I have been hearing about Blue Apron for a couple years now. It is one of several meal delivery services available these days. They send you ingredients and recipes for you to cook yourself. They offer a variety of meal plans – vegetarian. Most advertise sustainability in some form or other. The ingredients are fresh and seasonal. It seems like a busy person’s dream – groceries perfectly matched to recipes show up at your door.
I looked into Blue Apron a few times, partly because I heard of discounts on a variety of podcasts. But, I wasn’t ever quite willing to take the plunge. While the meals are pretty affordably priced, I always seemed to look when my grocery budget was feeling extra tight. But last week, I happened to stop by a friend’s house right when she got her Blue Apron box AND her fridge was broken. She didn’t know how long it would take to fix it plus she was leaving town in a day or two. So, she generously gave me her box of two meals.
I thought I’d share some pictures and my thoughts on the meals for you today.
First meal: Pan-Seared Barramundi with Prince of Orange Potatoes and Spinach
I thought the recipe had the timing of steps very well planned out for you. There was generally something to be doing even if another item was cooking. I liked the efficiency of that, which I’m not the best at figuring out on my own.
I think they could have been a bit more specific on size of dice for the potatoes, as mine cooked MUCH faster than the recipe suggested.
I did find on both recipes I made that the cook time on the front of the recipe card did not match the actual cook times on the back. For example, the potatoes were supposed to roast 28-30 minutes. But the front of the card said cook time was 25-35 minutes for the whole meal. I was confused on that.
I really enjoyed the spinach. I definitely want to try and cook spinach like that again on my own. Made for a yummy side.
Overall, this meal was okay, but I wasn’t wowed by it. It seemed under seasoned overall to me. There are a lot of steps of adding salt and pepper throughout, but I felt it could use more variety in the seasonings. Even some garlic powder or something for the fish and potatoes.
I will say my kids devoured the fish and potatoes, which is always a win in my house.
My biggest complaint with this meal was the portion size. I don’t know what four small people would be able to divide the amount of potatoes I received and feel satisfied. I had to ration them between me, my three year old, and my one year old to leave ANY for my husband (who ate later).
Second meal: Lemongrass Roasted Pork with Braised Cauliflower and Bok Choy (sorry the picture isn’t great)
My husband and I enjoyed this meal a lot more than the barramundi. I think a lot of it had to do with the seasoning. This had a lot more flavor: spice rub for the pork, cilantro in the rice, a chili sauce.
I did not feel like this meal was as well timed out as the fish. I found myself standing around waiting a lot. And I found their time estimates on almost everything to be off. I braised my cauliflower almost twice as long as they said. And I live at high altitude, so it should have gone faster. My sauce and rice cooked faster than they said. And there was the same issue with the overall cook time being off like I mentioned above.
I think part of the reason we liked this meal more was I felt the portion sizes were more accurate. We all ate until we were full and even had a (very) little left over. I would expect to have leftovers from a meal designed for four, since two of our four people are toddlers.
I did enjoy the cauliflower, and especially liked pairing it with bok choy. I feel like I always want to try and use different vegetables more but never know how. I do feel like this was a little under seasoned. Soy sauce or something like that would have really made this work better for me.
The chili butter sauce was very good. Really tied the whole meal together. We are sauce people, so I would have liked a little bit more, but it was sufficient.
As an overall service, I think Blue Apron could be a great option for busy people that still want home cooked meals. The meals are balanced, well-rounded, and have a great variety to them.
I personally will not be switching to Blue Apron any time soon. And here are my reasons:
-We have leftover night once a week, every week. With this service, there are no leftovers. As odd as that may sound for many of you, just cleaning out my fridge and not really having to cook dinner once a week is a lifesaver for me.
-I’d still have to grocery shop. I need lunch, breakfast, snacks, etc for my family. This doesn’t eliminate going to the store. So for me, might as well go for everything.
-Maybe it was just the two meals I tried, but neither exactly hit the flavor profile I’m going for in my cooking. I prefer to use other seasonings besides just salt and pepper. I try to limit my salt use actually. Their philosophy seemed to be salt and pepper is the only thing you need. While that is simpler for a service like theirs, it kind of made for food on the bland end of the food taste spectrum.
-Cost. I don’t think they are unreasonably priced, by any means. However, I try to feed my family for about $10/day. Their cost is over $8 per serving. And that is only one meal. For the quality you are getting and the service, it is probably worth it for some. In my life circumstances, I can’t justify that expense.
However, those are very personal reasons. Overall, I think it would be a great idea for many people. Hope this helps anyone who has been thinking about it. If you are interested, they are usually offering $30 off your first order and free shipping when you sign up.