It’s so simple but so life-changing.
With the amount of time we spend thinking about, talking about, writing about, and dreaming about our next meal, you'd think we'd have it figured out by now (we literally just spent a full hour figuring out our lunch plan at Cov HQ). And yet, still, the most difficult decision is what to Seamless for dinner, our fridges are full of groceries that almost never get eaten, and we subsist almost entirely off avocados. It's pathetic. But then we discovered Plate Joy, and our lives changed—and that's not even hyperbole. The concept is so very simple—and yet the effect is so freaking great: you take a quiz about your eating habits on their site (food tastes, dietary needs, whether you like leftovers or not, whether you use a blender on the reg—everything), and you're presented with a chunk of recipes for the week and a shopping list. If you live in a major city in the US, Instacart will deliver your groceries within an hour—if not, you can take your list with you and go grocery shopping anywhere in the world. That's it: you have a made-just-for-you (and your family, roommates, whoever), meal plan, for whichever meals you need that week, and recipes you can actually make.
When something this earth-shattering comes to us, it's in our nature to get to the bottom of it. In Plate Joy's case, the origin is Christina Bognet, its super young, super ambitious founder and CEO, who has some big ideas about food as medicine and why diets never work.
How Platejoy works:
“We used personalization data about each individual to determine what they should be eating each week, and then give them a personalized shopping list and customized recipes. We get that info from the quiz you do when you sign up. Then we give them the recipes, the shopping list, and they can either take the shopping list with them to a grocery store anywhere in the world, or, in 35 metro areas in the country, they can also send the list to Instacart and have it delivered same day within an hour. The way we make money is pretty simple. People pay us to use. You can sign up for either six months or a year at a time. Six months is $69 and a year is $99.”
Why eating their way is better than any diet:
“We know that 90 percent of diets fail. The reason for that is because they are not personalized. You can’t give me the same diet that you are giving my mom or dad. We have vastly different preferences not only in that I don’t like onions and my dad does, but also my parents don’t have a slow cooker or a food processor and I do. My parents like leftovers, I don’t. There is a lot of different input that we need from the customer to really understand them. And when you don’t understand those things and you put someone on a catch-all diet, like the soup diet or just a general low-carb diet or Weight Watchers or Atkins, you run into issues because the person gets their weekly meal plan and they are like, ‘I don’t actually like meat, but you are telling me to eat steak.’ Or maybe you like all the ingredients, but they each take an hour to prepare and you don’t want to spend an hour. Or maybe it’s just a box type thing and you don’t actually want to put together a peach, a piece of cheese, and some olives. It’s not going to work for you because you want to cook, but for somebody else that would have been perfect. With all our data to affect your own meal plan, when you get it, it really looks good.”
You’ll never throw away food again:
“We have an algorithm that reduces waste across meals. Thirty to 40 percent of what people are buying at the grocery store they throw out. We think that’s a technical problem for which there is a technical solution. If you are using spinach in one recipe, then use it in the next one. So what we have seen since implementing various phases of that algorithm is customers giving us feedback. The number of people complaining about food waste has drastically dropped. It’s really nice to see that.”
How Plate Joy prioritizes nutrition without making your meals restrictive:
“Nutrition is the cornerstone of health, and we are starting to realize that more and more. The concept of using food as medicine has become more mainstream. If you go to the doctor and are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you are given really heavy steroid medications. There is also evidence to show that there are dietary changes [that] will slow the progression of your disease. The reason that these things don’t get dispersed as much to patients is because it’s hard to tell a patient stop eating gluten, dairy, nightshades—what even are nightshades?—soy... How are you supposed to do that? With things like heart disease and diabetes and obesity in particular—70 percent of the country is overweight or obese, and 30 billion dollars are spent a year on costs associated with obesity-related illnesses. It’s 100 percent known that if you change your diet, you are going to lose weight and reduce the chance of, say, pre-diabetes developing into diabetes, or diabetes developing into more aggressive symptoms like blindness and various other symptoms. We know that to be true. The hard part is taking action. These people come to Plate Joy and maybe they should be following a diet for irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes or heart disease or high blood pressure, and they can just click that button on Plate Joy in combination with everything else they’ve told us. It’s not like, ‘Now I have the diabetic plan.’ It’s like, ‘Now I have a diabetic plan that excludes smoothies because I hate them or that includes lots of stews because I love them. That knows how much time I have and knows I have two kids at home; that knows how much weight I’m trying to lose; that is editing my portions.’’