Is a meal subscription service right for you? I’m sharing my honest thoughts today in this Blue Apron review. Be sure to scroll all the way down for a link that will save you $30 off your first order!
Meal subscription services are all the rage these days… I feel like I get a postcard urging me to try this or that company in the mail every few days. But I’ve remained mostly on the fence, wondering if the cost is really justified and whether a meal would actually be enough to feed my family. Well, at least feed most of MY family — I have yet to find a subscription company that offers meals for larger families like ours.
So when Blue Apron contacted me and offered to send me one of their boxes, I figured why not give it a try? It was the perfect way to answer my own questions and would also assist me in answering honestly when I get the occasional reader email asking about my thoughts on these services.
What is Blue Apron?
Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that provides customers with farm-fresh ingredients to prepare a delicious meal in exactly the right proportions. You receive all of the ingredients for each recipe as a ready-made “kit” — that is everything but the olive oil, salt and pepper. You do still need to do all of the chopping, dicing, sautéing, etc., but Blue Apron provides a detailed full color recipe card for each recipe that guides you step by step through the process.
I opted to try one of the Blue Apron Family Plan boxes, which included 2 recipes that would each feed four people. I’ve developed a severe shellfish allergy within the past couple of years, so I was pleased to see that they offer options that accommodate many food sensitivities, although it did limit the number of recipes I had to choose from in a given week. I chose to receive the ingredients for the following two recipes:
- Seared Chicken & Mustard Pan Sauce with Summer Squash & Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Pork & Soba Noodles with Sweet Chili-Glazed Vegetables
What Are The Pros of Blue Apron?
I always like to start on a positive note, so let’s talk about what I think Blue Apron has going for it first.
Blue Apron eliminates all of the barriers of meal planning. You simply select the recipes you want to receive in a given week, and they ship everything you need to prepare it right to your doorstep. Yes, you still need to do much of the prep work and actually cook the meals, but it totally eliminates the 5:00 pm “What am I going to make for dinner?” panic.
The ingredients are high quality. Everything I received was very fresh and healthy in appearance. While not all of the ingredients are organic, Blue Apron does have high standards for every ingredient, including meats, and they are completely non-GMO.
The recipes are very detailed. You receive a glossy full page recipe card with each recipe, which includes step-by-step instructions, along with color photos that demonstrate key steps. This would be especially helpful for cooks that want to boost their confidence in the kitchen by trying new ingredients and/or techniques with limited chances for an undesirable outcome.
Blue Apron encourages you to try new ingredients. I can honestly say I’ve never tried gai lan (Chinese broccoli) before, and I highly doubt that I would have ever picked it up on a whim at the grocery store. But it turns out that I love it, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it to make it again!
What Are The Cons of Blue Apron?
And now for the aspects of Blue Apron that could use a little improvement…
The cook time seems to vary wildly from the stated time on the recipe cards. I was skeptical about being able to cook a pork roast in 26 minutes, and I was right. I use a meat thermometer to cook pork and chicken, and it took about 15 more minutes to reach the proper internal temperature. Same with the seared chicken recipe — it took much longer than 12 minutes to cook. Normally, I wouldn’t be too annoyed, but since the Blue Apron recipes include a protein and a side, it can also affect the timing of the side portion of the recipe.
I felt like the portions were on the small side. Based on other reviews, I certainly didn’t expect to have leftovers, but I was surprised to feel like I needed to add something more to each meal. I was satisfied with a serving, but my husband and two teenage boys were still hungry after eating. I’d say the portions would be perfect for a family of four that includes two small children, but 4 adult portions is really stretching it.
The amount of packaging feels very wasteful. Since each ingredient is packaged individually, you end up with a lot of little bottles, bags, and wrapping after preparing a recipe. I’m happy to say there’s at least an acceptable solution to this con. Blue Apron offers free return labels to send back all of the packaging for recycling. Just know that they will only recycle packaging that has been rinsed clean.
And What About The Price?
Overall, we really enjoyed our Blue Apron experience. Would I order meals from them on a weekly basis? No — it’s just not a practical way to feed my entire family. But I have to say that, as a busy mom, the time savings on meal planning and grocery shopping is extremely appealing, and I’m willing to pay a bit of a premium for that.
I feel like ultimately the price is pretty fair for the ingredients balanced out by the time savings. As the box options currently stand, I’d say the Blue Apron service is best suited for recent college grads, newlyweds, small growing families, busy executives and empty nesters. But if they ever add the option to select the number of servings you want a recipe to serve, I’ll absolutely consider using it more often.
If you want to try out Blue Apron for yourself, you can get $30 off your first order! Just click on the orange “Redeem Offer” button. After your first Blue Apron order, there’s no long-term commitment. You can cancel your subscription or skip weeks at any time!
If you’ve already tried Blue Apron, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please share in the comments!