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
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).