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Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

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semiproper-disclosure

One of my most popular posts is one I wrote last year — an unbiased review I did for meal delivery service Blue Apron. Readers continue to stumble upon it, ask questions, and leave comments, so when Blue Apron reached out and asked me to do another post about it, I felt like putting together updated information made sense.

To be transparent, they are paying me the equivalent of a year’s worth of hosting and back-end work on this site. (Bless them.) And because I want to stay committed to transparency, I decided that instead of just reviewing the one box they planned to send, I signed up for six weeks’ worth of Blue Apron on my own dime, so I could get the full scope of what being a Blue Apron customer is all about. (Because sometimes a one-off experience doesn’t do a service justice.)

This summer we moved to a new home with a big backyard in a pricier, quieter town, due in part to the ranked-tenth-in-the-state school system it boasts. We love it here (even the wildlife!) and knew there were some things we’d be sacrificing in order to make it work. We didn’t replace her when our main everyday babysitter graduated, and now that Jack’s commute is slightly longer, I’ve taken on more of the household work, when previously, we mostly split it.

Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

Shouldering more responsibility has been worth the change, although it’s still taking some getting used to. I’m up before everyone in the morning, and depending on the day, I can bang out a workout and a shower, write an article, throw in a load of laundry, and make a pot of oatmeal before I have to drag the girls out of bed by their ankles.

Jack used to make breakfast, pack lunches, and cook most dinners out of the week, but now I make breakfast and cook most dinners. Which made me face a real issue — I’m not a natural in the kitchen. It’s not one of those things people feign in order to be delightfully quirky and different. I can put together a meal, but not as effortlessly and efficiently as Jack, and certainly with more angst. (I’ve shed tears out of frustration over an undercooked turkey and an overcooked roast. Mercifully, not on the same day.)

My six week Blue Apron experiment fell in a window of getting acclimated to our new normal — juggling soccer practices and bus stops and student council meetings (we now have a miniature politician in our household).

Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

what it is: Blue Apron is a meal delivery service. They ship ingredients for meals along with recipes right to your door. The ingredients are fresh, locally sourced when possible, and portioned out for each meal.

Blue Apron posts four different meal options for each week. You can select meals and delivery dates — my box arrived Wednesdays and it provided me with materials for Wednesday night and Thursday night dinner. It’s as if a friend stopped by and said, “Hey I went to the grocery store and picked out everything you need in the exact amounts to make seared chicken thighs with cipellini onions and kumquats.”

I’d go, “Oh my God, that’s so thoughtful and convenient and remind me what kumquats are again?”

Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

the process: The box comes with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos for each recipe. This is the biggest draw for me, because this is where the learning happens, and I’m able to take these skills beyond the Blue Apron window and into everyday cooking. It’s where Jack and I differ — he’s a “let me peep what we’ve got in the fridge and come up with something” kind of cook and I’m a “I need quiet! And instructions! No substitutions!” kind of cook.

These kinds of guidelines have helped take some of the learning curve stress out of cooking. I’ve been able to fire up some music on the Sonos, pour a glass of wine, and hum my way through cooking and cleaning as I go.
Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

speaking of wine: Blue Apron did not ask me to nor did they compensate me for mentioning it, but in the spirit of being thorough, I also tried out their Blue Apron Wine box. It’s six bottles of wine — three red, three white — delivered to your door. They’re not full size — your standard bottle is 750 ml, and these are 500 ml. They’re a nice way to try new wines and have been a welcome addition for the holiday season.

Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

the meals: After six weeks, the meals have mostly been hits. My kids aren’t particularly picky, so I’ve got that on my side. And while the meals aren’t over-the-top adventurous, it has introduced us to new foods and meals we’ll make again. The only real miss was from our first go around in 2015, a soup that I’m told hasn’t made the cut since. (Even Julia Child had at least one dish that made her go … nahhh.) One thing to note: we’re using a family of four box for a family of five, so I generally make an easy cucumber and tomato salad to go with each meal. You might find that you want to throw together an extra side dish, depending on the size of your family and everyone’s general appetites.

How Blue Apron Works from Blue Apron on Vimeo.

price: The price for two family meals a week is $69.92 on the nose. It’s certainly not cheaper than heading to your local grocery stores and culling the ingredients yourself, but it’s certainly cheaper than eating out. Or getting a sitter to pick your kids up after school five days a week. (I miss you, Laura.)

Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

the packaging: This is something that’s been brought up in Blue Apron reviews I’ve read — what about all of the packaging? It’s all recyclable, and recently, Blue Apron rolled out a way to send packaging back to them while minimizing carbon footprint.

our final verdict: It’s wildly convenient and great to use for busy seasons. It’s not something we’ll do on a weekly basis, but we’ll definitely consider even the four-days-a-week option for extra busy weeks (one of us is traveling, one of us is pulling super late nights, etc). I have now-tried-and-true recipes under my belt, and I’m a whiz at pickling onions.

We’ve also really enjoyed connecting around the table during mealtime (even if Jack’s working, and it’s just the four of us), and I’ve found that setting the table and lighting a couple candles adds to the mmmm ahhhh factor of sharing a good meal at home. Sometimes that happens with a Blue Apron meal or a Pinterest-y slow cooker dinner, but that also happens when it’s vegan-English-muffin-pizzas because I had a deadline and I forgot it was my night to cook.

