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PlateJoy, a sister site of Healthline, is a meal planning service that promises to help you save money and eat better by preparing fresh and healthy meals at home.
It collects detailed information about your food preferences to build a custom menu curated for you and your household.
It also creates an organized grocery list based on what you already have and what you need to purchase, thereby simplifying your weekly shopping trip.
This article looks at some of the pros and cons of PlateJoy and who should try it.
PlateJoy is a nutrition-focused meal planning service that creates a personalized weekly menu and helps streamline your shopping list.
It can be accessed online or downloaded as an app on Apple and Android devices.
When you sign up, you can add all the members of your household and indicate the desired portion sizes and dietary restrictions for each person.
You can also note any weight loss goals, food and grocery shopping preferences, time constraints, and dietary restrictions.
PlateJoy uses this information to suggest recipes and dietitian-designed daily menus specifically for your household.
After reviewing your custom menu, you’re able to create a digital pantry, specifying which ingredients you already have on hand. This can be used to create a shopping list that minimizes food waste and ensures that you’re only buying what you need.
What’s more, PlateJoy recently added PlateJoy Path, Balanced Plate badges, and daily calorie and macronutrient totals, making it easy to know if you’re getting the right balance of nutrients each day.
To help you fill your plate with more nutritious foods and know that you’re getting an optimal balance of nutrients, PlateJoy recently added a feature called PlateJoy Path.
Created with the help of nutrition experts, PlateJoy Path is an eating plan that’s designed using nutrition profiling — the ranking of foods based on nutrient content.
Based on the ingredients they include, PlateJoy’s recipes are given a nutritional quality score. Recipes with the highest scores are labeled Balance Plates.
If you choose to follow the PlateJoy Path, you’ll automatically receive Balance Plates recipes, though you can always swap out the recommended recipes if they don’t fit your food preferences.
PlateJoy offers a wide array of recipes and meals to please nearly any palate.
In fact, you can customize your meal plans to fit a variety of eating patterns, including:
- low carb
- whole-food diet
- low sodium
Most plans can also be combined, and specific ingredients can be filtered out, making it easy to find recipes that suit even the pickiest eaters.
After reviewing your menu, you’re able to swap out recipes and find others that may work better for you.
You can also input your own recipes manually or search for recipes on the website and add them to your menu.
PlateJoy makes it easy to incorporate a variety of nutritious ingredients into your diet.
The service not only allows you to filter out specific ingredients based on your personal preferences, but it also takes several other factors into account.
For example, PlateJoy allows you to customize your menu based on whether you prefer using seasonal produce, how much variety you’d like, and if you want to avoid precooked proteins or vegetables.
You’re also able to select specific types of milk, bread, pasta, and rice to ensure that the recipes and shopping lists fit your needs.
Nutrition facts and serving sizes
One of the unique features of PlateJoy is the ability to set desired portion sizes for each person in your household.
For example, as we have different calorie needs, I set my portion size to large, my husband’s to extra-large, and my son’s to small.
PlateJoy then uses this information to adjust the amount of ingredients needed for each recipe.
To accommodate varying dietary needs, PlateJoy provides information on the amount of calories, carbs, fiber, total sugar, added sugar, net carbs, protein, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium per serving for each recipe.
Here’s an example of the nutrition info provided for each member of my household for the Greek-style salmon and couscous salad recipe:
|Carbs||20 grams||50 grams||20 grams|
|Fiber||4 grams||5 grams||2 grams|
|Sugar||2 grams||3 grams||1 gram|
|Added sugar||0 grams||0 grams||0 grams|
|Net carbs||36 grams||45 grams||18 grams|
|Fat||30 grams||38 grams||15 grams|
|Saturated fat||11 grams||14 grams||6 grams|
|Protein||57 grams||71 grams||29 grams|
|Sodium||1,013 mg||1,266 mg||507 mg|
If you sign up from Healthline, you can subscribe to PlateJoy for just $4.99 per month.
