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.
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).
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.