We Tried Blue Apron, and Here's What We Thought!

This isn’t a sponsored post and it wasn’t solicited by Blue Apron — it’s just our honest experience! Mike and I signed up for the service with a referral from a friend, so we received our first week of meals free; then we paid for another week to give it a good try. Now that I’m a subscriber, I have invitations I can send out for three of you to try a Blue Apron delivery for free. Come read about our experience and comment if you’d like one of them emailed to you!

What Is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron is a weekly meal delivery service. You can choose to receive meals for two people (three meals per week for $59.94) or four people (two or four meals per week for $69.92 or $139.84, respectively). The Blue Apron website allows you to specify what type of foods you’d like to receive (for instance, Mike and I don’t eat most meat but do eat fish and shellfish) and also to customize your weekly menu (you’re able to choose which three meals you want to receive out of the six they’ve planned for the week.) You can also skip as many weeks as you want, paying only for the weeks you receive.

On delivery weeks, you receive a box packed full of pre-measured ingredients and bright recipe cards with step-by-step recipes. The recipes are accessible for beginners and supplemental materials on Blue Apron’s website will teach you kitchen basics like chopping and dicing.

We Tried Blue Apron, and Here's What We Thought!

The Food

Over the two weeks we tried Blue Apron, we received six meals that were a mix of vegetarian and pescetarian recipes (as we’d requested):

  • Crispy Catfish with Spicy Cajun Slaw and Parsley Mashed Potatoes
  • Black Garlic Shoyu-Ramen
  • Grilled Fontina and Fig Jam Sandwiches with Endive Salad
  • Seared Cod and Potato Salad with Crispy Capers
  • Enchiladas Suizas with Summer Squash and Salsa Verde
  • Cavatappi Pasta and Arugula Pesto with Summer Squash

The Meal Prep

Mike and I really enjoyed cooking the meals together. I can bake up a storm but I need more practice with savory cooking, and I liked having him learning at my side. We divided up the tasks and helped each other and talked about our day. As long as we communicated, it was really pleasant! The recipes were easy and the instructions were super clear. They did take longer than specified though: almost every recipe took an hour to prepare. I think we’re just slow cooks and we were more focused on enjoying the process than speeding through.

The Taste

We loved the catfish meal; the spicy cajun slaw was tangy and the parsley mashed potatoes were the perfect complement to the pan-fried catfish. We also loved the fontina and fig sandwiches, which had an amazing flavor! We enjoyed the cod and potato salad, though I think ours needed a little more acid. I thought the ramen was pretty awesome for a make-at-home version considering the real thing is such an involved process, but Mike felt like he needed something more substantial for dinner. Neither of us particularly cared for the Enchiladas Suizas or Cavatappi Pasta, both of which relied on squash as their main flavor. Squash just isn’t that flavorful! Not even the salsa verde could save the enchiladas from being pretty bland.

We Tried Blue Apron, and Here's What We Thought!

PROS and CONS

PROS:

  • Blue Apron encouraged us to try new recipes.
  • We ditched the hassle of grocery shopping altogether.
  • There was no food waste: no rotting ingredients left in the fridge after I used a tiny portion for a recipe, no acrobatic meal planning to try to use up a giant package of food.
  • Since things were already portioned out, there was very little of the boring cooking stuff like measuring, and more of the cathartic cooking stuff like chopping, stirring, plating.
  • We learned new ingredients (black garlic, anyone?) and techniques.
  • Mike and I spent time together cooking, which was something we hadn’t done before.
  • Blue Apron has a guide for how to recycle packaging — and even lets you send it back to them for free to be recycled completely to reduce waste.
  • Cost: We thought the price was right at around $10 per person per meal for us. We’d probably spend that heading out to purchase things for a recipe anyway, and then we’d have more waste (because we’re not great at planning to use leftover ingredients).

CONS:

  • WASTE is a huge one! The packaging and shipping for these tiny quantities of ingredients to a single household (as opposed to picking up things in bulk and locally) is mind-boggling. You can recycle the packaging materials, thankfully, but even that takes energy and is limited in its utility.
  • Some meals weren’t our favorites. I liked most of them, but Mike was stuck at a solid 50%.
  • Food spoilage was also a concern for us. We’d never have time to make our three meals right away on consecutive nights, but if you spread them out a bit, you might end up cutting soft spots out of your cucumber and picking wilted arugula out of your meal.
  • Tailoring meals to your diet isn’t as specific as some people will need. It was easy to choose vegetarian and pescetarian meals, and you can opt out of things like shellfish or pork, but folks who are counting calories or carbs or following a gluten-free or paleo diet, for instance, would struggle.

We Tried Blue Apron, and Here's What We Thought!

The Verdict

Blue Apron has introduced us to the fun possibility of meal delivery services, and we definitely do want to subscribe to one. However, given then 50% success rate of these meals with Mike’s tastebuds, we’d like to explore other options: Purple Carrot, One Potato, HelloChef, and Green Chef are all ones we’d like to try!

