Food delivery companies like Blue Apron, Plated or Hello Fresh all offer similar services to home cooks and foodies like us; the convenience of fresh produce, quality meats, and uniquely seasonal ingredients pre-portioned, according to inspired recipes, and mailed directly to your door step. This eliminates grocery shopping for full-time professionals, packing the kids into the car for stay-at-home moms, lugging heavy bags or getting a cab for city-dwellers, ordering the same old take-out again for newly weds, and the list goes on. We’ve all been there. Wanting to eat something different but lacking the time, energy and resources.
Enter Blue Apron.
Let’s rewind at bit. While out to dinner with my girlfriends, my friend Katie spoke highly of Blue Apron.
Katie: Just the other night, I steamed fish in banana leaves.
Me: Wait, you actually made the food or was it pre-packaged in a container to be microwaved?
Katie: No, the food came fresh and Blue Apron shows you how to prepare it.
Me: So it’s not like those weight-loss meals that come in a bag or container and you just heat it up?
Katie: Not at all. It is fresh vegetables and meat. They give you a recipe and teach you how to make it.
To make a long story short, Katie is amazing and sent me a FREE week of Blue Apron meals so I could try it myself.
I live in a small isolated town in the middle of nowhere. All that snow you have been hearing about? It is showering onto my car as I type. The local grocery store here has the dimensions of a tennis court and features the basics: chicken, steak and pork. Growing up, I lived in a busy area, full of malls and restaurants with a Wegmans on every corner. I am not used to being devoid of quality food, okay? So at the ripe-old age of 26, hearing about food-delivery services for the first time filled me with delight.
- If a friend refers you, first week is FREE
- $10/plate per person for 2 servings at 3 weekly meals = $60/week
- Family plan options: http://www.blueapron.com/pages/pricing
- Choose the day you want it delivered
- Comes once per week
- Skip deliveries on certain weeks depending on your availability or interest in the menu
- See map below for available delivery zones (blue)
- 6 recipes offered each week for 2-Person Plan
- 4 recipes offered each week for Family Plan
- Specify your preference: meat, fish, vegetables, chicken
- Blue Apron selects three recipes for you, but you have a couple days to customize your order after you submit.
- However, you may not get to choose the exact combination you would like. I really wanted the Mushroom Ramen, but did not get to choose the other noodle dish I wanted.
The First Impression
Firstly, I was impressed that Blue Apron even delivered to my desolate area.
The box was full of fresh common ingredients like onions, green pepper and garlic, as well as exotic ingredients like king trumpet mushrooms, garlic chives and white miso paste.
As a special education teacher, I appreciated that each ingredient was already measured and conveniently labeled, accommodations that foster independence and success, especially for novel home-cooks.
Brightly colored recipe cards, providing a final product photo, picture of ingredients, explanation of the meal’s flavor-profile, ingredient measurements, calories and cook time, disseminates knowledge of the dish to the home-chef.
The back of this recipe-card displays step-by-step written instructions with photos, errorlessly teaching (an applied behavior analysis intervention) the home-cook how to prepare this meal. It is notable that Blue Apron focuses on attention to detail, as ingredients and cookery for garnishes are expounded upon as well.
Pros: The Winter Mushroom Ramen broth abounded with rich umami that flooded my taste buds like a tsunami. Half of the ingredients were new to my kitchen: King Trumpet Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Garlic Chives, Sambal Oelek, and White Miso Paste. Tasting each individual ingredient allowed me to experience food that I may have overlooked in a grocery store. The mustard greens exuded a peppery-horseradish flavor, while the king trumpet mushrooms offered an earthy and savory appeal. Blue Apron taught me how to incorporate these components into a well-composed dish. Furthermore, my local grocery store does not carry several of these ingredients, meaning I may have missed out on a phenomenal meal.
Cons: The Mushroom Ramen Spice Blend was missing from the ingredients delivered to me. This was disappointing because this dish lacked seasoning and I did not have ground szechuan pepper, dried lemon peel, white and black sesame seeds and kibbled nori laying around my kitchen. However, when I emailed Blue Apron about this mishap they responded immediately and credited my account $19.95, the total of two servings of a meal. I was impressed with their customer service and will be ordering another week soon, using the credited amount towards my next purchase.
Pros: This vegetable Jambalaya dish was hearty and healthy. The multicolored heirloom carrots were gorgeous and the crispy maitake mushroom garnish was tangy and delectable. My appetite is comparable to an elephant, yet this meal gave my husband and I significant lunch leftovers.
Cons: Although the recipe instructed continuous seasoning with salt and pepper, the meal was still bland. Okra was a unique touch, but its slimy slices could have been left out.
Pros: This dish was easy and fast. The biscuits were light and fluffy. I drizzled extra honey on top, which only enhanced the scrumptious homemade honey butter.
Cons: Again this dish had no flavor and was disappointing. After finishing it with a ton of salt, it still tasted like mush. My biggest complaint is that the recipe calls for 1 cup of water to simmer the rice, but the rice and greens began to “burn” to the bottom of the pan after about 8 minutes. So, I had to add a ton more water. As a home cook, I am knowledgeable in the kitchen, so making this change was not difficult. However, since I am reviewing this company for its recipes, the recipe needs to be adjusted.
The truth is, I’m a special education teacher. My days are filled with:
- Chasing students who have eloped down the hall in my heels
- Dancing to Just Dance on the Smart Board with the kids as a brain break
- Trying not to burst out laughing when a child learning the word “cop” says it with a “ck”
- Giving lectures about the dangers of Facebook
- Holding back tears when struck in the head with a work box during a tantrum
- Tickling, singing, hugging, and cheering to celebrate good behaviors
By the end of the work day, I am exhausted. I am in no mood to grocery shop, I just want to go home and take a bath. Having the convenience of quality food delivered to my door is ingenious. Now I can go straight home, unwind with a glass of wine and cook a delicious meal while listening to Frank Sinatra.
