Winter Meals: Blue Apron Review

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So, here we are, heading into my second post about my winter meals challenge.  I'm a little late, but here it is!  The others are coming!  

Since I  had a lag week in between my new meal boxes, I decided to get another week of my tried and true favorite, Blue Apron.  I've been getting Blue Apron since February 2017, so I know it like the back of my hand, but this is the first time I  have ever really reviewed and critiqued it. 

After trying Hello Fresh last week, my view of Blue Apron was a little different!  Keep reading to find out more!  

 Photo from Blue Apron app. 

Photo from Blue Apron app. 

HOW TO ORDER

There are so many ways to order Blue Apron and get a deal on your first shipment.  You can google it, look in your mail, or ask a friend who uses it.   Feel free to email me or DM me on Insta for a referral code!  Please do NOT pay full price for your first order--you do not need to!  It is generally $59 and change for three meals for two people.  There is a family option, where you can get three meals for four people a week.  

If you are a SmartPhone user, I have found that the best way to manage your food delivery is via the app.  Be sure to download the app via your Droid or Apple.  

Once you download it and begin to plan your delivery, you have the option to choose your dietary selection.  You can limit yourself to a vegetarian meal or pick what meats, fish, or shellfish you prefer.  Blue Apron has come a long way in the last year.  When I  first started subscribing, your only option was three meals a week.  Blue Apron now offers two meals a week, which is a nice option if you do not have a lot of time to cook one week.  

You have the ability to pick from 8 meal options, and you are not limited in your choices.  This is a change (and a great change) from where it was when I first started subscribing.  I  like having options and being able to pick on what I like not on what is available based on my initial choices.  Unlike Hello Fresh, all meals equal to the same price, so you can pick whatever and do not have to worry about any additional costs for a "premium meal."  

My thoughts on getting the most out of Blue Apron or any food service is to ensure you are ordering a meat or protein for each meal (e.g., fish, chicken, steak, pork).  This is the best way to get the most of your money in comparison to what is costs per meal if it were just veggies or pasta.  Obviously, this is not an option if you are a vegetarian, but I do think this is the way to get the most bang for your buck.  

 Blue Apron Delivery Box

Blue Apron Delivery Box

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DELIVERY, PACKAGING, AND RECIPE CARDS

As my experience. with other mail delivery food services, my Blue Apron was safely delivered and waiting for me at my front door Friday evening. 

The box was very similar to Hello Fresh; however, I  did not like the packaging for Blue Apron as much as Hello Fresh.  Hello Fresh has meats and fish at the bottom of the box with additional ingredients in paper bags based upon recipes.  Blue apron has all the ingredients thrown into the box haphazardly.  I  have learned to unpack the items one by one and match them to the recipe.  This ensures I   don't leave anything small in the box and to also ensure I  have all items.  In the entire time I've subscribed to Blue Apron, I  only have had missing ingredients twice, and they compensated me with discounts on upcoming boxes.  It is just good to know if you are missing an ingredient ahead of time so you can ensure you have it, rather than wait until you are cooking to find out it is missing.  When I  received the Blue Apron Box, I  did miss the Hello Fresh packaging.

One thing I  think Blue Apron does well is source ingredients that are seasonal and sourced locally, regionally, or as close as possible.  Most of the recipes are in season.  For example, there are many kale recipes in fall and winter.  Tomatoes are not seen or used until spring and summer.  

The recipe cards were clean, neat, and easy to read.  I    have always been able to easily follow Blue Apron cards, but I will admit that I have accidentally missed a step every now and again.  Unlike Hello Fresh, where the steps are clearly spaced out for less visual clutter, sometimes the Blue Apron steps get cluttered together, and a step gets missed.  The nutritional facts are NOT on the recipe cards or available on another recipe card.  In fact, they are on a small slip of paper in the bag that contains small ingredients.  It should be noted these small paper bags include small ingredients for each recipe, but are not separated out like Hello Fresh is.  You still need to search for all the other vegetables, fruits, and proteins. 

