Note: I am posting photos of the recipes in the order that we cooked them. The comments before or after the photos do not apply to the dish pictured.
I really love cooking, although I don’t stay home to cook my meals as often as I’d like. I tend to cook the same recipes but I am finding more and more success with new ones that I find online.
I also really really love grocery shopping. Walking through a supermarket’s aisles or a farmer’s market really gets me going. It’s like shelves upon shelves of possible ways I could reach my maximum domestic bliss potential. (My favorite things to buy, of all time, are school/office supplies, food, and cleaning supplies. I will shop for those things over clothes every day.) It’s not difficult for me to spend a long time in a grocery store, filling up my basket or cart with loads of goodies that I could potentially cook.
This love of cooking and grocery shopping is not universal. Take my partner, for example. He never fell in love with the supermarket the way I did. (I think our trips to the store are amusing because I am a weirdo but, ultimately, a bit draining for him.) I have a coworker who similarly hates going to get groceries, and she is a Blue Apron customer.
I’ve always rolled my eyes at the idea of Blue Apron. I love grocery shopping, why would you charge money to take that joy away from me? But I started to empathize more with the fact that Ben really doesn’t get as excited at the store as I do, and he also prefers following recipes in front of him because he isn’t that comfortable in the kitchen with more complicated recipes yet.
So we decided to try it.
TL;DR I think the concept is fine (although not for me, personally), Blue Apron’s execution fell a bit short for me and we will not be ordering any more kits from them, even if we decide to try more meal delivery kits in the future.
Our biggest issues with the recipes were:
BAD RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS – Several times, I had to veer away from the recipes because I knew that following them exactly would wreck the food. For example, they’d list cooking times that needed to be halved at the least, or the order of adding things to a pot/pan was off… And speaking of the instructions…
S & P – Blue Apron has a big problem with telling you to salt and pepper your food in the recipes. In one of the recipes, I counted they asked you to do this almost 10 times. 3 of those were for a single step in the recipe. “Salt and pepper before putting it in the pan. Then add salt and pepper while it is cooking. After taking it out of the pan, salt and pepper it to taste.” That is a whole lotta salt & pepper, folks! Given that several of these recipes were already very heavy in sodium and/or were very salty without adding more salt (+ pepper), definitely do not S + P every time Blue Apron tells you to, your mouth will punish you.
VALUE – These just did not seem like a great deal for what we were paying for them. The prep work was needlessly cumbersome for a few of them (for example, why have us crush our own almonds and peanuts?), especially for folks who do not want to do a lot of prep work. And the quality of the ingredients was good, but, again, I wasn’t sure about the value of the kits.
INGREDIENTS – We had one specific instance where a dish featured a specific fish and leeks, and we only chose that box because we wanted to try cooking leek. Lo and behold, the box arrived with a note that said after working with farmers, they decided to give us yellow onion instead of leek. What?! Yellow onion is not a leek at all, and we should have been notified before the box arrived with the option of getting a different box if the primary ingredient we wanted to get from this recipe was unavailable at the price Blue Apron wanted it from the suppliers. Or they should have just shelled out more for the leeks because I know they were in season. Leek and onion are not comparable vegetables and this was supremely disappointing for us because we specifically wanted to cook leek.
TASTE – Honestly, most of these recipes tasted very mediocre. (Even when I held back on the salt & pepper, which would not have improved the taste.) This was a combination of the recipes forcing me to overcook things, but also had to do with them skimping on the seasonings and condiments in the boxes in favor of you salting the bejeezus out of the food.
HEALTH – For all of this, we had this idea that Blue Apron boxes would be a bit health conscious but in fact, some of these meals were super unhealthy. We had one that was veggies, rice, and chicken breast in a peanut sauce and we checked the nutrition facts to see astounding numbers for saturated fats and sodium which must have all come from this crazy tablespoon of full-fat peanut butter that came with the recipe. Most of the meals had super high sodium levels, many of them had very high amounts of sugar and fat, and one even had trans fats in it. With the bulk of the meals being lean meats and veggies, this usually boiled down to something like the one tablespoon of butter that became the base of the sauce for the recipe.
My favorite recipes from the few weeks we tried this out were:
Would I try another meal kit delivery service? Maybe, but we may only do so if it is a more health and nutrition-focused service. Eating this mediocre meals with crazy amounts of sugar and sodium and fats was probably the biggest issue we had here.
Will I try Blue Apron again? No. I may look to the (free and available to anyone online) recipes for inspiration on how to use ingredients, but it is not a good value for me and my family at this time.
Have you ever tried a meal kit delivery service? Which one and how did you like it? My friend recommended I try one called Home Chef, so maybe we’ll try that one out someday.
What are your favorite things to cook at home? While doing Blue Apron, I also loved doing ragù bolognese, but as the weather warms up, I’m foreseeing a lot more salads and stir-frying.
Also, let me know if you’d be interested in me posting more recipes and homecooking posts. I enjoyed taking the photos for these (worked REAL HARD to plate them for you all!) and I love cooking a lot, but I know my rambling recipe style is probably not that easy to follow…