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How much do you spend on food each month? If it’s more than 11% of your monthly income, it’s probably too much.
But you don’t want to be the average consumer – you want to be a frugal consumer, right? That means cutting your food budget as low as possible, which requires careful and considered meal planning.
In this full Platejoy review, we’ll be exploring what Platejoy is, how it works, and why you should be using it. Let’s jump into it!
What is Platejoy?
Platejoy calls itself your “personal meal planning assistant”. It’s essentially an online subscription-based meal planning app that assesses your goals and dietary requirements and creates a custom meal plan for you.
It also creates smart grocery lists for you and provides you with high-quality recipes to make it easy for you to prepare the meals in your meal plan.
It’s important to note than Platejoy is a meal planning app— NOT a meal delivery service like HelloFresh. This means it doesn’t include the cost of your food, you’ll still have to pay for that yourself. It’s more about saving you time on grocery lists and meal planning.
How Does Platejoy Work?
Ok, let’s talk about how it works. The first thing to mention here is that Platejoy offers 3 different services (available at different costs). These 3 services are:
The main service Platejoy offer is meal planning, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on today, but it’s worth briefly mentioning that the other two options are a little more complicated and come with more services.
For example, the ‘Prevent Diabetes’ service includes a Fitbit and wireless scale which are delivered to your address, as well as educational online coaching lessons with experts that provide guidance on reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
Here’s how the standard meal planning service works:
- Sign up to the 10-day free trial
- Answer a comprehensive questionnaire about things like your dietary requirements, preferences, goals, budget, how much time you want to spend cooking, and more. You can also select a category of meal plan, like ‘low carb’, ‘vegan’, ‘ketogenic’, ‘clean eating’, and so on.
- Platejoy will generate a list of potential meals that match your preferences. You can then select those that you want to be added to your menu, customize ingredients, and swap and change as much as you like.
- Platejoy will take your menu and generate a shopping list. You can view this or print it out.
- If you don’t want to go to the store yourself, Platejoy links up with Instacart, so you can have your grocery list sent to an Instacart-partnered store and have the ingredients delivered to your door.
- Platejoy will keep a track of what’s in your pantry based on previous shopping lists to help plan more effectively for future grocery lists.
- Once you have your ingredients, you can use the recipes on your food menu to create your chosen meals
- Eat and enjoy!
It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Once you start using it, you’ll see how intuitive the whole system is, and how easy it makes the whole process of meal planning.
Cooking With Platejoy Recipes
I found that cooking with Platejoy recipes is really easy. The interface is clean and simple. All you have to do is click the recipe card and it will load up everything you need on your smartphone.
At the top, you’ll see a list of ingredients that you need to have at hand. Below that, you’ll have clearly delineated, step-by-step instructions. The instructions are written in simple language so you can follow it pretty easily even if you’re really bad at cooking (like me).
Depending on how you answered your questionnaire, the recipes in your personal menu can vary in complexity. I opted for simple recipes that I can cook in 30 minutes or less, so every recipe I tried was pretty easy to carry out.
The app also has a cool ‘personal chef’ feature where you can ask questions about your recipe and get answers. It’s a useful feature when you’re stuck and need a little help.
Other Cool Platejoy Features
In addition to the main menu creation, recipes, and smart grocery list features, there are a few other cool Platejoy features worth mentioning. Here are 4 of my favourites:
The ‘Use Up Ingredients’ Feature
As someone who always tries to live frugally, this is my absolute favourite feature on Platejoy. If you opt to use up ingredients, the app will look at what’s already in your pantry and select meals for you that use up those ingredients.
This can be a lifesaver if you’re the kind of person that always ends up throwing out groceries as you’re unable to find recipes that use them all up before they go past their sell-by date.
Fitbit Sync and Tracking
Another cool feature is the optional Fitbit sync. You can use this feature to send nutritional information to your Fitbit to allow you to track your macros. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight or meet specific health goals. You can find a visual guide on how to sync it up here.
