gourmet Station and Plated.

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Who has the best Prepared Meals? How many times have you come home after a long day and stared blankly at your refrigerator or pantry, trying to figure out what to eat? Or stopped at the drive-thru for fast food because the thought of coming up with something for dinner was just too much?

You're not alone. For people who'd like the convenience of fast food with the benefits of home cooking, Prepared Meals are the answer. For every imaginable palate and preference, there's a prepared meal service that can help. Several of today's most popular services send you high-quality, often organic ingredients - including fresh produce like shallots and herbs - saving you the hassle of planning your meals and going to the store.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2018

Prepared Meal Reviews

3.5 stars
Gourmet Station

GOURMET STATION Visit Site

Cost:

From $79.99 and up

For more than 15 years, Gourmet Station's Prepared Meals have been delivered to over 100,000 customers. Their primary focus is gift-giving, especially for employers looking to give incentives to workers or holiday gifts to clients. But, everything that Gourmet Station sells can just as conveniently be purchased for a personal special occasion, such as an anniversary or birthday.

To see your options, start by choosing a category: Soup & Appetizers, Monthly Clubs, Gift Certificates, Meal Plans, Occasion Dinners, or Dinner Gifts. Of all the possibilities, the last one has the most impressive options:

  • Occasion Dinners for Two - priced at $109.99, this package comes with a card, white cloth dinner napkins, a floating candle and complimentary gift packaging. Besides your choice of four-course meals (Americana, Parisian, Tuscan), you'll select the bread, soup, entree, and dessert, plus a coffee or tea and candy.
  • Four-Course Gourmet Dinners for Two - for $99.99, you can choose among Parisian, Tuscan, or Americana options (just like the previous package, without the extra gift items such as the candle).
  • Three-Course Gourmet Dinners for Two - priced at $89.99, you'll decide on an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert.
  • Gourmet Dinners for Two - if you just want entrees, you'll pay $79.99. Choices include Chicken Cordon Bleu, Lemon Dill Salmon, Mushroom Ravioli and more.

Also, in the Dinner Gift category, you'll find Steak Dinner Gifts, Dinner of the Month, and Wagyu (Kobe) Steaks.

The Dinner of the Month option is also found as part of Gourmet Station's Monthly Clubs. If you'd like to spread your gift-giving over several deliveries - for yourself or for a lucky recipient of your generosity - your options include Soup or Dessert of the Month or even full dinners with 2, 3, or 4 courses.

But, most customers looking for Prepared Meals want something they can eat during a typical week. In that case, Gourmet Station's Meal Plans are the best option. Each package provides five meals a week for one person; cuisine choices include Americana, International, Parisian, Cajun, and Tuscan, with five entrees and side vegetables. You'll select Pasta, Beef, Pork, Seafood, and Poultry meals within each of those menu choices; the vegetable is determined automatically by the entree you choose. For example, the Tuscan menu may come with Oven-Roasted Veggies, or the International entree is accompanied by Creamy Spinach & Artichokes.

Every Prepared Meal delivered by Gourmet Station should be refrigerated that day and eaten within 3 days; otherwise, you should freeze it for later reheating. Meals are also expected to be reheated in a traditional oven, not the microwave. This isn't as convenient as some of the TV dinner-style Prepared Meals plans in our review, but it helps your gourmet food stay tasting - well, gourmet!

Your delivery options are limited to arrivals on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Although you can schedule your packages to arrive several months in advance, for a special occasion or other event, you'll still have to choose one of those three days because of UPS' delivery requirements.

Gourmet Station makes it incredibly easy to deliver a five-star restaurant-quality meal to your doorstep (or to someone else's), needing just a 30-minute reheating in the oven for some items. On the other hand, if you're trying to lose weight or you're looking for the most economical Prepared Meals plan on the market, this probably isn't the service you'll choose.

