Nutrition Articles

Blue Apron: Signed, Sealed, Delicious?

Did the Meal Delivery Service Live Up to the Hype?

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As a working parent of two elementary-school-aged children, there is a lot I have to let go because there simply isn't time to manage it all. Maybe some weeks the kids spend more time than they should in front of electronic devices; sometimes I cave and let them wear shorts when it's below 50 degrees. Do they always floss? No. Okay, almost never. Did my son once go several weeks without washing his hair, unbeknownst to me or my husband? Perhaps.

But there are some things I don't let slide, like making sure they pick up their dirty clothes from wherever they happened to take them off (typically in the middle of their rooms, or, my personal favorite, right in front of the hamper), doing their homework and having dinner as a family. Sure, there are times when sporting events or other things pop up and this doesn't always happen, but we do try to eat together most nights of the week.

While I do enjoy cooking and know how to cook most things, though, our dinner menu choices have grown rather stale as of late. Despite consistently vowing to try new things, peruse cookbooks the week before to plan meals and make new ingredients lists, those wishes often disappear into the ether. As a result, the cycling through of about 20 quick(er) and easy dinner standbys ensues.

I desperately wanted to break out of this rut and still try something new a few nights of the week, without adding too much to my already full plate. Enter Blue Apron. Blue Apron is one of a growing number of meal delivery services available across the country. The concept is simple: Fresh ingredients for chef-designed recipes get delivered right to your door, allowing anyone to create delicious, healthy meals right in the comfort of his or her own kitchen.

After signing up  and selecting my dietary preferences online, I was presented with a
menu of four choices and instructed to pick two. From the list, I chose the seared chicken and potato salad and roast pork and smashed potatoes and left the catfish meuniere and miso ramen and tempura acorn squash for another time. According to the service, calorie counts for any meal available on the site are between 500 and 700 calories per serving, which should fit nicely in most nutritional plans.



Ten days after I placed my order, a big box showed up on my front porch. Waiting inside for me were 22 perfectly packaged and clearly labeled ingredients, ranging from chives to goat cheese, fresh and ready to be transformed into something delicious. The only ingredients I had to provide were salt, pepper, olive oil and water. 
Because it is Blue Apron's mission to "make incredible home cooking accessible," delivery is key. The company ships more than five million meals per month nationwide, and the delivery day changes depending on your zip code. I received mine on a Friday and made the meals on the following Sunday and Monday.



The company employs culinary experts who create seasonal, original recipes that are not repeated within a calendar year and the online recipe selection changes every week, so the next time I purchase meals from them, I will always be presented with fresh opportunities to try new recipes.

Cooking, the Blue Apron Way

I enlisted the help of my husband as we took our the ingredients out of the fridge and began to follow the colorful, step-by-step directions on the 8 ½ x 11 card to make the first meal of roast pork. Looking at all the packages and containers spread out across our countertop, I felt somewhat skeptical of the touted average prep time of 35 to 45 minutes. I watched the clock while we cooked, and, to my surprise, we finished around the 50-minute mark. The added time was on my end though, as I was stopping periodically to take pictures. This could definitely be finished in the estimated time.

The cooking instructions are presented in a six-step format with instructional photos. Some steps had multiple action items, such as "while the pork sears, wash and dry the fresh produce," but everything was explained in enough detail that a beginner should be able to do it. True novices can pick up essential cooking prep techniques—such as how to prep parsley—along the way by following along with the company's handy how-to videos, which are available on their website.



When everything was finished, we gathered up the pork, potatoes, salad and sauce and dinner was ready to be put in front of the waiting patrons (the kids). The good news? They liked and ate it all—even the peppery arugula salad. The better news for us? The recipes were surprisingly easy to make and came together fast enough that no groans of, "I'm hungry!" were heard from the dining room. 
 


The following night, we made the second meal of seared chicken and potato salad with sweet-and-sour cabbage. Again, the directions were easy to follow, and from fridge to table took us about 45 minutes. Overall, I preferred the chicken over the pork for the meat selection, but the arugula salad from the first night was amazing. Now that the recipes are in my repertoire, I definitely see myself picking up the ingredients and making them both again.

Fun, Fast and Healthy

Overall, cooking with Blue Apron was a fun, time-saving experience. Having all the ingredients pre-packaged in the exact amounts needed was great because there was no food waste. On the flip side, though, packaging and labeling every portion for every meal means a lot of extra packaging ends up in the garbage.

If you are looking for a healthy, affordable (a four-person plan includes either two or four meals a week at $8.74 a meal) meal-service plan, then Blue Apron might be for you. Double-down on the fun by cooking with your significant other or your friends. You will learn new recipes, cooking techniques and—best of all—be rewarded for all your hard work with a delicious, low-calorie, home-cooked meal.

How would you like to have two free Blue Apron meals delivered right to your door? You can! Our first 50 readers can redeem their meals here (first-time customers only).  
 


