Friday, June 12, 2015

Blue Apron Review

My friend Martha (we used to blog together here) sent me a link for two free meals from Blue Apron, and I thought I would give it a whirl. After all, it was free food, right? Free is my favorite price. I chose the family plan, which feeds 4 people, and my delivery came last Friday.

I should say, I have not been compensated for this review. I opted to do the free trial and share our experience, as I know a few people who have considered signing up.

We received 100% of the food (including herbs and spices) for Chinese Five Spice Meatballs with Snow Peas and Jasmine Rice, and Chicken "Under a Brick" with Spring Vegetable Quinoa and Rhubarb Compote. Whew! Just typing those names was exhausting. How was it actually cooking those meals?

We tried the Chinese Five Spice Meatballs meals on Saturday. It took me a good 60 minutes from start to finish to chop everything and then cook it. It probably took me longer because I had a 4 year old helper and a slight learning curve doing the recipe for the first time.


This was the first time I have cooked or eaten snow peas, and I was surprised how easy it was. They also tasted delicious. I am not a big ginger fan, so I only used 1/3 of the ginger they gave us, saving it in the baggy it came in for later. Overall, we were very happy with this meal.

Our verdict: 

Portions: We ate 100% of the food. My husband wanted to eat everything, and wished there was more. He was hunting in the fridge for more. The portion was just right for me, with a cup of rice, 4 meatballs, and some snow peas. My 4 year old and 7 year old each ate 2 meatballs with snow peas and rice, and my husband ate the rest. The toddler ate half a meatball and threw it on the floor. There is no pleasing everyone, right?

Taste: Four out of five of us loved it. My son was not keen on the snow peas, but still ate them. No one complained, except the toddler, who ended up eating leftover waffles. I think it was a bit strong-flavored for a 17-month old.

Time: The recipe estimated that cooking time would be 25-35 minutes for this meal. My actual time was double this.

Cost: Blue Apron will send up to four meals a week for 2 or 4 people, whatever you choose. For our family, this family meal alone would have cost $34.96. Yikes! Keep in mind that I keep my entire grocery budget around $100-125 per week most of the time, and this is the cost for dinner only. That's one third of my entire weekly budget for all meals.


On Sunday, we tried the Chicken Under a Brick.



Our verdict:

Portions: This was more than enough for us. It looks like the chicken was a whole one, cut into two halves. We had leftover quinoa and veggies.

Taste: Myeh. The chicken was simple with no extra seasoning. It smelled great, my husband liked it and the kids ate it. I had a tiny piece, but I pretty much dislike poultry. The quinoa and veggies were pretty blah without the rhubarb compote, and this recipe really made only a tiny, tiny bit of that. The kids did not like the quinoa.

Time: This took me a good hour.

Cost: Again, this meal would have been $34.96. I could have made it myself from food at the store, buying even a local, organic whole chicken for less than that.

Overall Pros:

1) Delivery of 100% of what you need, right to your door. It came cold, with loads of freezer packs, and I didn't have any concerns about the meats being too warm to safely use.

2) Recipes with excellent step-by-step instructions are included.

3) We are foodies, but there are certainly things I am less likely to try- the Asian flavors of the meatballs and the snow peas, for example. This kind of pushed me to stretch and try something that would normally have caused me to turn up my nose.

This is partly because I was not familiar with the taste, and wouldn't want to waste money on something I would have had to throw out, and partly because I did not know how to cook it. I ended up liking it, and will probably be more likely to put a vegetable like snow peas on my menu in the future.

4) New recipes every week. This gives some variety.

5) The ability to choose not to receive certain foods, though this is not perfect (see cons below). I opted out of fish, lamb, and pork.

Cons:

1) The cost! The two meals we received would have been $69.92. Four meals per week would be $139.84- way over my weekly food budget for all food. The other option was a two-person meal three days a week for $59.94. For comparison, in my single days, my food budget was typically $10-25 a week for myself alone for the entire week.

2) While it allowed me to opt out of fish, lamb, or pork, there was no opt-out for poultry meals. I am poultry-phobic since my pregnancies, and was disappointed to receive a chicken dish. I ended up eating only a twee piece of chicken. My ultimate preference would be to receive only vegetarian plus beef dishes. I know, I'm weird.

3) The cost of meals does not decrease, even if you opt out of some meat dishes.

4) The recipes took longer to make than expected.

5) Packaging waste was excessive. While probably necessary to arrive cold, our box had an insulated bag, a half dozen plastic cold packs, and every ingredient individually wrapped in plastic. We were cringing a bit at the waste.

6) If you have a hearty appetite like my husband, or a family size greater than four, this will not be enough food. If our kids were teens instead of 7 and under, this would not be even remotely enough food.

Overall verdict:

This really is decent, fresh food, and the recipes are good. I know a few people who are couples/empty-nesters who are very happy getting meals for two, and feel they are eating in a more healthy manner and spending less than eating out most nights per week. It also is a nice tool for those new to cooking and those who dread planning and shopping for meals.

For our family, this is not a great option at all. I get a great deal of enjoyment from planning, shopping, and meeting my goal of keeping to a tight grocery budget. We are essentially living on one income and paying for my grad school out of pocket, while trying to meet goals of maxing retirement/investment savings, paying for kids' health care needs and activities, saving to build a new house, and deepen our emergency fund, so we have no room for doubling our grocery budget. We will be giving this a pass, and have already cancelled our subscription.

I did opt, however, to subscribe to their weekly recipe via email, as overall I think the recipes are decent, and I may want to try some more- at a much cheaper price.


2 comments:

Martha Kelley said...

Great review, and it has helped us cut down on takeout and time. poultry phobic great phrase

Paula Daniels said...

This is Awsome! I never knew this existed!! :)