In May of last year, I gave myself a birthday present. I gifted myself a subscription to Blue Apron.
I went through a phase a few years back where I was going to make all meals from scratch. No short cuts. I am an adult with no children but I still have a demanding job, a home to take care of, hobbies, friends and a husband. There is never enough time and I burned myself out. Hard.
I came home from a really, really long and stressful work day and the meal that was on deck for that night would have taken more effort that I was prepared to give. I think I ended up talking my dad into buying me a cheeseburger that night. There were tears.
Later on, I reassessed and gave myself some grace on the 100% home-cooked front. (This is why I keep a small stack of pizzas in the deep freeze at all times.)
Even with that grace, I was in food a rut. I hated everything that I had been making and was ready to try something new. So I figured why not give one of those new-fangled meal kit delivery services a try. It was either that or burning my kitchen to the ground, so I patted myself for being a grownup about things for a change.
Even the meals that I got that were not amazing were still good. Not a pooper in the bunch.
My Blue Apron recipes taught me about new ingredients (hello, capers!), new techniques (fish in parchment), made me realize the deliciousness of simplicity (roasted broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper is my jam).
A few months in, I remembered that simple ingredients, when prepared correctly, are amazing.
images by Blue Apron
If you are considering giving Blue Apron, or any meal kit delivery service, a try here are a few things you should know:
The limited options help with analysis paralysis.
The worst part of meal planning is trying to figure out what you are going to make for a week. The Signature 2-person plan has eight choices. The 4-person and Weight Watchers plan have fewer. For the most part, that is plenty and if none of them sound good, you can skip a week. No muss, no fuss.
Recipes are balanced, healthy, and low calorie.
The meals are designed by chefs so they are healthy meals with lots of veggies. The calories of most of the meals that I got were less than 700 calories. There were a few of the grain bowls that were around 450, while still being very satisfying. It was super easy for me to control portions while working toward losing weight.
It is super, super convent.
All you need to do is log on to the website or use the app, choose your meals, and they show up on your doorstep. If you forget to make selections, Blue Apron conveniently (or not) chooses for you. Is an epic snowstorm slowing down your shipment? They let you know. Is a holiday going to mess up your delivery date? They reschedule it for you. It is just that simple.
The service is not perfect, however.
The cost is not necessarily cheaper than meal planning and purchasing your own groceries. Whether or not Blue Apron is cheaper depends on where you get your groceries and how often you eat out. I live in Minnesota and purchase my groceries at a fairly standard midlevel grocery. We also have a freezer full of meat, so Blue Apron was not cheaper per meal on a purely cost basis.
When you add the time spent meal planning and my much shorter and less frequent trips to the grocery store on top of the cost of buying less food, it might very well be cheaper. I didn’t do the math, but my time is very valuable. Because I am amazing (wink!).
Also – there is so much packaging. For one meal you may have chicken, rice, and vegetables all in separate baggies, then another baggie full of condiments, vinegar, butter, and cheeses all wrapped up in their own plastic cocoons. And that is not counting the box, insulated liner, and gel ice packs. They do have detailed instructions on how to recycle everything, but it is still a lot of waste.
Are you in a cooking rut or need someone to do the heavy lifting? Maybe you should give a meal kit service a try!
PS. I want to be completely candid with you – I canceled my Blue Apron plan early this year. Nothing against the company or the service. Jesse and I were looking for ways to cut costs and I canceled most of my subscriptions.
Also, I am not an affiliate for Blue Apron. I just loved the shit out of it.