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Member Comments

  • We tried it, and while I love the "cooking school in a box," the portions sizes were too calorific for us. We did learn a few new techniques, though!
  • ETHELMERZ
    It's not for us, their meals sound too yucky and use foods I wouldn't even want to smell let alone taste! Too much time wasting reading and storing the stuff. Why is it these kinds of "services" have food choices that suck, wouldn't fix them even on my own? I wouldn't want them even if I lived alone, a waste of money.
  • I LOVE Blue Apron. We have been subscribers for over a year, and I can't rave enough. I find I am trying ingredients I would normally pass by in the grocery store (celery root). I find the calories work perfectly in my Spark Plan. It makes two servings, so I'm not going back for seconds that add up and inevitably don't make it into my tracker. They have recently added full nutritional information, rather than just calorie counts. Our subscription is three meals for two, and we pay $59.94 a week. At first I thought this would be too expensive, but we find we buy less at the grocery store, and we have so much less food waste. I love to cook, so getting three new recipes a week is fantastic for me. And best of all, their customer service is fantastic. Anytime they have left out an ingredient, (which happens rarely) they are quickly responsive. I could not recommend them enough if you love to cook but hate to make meal plans and do shopping!
  • We have tried Blue Apron, Home Chef and Hello Fresh. I really enjoyed all of them, but Home Chef was my favorite. For us, it makes sense as we just get what we need and don't end up having to buy larger amounts that invariably go in the trash because I don't need that much and forget about it. It's cheaper than going out and is really good quality and super fresh. It's a bit on the expensive side for us, so I tend to "suspend" service for weeks at a time and then will order for a week again. I like many allow me to pick delivery date. I dislike some of the ones that have recipes I don't care for and if I choose meal "a" only meal "c" and "e" are available with that selection when I really want meal "b". I would prefer to pick only the meals I know we will like. Most also have the option of 2 or 4 people boxes with meals from 2 per week on up to whatever you'd like. There are 2 of us, but we just take leftovers for lunch or eat them the next night when we chose the 4 person option. Overall, highly recommend.
  • People must really need (????) those automated kitchens that were in the "Jetsons" cartoons, when if you pushed a button, you could get whatever you want to eat in a matter of seconds. Apparently we're getting there. First, call in your pickup meal, then shop on line, have your groceries delivered, signup for monthly meat deliveries through USPS and like companies, have frozen ingredients delivered, have prepared meals delivered.
  • HANNAHR-NJ
    We tried Blue Apron after a friend raved about it. Tried it for about two or three months. We found they used too many things we don't normally eat, like white rice, white flour, lots of butter, etc. It was easy enough to eliminate the salt, which we also don't usually eat, but I generally make up for the lack of salt by adding more garlic and red pepper or other spices. So we ended up doctoring the recipes with things like that, which wasn't that big a deal. Ultimately we decided it wasn't for us.
  • Dul article - didn't Finnish it.
  • SKIRUNNER1
    Is that $8.74 for each serving or for the whole meal. I suspect for each serving, but the article should have been clearer.
  • KATHYRIL
    In my experience, Blue Apron is the least friendly of the meal delivery services when it comes to counting calories. They provide no nutritional info other then "calorie estimates", and those have been suspect on many occasions. The food is good, and while many of the recipes are fairly healthy, Home Chef, Hello Fresh, and Plated do a way better job of offering low calorie meals and providing fairly thorough nutrition info. I have used all 4 services regularly over the past year, and I think they are great! But check them all out. If you are trying to lose weight, you may find one of the others to be a better fit.
  • I think this is one of those things that you either love or it's just not for you. I've been getting Blue Apron boxes on and off for about 2 years now. Once you have a subscription, you can skip weeks well ahead of time and alter your menu based on what sounds good to you (to a certain extent). It has really helped us expand our variety of dishes and there are lots of interesting whole grains, vegetables/fruits
    , and healthy fats included. The calorie counts have proven to be relatively accurate - some a little high some a little low, but nothing so off that it would really make an impact on anything but the most narrow of diets.
    The packaging is recyclable and we stopped wasting food. It seems pricey, but I usually can't cook these same meals for $20 each and not have a weird amount of leftover ingredients.
  • I tried three different meals. Every single one used a lot of butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I like to use different seasoning besides salting every single thing. It also was too expensive for my taste. I didn't like the one cod & potato casserole they had so that was a waste and I had to cook something else after spending an hour making/baking it. I can see how this could be good, but it isn't for everyone.
  • Is this something you sign up for and have to commit to a regular delivery or can you just choose to do it when you feel like it. Of course, waiting 10 days for your meals to arrive seems like a long wait.
  • I live by myself and the format of most of these box deliveries is for 2 people and 3 meals, so it's not really economical or fun to eat the portions separately.

    I like using these sites for recipe inspiration. Another one that looks really good, and is vegan, is the purple carrot delivery.

    See some recipes here: https://thepurple
    carrot.com/ve
    gan-recipes
  • You could plan a menu, go to the grocery store and buy these items and then come home and put it in the fridge. You can probably do this for cheaper than what they are offering.
  • Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Home Chef are all so delicious and convenient. I recommend trying them all. We choose between the three each month. Check out Home Chef menus here for $30 off!
    http://homechef
    .com/invite/7
    Z7Rfrpkn17

About The Author

Elizabeth Lowry Elizabeth Lowry
I'm a member of SparkPeople's editorial team and I write, edit and manage the content you read. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and enjoy cooking for my family and friends, running, strength training, teaching weekly spin classes and playing outside with my kids. I also love a good challenge and recently found that in Barre class. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good indulgence once in a while--wine and chocolate are two of my favorite things. I am grateful to be here, helping our members reach their own healthy living goals.