Meal delivery services are really hot right now, and I can’t say I had that much interest until a friend gifted me free meals from Blue Apron. Free food delivered to my door? Fine, I’m in.
I’ve used the service three times now, and full disclosure: First time the meals were free. Second time one of the three meals was free because I complained about something (more on that in a moment). And the third time it earned me the right to gift meals to other people. So.. I’ve had ulterior motives each time. That being said, if I didn’t enjoy it on some level the first go-around, I would not have paid (even at a discount) for the other two weeks.
When you sign up for Blue Apron, you designate how many people (2), what day you’d like your deliveries (Saturday), and if you have dietary restrictions (no red meat, etc). Within your online account, you can skip deliveries any week, assuming you do so early enough, and see what your next delivery will be. They automatically select 3 meals for you, but you can choose your own from six options—although some combos aren’t allowed for whatever reason. Your food arrives on your designated day in a big box. Inside is a cool bag packed with ice packs and all of your ingredients. It’s a nice box to unpack, but the amount of individually wrapped items can get a little ridiculous.
It feels really very wasteful, especially since you can’t return their cool bags. They are reusable to an extent, as are the ice packs, but after three deliveries we really, really don’t need anymore.
They claim to source as many things as possibly locally. I’ve have good experiences with all of their meat and produce, with one small exception—we received some slimy brussels sprouts once. That being said, I emailed them about it and they comped an entire meal for us ($20 value), so that was nice of them.
Each meal has its own recipe card. On one side is a photo of the finished dish, calories, time, and all of the ingredients. Blue Apron sends you everything you need (not prepped) minus oil and salt and pepper (well, and pots and pans and magic hands to make it for you and give you a back rub after). The other side has each step of the recipe with photos to show you how it’s done.
Here are my actual thoughts about using Blue Apron:
- They deliver to your door.
- The box contains everything you need for each recipe, and just what you need. Less wasted food and no need to run out last minute and pick up a missing ingredient.
- They do all of the thinking for you. No need to menu plan for those three nights a week.
- The food is high quality, and the recipes are usually very good.
- Variety. I sometimes get into food ruts, and this can nudge you out of it.
- The illustrations and instructions might get someone who doesn’t cook a lot into the kitchen.
- Wasteful packaging-wise. I can only reuse so much of this stuff before I am over-run.
- Sometimes the recipes are a little.. wacky. One dish took twice as long to cook because the cook time for the grain was totally off. I will say that this is generally rare.
- The recipes can be a lot of work. Some of the recipes take a lot of chopping and prep and a lot of steps. I honestly don’t make meals like this frequently, especially on a weeknight when I’m brain dead.
- The serving sizes are awkward at times. I find that we always have a little food left, but not enough for another meal. What to do with it?
- Price. This is the one of the most affordable service of this kind ($10 per person), and I will say it’s cheaper than eating these types of meals at a restaurant. But I am fully aware I can make them for cheaper if I shopped for myself. Plus, if I was at a restaurant, someone else would do all that chopping and cooking.
So in conclusion, if you’re in a rut but you like to cook, it may be worth a try. I have talked to friends who have tried out some other services, and say that Blue Apron has the best recipes. Thus far I have only saved one recipe that I’d like to make again, a Chicken Mulligatawny Soup. It was easy enough to make it feasible to prepare again, and was dee-licious.
P.S. Sorry about the photos, I took them in my dark kitchen while preparing a meal by myself and needless to say, I was juggling.