When we do try again, we’ll continue skipping most of the weeks of a given plan. This feels like a good balance for us: we can enjoy a few new meals occasionally, but we’re not putting that weekly tax on our environment. It’ll be an every-now-and-then treat instead of an every-week thing.

We’re definitely not opposed to eventually settling on Blue Apron after we explore other options — we did really enjoy it and I love that it lets you skip as often as you like — but I think we want to shop the field a bit!

Blue Apron is perfect for beginner cooks and newlyweds. I also think it’s perfect for parents who want to focus more on parenting than meal planning. It takes the guesswork out of creating simple, tasty recipes and allows you to spend some quality time with whomever you choose to cook with (or some cathartic time in the kitchen alone). Even though it won’t be an every week thing for us, I do recommend giving it a try!

Don’t forget that the first three requests in the comments below get one of my Blue Apron invites for a free trial! Have you ever tried a meal delivery service? What did you think?

We Tried Blue Apron, and Here's What We Thought!

29 Comments on We Tried Blue Apron, and Here’s What We Thought!

  1. Anton
    July 13, 2016 at 12:39 am (3 years ago)

    I’ve been using Blue Apron for about a year. My only complaint for them is that I feel like I always want more red pepper flakes than what they send. I think you really have to use all the spice they give. But my favorite thing is how many recipes it got me to try that I never would have decided to do on my own. I’ve learned a couple go to sauces, and realized just how easy it is to pan fry things. I get them a couple times a month.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 13, 2016 at 12:42 am (3 years ago)

      Yes!! I completely agree, Anton! I actually just used their pan-fried cod technique in a separate recipe I’ll be posting on the blog in a month or so! And I know I never would’ve tried to make ramen at home without this nudge.

      Reply
    • Adrienne
      July 13, 2016 at 11:20 am (3 years ago)

      We’ve been using Blue Apron for a little over a year. For several months, they gave us SO much red pepper that we’d use half the amount given, and my mouth was still on fire. (My husband liked it though.) Lately, they cut way back on red pepper, and we often add a little extra from our own stash. I suspect, though, that they reduced the amount of red pepper based on complaints. Even though they say, “Use as much as you’d like,” it’s hard to know that means “use 1/8 of what we gave you” if you generally like a little heat, especially when you use all the spicy stuff in other Blue Apron dishes.

      Reply
      • Julie Ruble
        July 13, 2016 at 11:26 am (3 years ago)

        Ahhh, good point, Adrienne! That does sound plausible.

        Reply
  2. Kay Anderson
    July 13, 2016 at 10:08 am (3 years ago)

    I have not tried a meal home delivery service, but it sounds intriguing. Would love to give it a whirl! I do receive Mary’s Secret Ingredients and have been very pleased with what they send.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 13, 2016 at 11:12 am (3 years ago)

      Ooh, I hadn’t heard of that one! I’ll have to add it to my list. Shall I send you one of the Blue Apron invitations, Kay?

      Reply
  3. Adrienne
    July 13, 2016 at 11:30 am (3 years ago)

    Julie, I agree with your pros/cons list. We used Blue Apron almost every week for about a year after we had our son. It was nice to take meal planning and the bulk of grocery shopping out. And we had fun cooking together and having something a little fancier/more complex than we’d typically make ourselves. The biggest PRO for me, though, was variety. I get tired of the same recipes or the same delivery places (pizza or Chinese for us), and with a baby you obviously can’t go out to eat just because you don’t feel like cooking the boring stuff in your fridge. So, really, Blue Apron replaced our habit of 3 restaurant/takeout meals per week. We’re cutting down now, both to save money by cooking enough to have leftovers for lunches, and to try to make lower calorie meals. But I’m sure we’ll continue to order sometimes.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 13, 2016 at 11:46 am (3 years ago)

      Yes, that’s so true!! I loved always having something new — not just making the same few meals we eat all the time. Great point.

      Reply
  4. jena
    July 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m curious to try one of these services. They seem somewhat expensive, but it would be nice for the nights I can’t think of anything to make. Could I possibly have one of your invites? Does it automatically charge you or no? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm (3 years ago)

      Just sent your invitation, Jena! Here’s how it works: you put in all your credit card info and such to claim, and then set your account for what sorts of food you want to receive, etc. Then, if you want to be SURE you have time to think and form an opinion and still cancel before your charged, just “skip” the next couple of weeks. Plenty of time to cancel 🙂 We were going to do that, but then the menu looked too good for week 2, so we let it go ahead and charge us and send us that week and skipped a few weeks after that so we could decide.

      Reply
      • jena
        July 14, 2016 at 11:56 am (3 years ago)

        Awesome, thank you so much. Looking forward to giving it a try!

        Reply
        • Julie Ruble
          July 14, 2016 at 10:24 pm (3 years ago)

          Sure thing! Enjoy!