Digital Calendar Sync
You can sync Platejoy up to your own personal calendar, like Outlook, Google Calendar, iCloud, or whatever else you use. This allows you to stay organized and more easily access your meal plan for the day. Here’s how to sync up Platejoy with your personal calendar.
Advantages of Platejoy
Alright, now that we’ve covered how the app works, let’s talk about why you might want to download it. Here are 4 benefits of Platejoy.
1. It Can Save You Money on Food
Thanks to smart grocery planning and use up ingredients feature, Platejoy can actually save you money on groceries. I’m not a particularly smart shopper, so I personally estimate that I was able to cut at least $200 off my monthly grocery bills.
I’m not alone either. In fact, a lot of Platejoy users report even more substantial savings. For example, this customer was able to save $600 per month on food with Platejoy.
The batch cooking feature also helps you to save money by helping you to batch cook your entire weeks meals ahead of time and freeze them. This means you can buy ingredients in bulk and save even more money.
2. It Reduces Wastage
As Platejoy keeps track of what’s in your pantry and provides recipes that use up those ingredients, nothing goes to waste. You won’t be throwing expired produce away, which is not only good for your wallet – it’s good for the environment too.
3. It Provides High-Quality Recipes
Another benefit of using Platejoy is the fact that it provides you with great recipes. Sure, it’s possible to find free recipes elsewhere, but they’re usually not as high-quality and good at saving you time.
Platejoy recipes are always really tasty. Theirs also a whole lot of different menu items, so you’ll probably end up with a more varied meal plan than you’re used to.
Before Platejoy, my weekly meals were totally predictable: pasta on Monday, pizza on Tuesday, steak on Friday… you get the idea. Now I have access to a ton of new recipes, I can be more creative with what I eat. Plus, I get to practice my cooking skills with exciting new dishes.
4. It’s Personalizable
Platejoy is super-personalizable. It gives you a ton of personalization options when it comes to meal planning. You can select any dietary requirement you can imagine.
It even asks you really specific questions like where you usually like to shop and how you feel about seasonal produce so that it can really tailor your menu to your personal preferences. You just don’t get that kind of in-depth personalization with other meal planning services.
Disadvantages of Platejoy
Although Platejoy is a useful tool, there are some things about it that could be improved. Some commonly reported disadvantages include:
Some Platejoy users have complained that the set-up process for plate joy is quite lengthy. Due to the amount of information they ask for in the ‘personalization’ section, setting up and finalizing your meals plan can take 30 minutes or more in some cases. However, when you consider that this is 30 mins to plan a whole lot of meals, it doesn’t really seem that bad.
Lack of Variety
Platejoy prides itself on helping customers reduce food wastage. As a result of this, you may find yourself eating a lot of the same ingredients a few times a week. If you’re someone that gets easily bored with eating the same foods a lot, then this could be a potential negative of the system.
Recipes Don’t Cater to Different Skill Levels
To help Platejoy have a more broad appeal, most of the meal recipes are fairly simple. For experienced cooks, simple meal plans can be boring and unchallenging. In the same way, some inexperienced cooks may also find that the meal plans don’t give enough details when it comes to cooking techniques.
With Platejoy, customers are expected to pay for their full 6 or 12-month plan in advance. However, some people may prefer a service which they can pay for monthly on a rolling basis. Although paying for more months at a time makes the plan cheaper on a monthly basis, frugal budgeteers may feel that throwing down $99 in one payment is too much.
How Much Does Platejoy Cost?
As meal planning services go, Platejoy is neither the cheapest or most expensive option available. However, in my opinion, the level of personalization that Platejoy offer makes it more than worth the cost.
If you are a new customer, you’ll receive a 10-day free trial. When signing up for your trial you’ll be able to choose between two plans. The 6-month plan costs $69 (less than $12 per month). The 12-month plan costs $99 (less than $9 per month). As you can see, signing up for longer affords you some discount.
Once your trial is over your credit card will be charged in full for the plan that you’ve chosen.
Once you’ve got your meal plan, you also have the option of ordering the ingredients using Platejoy’s partner, Instacart. Instacart links up to selected grocery stores and offers grocery delivery to your door. Instacart charges $6-$8 per delivery or $149 per year for unlimited deliveries.
