In the home-delivered meal kit niche, Blue Apron is one of the best known companies. Over five million meals from the service are delivered every month. Blue Apron puts a huge emphasis on convenience for home cooks and sustainability for food producers.
What Is Blue Apron?
Blue Apron is a home meal delivery service. Each week, they make a delivery of the ingredients you need to make a quick and simple home-cooked meal.
The company works with over 100 family farms and ordered over 3 million pounds of produce during the summer of last year. They have partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to ensure that all of their seafood is rated “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative.” The combination of increased convenience and sustainably-sourced food can be a big win for busy but caring professionals.
Blue Apron Ordering & Selection
When you enter the official Blue Apron website, you are presented with two selections: The Two-Person Plan and Family Plan.
The Two-person Plan consists of three meals per week. For the four-person family plan, you can pick either two or four meals per week.
For this Blue Apron review, I chose the two-person plan for one week. The cost came out to be around $59.94 and shipping was free. Note that Blue Apron offers free shipping on both plans which is a big plus.
After choosing your selection, you will be asked for your Dietary Preference. If you are a vegetarian or don’t like foods such as beef, shellfish, pork, etc. you have the options to check or uncheck those fields.
I am not a vegetarian, so I left that option alone. I did choose to uncheck one of the foods, shellfish, from the “Foods You Don’t Eat” section.
Next, you choose whether the meals be sent to either a residential or business address. On that same page, you also choose the day you will like your meal delivered (Mon – Sun). The date of your actual delivery date will be automatically adjusted and shown based on your day selection in which you can change.
There is lag of about a week or more from the time you order and to the time you receive your first meal delivery shipment. When I placed my order around April 22nd, the earliest delivery date I was given was April 29th.
The three meals for the week that I was given were:
- Grains of Paradise-Crusted Steaks with Mashed Plantain, Collard Greens & Ginger Peanuts
- Seared Chicken with Sautéed Purple Potatoes, Kale & Apple
- Crispy Cod & Yuzu-Shoyu Soba with Cabbage & Togarashi
You can also see previews of weekly menus for up two months in advance. This allows you to decide whether you are in or out on any particular week. Also, great for those with any food allergies or preferences.
Each weekly menu can be customize and change. However, you must make any changes to your weekly menu before the deadline in order for it to take full effect (Which is six days before the schedule delivery date).
Blue Apron Meal Delivery & Shipment
I was surprised to receive my first Blue Apron shipment from Fedex around 9:00 am on the 29th. I don’t know whether they use any carriers besides Fedex. But, if my shipment had come through UPS, I don’t think I’d have gotten it before 7:00 to 8:00 pm.
The early delivery means that you have no problems getting your food early enough to prep a meal that day. (This is based on my own experiences with carriers in my area and yours may be different. Make sure there is someone available throughout the day on your scheduled delivery date.)
Blue Apron Meal Preparation and Cooking
Blue Apron meals come with detailed instruction cards that are easy to follow. If you prefer, you can also log in to your Blue Apron dashboard and watch step by step meal preparation videos instead. They also have videos detailing general cooking techniques.
This company has excelled in the area of making meal preparation user friendly and simple to follow.
The instruction cards also include detailed information about calorie counts, prep time and cooking time. You can see the first instruction card from my meals below:
As you can see, the prep time for Grains of Paradise-Crusted Steak was 15 minutes and cooking time was 20 to 30 minutes.
All items to cook a Blue Apron meal are individually packaged and pre-measured. You only get what you need to make the meal, meaning that there is no waste and no leftovers. Blue Apron supplies you with everything you need to prepare the meal. The only thing you will ever need to provide yourself is basic household staples like oil, salt and pepper.
The most time consuming part of prep is chopping, mincing, peeling and organizing everything that you need. After that, everything is smooth sailing.
It took me a little under the estimated 15 minutes to get everything prepped and ready. This is not based on my cooking experience, but on how well you follow directions and stay organized in the kitchen.
As far as the freshness and quality of the ingredients, I have no complaints. Everything was top notch. The aromas of the fresh ginger, lime, parsley smelled enticing as I prepared my meal. My rib eye steak was bright fresh, juicy and tender.
Cooking Meal One
I did the Grains of Paradise-Crusted Steaks with Mashed Plantain, Collard Greens & Ginger Peanuts the first night.
I followed nearly every instruction to the letter, with the exception of cooking the steak to well-done instead of medium rare. This added a few minutes to cooking time.
This meal was easily my favorite out of the three. Although I cooked the steak well-done, it was still tender, flavorful and juicy. The texture of the peanuts and mashed plantains complemented one another wonderfully. I am not usually a big fan of collard greens, but the greens in this dish were great. I especially fell in love with the gingery sauce. Overall, I give the dish 9 out of 10.
The lost point comes from the package of Grains of Paradise that came with the seasonings, and were supposed to be lightly crushed and sprinkled on after the steak is cooked.
I thought that the Grains of Paradise tasted exactly like peppercorns. Although the dish itself was not spicy, you got a bit of heat when you bit into a Grain of Paradise piece. I am a spicy food fan, but not everyone is. I think that Blue Apron should include a spice level chart with their dishes. (In one dish, they did include instructions to adjust seasoning and spices to your liking.)
Meal 2: Seared Chicken with Sauteed Purple Potatoes, Kale and Apple
Preparation for this meal was much easier and less time consuming than the first. I did run into one small problem: I received what looked like a fresh onion, but, when I cut into it, it was a little sour inside. I don’t fault Blue Apron since it is hard to tell the freshness of an onion until you slice in.
