Yea verily, let it be known that Blue Apron did not pay me nor did they comp me for this. I punched in my credit card and said goodbye to my money in exchange for a few Blue Apron boxes. There are no affiliate links or credits or anything in it for me. I saw Blue Apron make its way around the blogging circuit and thought I’d give it a try — just sharing my unbiased, unsponsored experience here. (My side note’s a little tongue-in-cheek; most I know won’t partner with a brand unless they’re really into it.)
Short description: Blue Apron ships ingredients for meals along with recipes right to your door. The ingredients are fresh, locally sourced when possible, and portioned out for each meal.
I had sent a link to Jack to ask him what he thought.
“Hmm. Not for me. But maybe for you on the nights you cook?”
In my previous post I pointed out how he does the majority of the cooking, but I have a few nights a week where I’m parenting alone, and I’m doing the homework / dinner / bath / bedtime hustle by myself.
Which sometimes means “Heyyyy let’s swing by Whole Foods, grab a rotisserie chicken, and I’ll make a couple of sides.”
Unlike Jack, I don’t find meal planning or cooking enjoyable. The opposite. I find it stressful and anxiety inducing and I’d honestly rather scrub down a bathroom a night instead of make a meal. But I also think that if I practiced more, maybe I’d find it less frustrating. This probably sounds a little bit pitiful (I’ll own that) altogether, but I feel like I can still play to my strengths but also improve in areas where I’ve been … lacking.
(There’s been some frustration around food allergies, as well, but that’s a story for another day, or another website, as it were.
The box comes in, and everything’s packaged very nicely. No worries about what a pound of potatoes means or how much a dash or a handful listed in recipes really is. And on the upside, there’s no wasted ingredients either. I’m not buying a lot of this or that only to use a little.
Alright, go time.
Turn on some music, shoo the kids out of the kitchen (it is nice to have them help, but for my introduction to Blue Apron, I needed alone time), and pull out the recipe card. Each step has instructions and a photo which I find enormously helpful.
Chopping vegetables with music playing is somehow, I don’t know, kind of enjoyable. Relaxing, maybe. Maybe it’s the rhythm of it. Maybe it’s the time away from the computer and phone and things going bzzt ping beep. The girls venture back into the kitchen and I give them each a little job. Cook. Consult my recipe and accompanying photos several times.
Dinner’s on the table.
So far I’ve made (with personal ratings) spring vegetable minestrone with barley and lemon ricotta toast (2/10), chicken under a brick with spring vegetable quinoa and rhubarb compote (5/10), chinese five-spice meatballs with snow peas and jasmine rice (7/10), and seared salmon with asparagus + potato hash and lemon aioli (10/10). As you can see, two of them were a little womp-womp, but I have friends that swear they have never, ever, ONCE had a bad meal with Blue Apron. Maybe I’m the anomaly.
Some notes (pros, cons, observations):
1) There’s a lot of packaging involved. Everything is reusable / recyclable, and I don’t find that the plastic portion of the packaging is more than what I’d bring home after a trip to Whole Foods, but there is a lot of packaging involved.
2) It’s pricey. For two meals a week (serving four people), we pay about $65. Less than eating out, but certainly more than shopping myself. (There’s a two-person plan and a family plan available.)
3) I waste less. I’m not buying a surplus of ingredients just to have them languish unused in the fridge, which is nice.
4) A friend of mine makes the statement that Blue Apron has saved her so much money, since she’s not making trips to the store, sending her babysitter to make trips to the store, buying extra ingredients and having them spoil, and not eating out as much.
5) The four people meals feed my family of five, but I usually have to make one extra side or a salad. (My kids are really good eaters.)
6) We have food allergies to consider. So far, I can get around that by not choosing the meals that are dairy based, and substituting when I can (vegan mayo for regular mayo, etc).
7) This is a fun way to learn how to cook. Jack pointed out that now that I have two recipes our whole family loved, I can grab the ingredients and make them myself. Which probably isn’t as fun as having a meal-in-a-box delivered to my door, but the point stands. I’m learning and in a relaxed environment.
8) I had looked into taking cooking classes, but Blue Apron is cheaper and more schedule-friendly.
9) The girls get really excited to help, cook, and try new things. Rhubarb compote? Sure, why not?
10) Somehow, it takes an element of anxiety out of the equation. Is it the pre-portion ingredients? The detailed instructions and photos? The convenience of not having to run to the store? Probably all of the above.
Who’s this for?
People who are willing to exchange money for time; people who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen and want to work on getting better; couples that want to crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy cooking something new together; people who want to add a few new recipes to their repertoire; couples that want to spend an evening enjoying a nice meal and a movie, but are opting for cooking in and Netflix instead of nailing down a babysitter; people that are looking for a cool gift idea. Aaaand so on.
We don’t use Blue Apron weekly, but I can see us using it short-term, during really busy weeks, or anytime I want to feel a little more comfortable in the kitchen.
Update: For a more thorough account, I tried out Blue Apron for six weeks.