Six Weeks of Blue Apron, an Informal Study

who’s it for:
+ People who have toyed with the idea of taking cooking classes.
+ Busy people who are happy to exchange $$$ for convenience.
+ Couples that want to forgo shelling out for dinner, a movie, and a babysitter, and instead, cook a meal together, and then cry through an episode of This is Us. (Every. Single. Episode.)
+ Families who need the babysitter to cook once a week, and this cuts down any prep time.
+ People who want to learn new recipes and/or get more comfortable in the kitchen.
+ Vacation weeks — the kind where you’ve rented out a place, and don’t want to lug bottles of olive oil and herbs with you.
+ Fun, unique gift option for newlyweds or families welcoming new babies.
+ People who have just moved — it’s super convenient to have all the ingredients you need in one box when you’re still trying to figure out where you put all spices.

want to try?
Blue Apron is offering Semiproper readers in the United States three free meals (so instead of the aforementioned $69.92 for a family of four, it’s $39.92), with no obligation to keep ordering. Have a bite of bucatini bolognese and think of me.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Jenni November 29, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Have been on the fence about trying Blue Apron. Thinking of giving it a try. And This Is Us! Such a hit! And tears Every. Single. Episode!

    • Reply Roo November 30, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Oh man, This is Us kills me. We love it.

      Let me know if you try out Blue Apron, Jenni!

  • Reply Joshua C. November 29, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    “In the spirit of being thorough…” re: 🍷 Lol

    • Reply Roo November 30, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Hahaha hayyyyyyyyy!

  • Reply Kelly November 30, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Ooh so is the wine a monthly subscription, too?

    • Reply Roo November 30, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      It is! You don’t have to get it every month, though. I don’t think we drink enough wine or entertain enough to warrant it, but we’ll do it for November / December.

  • Reply emily December 2, 2016 at 11:25 am

    How is blue apron for your kids with allergies- can you specify not including a certain ingredient or are you making substitutions on your own?

    • Reply Roo December 2, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Hey Emily, great question. I keep substitutions on hand at home (vegan butter, coconut milk, rice milk, etc.), so it’s been really easy to swap out. They have info re: allergies, though. Here’s an example from a question I had about the pasta (it was marked as containing wheat, but I wanted to double check that it didn’t contain eggs). Apologies in advance if the line breaks are a little wonky:

      I took a look into this for you and I’m happy to confirm that the bucatini pasta for the Bucatini Bolognese recipe doesn’t contain egg.

      We take our chefs’ safety and well-being very seriously, and you might be excited to know that we label for the 8 major U.S. allergens: milk, wheat, egg, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. You can click on recipes on your menu to find allergen information approximately 3 weeks in advance. When you’re on a recipe page, simply click on the pop-up icon next to ‘Nutrition’ to review nutrition facts and find allergen information. Additionally, all individual ingredients in your weekly box will also be labeled with any allergens they contain. Remember that under our just-in-time sourcing model, we may occasionally need to replace an ingredient with an alternative, so you should always check the ingredient labels in your box for the most up-to-date allergen information.

      While we provide allergen information and also follow the highest standards to make sure our food is prepared safely, please know that all of our ingredients are processed in a facility where all 8 major food allergens are also processed. Also, please note that each box contains the ingredients for several meals, and ingredients containing an allergen may come into contact with other ingredients in the box during transit. Your health and safety are our top priority, so I want you to be able to make an informed decision when considering cooking with us.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any additional questions regarding our nutritional facts.

      • Reply Emily December 2, 2016 at 3:21 pm

        Thanks Roo!

        • Reply Roo December 3, 2016 at 10:24 am

          You bet! 😘

  • Reply Christy December 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

    We decided to try it out for similar reasons. We had just moved and we were trying to get used to a new routine and unpack all of our stuff. We had been eating out a bunch and had created some bad habits. We have an 11 month old so we have been ordering the 3 meals a week for 2 option. It started out where we did it 3 weeks in a row and now it has been on an as needed basis. We have been super happy with the food. . . we love trying new things and everything has been super delicious. We have learned a ton of new cooking techniques too! Looking forward to ordering again after the new year!

  • Reply Julie January 7, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I’m curious your opinions of cook time. We tried Blue Apron for 3 or 4 weeks and I always found it to be a very slow meal prep. Admittedly, I am a slow cook in general, but even when my husband sous chef’ed for me, it was well over the specified time to prepare. That reason alone makes it not a good fit for us and our busy evenings. The meals were generally delicious, though, and I learned some stuff. But I’m curious is the time issue is something unique to me or sort of across the board.

    • Reply Roo January 9, 2017 at 11:14 am

      It took me awhile to get used to moving faster with it, but I assume an hour from disassembling and chopping to getting dinner on the table. There were a couple occasions when, if a babysitter was over, I’d have her do some of the chopping for me. Does an hour sound right to you, Julie?

      • Reply Julie February 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        I’d say it was an hour, minimum, for us. Even if the recipe says 40 minutes, I’m elbow deep in cooking for at least an hour. Now sometimes it’s because I’m underprepared and my skillet is too small to cook all the orange chicken at once. But more often, it seemed like things just couldn’t be done in the amount of time they quoted, unless one is a profession chef.

        Even when Hubs, who teases me for my slow cooking, prepared the meal, it was over on time.

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