If you’ve listened to the radio, a few podcasts or the conversations of moms at baseball fields, you’ve probably heard of Blue Apron.
You might even know what it is.
But, if you’re like me, you’ve wondered how exactly it works.
Blue Apron is a service that sends you all of the ingredients and instructions to cook a meal (that their chef plans for you) at home. You choose from their meals for the week, and you get the ingredients (ALL of the ingredients) needed for that meal delivered in a box on your doorstep. It’s meal-planning and shopping done for you.
Technically, I knew all that, but I wanted DEtails. So when I was asked to try out the service and share my experience in a sponsored post, I jumped at the chance! I figured if I wanted to know every last detail of how Blue Apron works, you might too. How many choices are there? Can I create my own menu? Are the meals things my (picky) family will actually eat?
I signed up for the service. At first, I was set to receive deliveries on Fridays, but since our weekends are unpredictable, I changed my delivery date to a Tuesday. I chose the family plan, and ordered two recipes which each served 4. (You can also choose to get meals for 2.)
For the family meals, there were four choices. I chose to make Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Paninis and Shrimp, Potato, and Corn “Boil.” Both sounded like things my family would enjoy.
You can browse through the next four weeks worth of plans before you even sign up. Just click “On The Menu” at the top of their website.
As someone who tends toward skepticism, paranoia, and decision-fatigue, I was relieved to see these clarifications on the site:
I didn’t set up my delivery to start right away since I knew we’d be out almost every night that week. I set it for the week school started, and was excited to have my meals ready to be cooked as we started back into a routine after summer.
I was a little worried because I wanted to cook one of these meals on Tuesday evening, but the delivery wasn’t guaranteed to get to me until 8 p.m. (Monday delivery isn’t an option.) I hoped, though, that like most packages, it would arrive well before 8 p.m.
It did! The box arrived via FedEx before 2 o’clock. I wish I had realized what a great model my little visitor was (seriously, look at that smile!) I would have gotten more of her in the photo!
When I met the FedEx driver at my door, she said she has been delivering a TON of these Blue Apron boxes, and that once someone orders once, they seem to keep ordering. Totally anecdotal, but I found that interesting. The concept had definitely caught her attention.
I was so curious to open the box and see how everything was packaged. I’m definitely not always home on a Tuesday at 2:00, so how would things have fared in the Texas mega-heat if I didn’t get the box inside right away?
Everything was neatly packed in an insulated bag, and once I removed the top layer, there was another layer that had the meats along with multiple frozen packs. The meat was cold and would have stayed that way for quite a while.
I transferred all the pretty little packages to my fridge.
But then I kind of made a mistake based on what I thought Blue Apron was. I texted my husband and told him to give me 30 minutes heads up that he would be home.
When he sent me the warning text, I pulled out the recipe card and started working. I’ll admit I was slightly surprised that the first instructions were to wash all the vegetables and break the stems off of the green beans.
Not that I wouldn’t normally do all that same stuff, but for some reason I had assumed that all the ingredients would be ready to dump in a pot and start cooking immediately.
I soon realized 30 minutes wouldn’t be enough.
Blue Apron sends the ingredients for amazing meals. Not ridiculously complicated meals, but not 3 ingredient one-pot meals like I’ve grown accustomed to feeding my family during our busy lives.
Cooking a Blue Apron meal is real cooking. I loved it for that reason, but it was not as quick and easy as I had (for some reason) assumed.
I chopped and sliced and snapped and shucked.
Y’all, I haven’t shucked in years. And I realized I’ve turned many shortcuts into my standard method of cooking.
But there’s joy in shucking. (And joy in saying the word shucking.) And there’s most definitely joy in garlic.
For both meals, I had to chop and smash fresh garlic. As I pressed on the side of the knife and breathed the smell of freshly smashed garlic, my sense of smell took me straight back to the days when I cooked truly from scratch. To the days when I imagined I was a gifted culinary artist. To the time when I believed myself a foodie. (Except that “foodie” wasn’t really a word yet.)
My family thoroughly enjoyed the meals, and I took care to make them exactly as the directions instructed. This means I made Creamy Summer Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad and everything. I even forced myself to eat a cherry tomato since I loved the dressing (which I made from scratch using the ingredients they sent!) on the green beans so much.
I didn’t love the cherry tomato, but I think I should get some adulting points for choking it down. To be clear, the tomato was gorgeous and fresh, I’m just not a fan of tomatoes!
