In the past we were pretty active in posting recipes of dishes I concocted, however over the past several years we haven’t been as active making new dishes of frankly cooking much for that matter. The past holiday season I received a free week of Blue Apron meals from my sister-in law and brother-in law. After enjoying the free week of meals we decided to give it a try for a few months to see what we thought about it. So, instead of posting any new recipes, since we don’t really have many, I figured I’d give Blue Apron a six-month review.
Things I dislike:
- Options, specifically the lack of. Each week there are 6 meals to chose from. Val and I do not each much meat which limits the options what is typically 3 or 4. Given that you only get 3 meals each week that doesn’t leave much choice. Additionally, if you tend to pick mostly vegetarian options some of meat options become unavailable, so on the off chance that I may have thought a certain chicken dish looked good it may not be available because of other selections. I mainly find the lack of options only bothersome from the standpoint that meals cannot be customized for food allergies. So if you are allergic to mushrooms, like I am, and mostly choose the vegetarian options, like we do, be prepared to throw out some ingredients or do as I did and give your friends and colleagues items that you cannot use of consume.
- Packaging. We put majority if not all of the packaging into the recycle bin as it says it is recyclable, but I still feel a guilty with the increase little baggies that are being put into our recycle bin. I also question whether or not our single stream recycling, which accepts most recycling numbers, really accepts theses items.
- Being locked into to a menu for a week. This is really more of a complaint about me than anything else. I like having the flexibility to decide what I want to eat on a whim, do we go out to eat, order in, make something simple, etc. While I know 3 meals is not significant if you have a fairly hectic and busy week, which I have had few this past year, we found ourselves opting for convenience (ie. takeout) over cooking. When this occurred we found that we quickly fell behind and would sometimes still have meals from the previous week when the next week came about. It also meant that some of the ingredients would no longer be fresh and/or required us to buy fresh replacements from the grocery store. Again this is a complaint about me more than anything.
Things I like:
- The food. Most meals I find rather satisfying and quite delicious. It is easy to make substitutions if you do have food allergies and having the menu ahead of time you can come up with ideas to substitute. I also find that occasionally the user comments have suggestions for substitutions. Only once or twice have I had to season something a bit more to my liking.
- The portion size. For me the portions are great, I tend to overeat so having the portions of food that give you are perfect for me. With the exception of the pizzas most dishes are perfect for two people (the plan we are on).
- The ease of most dishes. As long as you can chop and prep food fairly quickly most dishes take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to cook. That is about my patience threshold for cooking on a weeknight so it works out well.
- Buying less groceries, and wasting less food. We tended to not plan a menu or if we did often our whims took us elsewhere and we chose to go a different route. So often produce we intended to use would go unused and would end up in compost. Ultimately that behavior led me to really just buy some staples like onions, potatoes, lettuce, etc. that could be easily transformed into a number of dishes before going bad which led to a food rut. I also think that when cooking for two having everything proportioned out for you is great, I don’t need to buy a whole head of cabbage for a dish that I am making that only feeds two.
- Breaking out of a food rut. This is perhaps the biggest reason we gave it a try after the first week. We were in a food rut, ordering out and if I cooked I was cooking only a few staples. Sure, Val and I could have easily found delicious recipes online or in our many cookbooks, but often we would just go to tried and true recipes that we knew we enjoyed rather than forcing us to try new things. Blue Apron’s lack of choices is a blessing from the standpoint that we cannot fall into the rut of making only what we know we like, it forces us to try new things.
- Cooking more. Ultimately we cook more often which gives us time to be together listen to music and enjoy each others company.
Here are some meals that we’ve really enjoyed so far (and yes two of them are grilled cheese sandwiches):
- Apple and
Blue Cheese, Parmesan, Panzanella Salad (we subbed parmesan instead of blue cheese)
- White Pizza w/ Baked Eggs and Arugula-Brussels Srpout Salad (eggs on a pizza, brilliant!)
- Creamy Lemon Linguine
- Fontina and Preserved Lemon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Roasted Butternut Squash w/ Stewed White Beans, Brussels Sprouts & Gremolata
- Vadouvan Chickpea Burgers
- Muffuletta-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Overall we’ve been pretty satisfied with it. It is definitely not perfect, and certainly I do not think it is for everyone. We’re not cancelling the Blue Apron subscription yet, but I think we will be a bit more discriminatory about skipping a week here and there if we just don’t like any options. I’m certain Val will post with her favorites as she continues to blog.