A Blue Apron review from someone who already cooks a ton #Food#cooking#food#meal planning February 21 2018 | Catherine Clark bijouxandbits All photos of Blue Apron meals by Catherine Clark, Bijoux & Bits Related Post I tried Blue Apron… and hated it Last week I tried out CookSmarts meal planning. This week I tried Blue Apron, a meal-kit service that provides ready-to-cook recipes and ingredients. I knew Blue... Read more Yep, you may have already seen a previous Blue Apron review on this site before, by our illustrious developer, Kellbot. Her review wasn't that into it, but my pals sent me over some of those freebie vouchers and I was like, ehhhh why not, it's free food. I'll give it a go, knowing that it may be a bust. But meal kit services are pretty popular, so there may be things I'd like about them. Plus, I already spend a good chunk of time cooking from scratch, so taking some of the meal planning away seems like it might actually save me some time. What would it be like for someone who already spends a big portion of time cooking to take on a meal kit service? Here's how it went for me… "Knick knacks" — a cute way of describing all the tiny seasonings and sauces It's time-consuming Blue Apron, and all of the meal plans, rely on cooking from scratch. This means chopping veggies, multitasking, and not taking my usual shortcuts like using jarred garlic on the sly. So anyone not used to that may find the dishes to be a lot to handle. The meals we got for the weeks we used it (quite a few as we ended up finding it useful) were each labeled between 30-60 minutes to make. Ours usually took an hour or so, which accounted for not knowing the recipe and generally messing up the multitasking at times. An hour of cooking is about on par for a usual dinner that I'd make anyway, so that was no issue for me. If you're used to defrosting a pizza most nights (like most of us and myself for a LONG time), it'll likely feel more tedious than a usual night of cooking. Repeated ingredients One thing that I like about Blue Apron is that they seem to be pretty mindful of not being wasteful with food. I can tell they are utilizing ingredients over and over (we ate a lot of sweet taters!). But it does make it hard to swallow when you see another chioggia beet (though they are so pretty and tasty!). The solution to that is pretty simple, though: just choose recipes from their menu options that are more diverse. That could be on me more than anything. Additionally, you'll end up using the same prep techniques over and over. We ate a lot of roasted root vegetables, which I assume was a seasonal trend. So you'll at least get pretty solid at whatever it is they're having you do. My knife skills improved, I'm sure. A coconut curry dish that was SO GOOD Tasty AF This is the biggie, though, right? Was the food any good? These meals are created by pros and are super tested and then rated by users, so it's super likely they'd be tasty. And they ARE. We did not run across one recipe we didn't like, or even love. Everything was good. Nutritionally, they fit into a generally healthy and well-rounded diet, but they certainly don't run super low on calories. If you're doing any portion control, you'll likely have some leftovers, which is good on that account and for budget reasons. Value Ah budget. Here's where it gets iffy. We paid about $60 for three meals per week. That meant we were still supplementing a couple of dinners and all other meals (we only eat out about once a week). It was totally doable if we made use of leftovers and budgeted other meals well. So while it's super convenient and not too extravagant, you're still paying a little more for the recipes, planning, and grocery delivery. Would I use it again? Yep, and I did. For a few months, actually. But we're on a different diet plan now, so it just doesn't fit anymore. If you're doing Whole30, however, they are starting to incorporate some compliant recipes in there. Plus, it was pretty fun to realize Wil Wheaton was posting the same Blue Apron meals we were, sometimes on the same day. The friend who passed along the free vouchers sometimes has dinner parties with friends where they get together with their respective boxes to cook it all together. My kitchen barely holds just me, but it does sound fun. Are you using a meal kit, grocery delivery, or other new wave eating tool? Let me know about it! I tried that weird Thanksgiving leftovers cake and it actually worked! Have you seen that weird mashup of Thanksgiving food that Chow made into a big cake? I decided to see if it lived up to the hype in an adapted,… Read More Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Catherine Clark Catherine Clark is Offbeat Bride's Senior Editor. In her spare time she loiters at her local library, makes art, watches movies en masse, plays video and tabletop games, poorly cooks healthy things, cuddles with her feline fur baby, and blogs at BijouxandBits.com. @enidjcoleslaw @bijouxandbits @bijouxandbits PREVIOUS How I gave up the house but found a life NEXT Yep, there are offbeat funeral planners and they're changing the way you think about funerals Show/Hide comments [ 18 ] This was helpful! I've heard about it from people who sorta kinda cook but prefer eating out/take out. Since I rarely eat out I was wondering if it would actually be useful for someone like me. 1 agrees Reply I love your review of Blue Apron. I did a review a few weeks ago on my blog as well (https://www.dixieflapper.com/mealkit) but you mentioned some things about it I didn't think to mention on my review. Do you mind if I add a link to your blog/review on my post? Reply We did Blue Apron for a few months, and I had basically the same feelings. I had heard a lot of people complain about the prep, but I'm also used to cooking meals