When Blue Apron contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I would like to review their “meal-delivery service”, I immediately headed over to their website and Facebook page to check it out. From the website, I gathered that it was unlike what you normally picture when you think of “meal delivery service” – these aren’t packaged, frozen, or shelf-stable meals. With Blue Apron, all of the ingredients for three restaurant-quality meals, as well as recipes, are delivered to your door – and you cook them yourself! One glance through the comments on their Facebook page told me that their customers love the service – it’s getting them excited to get into the kitchen and have fun cooking, without all the hassle of planning and grocery shopping (which I think is the worst part of cooking, to be honest). And anything that gets people excited to cook at home make me happy, because that’s the goal of this blog, too. Cooking is fun, people!
How It Works: Each week, Blue Apron publishes to their website and mailing list menus for the following week. There is a vegetarian menu, and a meat & fish menu, and each menu includes three complete meals. You can sign up to receive a box every week, but you can cancel any week you don’t want, based on the menu or your schedule that week or whatever. You choose how many people you want to feed, in increments of 2, from 2 – 6 people. Boxes are priced at $9.99 per meal per person (so, $59.94 for three meals that feed two people) (free shipping). This seemed expensive to me at first, but you know what? It’s way cheaper than going to most restaurants for three meals, and also – groceries are expensive. You’re definitely paying a little extra for convenience here – you’re basically paying somebody to plan the meals, make a grocery list, and go to the store and buy everything. I think that’s a service a lot of people would be willing to pay for. In most areas, you choose between a couple of delivery days, and your box will be delivered from 8am – 8pm that day.
What You Get: You get a box filled with food, of course! But really – this food is packed in a Styrofoam-lined box filled with a ton of cold packs. My food was delivered on a 90-degree day, and when I reached into the box, it felt like a refrigerator in there. When you unpack it, you’ll see all sorts of fresh produce, vacuum-packed meat and seafood, and numerous little bags and plastic containers of pre-measured ingredients. You also get three glossy, full-color recipes with step-by-step photos. I threw it all on a sheet pan and put it in my extra refrigerator. If you’re not lucky enough to have a refrigerator-hoarding husband, you’ll just need to make sure you have plenty of fridge space before your shipment arrives. I received my shipment on 5/23, and stickers on both the chicken and chorizo said that they were good until 6/2 – quite awhile! The fish had no such sticker, but I’m assuming most people who know even a limited amount about cooking would know to prepare the fish as soon as possible.
Meal #1 – Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato Orzo Risotto & Zucchini – This was my favorite of the three meals, but that’s probably because I’m a sucker for chicken thighs…and risotto…and sweet potatoes. I noticed that the chicken (as well as the chorizo for the third meal) was from Pat LaFrieda. If you like to cook and eat meat, you’ve probably heard of them – they’re a meat supplier for some of the country’s finest restaurants. Anyway, this meal was pretty simple to prepare, and it made a HUGE portion of risotto. It was meant to serve 2, but my husband and I easily got at least 3 to 3-1/2 meals out of it. The orzo risotto was a little sweet and a little cheesy, and the chicken thighs ended up with awesome crispy skin. The zucchini side dish was a nice combination of the vegetable, a generous amount of basil, and lemon juice. All in all, I only have great things to say about this dish!
Meal #2 – Haddock with Melted Leeks & Fingerling Potatoes – This meal was really elegant – it seemed perfect for a fancy stay-at-home-date-night. I did notice that when the package of fish was opened, there was a “fishy” smell. I’ve always been told that fish should have no smell at all, so this was a little disconcerting. But, it didn’t seem spoiled, so I pushed on. (I had absolutely no problems with the chicken or chorizo from the other recipes – these were both super fresh and smelled great). I also noticed that the quantities of ingredients varied slightly from the quantities listed in the recipe. For example, the recipe called for 2 leeks, and I received 3 (similar situation with the potatoes). This didn’t really bother me at all – I assume everything is just packaged based on weight, so no big deal there. This was the simplest of the three meals to prepare. Most of the ingredients went into a foil packet and into the oven, and the haddock was sauteed on the stovetop. Ultimately, the fish tasted just fine. The leeks got super soft and buttery in the oven, the potatoes were tender and creamy, and the olives added a nice touch of saltiness. This would be the perfect meal to impress somebody with – hand them a glass of white wine and then serve them this.
Meal #3 – Chorizo Arepas with Arugula & Orange Salad – I liked this meal because it got me in the kitchen cooking something I had never made before. And believe me, I’ve made lots of stuff, but never arepas. Hooray for new experiences! I will say that Blue Apron advertises their meals as “35 minutes or less to prepare,” but I think this one took me closer to 50 – 55 minutes. It seemed more like a weekend project than an easy weeknight meal, but the results were undeniably delicious. Again, the portion here was huge – at least 3 servings. You’re busy the whole time you’re in the kitchen making this – first you prep and chop the produce. Then you make and knead your arepa dough, press it into circles, and pan-fry them for a few minutes. You transfer your arepas to the oven, then get started cooking your chorizo and peppers. While that’s cooking, you make both a chimichurri sauce and a salad dressing for the arugula and orange salad. Plate it all up, and you’re ready to go! This was very tasty, and something I would never have thought to make at home on my own. I loved the balance of flavors with the spicy chorizo and the cool arugula salad with juicy orange.
Overall Thoughts: I know tons of people my age that have told me that they would like to cook more, but planning and grocery shopping is a hassle. I agree – it stinks. I think it would be especially difficult if you lived in a big city without a car, and had to lug all your groceries home on a train, bike, or by foot. If this describes you, Blue Apron might be for you. I also think this would be a great service for anybody who wants to learn how to cook, or people who are otherwise just too busy to go shopping but still want to eat home-cooked meals (new baby owners?).
I think making three meals a week at home is do-able for most people, even those who love to eat at restaurants. You’re not committing yourself to eating at home 7 nights a week here – just 3. Each serving is somewhere between 500 – 700 calories, which I think is pretty standard for most people.
I love that they give you the recipe (ingredient amounts included). If you really love something you prepare, and want to buy the ingredients yourself and make it again, you totally can! Another great thing is that you only need to supply 3 foodstuffs – olive oil, salt and pepper. Anybody can round those up. You also need extremely limited kitchen equipment. For these three recipes, I needed a very basic set of pots and pans, a chef’s knife, a vegetable peeler, some aluminum foil, a baking sheet, a spatula for turning fish, a wooden spoon, a whisk, and a set of tongs. Again, most people should be able to round those up without a problem.
If you want to cook at home more, learn to cook and/or make some creative new meals, you may want to give Blue Apron a try. Have fun!
Note: Little yellow dogs who try to get fur in all of your meals are not included in the box. However, you can probably pick one up at your local animal shelter.
This post was written by me on behalf of Blue Apron, in exchange for a sponsorship ad on the sidebar of this blog. Blue Apron also provided me with a box of three meals for review. Sponsorships help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.
Hi, I’m Lori! I’m a Detroit-area culinary school graduate, food photographer, recipe developer and english muffin fanatic. This blog is where I post simple, yet special, original recipes for the "home chef" in all of us.