I’m sure you’ve heard of Blue Apron, or other similar meal services, that deliver food to your door with accompanying recipes. And if you read other blogs or listen to podcasts or follow “influencers” of any sort on social media, you’ve probably seen lots of sponsored reviews and coupon codes. Sure, if someone wanted to send me free food, I’d probably say it was great too! But when a box of 3 meals for 2 people costs $60/week, the cost alone was enough to scare me off for the last few years that I’ve been hearing about Blue Apron and the like. A friend recently sent us a free trial week, so I finally gave it a try… and just to cut right to the chase: we decided not to subscribe.
Why not? Here’s my completely unsponsored, unsolicited review based on our experience with Blue Apron!
A quick rundown: each week you choose 3 meals from 5-7 options, and then you choose which day the box will be delivered to your doorstep. There’s no fee to skip weeks, so if you’ll be out of town or too busy to cook that week, you won’t be charged.
A few pros:
- Convenient. Cut out the grocery store, meal planning, or leftover ingredients. I’m especially bad about keeping half-used containers of exotic spices I buy for one recipe and then never use again.
- Fun way to try out new recipes.
- Recipe cards offer step by step instructions.
- Menu variety each week. Sam is a notoriously picky eater, and he didn’t like a lot of the side dishes, but it was easy enough to find meals that even he would eat. If you’re more adventurous, then you’d probably have no problem with the weekly variety.
We made these three meals, and here’s a quick rundown of our experience with each one:
- Chicken Meatballs and Fregola Sarda with Kale and Sicilian Tomato Sauce. The meatballs were super yummy and the pasta was unusual but also tasty, even though Sam would only eat the meatballs because he didn’t like the kale mixed in with the pasta. However, I didn’t realize there were so many steps involved, and this took way over an hour to prepare. We started too late and ended up with a very cranky baby when bedtime came and went, so we had to pause 2-3 times to put her to bed before we could finish and eat. Very stressful!
- Katsu-Style Catfish with Black Garlic Mayonnaise and Jasmine Rice. This was probably the most successful of the three meals, since Sam liked both the fish and the rice, even though he wouldn’t touch the red cabbage. It was fun to try a familiar style but with different flavors than the usual egg-flour-breadcrumb combo. This recipe also didn’t involve as many steps and came together a lot quicker, much more closely to the estimated 30-45 minutes. I devoured it all!
- Spice-Rubbed Pork with Sweet Red Onions and Black Beans. This was good but not great; the spice blend wasn’t a big hit, and neither one of us likes onions that much (plus, Sam didn’t eat the black beans, but we had some leftover mashed potatoes that he ate instead). The pork came out a bit dry, and the multiple steps to make the black beans felt very involved.
I didn’t plan on blogging about this topic, but it finally crossed my mind, so I took a couple pics of the last meal. Please excuse the baby accoutrements (she is way into plastic tubs and feeding herself right now).
So why didn’t we decide to continue our subscription?
A few reasons:
- Prep time. Even before we had a baby, I probably wouldn’t want to spend an hour cooking after work each night. I’m a big fan of time-saving shortcuts and prep work like chopping garlic and dicing onions feels too time-consuming for a weeknight dinner.
- Recipes with Multiple Steps. Each recipe had six steps BUT some of them had multiple sub-steps which felt deceptive. When I’m trying out a new technique or unfamiliar ingredient, all that text can be daunting; add in a cranky baby and my attention to detail goes out the window.
- Time consuming. After making the first recipe, when we had to pause multiple times to take care of the baby as bedtime approached (and had to skip her bath entirely), we decided to save the other two meals for the weekend. The recipes are involved enough that the window of time between Sam getting home from work and Amelia’s bath/bedtime routine isn’t enough to get it all done and actually sit down to enjoy it. If the prep work is so extensive that I can’t get started on dinner and entertain the baby at the same time, then it’s not worth it to me… and if I’m saving the meals for the weekend, then it sort of defeats the purpose of a meal service in the first place.
- Picky eater. As you might have noticed, Sam is a very picky eater. We could probably find 3 meals from the 5-7 choices offered each week, but there would probably be meals where he would only eat part of it. I’m a more adventurous eater, but neither one of us crave a huge variety week to week.
- Cost. $10/person is about what we would spend going out to dinner, but at least I’ll probably have some leftovers to bring home! The cost of groceries and eating out probably varies depending on where you live, but it’s too steep in my opinion.
So there you go! It was a fun experience trying out Blue Apron, but it doesn’t work for our family right now. I’d love to know if you’ve tried it (or something similar), and what you thought!