from scratch so it wasn't really that big of a deal for me either. I didn't expect it to be a time-saver when it came to the actual cooking, so the fact that it took the same amount of time as whenever I'm cooking a new recipe didn't shock or disappoint me. I started receiving Blue Apron boxes shortly after my first son was born, and it was so great to only think about planning one or two meals a week and only doing a couple days worth of grocery shopping. The quality of the ingredients blew me away. You're totally right about the tastiness of the meals. There was only one meal in three or so months of doing Blue Apron that I really didn't like. I think my favorite part about it was that it got me to use ingredients that I otherwise wouldn't. I'm a fairly adventurous cook, but I (like most people) have food preferences and and aversions. I generally dislike citrus and was really dreading a certain recipe with all kinds of lemon involved, but I made it and I actually really enjoyed it! The cost aspect was ultimately why we stopped receiving the boxes. Once life had calmed down a little bit with the new baby, we decided that, while we really enjoyed the meals, it just wasn't quite worth the cost for us at that time. Thanks for writing this review from the viewpoint of a home cook! Blue Apron is awesome- if you're used to cooking from scratch and also have a bit more of a flexible budget than we do. 😉 3 agree Reply I wish Blue Apron was a little easier to do every now and then orders instead of committing to weekly deliveries. I know you can skip weeks, but managing all that is enough of a hassle to me that I usually cancel my account instead, and then it's harder to get back into it. Three meals also seems like a lot to commit to. I am also a pretty good home cook, so spending all of my cooking energy on making the Blue Aron meals kind of zaps it for making other homemade stuff, so it ends up being so expensive overall because I'm leaning on stuff like salad kits to limp through the rest of the week. I have learned a few techniques and tried some delicious ingredients I wouldn't have otherwise, so it's still a win for me. It's at least fun to try, especially because there are always coupons available. Reply I agree. I wish it worked in reverse: you have to go online and select a delivery. I suspect that would substantially increase the cost however. 1 agrees Reply "Blue Aron meals kind of zaps it for making other homemade stuff" Very much this!! Reply Blue Apron has been great for me in a variety of situations. When my husband was deployed, I had dinners for a week and and new recipes to try. When we were both home, we worked a lot and Blue Apron saved me from having to grocery shop. I piloted a 5 meal/week program and loved it. It dropped the cost per meal and there wasn't an long brainstorm over what to make for dinner. We moved to a rural area and I got a brain disorder. I don't work anymore because my functionality is too unpredictable, which means my husband works harder for us. It's nice to be able to count on fresh produce and protein at my door because I don't get out much. I dropped delivery to every other week to save money and because my treatment nauseates the hell out of me. I like being able to do something useful at home. Reply I had a Blue Apron subscription for about a year. After the first 6 weeks of shock and awe, I dropped down to about once a month. My primary goal was to branch out with my cooking and try new recipes and ingredients. Like Catherine, I am a regular cook so cooking from scratch didn't bother me. In this regard BA excelled, especially initially. I felt like I was eating gourmet meals all the time! However, fatigue eventually set in: 1) First I got tired of cooking 3x a week. ( I said I was regular; I didn't say what the frequency was!). Or, to be more specific, I found it stressful to be obliged to do that every week. So no problem, I dropped down to the 2 meals per week option ( which offers more portions to compensate ). 2) Then I found myself begrudging a BA arrival because I knew it would take up the bulk of my food intake for the week. If there was something else I was craving or if I just wanted to make one of my own favorite meals, I was going waste the BA food. So ok, I make "cancel" my default approach to BA deliveries and dropped down to 1-2x per month. ( Yes, this meant I had to remember to go online and manage that. ) 3) Finally I started noticing a "sameness" to the BA meals. Their schtick is you can get dinner on the table in 30-45 minutes. (It would be hard to sell something based on the convenience of delivery and then offer 5 hours in the kitchen as a reward!) Consequently you are going to be eating a lot of sauted things because that is what can be made in that time. When I look over the recipes I love, I see lots of slow things : stews, roasts, casseroles. Also, as Catherine pointed out, they have to buy in bulk so you will start noticing ingredient patterns as well. So … maybe BA and I need to take a break. That's where I've left it for now : we're on a break. 