Visit Site

2 stars
Plated

PLATED Visit Site

Cost:

Per-serving cost of $9.95 to $11.95

Free shipping on all plans over $60

Plated takes a slightly different approach to Prepared Meals. Like many services, they send you fresh ingredients and recipes to prepare, but their primary aim is to help you gain confidence in the kitchen by broadening your culinary horizons - and maybe your taste buds, too.

Weekly menu options include dishes like Salmon with Salsa Verde and Steak Gyros. There are also dessert choices, such as Fig Shortcakes and Napoleons. Each recipe can be made in an hour or less.

The main decisions you'll need to make are how many servings you'd like each meal to provide (2, 3, or 4) and how many meals you'd like to prepare each week (again, choosing from 2, 3, or 4). A two-serving, twice a week plan is regularly priced at $47.80. The largest plan, with four servings per meal, four times a week, costs $159.20. When we visited Plated, they were offering a 25% discount promotion on the first week's delivery, for all of their various plan configurations.

This service doesn't come with specific plans for people who want gluten-free entrees or vegan desserts - rather, you choose from 20 recipe options, including main courses and treats, from every weekly menu. However, you are able to customize your subscription in a few ways, like omnivore or seafood lover, so that you're only shown the choices among the 20 that meet those criteria.

Plated offers the most flexible delivery schedule we've found, with deliveries possible every day except Sunday. Your shipment is expected to maintain its refrigeration through midnight on delivery day, so you won't have to rush home to get your ingredients into the fridge.

Unfortunately, Plated also has one of the weakest customer satisfaction policies in the industry. If something is missing from your package, or if you're unhappy for any reason, Plated says that they may, at their sole discretion, issue you a credit. That would be fine if there were no issues with their deliveries, but with a significant number of customers receiving moldy or otherwise spoiled ingredients, the $12 credit that Plated offered them was nowhere near enough. In addition, many customers said that the recipes weren't anything to rave about, and that the ingredients received were commonly available at their local supermarket - not the high-quality items they expected from a premium Prepared Meals service.

Finally, we saw several complaints that referenced Plated's gift cards. In order to use a gift card, the recipient has to provide their own credit card information to the company - which inadvertently left some of them as subscribing customers to a service they didn't want. That isn't a good way to make gift-givers or recipients very happy.

In comparison with the competition, Plated does have a unique approach to delivering Prepared Meals. However, their reputation with their customers doesn't leave a good taste in our mouth - literally or figuratively - especially with such a lackluster approach to returns and refunds. Choose a higher-ranked service to get fresh ingredients and recipes you'll actually enjoy.

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Continued from above

If you have a loved one that needs to start eating a special diet for diabetes or other medical issues, you can choose a prepared meals company that offers ready-to-reheat meals packaged similarly to a TV dinner and that have been carefully created by nutritionists specifically for that condition.

On the other hand, maybe you've been tasked with bringing a mind-blowing main course to an important company function, but your skills in the kitchen are limited to boiling water and burning toast. No problem: just choose a Prepared Meals service that focuses on gourmet-level, special occasion entrees like chicken cordon bleu or even surf-and-turf.

When deciding which company is a good fit for your delivery of Prepared Meals, you'll soon notice that there's a wide variety to choose from. How do you select the one that's best for you? Here are some things to consider as you look at each service:

  • Menu. What does the provider offer? Can you choose from many different plans, like Vegetarian or Mediterranean? If you're trying to meet a special dietary need, like gluten-free or keto-friendly, will there be options for you? Does the type of Prepared Meals they send - reheat-and-eat vs. some cooking required - work for your situation?
  • Price. What will it cost to get your Prepared Meals? Can you choose to buy specific entrees a la carte, or do you have to buy a package?
  • Amount of Food. If you have a large family, is there a plan that will satisfy everyone? Are the serving sizes enough to fill you up?
  • Customer Service and Reputation. What have other people said about the experience of buying Prepared Meals from this business? Are packages delivered on time, with ingredients that are still fresh and properly refrigerated? If not, does the company's customer service department respond appropriately with a refund or credit?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Prepared Meals Delivery Companies available today. We hope these reviews help you find the right company to deliver the kind of meals you want, directly to your doorstep!

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