27 Jun 2017
With meal-kit food delivery services popping up at a stunning rate and news that Blue Apron will be going public – the first one to do so, I figured it was high time to check out what the hoopla was all about.
Plus, one of my sons has been talking to me about his Blue Apron meals for quite a while already. His girlfriend’s mom had given it to them as a gift, so I’ve been hearing about the dinners and his burgeoning cooking skills. I asked if I could try one of their meals. Instead, my son Josh signed me up for a cancelable free trial.
A few days later.. there it was – sitting on my front doorstep. Digging into the box was like tearing open a long-awaited gift – albeit one that I had been expecting. I lifted the ingredients for three separate meals out of the insulation and started to sort according to the provided recipe sheets.
There were three little bags of ‘knick knacks’ for each meal, along with exact amounts of other needed ingredients. The only items not included were cooking (olive) oil, salt and pepper.
Each meal serves two people. Josh had selected one shrimp, one chicken and one meat meal for me. If you’re doing this on your own, it could stretch into six dinners but you’d have to repeat each meal during the week or freeze the second portion for later use. The dent in your wallet: $60 for 6 servings.
Getting to the task at hand, I decided to forge ahead with the Blue Apron Shrimp & Squid Ink Spaghetti [with Sugar Snap Peas]. I sorted through the ingredients and had to trash a few bruised looking snap peas. I also spent a bit of extra time prepping the shrimp which weren’t as de-veined as I would have liked.
The directions were easy to follow, with pretty little photos of most steps on the recipe card. (The photos you see here though are the ones I took as I cooked.) Having all the ingredients (save the salt, pepper and oil) included in the meal kit, and measured out for you, was a real indulgence. They even included the two tablespoons of butter and garlic cloves in the knick knack bag, so I wanted for nothing. The all in one meal-kit concept is a beauty – it always makes me nuts when I try a new recipe and have to buy an entire jar of fish sauce, for instance, when all I need is a tablespoon or so.
I used plenty of pans in the cooking so while they do provide all the ingredients, these recipes are not for single-pan meals.
I had my doubts during the meal prep, but the recipes were well-vetted and the plated dish was a winner. The shrimp was super tasty. I even liked the snap peas which usually aren’t a go-to veggie for me. The serving size was generous. If I was only feeding myself, the meal-kit concept might make even more sense in that you don’t have to buy ingredients in bulk – though you’d have to freeze the second serving, like leftovers, or prepare dinner with a friend.
My evaluation of the Blue Apron dinner: taste was great, prep was pretty easy, value was very good, and cleanup was okay. Honestly, the whole meal-kit concept is fabulous, especially if you want to skip trips to the market, benefit from some level of portion control, avoid over-buying fresh ingredients that end up going bad, and you still cook your own meals – and learn some new tricks and recipes along the way. Empty nesters are particularly well-suited to the meal-kit model for all these reasons.
There are a bunch of competitors to Blue Apron, springing up at a furious rate while others have already had to shutter their doors. Out there right now, you’ll find Marley Spoon [in collaboration with Martha Stewart], a few that market themselves as organic and/or offering paleo or gluten-free meals – charging a bit more – such as Sun Basket. and Munchery. Others that you’ll come across on social media include Chef’d, Plated, and Home Chef.
And in this very competitive marketplace, several of these companies don’t require you to order more than one or two meals at a time, though you’ll probably be stuck with a shipping charge. Plus, discounts and coupons are flying around all over the place as they vie for customers. Don’t throw out all your junk mail. Plus, these companies will let you take a break if you’re on vacation or… well… just need a break.
Bon Appétit![What about you? Have you tried any of these meal kits? What was your verdict? Please share in the comments section below.]