Thursday, April 27, 2017

An Unsponsored Review of Blue Apron


When my husband signed us up for Blue Apron meals for a week, I was shocked. Who are you, and what have you done with my husband? He's a pretty frugal guy, but he loves a good deal too--and a good meal!--so I guess he couldn't resist food at 50% off. (FYI: You can go to https://www.blueapron.com/users/sign_up to try it out).

Or maybe he was just desperate for a decent dinner: between his hectic work schedule and my "morning sickness" (I always put that in quotations, because let's be honest, what pregnant woman only feels sick in the morning?), we were so over grilled cheese sandwiches and scrambled eggs. 

Or maybe, being the sweet, thoughtful man he is, he just wanted to make my Valentine's Day special. Well, he certainly did, so let's go with that!

Yes, that's right, Valentine's Day. Yes, it's April. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm not being paid to write this review for Blue Apron. I guess I should be sorry for taking so long to write this, but why? I'm choosing to be a full-time mom right now. And it's definitely full-time. I enjoy blogging too, and I'm slowly carving more time out of my schedule to do it, but right now my kids are small--3 and 1--and it's all me, all day every day. (I'm officially putting in a plug for Boise, if any family members are thinking of moving across the state/country!) My kids need me, and I want to be there for them. I waited a long time to be a mom, so I've decided blogging can wait for now. 

But back to my unsponsored, uncompensated review of Blue Apron. As it happens, my 3-year-old is zoned out in front of a Disney movie right now, and my 1-year-old is crying in her crib (please, just take a nap), but I'm calling it "quiet time," because I WANT to do this review. You wanted to know what we really thought, so I'm here to tell you. 

Honestly, I was not expecting to give a positive review. But I was pleasantly surprised--impressed, even--with the quality of food for the price. Every meal was completely satisfying--the flavor, the size of the servings--and they were amazingly quick and simple to make (about half an hour for each meal). It was the perfect Valentine's Day gift; we felt like we were having a "fancy dinner," plus Ben did the cooking!

But is it worth it? That's the question everyone wanted to know the answer to. And I think it really depends on you. It's similar to the cost of eating out--we only paid half-price to try it, but at full price, it's about $10 a plate, or $20 for 2 people. And of course, you still have to do the cooking and the dishes yourself. That's the biggest disadvantage to me, because in a way it defeats the purpose of eating out. It's definitely not as convenient. 

On the other hand, it's a lot healthier than eating out. And we thought it was fun to make such tasty gourmet dishes ourselves, especially since we'd never used some of the ingredients before!

That's the other cost to consider: if we'd gone to the grocery store and bought the exact same gourmet ingredients, we probably would've spent about the same as what it costs for Blue Apron to pick everything out for us, plus they send the recipes with step-by-step instructions. And anyone who cooks can tell you that meal planning and shopping is half the work! It's SO nice to have everything delivered to your door, perfectly packaged, portioned, and ready to go.

All in all, it makes day-to-day dinner prep simpler and more convenient, and it's a relatively affordable way to eat gourmet (vs. eating out or buying gourmet ingredients yourself). And did I mention it's healthy? So here are a few reasons I thought you might or might not like to order Blue Apron:

You might like to order Blue Apron when:

  • You're just getting back from a long trip and your refrigerator is empty. Order ahead of time, and everything you need to make an amazing dinner will be waiting on your doorstep. If only they'd drop off milk, eggs and bread, too...
  • You're in the habit of eating or ordering out a lot, but you want to start eating healthier. It would be a great way to ease back into cooking healthy meals for yourself. 
  • You're interested in learning how to cook new dishes and make healthy, gourmet meals yourself. It's a good way to try different spices and flavors, too. Think of it as a DIY cooking class!
  • You want to make it a special gift/surprise for your friend, roommate or spouse.
  • You've got a lot on your plate and need to simplify dinner (even just temporarily--you can pause and resume shipments at any time).
  • You just want to try it for fun or to change things up every once in a while!

You might not like to order Blue Apron when:

  • You're trying to save money and slim down your budget.
  • You like to bargain shop and use coupons to get the best deals on groceries.
  • You've already decided not to eat out/order out because of the expense--you won't like paying the money AND still having to cook.
  • You prefer to make dinner ahead of time (i.e. you like do your dinner prep earlier in the day, make freezer meals, or use your crock pot so you don't have to spend half an hour making dinner in the evenings). You might be able to prep some Blue Apron items ahead of time, but they're really designed to be made fresh. 
  • You don't like "gourmet" meals. This might sound silly, but not everyone enjoys eating kale and fig sauce. If you prefer homestyle meals, like pot roast and chicken pot pie, Blue Apron might not be for you. (Although they do have a variety of options, so check them out and see if anything strikes your fancy...It couldn't hurt to try something new!)

To end with, here's my review of each meal we tried, so you can get a sense of what some of the meals are like and what we personally thought about them. (I'm sorry I couldn't get better pictures--I had zero natural light, because we were eating in the evenings.)

Meal 1: Crispy Barramundi (Fish) with Melted Leek and Roasted Vegetables

We decided to make this meal first, because I thought it would be my least favorite, and I wanted to get it over with. It ended up being my favorite! The fish tasted so fresh and wasn't "fishy" at all. And the fried leeks and roasted veggies were so flavorful and tender, I loved every bite! I would've wanted to eat more, but I was surprisingly full when I finished my plate. 



Meal 2: Cumin-Crusted Pork with Fig and Blood Orange Pan Sauce

Like the fish, I didn't expect to like this meal as much as I did. It was really different though--it wasn't like anything I'd ever tasted. It kind of reminded me of the pork you dip in mustard at Chinese restaurants, but MUCH tastier. The fig sauce and farro (similar to rice) had great flavor and texture too. This one definitely expanded my palate the most of all 3 meals. 



Meal 3: Seared Chicken with Apple, Kale and Golden Potato Hash

This is the meal I thought would be my favorite, but I'd say it was probably my least favorite. I still loved it, especially the potato hash, although I felt like the kale-to-potato ratio was a little off. I would've preferred more potatoes and less kale. It was A LOT of kale. Also, the cooked apples looked the same as the potatoes, so that threw me off a bit when I was expecting a forkful of potatoes and instead got a forkful of slightly mushy (but tasty) apples. The chicken was a little dry too, but that was probably our fault.


So there you have it: my unsponsored review of Blue Apron! I'll be honest, I've never read a review of a meal service--sponsored or unsponsored--so I have absolutely no idea how this compares. I'd love to hear what you think! Would you try a meal service like Blue Apron? Have you tried one before, and what did you think?

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