I’d been eager to try a meal delivery service for a while. Blue Apron is perhaps the most recognizable of these many services, so I took advantage of an introductory discount and tried it out!
I’ve rated each out of 5.
Price (2.5/5): 3 meals, 2 servings each. $60
For 3 meals that each serve 2 people (so, 6 meals for one person), the regular price per weekly delivery is $60. That’s $10/meal, which is essentially the same price as eating out. If you’re cooking for just yourself, that’s about $5/meal, which is better. Still expensive though, especially when I could spend that same amount on all my weekly groceries at Trader Joe’s, including breakfast and snacks. Also to be considered: eating leftovers for two days is a little much for me, especially if I’m not crazy about the meal.
Meals (4/5): 3 recipes (if you don’t like one you can pick a different combination from their weekly menu of 6 recipes)
From my two boxes I’ve received so far, my favorite recipes have both featured cod: a cripsy cod with soba noodles and citrusy Asian flavors, and crispy cod tacos with red cabbage slaw.
I also had:
- a kale/asparagus/chicken fettuccine with cream sauce
- personal-sized zucchini/spinach/parmesan quiches
- a Greek-topping pizza
- sweet potato chick pea burgers (haven’t made yet)
I would have changed some things about certain recipes though. For example, the quiches could have used shallots instead of onion and garlic, because I had a ton of leftover shallot from the dressing for the side salad (and it’s also tastier). Also, a lot of the meals are CALORIC (around 600-700 calories a serving)!
While the majority of the dishes are pretty delicious, I encountered two problems: one, the meals piled up over two weeks, which I will explore later on. Two, I wasn’t crazy about any of the upcoming menu items in the coming weeks. Luckily, you can “skip” a delivery as often as you want without penalty, or without having to cancel your account. I’ve skipped the rest of this month while I decide whether I want to continue or not.
Convenience/Ease (3.5/5): Mailed directly to you weekly; choose whenever you want to skip. Recipes are relatively easy.
The convenience of a meal delivery service is what most appealed to me at first. My new apartment is over a mile away from the closest supermarket (I don’t have a car), and the Trader Joe’s I prefer to go to is a 25-minute bus ride away, so grocery shopping has become somewhat of a nuisance. The idea of having pre-assembly dinner and tomorrow’s lunch waiting for me in a box at my door is heavenly (the boxes are very well refrigerated, so there’s no worry about food spoiling).
While I consider myself a pretty solid cook for all intents and purposes–I don’t shy away from challenging recipes and I would describe cooking as one of my major interests–I’m not sure if Blue Apron would be sustainable for an absolute beginner (though it could certainly be a way to improve your skills). The service assumes that you have olive oil, salt, pepper, and basic cooking utensils. However, every recipe I make has dirtied several bowls, pans, cutting boards, knives, and other miscellaneous appliances.
That being said, the recipes are very clear, complete with pictures and step-by-step instructions on a single card, and for the most part you’re given exactly the amount of each ingredient that you’ll need (in some cases, you’ll need to judge when you’ve used enough of that entire onion or particular spice). I truly believe anyone could do this with some time and patience, which brings me to my last area of uncertainty: the time it takes. With each of these recipes, I’m spending at least 30 minutes in the kitchen, sometimes more. Someone with less experience and ease in the kitchen might find it takes them longer. And while I don’t mind spending time in the kitchen, especially if I’m cooking in bulk for the week, it doesn’t always fit well with my busy schedule.
Wastefulness (2/5): Very wasteful packaging, meals can pile up.
I was warned about the wastefulness of Blue Apron’s packaging. Everything comes in its own individual plastic back or wrapping, which leaves me with a large pile of packaging to recycle after each meal (think: a whole separate carton for one egg, an entire plastic baggie for two tablespoons of cumin). Granted, I’m not sure what the solution would be due to the nature of the service, but I wonder how other companies do it. At least the ingredients are sustainably and locally sourced.
The second element to wastefulness is the amount of food. You receive the ingredients for three meals on the day of the week you choose, which assumes you will cook all three of them before your next box arrives in seven days. This leaves out spontaneous nights out, weekend dinner/lunch engagements, days you get home too late for anything other than a bowl of cereal, or any of life’s other surprises. Before you know it, it’s Monday again and your new box has arrived, while last week’s recipe #3 still sits in your fridge. Oops.
After noticing this “pile-up,” I immediately postponed all future deliveries. At the very least I would have to order my boxes every other week and supplement them with some light groceries, or at least be aware of my schedule for the coming week to make sure I’d be able to cook everything.
In Summary (3/5)
I realize that my rating may not apply to everyone–for example, if you know that you can cook every night no matter what, great! To sum it all up:
- Cooking delicious recipes I might not have otherwise (that are now on my radar!)
- Using ingredients I’d never heard of (like yuzu juice)
- Avoid the grocery store
- Don’t have to think about what I’m cooking
- Ingredients are fresh and responsibly sourced
- A little pricey for my budget
- Wasteful packaging
- Uncooked meals can pile up
- A little more intricate than I’d want for almost every week night
I’d definitely be curious to try other meal delivery services to compare. As for Blue Apron, I think I’ll choose one or two boxes a month if there are recipes that catch my eye–for now, grocery shopping will continue to be a mission.