For the past 69 weeks (purely coincidence, ahem) I’ve been a Blue Apron subscriber. They are a mail order grocery service that deliver 3 meals per week complete with recipe, cooking instructions, nutritional information, and ingredients. Even pre-measured spices and sauces needed to prepare each dish are in the box. The only things not included are salt, pepper, olive oil, and water. The recipes use in-season produce and do a great job at providing a variety of different cuisines. In 207 recipes I’ve received from them (wow, time flies), I believe only 2 have been repeats. One was the 4th of July meal. A couple more have been pretty similar to a recipe delivered in the past. At least 200 have been unique dishes.
Being based out of New York gives them an opportunity to get a vast variety of ingredients. Some of which I’ve never heard of, or couldn’t easily get on my own in Indiana. I can get plenty of corn here, but getting Chayote squash takes a lot of effort. That’s what I think is special about these boxes of fun delivered to your door. The chores of finding recipes, getting the ingredients, measuring… it’s all taken care of, and delivered right to your door. All you have to do is prep veg, cook protein, and eat. The basic plan costs about $10 a meal. I get 2 meals per recipe for my wife and I, so I’m spending a couple coins under $60 per week. Nutritionally the meals are mostly between 500-750 calories each. After MOST meals I feel comfortably sated. There have been a couple that I needed to find something else to supplement my returning hunger.
I always claimed to be a picky eater, so I thought when I began I’d have to pick out a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to eat. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve eaten 95% of the recipes as is, the only exceptions have been tomatoes (I just can’t eat them in any chunky form). I have been so pleased with the recipes I can’t say enough. The team there really puts together some great dishes. They claim the average prep/cook time is 35 minutes for each recipe, and from my experience that’s about right. I’d say more than half use a single pan, which is nice if you are the one doing the cooking AND the dishes.
A few favorites:
- Arroz con Pollo
- Beef and Bulgur Stuff Squash
- Salmon and Cauliflower Steaks
- Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon
- The Gramercy Tavern recipe was particularly good.
This Cod with Szechuan Sauce, however, wasn’t very good to me. Fortunately there’s only been 5, out of 207 random recipes, that did not please my wife and I. That’s 98% if you are trying to do the math.
Back in the old days when I started, they only had Vegetarian or Omnivore diets. Now you can exclude any of the following in the Omnivore plan: red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, lamb, and pork. This helps fulfill a wide range of dietary needs. They also could only deliver east of the Mississippi way back then. Now they’ve added a distribution point out in California, and get all of the west coast. The current delivery map is here. Sorry folks that live in Kansas. I imagine they have plans to expand to Texas and that will probably serve the middle of the country. My delivery day is Thursdays by Fedex, and I have the option for Saturday deliveries as well. Delivery days vary by address. I’ve had one shipment not show up at all, and one more that was late. Those are disappointing, but it rarely happens and their customer service is very helpful. Going out for vacation one week? No problem, you can skip a week, or two like I did when I moved to a new house. I will offer one bit of advice from my own experience. Cook the recipes as soon as possible after delivery. I try to always cook my seafood dish on Thursday evening right after it’s delivered. I’ve found the fresh herbs and some fragile produce tend to go bad kind of quickly.
Not interested in the food delivery part? That’s fine, they provide the recipes for free on their website. Heck you can even sign up for an email and get them automatically sent to you. If you happen to use the Paprika Recipe Manager app on the Mac, you can directly import the recipes into your database. They also blog about various things, and have some instructional videos. I’m working my knife skills every week, but I’m still not as good as those damn videos.
My only complaint is the abundance of packaging that I wish could be recycled back to them. I imagine that’s a common complaint, and hope they have a solution for us at some point. The boxes were great for moving, and I’ve given ice packs to the local chicken farmer to keep eggs cool. Still, after almost 70 weeks there’s only so many ways I can be creative with recycling.
All said, I can’t recommend them enough. Blue Apron has helped me eat better, with reasonable portions, and at a competitive price. Not to mention all the cool new ingredients I learned about. If you have the time and passion to cook, I think they are worth the effort.