Why Blue Apron doesn't work for me, but might for you
Every week I struggle to figure out what's on the menu. Soup? Tacos? Homemade pierogis? It'd be nice if someone told me exactly what to make and wrote my grocery list for me.
Blue Apron does just that and takes it to the next level; they deliver the groceries to your door. If you don't have any food allergies and you're searching for a meal service that gives you healthy choices, this is the box for you. What you'll get from the rest of my Blue Apron experience is why this box doesn't work for someone who has food allergies and is trying to cut costs, but needs to have enough food to satisfy herself and her active boyfriend.
The morning show on KBPI told me all about Blue Apron as they explored boxes and shared their experiences on the air. They even had a deal–$20 off your first box. Sam and I thought it was worth a try for $39.94.
I set up my account and readied my credit card. The first disappointment struck: I couldn't select non-dairy as a dietary restriction. Living in Colorado, it's easy to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences.
"We create 5 menus to suit a variety of dietary preferences, including vegetarian, pescetarian, and people who love meat and fish.
Every week, we’ll use your preferences to select which of our menus best fit what you eat. You can change your preferences at any time from your account settings."
I understand that for a company to accommodate everyone's dietary restrictions would mean a more expensive product, so I tried not to let it bother me despite the fact that one of the dishes I'd be receiving contained cheese. I selected all of the meat options and picked Fridays for my delivery day.
The recipes included beef tartines, chicken steam buns, and crispy catfish and yuzu-kosho udon. The box arrived at my door and I couldn't wait to rip into the cardboard.
I pulled all of the ingredients out and set aside the items required for the catfish. Initial reactions of this-definitely-isn't-enough-food and this-packaging-is-so-wasteful overwhelmed.
When you sign up, you select either the 2-person plan or the family plan. The 2-person plan gives you what you need to make three meals for two with no leftovers. Sam's immediate reaction was that there wasn't enough food. The recipe cards tell you the calories for each dish. At about 555 calories per serving, the catfish felt snack sized for Sam while it was just right for me.
In regards to the packaging, Blue Apron tells you exactly how to recycle every piece of packaging they use. I found it unnecessary to package everything individually. I'm not saying all the ingredients should be combined; however, there were two green onions in their own individual bags. Would it be horrible to group identical products in the same bag?
Cooking commenced. The directions were clear and the cook time was accurate. About 20 minutes later, I had two servings of crispy catfish and yuzu-kosho udon with snow peas. The food was impeccable. The udon was fresh and the recipe cards included a "from the pantry" card with information about udon. How good the meal tasted didn't make up for the fact that it wasn't filling for Sam.
The second dish we cooked was the chicken steam buns with French breakfast radish and cucumber kimchi. I had a lot of fun with this one. Having never made buns, I looked forward to their fluffy texture. Each serving had three buns, but there was a good amount of extra kimchi. The picture doesn't do it justice. I had a difficult time getting the chicken to stay in the bun, but the taste was not compromised by appearance. This meal is the epitome of quick. Even though I was content, I wished the package had more than six buns. We live close to an Asian super market where we could buy about 100 buns for $20. With the overall cost of the box being $60 without a discount, buying just buns is more economical.
The final and coincidentally least impressive meal was beef tartines with eight ball squash au pistou. Sam cooked this one. When I asked him how it went, his experience with the dish wasn't nearly as positive as my experience with the previous two. The recipe calls for an eight ball squash. Neither of us have ever eaten or seen this type of squash. We are still wondering what this squash brings to a dish. The squash included in our box was a normal squash. One of the enticing aspects of Blue Apron was getting ingredients we'd never used before. This didn't happen for us. Looking at the recipe online, a normal squash is shown in the recipe, but we were going off of the 8.5 x 11 recipe cards provided in the box. We actually didn't eat any squash at all. When you unpack the box, it tells you to put all of the ingredients in the fridge. I know better than that. Squash does not need to be refrigerated. Because I was following directions blindly, our squash got soggy and we tossed it out.
The squash was the final disappointment.
After the first meal, Sam was already set on canceling our subscription. I was right there with him; why spend $59.94 a week if there were ingredients I couldn't eat, it wasn't enough food for two people where one person is more active than the average person, and the ingredients were misleading?
Cost wise, it's cheaper for me to take the provided recipes, buy the ingredients from our local grocery store, and cook enough so Sam gets enough calories and there are leftovers.
It was nice being presented with meal plans and ingredients, but I'd rather stare at my cookbook shelf each week and write a grocery list based off of my dietary restrictions and Sam's caloric intake.