😉 Would I do this again? Absolutely. Those first 2 months were heaven. BA is like a fling. It's great in the short term but then you gotta shut that shit down. 2 agree Reply I totally agree with all of these points! The first one especially since you're sort of married to making meals on certain days. And sometimes the day is long and you just want to default to something simpler but you know the ingredients are on their last legs. So I'm with you: on a break, but totally not opposed to starting up again later. Reply I'm interested in how long it takes. We cook from scratch every night, and food prep rarely takes more than ten minutes and we have very few pre-diced shortcuts. Actually cooking takes longer, but we tend to choose stuff we can leave on the hob or in the oven for twenty minutes and come back to. I was reminded the other day that Americans rarely have electric kettles, which necessarily makes anything with boiling water take much longer, and now I'm wondering if there are other cultural differences and gadgets that make a difference. Does having much smaller kitchens in the UK save time? Is it because we have a tradition of one pot dishes that save on prep, tools and washing up? We rarely cook anything as fancy looking as the examples above, and maybe we should make that effort more often, but we get fed! 1 agrees Reply It sounds like you spend about 30 min to make dinner. Why do you assume it's different in the US? Reply The article says it normally take the OP "an hour of cooking" each night to make dinner (which reads to me as an hour of cutting and stirring, not ten minutes of prep and two episodes of friends on Netflix, but that may be a US/UK phrasing thing). I've seen similar sorts of times talked about in discussions of why people do/don't cook from scratch. I'm not saying there aren't nights when my husband or I doesn't spend a full hour in the kitchen cooking, but if it took that long every work night we would definitely be looking up take away alternatives (like pizza from scratch takes a whole afternoon from flour and yeast and is a nice weekend treat every now and then, but post work ordering from pizza hut takes… well, normally over an hour here, but that's because the local one is understaffed). 1 agrees Reply You got it: I do cook from scratch most of the time, so it's an hour of tasks. But i also work from home so I just sort of swap the commute time for cooking time to make it work. 🙂 Reply I grew up in France and I've noticed many differences with the American cooking style. A main difference is that the French eat big lunches, often 3-course meals at school or in workplace cafeterias, so dinners are generally the lighter meal of the day. The opposite is true in the US, with dinner being the more filling meal. Given that the French buy fresh bread almost every day, dinner is often soup/bread/cheese/fruit or salad/bread/cold cuts/a yogurt. Lettuce is very cheap and the French eat tons of it. Soups are any seasonal veggies, boiled and mixed with a hand-mixer: nothing involved or fancy. Since moving to the US 5 years ago, my cooking style has definitely become more involved and I find it more difficult and time-consuming to stick to healthy eating habits. Because we eat such light lunches, my whole family is starving by 5pm and we're craving a hot, filling meal in the evening. I started using a crock-pot for the first time in my life and making big breakfasts with eggs to get us through the day. Quality fresh ingredients are a lot more expensive here and I have lots of respect for Americans who cook from scratch most of the time. Reply I've tried Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef. Of the three, I think I liked Hello Fresh the best. The prices were all more or less the same (I used Groupons or other discounts for each one), and the portions were about the same…but something about the HelloFresh ones stood slightly above the others (they're also more likely to send an email in a month or so that says, "Try us again! Get another box for 50% off!"). I've even started printing off HelloFresh recipes (which are all archived online) when I'm feeling too lazy/tired to decide on my own supper. Most of them are, granted, meals that I could totally make on my own. But, somehow it takes away some of that emotional labor of meal decisions to print off a card and make a quick list of the few items I don't already have in my fridge/pantry to pick up on my way home from work. I'm more likely to stop and get ingredients for a simple side salad if the recipe card TELLS me it's part of the meal. 2 agree Reply Ok, now I'm confused. I haven't paid much attention to anything of these services because they never deliver to my area anyway, but if you have to prep it yourself, why the heck is anyone buying these? The only reason I would overpay for food like that is if the prep work was mostly done. 1 agrees Reply I do Hello Fresh, instead of BA (we tried both), because I like their vegetarian options more. But it has absolutely saved my life. I just started a new commute in the fall and I was dying trying to meal plan, and get to the grocery store, and keep variety in my diet, and not default to pasta every freaking day. These boxes saved my ass, and I love the handful of new staples I've added to my rotation from their recipes. I've been doing every week, but I think I'm going to cut back to 3x/month to save $. For me part of the cost trade off is that since I don't have to go to the store as often, I'm not picking up all those random extra things that tend to add up on my grocery bill, snacks, drinks, aspirational vegetables that I'll never use… Honestly, one of my complaints is that I get lazy and the empty box sits in my living room half the week collecting other recycling until it fills up and I finally get my ass in gear to drag it out to the bins. But maybe that's just me… Reply I just wanted to say Thanks for this review and for everyones comments. I've been thinking about doing one of these and looking at a bunch of reviews online…. then just now I logged in Facebook and got a 50% off ad for a week of HungryRoot, so I figured I'd try it for a week, then probably move on to one of the more cooking intense ones like Blue Apron or Sun Basket. (I'm wheat/dairy intolerant and we don't eat a lot of meat, so choosing one has been hard since not all of them have their full recipes/ingredient lists… but we really wanted to try mixing things up a bit) Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.