Can you relate?
On the other hand, two of the three meals were not super impressive. Since this was a FREE week, I did not feel like I wasted money. However, I am leery to purchase a week unless the recipes look incredible (like the Mushroom Ramen looked). I may buy a week that has several great recipes, giving a higher chance of Blue Apron choosing 3 great meals to send me.
Update 6/23/2015: Check out my Reviews of Plated, Hello Fresh and Home Chef to see how they compare to Blue Apron (click the company’s name).
I’m a busy person too so the idea of Blue Apron was attractive. Loved it but ultimately had to cancel because the delivery service was horrendous and Blue Apron wouldn’t take care of the problem. My weekly package was consistently late (once being dropped off at 11:45 at night) and Blue Apron’s customer service was pretty awful. While the quality of the product is good, I would not recommend Blue Apron to anyone.
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Alicia, there is nothing more frustrating than not getting your food on time. I did not have this problem with them, but when there was a spice mix missing I contacted them immediately. They resolved the problem by giving me two free meals. I am sorry that their customer service was not kind. Did you ask to talk to manager or director?
I’m so interested to know which of these services is really doing the best job consistently. I’ve had a great experience with Blue Apron but it seems like they aren’t consistent. Would love it if you’d weigh in on our site to rate each of these three (BA, Plated and HF)!
Casey thank you for reblogging my post! I will go on your site and rate these! My overall favorite was Hello Fresh, which was a surprise to me. I am going to try Home Chef and Marley Spoon next! They have amazing promotions!
I’m really interested in trying this or HelloFresh. This is a great review. I did have to laugh when you said okra was a unique touch to the jambalaya. Maybe it’s the southern girl in me but maitake and faro are unique in jambalaya. Okra is almost always expected in jambalaya. It does have a texture loathed by most people who didn’t grow up eating it.
Thanks for the useful reviews of these services! I got discount codes for Blue Apron and Hello Fresh at the same time, so we tried Blue Apron last week and Hello Fresh this week. I have to agree that the Blue Apron was a little on the bland side. I kept feeling like I should have added something from my own spice cupboard; salt and pepper are great, but they don’t do it all.
We tried the Blue Apron for two. Consistently loved the recipes. Delivery always on time. But I cancelled them. Our problem was bad produce. Every week there was a at least one produce product that was defective. Slimy, old cilantro. An old zucchini that weighed at least three pounds and was spongy, shriveled corn on the cob every time, grainy tomatoes. The last straw was cherry tomatoes in plastic pkg. they looked like they had been stomped on and dribbled juice all over the other ingredients. After photos and emails sent every time with assurances that they would talk to “someone” it was still occurring. So, good concept, poor produce cost them a client. And that makes me sad because we loved the new recipes and unusual (for us) ingredients.
Honestly that is the worst when the produce is so yucky! Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry about your experience 😦
You should know that the delivery areas have expanded. I live in Kansas and am trying Blue Apron! So far so good. My delivery was perfect and the recipes were yummy. Also just discovered Home Chef and it looks great too. Will probably try them on the weeks when Blue Apron’s recipes look “meh.”
Sounds good! Thank you for the info and let me know what you think about home chef 🙂
I am a bachelor guy with no skill in the kitchen and getting tired of Chipotle for Lunch+Dinner. What kitchen tools (pots, pan etc.) do I need to have on hand in order to give Blue Apron a shot? None of the reviews I’ve seen mention what kitchen tools/pots/pans are needed to avoid a scramble.
You can get buy with a basic set of pans. Needed a medium skillet that go stovetop to oven. A small baking dish. A med saucepan. I think that would do it from the month of meals I have tried so far. Hope you try it out!
I’ve had reasonably good service with Blue Apron. The deliveries are late occasionally, but they always respond and refund when that happens, even if I assure them that the food appears to be okay. I have had missing ingredients rarely (I’ve been getting the meals for over a year), but again, always get a credit. I have not had bad food. I have had bad packaging where something gets damaged, but again, customer service refunded me.
The casseroles are often bland, and I’ve learned enough about cooking now that I can spice them up or just add something like diced chicken to improve the recipe. I do wish I was able to choose menus a bit more. I’ve tended to cancel for a week rather than get food I don’t want now that I’ve been getting the service for so long. At first I went ahead and got them just to try out the foods since much of it was new to me. Now I know not to bother when I can switch to something else but keep those that I want.
I may eventually give one of the others a try now that I’ve read your reviews. Thank you!
I heard others saying they get codes to try BA. Do you by chance have one?
I am finished with my third week of Blue Apron and have enjoyed all the meals. The food has been delivered in the morning and everything was in the box and in good shape. I am an experienced cook but I work full time. It’s good to come home and have everything I need to make a great tasting meal in 30 minutes. Every meal has introduced me to a new cooking skill, a new grain or vegetable cooking method. Only two pots are usually needed for preparing dinner so cleanup is not a problem. I think this service is a great alternative to takeout that I would get during the week and it’s better and cheaper.
My son had a new baby in Texas and I ordered two weeks of Blue Apron for my visit . The food came as ordered and was in good shape. The baby’s parents enjoyed the gourmet meals and no one had to do any shopping. They also intend to continue with Blue Apron. Working parents with a new baby can’t find time to sleep much less go food shopping.
Dot from NJ
Just read all four of the reviews and really appreciate your thoroughness and enthusiasm! I left a comment on my experiences (several weeks BA, first week HC) on the Home Chef review page. Thank you!