Wouldn’t it Be Cheaper to Just Plan My Meals Myself?
Sure it would— technically. But that doesn’t mean it’s the smartest decision. Why? Because you have to factor in the value of your time.
Properly planning your meals requires you to think about and calculate a whole bunch of stuff. How many calories are in the meals? Does this align with your health goals? What recipes represent the best value-for-money on ingredients? Working that all out can take a lot of time and, as the old adage goes, time is money.
Platejoy themselves estimate that they can save you “almost 2 hours each week in meal planning and prep.” If you were to use those 2 hours to make money instead— let’s say, by teaching English online— you could probably earn $20 per hour.
If you spend those 2 hours planning your meals, hat’s $40 worth of your time wasted each week. Considering the fact that Platejoy only costs $9 to $12 per month, it’s probably a worthwhile investment.
Plus, unless you’re really excellent at meal planning, it probably won’t actually work out cheaper doing it yourself. The algorithm that Platejoy uses to work out your meal plan is pretty smart— dare I say it, smarter than we are (at least when it comes to meal planning).
It can pair up meals that have similar ingredients to minimize the ingredients you need to pay for, and even factors in what you have at home. This allows it to easily work out the most economical meal plan that still meets your dietary and taste standards pretty. Even the savviest budgeteers out there would probably struggle to plan something as affordable and effective.
How to Sign Up to Platejoy
Signing up to Platejoy is fairly simple. The first thing you will need to do is head over to the Platejoy website and click on ‘Try 10 days free’. All new customers are entitled to a 10-day free trial of the meal planning tool. The sign up process looks a little like this:
Step One: Enter Your Personal Details and Preference
At this stage you’ll be asked a number of questions about yourself such as dietary requirement, eating goals, how long you like to cook for and what appliances you own. This information helps the meal planner to plan meals that are perfectly personalized to your needs.
Step Two: Review Meals
After the planner has all your information, it will create a detailed meal plan that is perfect for your diet. It also takes into account things like food wastage and puts the meals in the best possible order to avoid it. Once the plan is created, you’ll then have a chance to review meals and remove any of the meals you don’t want.
Step 3: Checkout
Once everything is done, you will then be directed to the checkout page where you’ll be greeted with the price options. You have the option to start a free trial for the 6 or 12-month plan and you’ll be asked to input your credit card details. If you don’t cancel the trial within the 10 days, you’ll be charged the full amount for the plan you’ve chosen when the trial ends.
Alternatives to Platejoy
In my personal opinion, Platejoy is one of the best and easiest to use meal planning tools available, but there are a lot of other alternatives that you might want to consider. Some of these include:
eMeals was one of the first online meal planning services and as a result, it has an extremely large variety of meals to choose from. On a yearly basis, it’s slightly cheaper than Platejoy, but the standard price only covers dinner-time meal plans. Plans for breakfast, lunches and snack cost extra.
Once a Month Meals
Once a Month Meals is another extremely popular meal planning service. The idea behind it is to make planning meals for families easier. Most of the meal plans that you’ll receive from Once a Month Meals can be frozen, which gives it the edge over some of the other companies out there. However, it’s slightly more expensive than other alternatives.
The Scramble is one of the cheaper meal planning services available and may be perfect for a busy professional on a budget. If you want a frugal option, this would be it. At only $1.44 per month, The Scramble offers healthy, quick to make meal plans. However, it’s not as easy to customize the plans to your preference as Platejoy is.
Meal Preparation / Meal Kit Delivery Services
Alternatively, if you don’t particularly like cooking, you can opt for meal kit delivery services. These kinds of services don’t just plan your meals, they prepare them and deliver them to you fresh too.
There’s a lot of different meal kit delivery services on the market, but some of the most popular ones include:
The Final Verdict: Is Platejoy Worth The Cost?
Yes. Absolutely- especially if you’re trying to lose weight or you’re a busy professional who doesn’t have time to waste. Go download it right now!
Also, let us know what you think of the app in the comments. Good luck and stay frugal!