Meal delivery services are all the rage these days, and there are number of new options popping up all the time. Blue Apron is one of the pioneers, and it’s one of the most popular (and most visible) of the subscription services. We decided to test it out to determine if it offers a good option for those who are trying to eat healthier or stop eating out so much. Read on for our full review and the pros and cons of Blue Apron.
We signed up for three 2-serving meals out of a selection of 8 options. Here are the meals we received:
The box arrived on a Friday during the day, so it was there by the time I got home from work. The packaging is very smart, although there are some who wonder about the amount of waste generated from this and other subscription meal services (more on that in a bit). The liner and ice packs keep the box packages cold, and each item is packaged and labeled clearly. It’s super easy to see what’s what and which items go with each meal.
Nearly everything you need is included (with the exception of staples like cooking oil and salt and pepper), and the “knick knacks” like vinegar, cornstarch, and so forth are all in smaller packages. This means that you never have to throw something out for the sake of one recipe (something I’m often guilty of doing).
All the produce was fresh and looked great, and the meats were all ready to go (chicken chopped and the steaks already portioned out). The directions are very easy to follow and come on sturdy printouts that you can save for future use.
Each recipe card includes cook time, step by step instructions, clear info about ingredients, and so forth. Overall, Blue Apron does an excellent job of setting you up for recipe success. Of the three recipes I tried, the most complicated was the Togarshi Popcorn Chicken, but even that was pretty easy. Each recipe had a great balance of hands-on time and steps that actually work out so everything is done at the same time.
The way the food is packaged is awesome for shipping, storage, and prep, but definitely worrisome given the sheer amount of it. However, everything is recyclable. I had a hard time finding the recycling info, but I finally did. Here’s a screen grab of what I found.
Whether or not Blue Apron is bad or good for the environment is still a point of contention among many, and there are plenty of perspectives available online (just take a google trip and you’ll see what I mean). It’s worth taking into account how these services function, whether you have the ability to recycle, and what impact it will have. For many meal kit subscribers, these are a way to actually reduce waste (both trash and food waste) because of the nature of the service and the packaging. If you tend to throw out a lot of food — particularly items you bought for just one recipe — Blue Apron and other services might be beneficial.
Food Quality & Portion Size
Bottom line? Everything was delicious. The first meal I prepared was the seared steaks with lemon-parmesan kale and roasted potatoes. It was easy to prepare and so tasty — my husband was skeptical of the kale but actually loved it. The many-cheese pizza with butter lettuce salad was simple to prepare and was also really good. And the togarashi chicken was something totally new for me and definitely something I’ll make again.
As I mentioned, the produce and meats were of high quality, beautiful and fresh. It was nice having full meals of main dishes and side dishes, particularly because the step by step instructions made it so easy.
I found the portion sizes to be large, so you probably could have leftovers or even feed 3 people on a 2-serving meal.
When selecting the meals for the box, I thought only about taste and trying new-ish things, so I didn’t pay any attention to nutritional information until the box arrived. None of these meals were low-calorie (ranging from 660-870 calories), but they did have a good balance of protein and carbs, and each meal incorporated veggies. These meals are better than eating out or ordering take out, but they aren’t going to be great for someone on a diet as they are. However, because the portion sizes are large, these could definitely be reduced in size.
I took a look at some of the other meals available in upcoming weeks, and most are around the 700 calorie range, with just one (that I found) being under 500.
The 2-person plan gives you 6 different meals to choose from, so you do have some flexibility that can help you make the right choices in regard to nutrition. A meal kit like Blue Apron is great for helping you learn to cook new things and stop eating out so much. However, this particular service isn’t focused on health or weight loss, so if that’s what you’re looking for you might be better off with a different service.
Any of the latest meal kit services are fairly spendy, at least compared to how much you’d pay if you shopped for the ingredients yourself. However, that’s kind of the point: you’re paying for convenience, for lessons, and for inspiration. Two-person Blue Apron plans are $10.99 per serving and family plans are $8.99+ per serving.
There are some subscription services that charge a bit less per serving. On the plus side, Blue Apron does not charge shipping for most plans, and some of those less expensive services do.
Pros & Cons
Blue Apron is a great meal kit service, but it’s not for everyone. Here’s an overview of some of the pluses and minuses to help you decide if it’s a good choice for you.
- Yummy recipes
- Easy to follow instructions
- Recyclable packaging
- Fresh meats and produce
- Well thought-out literature, website, and recipes
- Large portion sizes
Overall, Blue Apron is a great service that lets you learn new skills, try new recipes, and prepare delicious dinners. Based on what I can see for the available meal options in the future, there are enough different types of recipes to keep it interesting and fun, but also a number of less experimental dishes if you are a (or have a) picky eater.
- Not available for those with allergies
- Some recipes can be time-consuming
- Not low calorie
The convenience that comes with Blue Apron is mostly in the meal planning and grocery shopping areas. These meals are to be prepared, so expect to spend at least 25 minutes (and usually more) in the kitchen. If you’re hoping for something ready-made, this isn’t the box for you.
Also, there aren’t specific options for certain diets, dietary restrictions, or food allergies.
Is Blue Apron delicious? Absolutely? Is it worth the money? Well, it depends.
If you are willing to pay for convenience, or if you want to learn some new recipes or techniques, this might be a great fit for you. Personally, I liked it so much and I was so excited about the upcoming recipes that I kept my subscription for now. I doubt I’ll get it every week (it’s super easy to skip weeks), but I think it will be nice to have every once in a while.
If you’re hoping that this is a way to eat healthier, it’s a good idea to consider all the factors. You might need to do some digging to find the best recipes for your box, or you may need to create smaller portions out of the meals you do get. A meal kit like Blue Apron offers an alternative to eating out or eating junk simply by enabling you to cook your own meals at home.
If you’re interested in trying out Blue Apron, click the link below and get $40 off! This is a great way to test it out before you commit.