Otherwise, PlateJoy offers 1, 6, and 12-month subscription packages with the following prices:
- 1-month subscription: $12.99 per month
- 6-month subscription: $69 every 6 months
- 12-month subscription: $99 per year
The 6 and 12-month subscriptions come out to $11.50 and $8.25 per month, respectively, and are billed in one installment after your free trial.
The service offers a free 10-day trial for new users, which can help you determine if PlateJoy is right for you before committing to a recurring fee.
How to cancel your subscription
You can cancel or pause your subscription at any time.
If you signed up for PlateJoy on the company’s website, you can manage your subscription through the settings page.
If you signed up using the app, you’ll need to cancel your subscription through the Apple App Store or Google Play.
PlateJoy provides a long list of frequently asked questions on the company website, with video tutorials and answers to common questions about personalizing your plan, making changes to your account, and using the website.
Additionally, it’s easy to manage your subscription or make changes to your plan online.
The service also offers a chat feature, which allows you to send a question to their team and receive a reply within a few hours.
However, no other contact information is available on the website, which may be inconvenient for those who prefer to contact customer service by phone or email.
Ready to get started? The first step is to sign up and create an account.
The sign up process involves answering several questions about your dietary needs and preferences, including why you’re interested in using PlateJoy. Options include meal planning, making healthier food choices, and managing your weight.
Next, you’ll be prompted to select your desired portion size based on your estimated calorie needs per day.
Portion size options range from small (1,050–1,350 calories per day) to extra large (2,100–2,700 calories per day). You can add as many family members as needed and add their desired portion sizes.
You’ll also be asked whether you want to follow a certain dietary pattern, if you have certain food preferences (such as if or how often you eat red meat), what ingredients you’d like to avoid, and what kinds of kitchen appliances you own.
After answering these questions, you’ll get a sneak-peak at your weekly menu. But you’ll need to create an account and select a subscription plan before getting full access to your meal plan.
While the service offers a free 10-day trial, you’ll still need to enter your credit card information. However, you won’t be charged until after your free period ends.
After your account is set up, you’ll follow three simple steps each week to create a customized meal plan and shopping list.
Step 1: Customize
The first step is to set the parameters of your weekly meal plan. This includes choosing which meals you want recipes for, how many recipes you want to prepare (or if you’re OK eating leftovers), and how much time you want to spend making each meal.
After customizing your week, you’ll be able to add specific recipes to your weekly menu.
You can select recipes from PlateJoy’s library or from ones you manually enter yourself. You can also let the app choose your recipes for you.
Finally, you’ll select which day of the week you plan on doing your grocery shopping.
Step 2: Review
The next step is to review your customized plan. From this window you can view your weekly menu and swap out recipes.
Once you’re happy with your menu, you’ll hit confirm and be directed to a page where you’ll check off any ingredients that you already have in your fridge or pantry.
Step 3: Shop
Once you finalize your meal plan, you’ll receive a shopping list that’s organized by area of the grocery store. The list also includes notes on how much of each ingredient you’ll need to buy.
You can also add other groceries to your list, such as milk or fruit.
You can either bring your grocery list with you to the store, or you can get your groceries delivered by having PlateJoy sync your list with your Amazon Fresh or Instacart account.
Using the meal planner
During the week, you can access your recipes through the weekly menu.
When you’re ready to prepare a meal, simply click the recipe and follow the step-by-step instructions.
As a registered dietitian with experience in recipe development, I used to love spending time sifting through recipes or creating my own.
However, between working full-time and chasing after a toddler, meal planning has become a low priority over the past year or two.
As meal delivery services can get expensive and aren’t always toddler-friendly, I was excited to try PlateJoy and get out of the meal rut that my family has slowly sunk into.
Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for surveys and online quizzes, so getting started with PlateJoy was not only easy, but it was also enjoyable.
While some might find the onboarding section to be a bit lengthy, I can reassure you it’s well-worth the effort. I was impressed by how well the weekly meal plan fit my family’s needs and preferences.
Time and effort
Overall, I found PlateJoy simple to use and appreciated being able to see the estimated cooking time of each recipe from the meal planner view.
When creating your personal menu, you can specify how much time you have to prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and if you prefer quick options or more complex recipes.
