In the world of curated meal subscription services Blue Apron isn't new or lonely - Plated, Hello Fresh and Power Supply are all competing for your attention and money, too. Heck, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem have been sending out frozen meals for years. What BA and the newer players to this game have to offer is they know what you want, or at least they hope to. Why does it matter that you get locally sourced and organically produced ingredients. Because people like me incessantly talk about it. And it's hip and trendy and you want to be part of it and able to say you created your meal from scratch, and they Instagram well too.
I'm only writing about Blue Apron and not one if its competitors because a friend sent me a referral, I'll admit I was skeptical at first but after a few weeks of meals I think I can say I'm sold on the idea, and perhaps BA. I eat out too much and don't cook at home enough, at least in the work-week when it's just me and the boyfriend. Blue Apron - with it's meticulously portioned meals with surprisingly fresh ingredients has been a great way to get me back in the kitchen and cooking. It's not ideal, I don't have much to choose from in the meals I'm sent (a choice of three from six dishes weekly) nor does it offer me the chance to play around, most of the recipes are exact with little wiggle room for doctoring up. What it does however is get me behind the stove, slicing and dicing and cooking with ingredients I'd rarely think to use: think rice cakes and banana leaves. Also, a chilled box of fresh produce and protein delivered to my door once a week cuts down on trips to the grocery store - a win win in my book - my love affair with Whole Foods is coming to an end.
Not without its hiccups, the first box which was scheduled to be delivered on a Wednesday didn't show until 8:30pm that evening. As a result of having planned on a BA meal for dinner I had no groceries in the house - added to the frustration is that the BA customer service closes at 6pm - seems an odd time considering most people would be starting to cook around then. Dinner that night resulted in a pizza delivery. Annoying. Despite this there have been more hits than misses, even then I wouldn't say they were misses, just more of a learning curve of what to expect. Knowing when to add a few extra ingredients or which dishes are more suited for a lunch rather than a dinner.
Blue Apron is $60 for three meals for two people, delivered once a week. You can opt in or opt out, no minimum deliveries required. A family plan is also offered.
Below are a few tips to nudge along your meals.
- If you're making a dish like the beef bolognese (bottom right) or the pan seared chicken (top left) you might want to throw in an extra carrot or two and handful of Brussels sprouts, these were a couple of the more heartier dishes I've had, with the fresh pasta in the bolognese being a nice touch, but a few more vegetables would fill it up.
- The corn-tortillas for pulled chicken tacos were a sore spot in an otherwise great dish, they were dry and oddly folded which made them impossible to use. However, don't steer away from choosing a dish like this, the other ingredients were fresh and plentiful. I ended up tossing the tortillas and created a bowl with the jicama salad and chicken.
- I'd suggest salads as a lunch for two, the portions didn't satisfy enough for dinner for two. I found myself in the fridge shortly after.
- Embrace the seafood, the steamed cod (top right) was easily one of the best meals cooked so far - this dish introduced me to cooking with banana leaf - I'll be looking out for that in my soon to be casual fling.
- Don't be afraid to try something new, pick a dish you've never cooked or eaten. Each dish comes with step by step instructions (with photos) and exact ingredients. Easy enough for any level of home cook.