But we all loved (loooooovvvved) the meatball paninis. I was concerned the arugala pesto would be a turnoff for my kids, but they seemed to not even notice the green stuff on their sandwiches.
Each meal was supposed to be four servings, but we stretched it to five both nights. Surprisingly, it was easier to stretch on the night when we only had four sandwich rolls. I cut the two smaller rolls into two pieces, and the larger ones into three, and everyone seemed to have plenty with their two pieces.
Perhaps, though, that was because we did not have a leisurely meal around the table as a family on that night. We grabbed our portions and ate them quickly before we had to leave for the evening’s activities.
Which leads me to the pros and cons we experienced using this service. To be clear, the cons were only due to my current phase of life, and most things are pros.
Everything is included other than olive oil, salt, and pepper. When I say everything, I mean everything. And it’s all the exact amount you need for the recipe.
The “knick knack bag” for the shrimp meal had pre-measured spices, the exact amount of butter needed, and a tiny container of mayo. I didn’t experience my usual panic at the realization that I’d picked up everything except one important ingredient.
And when I was finished cooking, I’d used it all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve avoided a recipe because it called for a small amount of an ingredient that I didn’t think I’d ever use again, so I couldn’t justify buying an entire container.
I tried new things. New, higher-level things than I usually try
on weekdays ever. I marinated zucchini slaw. I served shrimp on a Tuesday.
And most of all, I didn’t have to make a plan or a list or spend any time whatsoever at the grocery store for all this to happen.
I honestly think this is an excellent service for families who lead busy lives but want to cook from scratch.
But along those lines, a con. A con for us, at least. This service is great for families who are in a stage of life where they can guarantee that they will be home X number of nights each week.
We’re not in that stage right now. But believe me, I will be revisiting this idea once we are.
Our panini meal was rushed because, although I’d assumed we wouldn’t have any evening activities on the first week of school, I’d assumed wrong. Freshman football starts in week one. This meant I had to squeeze in a prep-intensive cooking session on a night when we didn’t have unlimited time available (just more available time than on a football night). I didn’t want to waste the food, as it was fresh and ready to go.
Blue Apron meals are supposed to take around 40 minutes to prepare, but each took me at least an hour to create, and I am fairly at ease in my kitchen. (I did have to take photographs which added some time.)
I also used more pots and pans and dishes than I usually do. Each night required multiple cutting boards, and many “large bowls” for various components of the meals. Lots of dishes to wash.
(That’s a heavy pot “pressing” the paninis! They give great ideas for making meals with things you already have.)
I enjoy cooking that way, and I can see how this would be excellent for so many. Couples with careers, moms of medium-sized kids, empty-nesters, or newlyweds.
This would have been perfect when I lived with roommates, as we were committed to learning how to cook. I think a subscription to this service would be a fantastic wedding gift! (A non-clutter wedding gift!) I would have loved to have this available to me at that stage of my life.
It would be great for almost any phase of life but the year I’m in right now, with a 7th grader playing on Monday nights, church on Wednesday nights, a 9th grader playing on Thursday nights, and a tuba player marching on Friday nights.
Seriously, y’all. Things are crazy right now. I simply can’t count on consistently having an hour to spend cooking, even with the shopping and planning already done for me.
But if you have nights when you can count on having some time in the kitchen, and if you love the process of cooking a meal from scratch, you need to try this service. If you want to use farm-fresh ingredients, but the thought of poking and thumping and sniffing out the best in your local grocery store is overwhelming, it’s worth a try for you. (They’re committed to and working hard on a sustainable food system.) There’s no commitment, as you can cancel or skip meals at any time. It’s such a unique concept that I do recommend checking it out.
And the first 20 of you to try it will get three free meals on your first order. Click here to try it.
To be clear, “three free meals” seems to mean about three free servings, or $30 off. To get the equivalent of what I got, you’d spend a little under $40 with this discount. I think that considering the convenience and high-quality of the meals and ingredients, that’s a more-than-great price and makes it worth trying out.
Oh, and one last thing I somehow missed until after I’d already thrown out the box, they have a recycling program for packaging materials. Learn more about that here.
As I mentioned earlier, this was a sponsored post. That means I was paid for my time spent trying the product, taking pictures, and creating this post to tell you all about it. All opinions and experiences and crazy, how-do-I-already-have-a-kid-in-high-school schedules are mine!