I found this feature, and the ability to choose a mix of leftovers and new recipes, to be particularly useful. Another feature that helped save me time was the ability to send my custom shopping list to Amazon Fresh.
When it came time to make the recipes, I found the instructions straightforward and the time estimates accurate.
However, one wish-list item I have for future updates is the ability to filter meals by cooking method, as there are some weeks when I rely on slow cooker or instant pot recipes.
Taste and freshness
PlateJoy boasts a massive recipe library with a variety of fresh and tasty meals. Additionally, the service allows you to remove any recipes you’d prefer to avoid.
Overall I found the recipes to be flavorful. However, I liked some meals more than others.
For example, the make-ahead marinated Thai chicken, soba, and cucumber salad and the tofu banh mi sandwiches are recipes I’d definitely make again (and added to my list of favorites).
Whereas the chickpea burgers with tzatziki were dry and benefited from toppings not listed in the recipe, like avocado and tomato.
With its smart shopping list feature, PlateJoy also ensures that you’re purchasing only what you need. This cuts down on food waste and helps you stock up on fresh new ingredients each week.
There are several meal planning apps on the market, including eMeals, Mealime, and Eat This Much.
eMeals is subscription-based meal planning app with 15 menus to choose from. Recipes change weekly and you can sync your personalized shopping list with several grocery delivery services, including Instacart, Walmart, and Shipt.
Similarly, Mealime is an app that allows you to create a menu and customized grocery list, taking your dietary needs and personal preferences into account.
Eat This Much is a free option that builds a meal plan based on your calorie needs, dietary restrictions, and eating schedule.
While these services offer similar features, they don’t offer the same level of personalization as PlateJoy.
That said, the competition is slightly more budget-friendly. Plan to Eat costs $39 per year, Mealime costs $50 a year, and eMeals costs approximately $60 per year.
Meanwhile, PlateJoy is $99 per year, though this cost is reduced to $60 per year if you sign up from Healthline.
You can also find free recipes on websites, like Pinterest, Allrecipes, and Food52. This may be a cost-effective alternative for those with flexible food preferences and who have more time to plan a menu and shopping list themselves.
Meal delivery services are a more expensive, but convenient alternative
If your main barrier to eating healthier is shopping and preparing meals, a meal delivery service may be a better option.
Some, like Sunbasket and Green Chef, provide pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow recipe cards, making it simple to quickly prepare a homemade meal.
There are also services that offer pre-made entrees, including Factor and Freshly, that can be reheated in the microwave.
While many services offer menus tailored to specific diets, such as vegan or keto, they lack the level of customization that you get with PlateJoy.
Plus, most delivery services are designed to feed one, two, or four people, whereas PlateJoy can accommodate any-sized household.
Meal delivery services are also significantly more expensive, ranging from $7–$13 per serving. Plus, they often have additional taxes and shipping fees.
Overall, while meal delivery services are generally more convenient, PlateJoy is cheaper and more personalized.
As a busy working mom, I think PlateJoy is worth trying if you’re interested in eating healthier or adding variety to your diet without having to spend valuable downtime searching for recipes or creating shopping lists.
It’s also a good option if you have specific dietary needs or preferences and have a hard time finding recipes that fit your needs.
PlateJoy also stands out for its level of customization and is competitively priced when you sign up from Healthline. Plus, with PlateJoy Path, the service makes it easy to know that you’re actually consuming a good balance of nutrients.
However, as you still need to prepare your meals, it isn’t a good fit for people who dislike cooking or prefer the convenience of premade entrées and snacks.
It also requires a subscription fee in addition to the cost of purchasing groceries, so it might not be suitable for all budgets.
PlateJoy is a subscription-based service that builds a custom menu tailored to your dietary needs and food preferences.
It allows you to create a shopping list based on your weekly recipes, which can be ordered and delivered directly to you using a third-party grocery delivery service.
It’s also one of the most customizable options and is worth the money if you have specific dietary preferences or are interested in the PlateJoy Path feature.
Overall, I found using PlateJoy to be convenient and easy to use, making it a good match for people who are too busy to plan a menu and shopping list but still want to prepare and enjoy healthy meals at home.