          Reply
  5. Cynthia/What A Girl Eats
    July 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks for your honest opinion Julie! I have never been tempted to try one of these services, only because I find it so much easier and cheaper to cook at home. But the photos you’ve taken of the completed meals look really delicious! It would be a way to eat more fish, that’s for sure. But I’d be concerned about the wasteful packaging as well. I think this would be a really great idea though, for a single person or someone who is apprehensive in the kitchen!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 13, 2016 at 2:17 pm (3 years ago)

      Yes, I think it definitely has a niche! If you’re great at using ingredients up when you buy them, I think that’s definitely a cheaper and more sustainable route. I’m still in that boat where I buy a whole mess of stuff, use it for one recipe, and then let it sit and ruin in the fridge while we eat frozen meals for the next week. So it was definitely good for helping us get out of that rut 🙂

      Reply
  6. Kel
    July 13, 2016 at 6:53 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks for your honest review — very interesting to compare pros and cons.

    Reply
  7. laura@motherwouldknow
    July 13, 2016 at 9:30 pm (3 years ago)

    Julie, I love your thorough analysis of Blue Apron. Several readers and friends have asked me about these types of services and Blue Apron specifically. Now I can refer them to your post for a balanced and thoughtful description. I can imagine myself getting Blue Apron once a week – do they do that or does the service have to be more frequent?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 13, 2016 at 9:37 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks Laura! They do send out a box once a week — but with a minimum of three meals for two people, or two/four meals for four people. So there’s not a way to get fewer than six portions per week. That would be nice!

      Reply
  8. Mel Meister
    July 14, 2016 at 1:38 am (3 years ago)

    My husband and I do cook together. Yes, there is waste buying a larger amount at the store, but your estimate of 10.00 per person per meal to store-buy is so out of line that I’m shocked you came up with that amount. That would be 20.00 for two people for a meal! We maybe only spend about 3.00 per person per meal. We freeze leftovers and use some for my husband’s lunches.

    Food service like this is just too expensive.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 14, 2016 at 9:58 am (3 years ago)

      That wasn’t a general estimate that would apply to everyone. That was a LOW estimate for me and my husband. We don’t keep a pantry stocked for savory cooking in general and don’t cook nightly, so to make a recipe we generally, yes, have to spend at least $20 buying supplies that then end up going to waste after we use a bit. Of course we could plan better and cook for very low prices — but that involves meal planning and freezing and regular cooking like you mentioned. Not things we want to do. That’s why not having to do them made the “pro” list.

      People are different. Their situations are different.

      Reply
  9. CallawayCook
    July 14, 2016 at 7:50 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for your review, I’m intrigued. I have yet to try one of these meal services and would like to.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 14, 2016 at 10:24 pm (3 years ago)

      Would you like one of the invites? I have one more!

      Reply
  10. Pharlain Ross
    July 14, 2016 at 9:56 pm (3 years ago)

    You should give plated a try. We’ve been using it while I’m pregnant so my husband can do the cooking and really been liking it!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 14, 2016 at 10:24 pm (3 years ago)

      Ooh, thanks for the recommendation! Adding it to my list!

      Reply
    • K.
      July 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm (3 years ago)

      We use Hello Fresh. My review is similar to Julie’s — couple of clunker meals but overall we’ve enjoyed everything so far. We’re a two-person household too and my hours are too irregular to plan out meals. I went with Hello Fresh as opposed to Blue Apron because I’m a Jamie Oliver fan.

      That said, I have a couple of friends who do use Blue Apron regularly and they both love it.

      Reply
  11. SRD
    July 22, 2016 at 9:48 pm (3 years ago)

    Just got first-ever Blue Apron delivery. While the ingredients were lovely and the results very tasty, there is absolutely NO WAY this “Family Plan” meal could adequately feed our family of four for dinner – me, my husband and two teenage boys. We are all thin (really:-)and eat pretty healthy – but the portions were laughably small. I had to heavily supplement with other side dishes, which increased the price AND preparation time. Will not be continuing after our trial is over. (Plus the large amount of packing material is a big downer.)

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm (3 years ago)

      Good to know, SRD! Mike and I were good on the portions, but then again we’re not teenage boys! My friend (also named Julie) has three teenage boys and totally agreed with you that they needed more food.

      Reply
  12. Brenda
    August 13, 2016 at 6:37 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve been trying homechef.com. The meals so far have all been great, and it’s slightly cheaper than most of the others. We get 3 meals of 2 servings per week. My husband & I are now empty nesters but I’ve had a hard time getting out of the habit of shopping and cooking for a crowd. We don’t especially like leftovers, and I ended up wasting both ingredients and leftover cooked food. The first month I have cut my grocery spending in half.

    Reply
  13. Michael Thornton
    December 30, 2016 at 6:11 pm (3 years ago)

    I read the article Caroline referred to also and see no reason it would impact my choosing to use Blue Apron. They are or have been addressing the problems mentioned. The food and service is what you using and from what I see they are very very good. I am very interested in Blue Apron a will probably use it once I complete my research. Can’t seem to find the menu choices.

    Reply

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