This is the fourth article in a series on “Meal Delivery Kits”. Read my first article on Hello Fresh, second article on Green Chef, third article on Plated, or scroll on to see my experience with Blue Apron.
Guess who just wrapped up another meal delivery kit? This time, it’s Blue Apron. As with the others, I’ll review them on a scale of 1 (ugh) to 10 (hooray!) in the categories of price, packaging, a rating for each meal, and an overall score.
Blue Apron, I believe, was the first of the meal delivery kit services to surface, and certainly is the one with the most name recognition — for both good and bad reasons: a few months back, the company was making headlines for employee violence at their warehouses. Of the services I’ve researched, though, Blue Apron was the only one that also offered a wine program, which I thought was cool. For an additional $66 a month, they’ll send you six wines that are “paired” (however loosely) with the six available recipes they have to choose from each week. We didn’t try the wine, but it did seem like an interesting add-on opportunity. They also promote their own line of cooking equipment that you can use to make their recipes, which they sell in the “Blue Apron Market.”
Blue Apron actually has the lowest price-per-box of any kit I’ve tried, coming in at $59 for a three-meal box for two people. But you get what you pay for. With Blue Apron, I felt the ingredients were lower quality than what I received from the other services, and the difference in what it would cost to assemble the same meal with grocery store ingredients seemed even more dramatic with this kit as well. For example, in our first meal, the recipe consisted of about 1/2 lb of dry pasta, 1/2 a head of kale, 3 green onions, a head of garlic, a lemon, a pat of butter, and what looked to be about a 1/2 lb of “41/50” size shrimp. I could have probably assembled the same ingredients for about $8, or really even $5 considering what we normally already have on hand, and instead, we paid $20.
Blue Apron was packaged much like my first kit, Hello Fresh, in a reflective foil insulating sleeve and included ice packs. But there was one HUGE difference between Blue Apron and all the other kits we tried: the Blue Apron proteins all came frozen solid. Indeed, they were completely rock hard, to the point that we actually had to wait a night after receiving the package before we could make our first meal. Pre-frozen food is a pretty major negative for me. However, they do get some redeeming points for including a card with full nutritional information with each recipe; most other kits only included calorie ranges.
Meal 1: Spicy Shrimp & Bucatini Pasta: 4/10
This was the first meal I’ve gotten in any box that was really just not good at all. While there were sauces I wasn’t a big fan of in both the Hello Fresh and Green Chef boxes, I could see how other people would have liked them; they just weren’t to my taste. But I’m pretty sure no one would have liked this dish very much. The kale had basically no flavor, nor a purpose in the dish other than to add a vegetable filler, and the shrimp (as previously mentioned) came frozen and so had a somewhat off-putting mushy texture. It was edible, but it wasn’t tasty or satisfying.
Meal 2: Sautéed Beef & Potato Latkes: 3/10
Taste wise, I probably would have given this meal about a five. The latkes and roasted vegetables were both pretty good. The beef, however, was pretty gross. While the picture of the meal made it look like this was some sort of slow-roasted, super tender beef, it wasn’t; this was thin shaved, tough, very low-quality beef, the type of stuff they make Philly cheese steaks with. And then the sauce was basically just onions, tomato paste, and vinegar — I think they were going for a “red wine reduction” type thing with the vinegar, but it ended up just tasting sour.
The bigger problem, though, and the reason I docked the taste score in half is because this dish was SO MUCH WORK. It took me nearly an hour and a half to make…ugh! I had to peel 5 different vegetables, grate an onion and 2 potatoes, squeeze all the water out of the latke mix, etc. I can see why my Jewish friends save latkes for special occasions. The one good thing I will say about this recipe? Where it called for an egg, they provided an egg (which was my one knock against Plated.)
Meal 3: Harissa Chicken Skewers: 6/10
This was the best meal we got from Blue Apron. The recipe card noted this was “inspired by North African street food,” which sounded promising. The chicken skewers, which were coated in labneh (a type of yogurt-like cheese) and harissa sauce, were absolutely delicious. The mixed bed of stuff it sat on, less so. The Khorosan Wheat was dense and chewy, despite having been cooked the full recommended time. The kale, again, felt like more of a filler than something actually intentional. The persimmon was great, though; and having never cooked with persimmon before, I appreciated the exposure to it. The preparation of the chicken skewers, I’ll carry with me. Otherwise, like all the other Blue Apron dishes, we won’t be making this dish ever again.
Blue Apron was clearly our least favorite of any of the boxes we’ve tried to date. Moreover, it’s the only kit I wouldn’t recommend at all, to anyone. To put it quite simply, I’m really glad I don’t have to eat anymore of their food. Perhaps we just had an off week, or picked less than stellar recipes to try. But between the low-quality ingredients, high level of work required to prepare their dishes, and the majority of the recipes being pretty gross…it’s just not even a contest, Blue Apron’s not even playing in the same league as the other options we’ve tested.
Stay tuned! Next up in the series, we’ll have a review for Freshly, which takes a slightly different approach to meal delivery by cooking the meals for you in advance.