As evidenced by past posts, I enjoy cooking. I find something satisfying in tossing ingredients into pots and pans and ending up with delicious food. I even enjoy chopping vegetables and doing prep work. I’m weird that way.
For the past several months, we’ve subscribed to Blue Apron. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a weekly meal subscription service that sends you the ingredients to make 3 meals. You can skip weeks if you want (don’t like the food, you’re away, saving money, etc.), and you can tailor what recipes you get to some extent. More on that later.
Overall, I really like the service. I’ve got some quibbles with it, but we’ve had a lot of fun cooking together and have tried foods that we probably wouldn’t otherwise.
Cooking with someone. The Blue Apron recipes could be followed on your own, but they tend to be easier if you have someone helping, even if that person just keeps you on track by reading the steps and watching cooking times. We’ve tried to make a habit of always doing these meals together. Someone preps vegetables while someone starts heating the pan and oil. Someone starts cooking the side while someone works on the protein.
Easy to follow. The recipe cards show you what everything is supposed to look like at each step and the instructions are straightforward. If you’re not sure what a small dice looks like, for example, the website (or the app) provides a short video along with info on ingredients.
Meal planning happens. I don’t plan out our meals for the week unless we have a Blue Apron delivery. Then I know 3 nights are taken care of. I don’t have to shop for special ingredients: everything is included in the box (except olive oil, salt and pepper). Seriously, you get cute little bottles that hold a tablespoon of sesame oil or a tiny zippered bag with 2 tablespoons of flour.
Quality ingredients. Everything arrives and looks fresh. The veggies are ripe and crisp. Meats are frozen since they’re packaged between environmentally friendly frozen packs. The food is locally sourced when possible, and meats are organic. It all tastes great. Those chicken meatballs in the top photo were fantastic!
Unusual foods. At least for me. Fregola sarda? What’s that? I wouldn’t have cooked with miso or added sautéed cabbage to pumpkin pasta, but I did with Blue Apron and really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t have eaten as much kale and wouldn’t have touched brussels sprouts, but I’ve found I don’t hate them as much as I thought I would.
Little waste. All the packaging, including the frozen packs, is recyclable. We’re on the 2-person meal plan and the recipes tend to make almost exactly enough for us. We’ve never felt like we needed more, and usually we have a bit of leftovers.
A little bland. To be honest, some of the recipes are a little bland for my palate. When food is supposed to be spicy, it’s not enough for me. You salt throughout cooking (see below) but I sometimes wish I used either more salt or other spices/herbs to give the food a bolder taste.
Somewhat limited choices. In theory you can choose your 3 meals from a list of 6. The list always has 3 vegetarian options and 1 seafood option. However, not all combinations are possible. If you pick a protein-based meal, you can’t have 2 other vegetarian meals; you only get 1 and Blue Apron tells you which that is. I’ve skipped meals because I felt at least 1 of the options in my combo wouldn’t get made and that I couldn’t repurpose the ingredients.
Cost. Because everything arrives in the right proportions, the per meal cost isn’t that much more than you’d pay in the grocery store for this quality of ingredients. The per week cost though can be a little daunting and it’s the main reason that we’ve stuck to an every-other-week-or-less schedule.
I’m lazy. We don’t always get around to cooking a meal before some of the vegetables start to wilt. That’s on us, not Blue Apron, but if you’re not committed to cooking everything in a week or so, you’ll toss out more Swiss chard than you want.
Salt. As mentioned, the recipes call for you to salt the food at almost every step. Put food in a pan – salt and pepper to taste. Add another ingredient to that food – more salt and pepper. Take all of that off the heat and set aside – yep, more salt and pepper. It’s very easy to oversalt in terms of taste and in terms of what you should be having.
Anyway, that’s been my experience with Blue Apron. I haven’t tried any other meal subscription services so I don’t know how they compare. If you have, comment and let me know. If you’re intrigued by Blue Apron, let me know: I have free weeks I can send you.