I’ve always said that if I had an obscene amount of money, I would hire two full-time staff for our home – a hair stylist and a chef. Both would execute those tasks that are necessary, but I kinda loathe.
I fantasize about walking out the door with the perfect blowout every day and have someone to finally execute an inverted braid on my mane. (I’ve tried. I look like a deranged extra from the Little House on the Prairie TV show.) The chef could take the time to make healthy, delicious meals for me even on those days when I come home so tired, I can barely lift my cell to order pizza.
So I was definitely intrigued when friends recently sent us a free week of meals from Blue Apron. I had heard about the meal delivery service before, but always hesitated. Was it worth the money? Would we be full? Would we like the meals? Would we be motivated to cook each of them? This was the perfect chance to have those questions answered.
You start by choosing your plan (2 or 4 people) and the date of delivery – Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Since we typically grocery shop on Sunday, we chose the Saturday delivery. Then you choose 3 meal choices out of 6 for the week. As part of the sign up process, they take into consideration your food preferences and allergies when offering the meal choices. It’s as simple as that. A week later, a box shows up at your door (between this and my online shopping habit, we need to start tipping the FedEx guy).
Our meals arrived neatly packed, surrounded by insulation and ice packs to keep the food fresh if we weren’t home for a while. Each item was clearly labeled; although there were some that I wasn’t quite sure whether to refrigerate or not (Dijon mustard? I refrigerate it after I open a bottle, but is this the same?)
We made our first meal the following day. We started with the Corned Beef-Spiced Flank Steaks with Braised Cabbage and Buttered Red Potatoes – not something on our normal rotation. As I gathered all of the ingredients, I worried if we would be full after we finished. I don’t know about you, but I’m no delicate flower. I eat similar portions to Pete (I try to scale mine back a little, but I’m 6 freaking feet tall.)
However, once I began cutting up the produce, I realized that there was more than enough for the recipe. Apparently, my proportion perception is way off!
I also realized halfway through cooking that I was trying to “get ahead of the recipe” by doing some things out of order to make sure everything was done at the same time. It was totally unnecessary because the recipes are written in the exact sequence needed to ensure each component is finished at the same time. It was great to not have to guesstimate timing and have cold sides once the meat is complete or vice versa.
Pete, a little skeptical of the braised cabbage, was impressed with the meal. When he kept complimenting me, I tried to remind him that all I did was follow a recipe, but given my cooking history, things could have turned out much worse. While the photo is not great (I’m definitely not a food photographer), the meal was excellent, and we were both stuffed with some leftover.
Given the success of the first meal, I was excited to try the Turkey Chili with Avocado and Cheddar Cheese on what was a cold, damp day. Since this is really a one-pot dish, it took less time than the flank steaks. Pete LOVED this one. He’s a chili aficionado and kept saying he’d want this specific recipe again. This time, we ended up having an entire bowl left.
Our final meal was Tom Yum-Style Shrimp & Noodles with Gai Lan and Thai Basil. Pete arrived home first that day, so I came home as the fresh garlic was simmering. It was so nice to not have a discussion about what to make. The recipe and all the ingredients were there for either of us to start making dinner.
After polishing off the third meal (with an entire serving left), Pete remarked that he would eat all three of the meals again. I totally agree. Every recipe was tasty and out of the ordinary without being too adventurous for my meat and potatoes guy. The recipes were beautifully written out, and I loved that they included extra accoutrements (ooh… someone scored high on the verbal portion of the SATs) to garnish each dish.
Were we satisfied? Absolutely. There was a hearty serving leftover from two of the meals (Honestly, we probably overeat the first one.). It took the extra effort out of planning meals for the week, something neither of us particularly like, while giving us the variety we were currently lacking. We had definitely gotten stuck in a rut with 3 or 4 recipes (and good ol’ Papa Johns).
While I wouldn’t categorize any of the meals as light, they were all between 500-700 calories per serving (According to Blue Apron, all their meals are.) and came with lots of fresh produce. It made me feel good knowing that for at least 4 meals (including leftovers), we weren’t having takeout or walking down to the bar at the corner for greasy food.
In terms of expense, yes, we could save money if we had bought regular portions of everything and made multiple meals with them; but specialty ingredients like the tom yum paste would have definitely sat in my cabinet for months (or years!). And that’s the other wonderful thing about this service – they send you just enough of every ingredient to eliminate waste which is really important to me.
We had more meals delivered this past Saturday, and I found myself actually excited about cooking this week! I really recommend it if you are bored with what you’re eating and want to put some life back into your cooking routine. It does take effort (there’s still prep work to do), so don’t expect 10 minute meals. If you are a very picky eater, you may not like every choice. (Last night we had this delicious Roasted Salmon, Fennel & Castelvetrano Olives, but there were many unique flavors that less adventurous eaters may avoid.)
We won’t use it weekly, but I can see us doing it twice a month to keep things interesting (and force us to eat in most of the week!).
Since we have a few orders under our belt, Blue Apron has given us 3 free deliveries to send to our friends. I’d love to share them with you! If you are one of the first 3 people to comment on this post and tell me the hardest part of cooking for you, you can try Blue Apron for yourself!
Have you tried Blue Apron or another meal delivery service? I’d love to know your thoughts!