Blue Apron does offer a wine service in which they send you wines that pair with each meal.  Unlike Hello Fresh, who just ships a monthly box of wine that is not paired with the exact recipe, Blue Apron will send you three wines that are specifically paired with the meals you ordered for the week.  This is a cool service, although it is slightly more expensive.  I  have not yet tried it due to the price 

I    digress...my three recipes were:  Steak and Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Middle Eastern Baked Chicken and Rice, and Rosemary Chicken and Vegetables.  Unfortunately, I  did NOT get any photos of the last dish.  The Blue Apron week was very busy, and I was late in making this dish.  It was also late that night, and photos were just on the menu for the evening.  Anyways, you get the idea from these pics.  

 Items for the Steak dinner--this was DELISH!

Items for the Steak dinner--this was DELISH!

 Final product of the steak with carrots and mashed potatoes.  The cheesy mashed potatoes were soooooo good. 

Final product of the steak with carrots and mashed potatoes.  The cheesy mashed potatoes were soooooo good. 

 Middle Eastern Bake

Middle Eastern Bake

 The sauces that Blue Apron makes are always so good and make the dish.  

The sauces that Blue Apron makes are always so good and make the dish.  

PREPARATION, COOKING, AND TASTE

Overall, here are my thoughts about these three things:

  1. Blue Apron TEACHES you cooking methods.  This is how I  learned to cook so many different ways.  
  2. With Blue Apron, I  have used and tasted unique ingredients that either a) I never think to use, or b) cannot find in my local grocery store.  This is great, as I like trying new dishes and ingredients.  I also love saying that I've been able to cook with these cool items!  The downside is that the dishes are not always easy to re-create.  
  3. For Blue Apron, all you are required to have on hand are cooking items (I  .e., stove, oven, pots, pans, prep items, gadgets, etc), salt, pepper, and olive oil.  
  4. All the recipes use olive oil and/or butter.  No other oils are used.  
  5. Because of my experience with Blue Apron, I  LOVE their burgers and steaks.  The meat is tender and tasty, and the sauces are phenomenal.  
  6. Be prepared to use at least 40-60 minutes to create every meal from beginning to end.  Even though I've become quicker with prep, you are doing EVERYTHING from scratch, including chopping veggies, mincing garlic (I  just buy garlic in the jar, already minced--see photos), zesting lemons, and even grating cheese.   This all takes time.  One of the reasons I    began to buy Blue Apron on Fridays was because of my ability to cook at least one or two (if not 3) meals from scratch over the weekend.  Terry and I split some; others I  keep leftovers for myself.  I'm so busy during the work week, I  just don't always have the time to cook like that.  I    appreciate the leftovers for lunches and dinners and usually have one quiet evening at home where I  can cook, but I will often save the simplest meal for the week. 
  7. There are many asian and spicy options, which often makes it difficult to make choices, as I    often do not want 3 asian meals, and Terry needs to watch eating spicy foods.  

COMPARISON TO HELLO FRESH:

  1. Both were similar in price and portions
  2. I   prefer Hello Fresh's packaging
  3. I  like using different cooking oils with Hello Fresh (instead of just olive oil all the time)
  4. Hello Fresh is simpler and quicker with easy to re-create recipes
  5. Blue Apron focuses on cooking technique and utilizing unique ingredients to make one of a kind meals
  6. Blue Apron focuses on seasonal eating with locally, regionally or as close as possible sourced ingredients (you will not use tomatoes in fall or winter; kale and dark greens are a staple in fall and winter).  
  7. Both are as equally as tasty.  With both boxes, I feel like I'm eating at a high end restaurant.  

WRAP-UP

Wrap-Up Thoughts of Blue Apron:

  1. Blue Apron will teach you cooking technique, which will make cooking or the use of other boxes and recipes easy.  
  2. Blue Apron is seasonal and fresh.
  3. Blue Apron requires you to use less items from your kitchen, but EVERYTHING is prepped and made from scratch (also leading to learning cooking techniques)
  4. Blue Apron uses unique ingredients for one of a kind recipes and cooking technique; however, these recipes may be difficult to recreate if ingredients or spice blends cannot be obtained
  5. The burgers and steaks are awesome.  

What I  would like to see:

  1. Different ways of prep (why not integrate the crock pot or grill?!)
  2. Better packaging

If you want to read my Hello Fresh review click here.

Next up, I  am trying out Home Chef.  I'm pretty excited for the recipes I  picked, so stay tuned!

Here are the items I  recommend for your kitchen: