I have been curious about the make-at-home meal delivery services. Presented with an opportunity to try Blue Apron for free, I didn’t hesitate to accept. The delivery arrived this week.
My husband has been poo-pooing the impending “Blue Apron Week” since I broke the news to him many weeks ago. It’s taken me that long to 1) find a week of meals I think we will both enjoy (“week” is defined as three meals) and 2) find a week of meals I think we will both enjoy when my stepsons are at their mom’s. They offer packages that serve 2 people and a family package that serves 4. My freebie was for the 2-serving plan. Besides, our kids are so picky there’s no way they would eat these meals and therefore we would never consider the family package. They have vegetarian plans but I signed us up for the “we eat everything” option. Husband kept on harrumphing every time he was reminded that we had three meals coming to us this week. That is, until I sat the box on the kitchen counter.
He opened and unpacked the items like it was Christmas morning. Everything was still cold and in excellent condition. We thought we would need to cook the fish meal the day it arrived, assuming it would have thawed in transit, but that was not the case. After much ooo-ing and aah-ing on my part we organized the goods by meals and stowed them in the fridge.
I am going to launch right in to the things I love about this service:
1) Quality of ingredients. In particular, the produce items are fresh and beautiful. It made my heart happy to see all the lovely colors spread out on the counter. All ingredients are clearly labeled. They give you a small brown paper bag with the “knick knacks” for each recipe. That is so cute. Yeah, yeah…I’m a sucker for cute. See # 3 below for more evidence.
2) Recipe cards. You receive a full page recipe card, in color, printed on heavy paper. Each card details the ingredients, prep work required, cooking steps, and lots of photos. You can make the dishes again with your own ingredients! They include complete nutritional information on a separate sheet in the knick knack bag.
3) No waste. You get everything you need for the meal and ONLY what you need for the meal. I love this. I am not a big fan of leftovers, unless it’s cake. Duh. So I don’t want to eat the same meal the next day for lunch, warmed up in the office microwave. I also love that you aren’t buying a $3.79 bottle of some rarely used ingredient because one piddly teaspoon is needed for a recipe. The box contains the exact amount of each ingredient. Just look at how adorable those tiny bottles of soy sauce and vinegar are.
4) Easy prep. I am one of those foodie nerds that just love to get in the kitchen and chop a whole pile of stuff. I own an assortment of tiny glass prep bowls so I can get my ingredients ready and line them up on the counter like I have my own Food Network show. (Yes, I actually do that.) Our kitchen is stocked with multiple microplanes, a food processor, a mega drawer of spices. We think the prep is… dare I say…fun? We still got to do some prep work such as “thinly slice the carrots on an angle” to keep it fun but enough of the prep was done by Blue Apron that it saved a good bit of time. For example, the miso paste was already pre measured into a two-tablespoon scoop of stuff. The chicken was already cubed. The soy sauce and vinegar were pre measured.
5) Pricing. At first, husband thought the price was too high at $10/meal/person ($60 for the “week” of 3 meals on the 2-person plan). I do believe he’s changed his mind, though. The example of the $3.79 bottle of Strange Ingredient is one reason why the pricing works for me. I’m also saving time at the grocery store. Much of the prep work is done for you so that’s another time saver and time=money, right? I am absolutely fine with the price, especially after experiencing our first meal. And I like the 3-day concept. That leaves an option for eating out or maybe you have to work late one night of the week.
6) Clear instructions. We are accomplished home cooks. I’m not afraid to tackle any recipe unless it involves butchering or yeast. (Don’t ask about the yeast.) But you don’t have to be a serious cook for your dish to turn out looking just like the pretty photo on the recipe card. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Husband thought he found a step that was omitted – nowhere on the card does it say to cut the chicken into cubes – but when he opened the package, we realized the chicken was already cut. So they did indeed think of everything.
7) The Finished Dish. The results are delicious. One of my fears was the portion size would be too small and husband would be hungry an hour later. That was not the case at all! The quantity of vegetables were generous and made the plate appear abundant. No after dinner snacking required.
The one thing I don’t love: each week there are only three meals to choose from, for a 3-meal plan. I realize this enables them to offer the very best pricing so it’s not a complaint. It simply limits the weeks I would choose to purchase. I wonder if I can swap a meat dish for a vegetarian dish without choosing all vegetarian? I’ll have to find out about that.
Pork and cabbage tacos with pineapple-jalapeno salsa and smoky seared cod with potatoes are on deck for the next two nights. I am getting to the knife first so I can do the chopping this time!