Luckily, I had onions of my own. This dish was prepared and cooked in about 30 minutes, 10 less than Blue Apron estimated. The combination of purple potatoes, apples and kale married well in the dish. I loved the flavor of the sweet saute and the mild kick from the whole grain mustard. Overall, a very easy to prepare and delicious dish.
Meal 3: Crispy Cod & Yuzu-Shoyu Soba with Cabbage and Togarashi
The prep time for this dish clocked in at only 10 minutes. And, it would have been shorter if I had remembered to separate the white bottoms from the green tops of the scallions. Outside of that minor issue, everything went smoothly. The meal was cooked in five minutes less than Blue Apron’s estimated time.
I did not think that I would be a fan of this dish, but I was happy to be wrong. This was definitely a restaurant quality meal. The noodles were cooked to a perfect al dente texture and there was more than enough for two servings. The cod had a delicious crust that went perfectly with the soba noodles. The combination of soy sauce, ginger, minir and yuzu juice made a tart and citrusy dressing that suited the noodles perfectly. The including spice blending was just the icing on the cake. Overall, this dish was full of flavor and represented authentic Japanese cuisine quite well.
The two-person plan from Blue apron cost $59.94 for three meals for two people. This averages out to $19.98 per two-person meal. Ingredients for the first meal, Grains of Paradise-Crusted Steak were:
- 1 Ribeye Steak
- 1 Black Plantain
- 1 Lime
- ½ Bunch Collard Greens
- 1 Bunch Parsley
- 2 Tablespoons Peanuts
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1 1 -Inch Piece Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon of Grains of Paradise
My estimate to buy the same ingredients at my local supermarket would be between $25 and $30, not including seasonings. A half-cup shaker from The Spice House costs $9.99. Alternately, you could substitute fresh ground black pepper for significantly less
- Blue Apron: $19.98 for two people
- Local supermarket: $25 to $30+
When you consider the convenience of the shipping, plus their costs in packaging, transportation and overhead, Blue Apron is an excellent deal. While value shoppers buying in larger quantities may be able to beat their prices, a single person or couple can eat quite well economically on Blue Apron meals.
The Pros and Cons That Many Blue Apron Reviews Fail to Mention
Many reviewers really like the foods from Blue Apron and list many items on the pro side:
- Each meal includes a full-color card and step-by-step instructions. This can be a real boon to beginning cooks who want more hand-holding.
- Preview of weekly menus up to 2 months. You can also customize your menu, change and swap out meals, etc.
- Price-wise, Blue Apron falls into the middle of the spectrum of home meal kits. The ingredients cost less than you would pay in the supermarket, but about the same as what you can expect from other delivered meal services.
- Blue Apron meals include many specialty items that many home cooks may not regularly keep on hand. This allows you to experiment with ingredients you may not otherwise have chosen. For instance, if you don’t typically keep sesame seed oil in your cabinet, you can get to use it for one meal and enjoy a dish you may otherwise have missed.
- Serving sizes are more than enough. Which is a big plus, one of consumers biggest issue with meal delivery services is small food servings. You won’t have that issue with Blue Apron!
- Blue Apron packaging are recyclable, You can recycle from home or return it back to Blue Apron (there are some requirements).
- The Blue Apron Mobile App, which has unique seasonal recipes with how-to videos, cooking tips and much more. This app also have a built-in camera with custom food filters and special effects to take photos of your dish to share with family & friends.
As with any meal delivery option, there is also a list of cons:
- Washing, chopping and peeling produces can be a bit excessive at times. However, I personally don’t find this to be a con because I enjoyed the prep work and the chance to learn new dishes. Others may find this to be a con due to time constraints and preparation.
- While each recipe includes calorie counts, it does not include any other nutritional information. If you are counting carbs or fat grams or just want to monitor your intake of vitamins and minerals, the lack of information can be an issue.
- Blue Apron does not give measurement and spice levels of their spice blend. This can make reproducing the blend tough.
- Excessive packaging such as large boxes, plastic packets, thick ice blocks & packets, etc. However, they are recyclable and you can recycle right from your home or you can send the packaging back to Blue Apron (Free return label but with restrictions).
On the whole, it’s important to remember that meal delivery services like Blue Apron are not meant to replace 100% of your shopping and cooking. They are a supplement to break up your routine two to three nights a week. In this role, they save time and add variety, even when your schedule would not otherwise permit it.
Blue Apron Review Wrap-Up
We had fun conducting this review of Blue Apron. Blue Apron has many advantages. The taste aspect of their meals have to be one of the best in the industry. They are able to blend ingredients very well and the dishes are full of flavor. Another highlight is the high-quality, fresh and well packaged characteristics of their produce and meat. We also found their meal plans very affordable compare to competitors. Their $59.94 w/ free shipping is the lowest we have seen for 3 meals for 2 people.
Some of Blue Apron weaknesses are their limited selection of meals. Another, is Blue Apron needs more meals that involve less prep time such as cutting, peeling, sorting, before you can begin to cook.
Overall, Blue Apron is one of our top choices in terms, of quality, price, customer service and taste.
How to Order from Blue Apron
Blue Apron meal packages can be ordered through their official website here. You can choose between a 2-person plan with three meals per week or a four-person family plan with either two or four recipes per week. Shipping is free and the meals cost between $8.74 and $9.99 per person. The program automatically rebills and you can skip a week or cancel anytime.
For taste, it seems that Blue Apron is our top pick for meal delivery. The pre-chosen meals can also help you expand your repertoire and learn new meals. In all, it looks like a good value, a middling time-saver and a great way to add some variety to your daily meals.
Redeem Offer: Get $30 Off Your First Blue Apron Order (New Customers Only!) – Valid: Ongoing.
Are you curious about Blue Apron? Have you already tried it? We’d love to hear about your experience so that we can help our readers pick out the right home delivered meal service for them.