I’m coming to around to meal kits about five years too late, but in an effort to help share the dinner workload at home, around the new year I decided to try out Blue Apron twice a week at first, and now three times a week.
Going into this, I had almost no familiarity with meal kits or Blue Apron, as I’d only heard they’re kinda wasteful in terms of packaging and having to fly food to you overnight. I wasn’t sure if I’d learn much from them, because I figured the ingredients were probably pre-measured and prepped. I wasn’t sure if the service was worth $10 per plate, but my hope was after 6 months or so of Blue Apron that I’d have enough experience working with various proteins, vegetables, and spice combinations that I’d be a better cook in the kitchen. To date, I can only make like 3-4 very basic meals mostly involving BBQing a steak or making pasta.
The one thing that struck me from the start is that the ingredients are all given to you close to the amounts you need, but there’s considerable prep for each meal. I typically spend 15min or so skinning carrots and pressing garlic (there SO MUCH garlic in every dish). For some reason I thought Blue Apron might be Millenial Bachelor Chow with all your stuff pre-cut and pre-measured, but you do have to put in the work to get things ready to cook.
Suggested cooking times are really tight and spot-on. I always choose the middle time in a given range and I’ve had perfect meat and vegetables in every meal. Instructions are pretty straightforward and I’ve only gotten tripped up once when I confused two steps in a meal. I’ve never “ruined” a meal and every dish looks about 98% like the photos that accompany the recipe (the screenshot above is my last 14 meals showing the recipe photo of the meal then a shot of my results next to it.
I’m a bit surprised at how much cooking stuff you really need to do these recipes well. Most use a medium-sized pot and a large frying/sauce pan, but you also need at least a few knives, various strainers, measuring cups, and both a garlic press and a juice press help greatly. Sometimes the instructions would gloss over something fairly difficult to do, like chopping up shallots and I’d have to look up a YouTube video or two to figure out how to do that.
Overall I’ve been quite happy with Blue Apron. About once a week we have a meal that is utterly fantastic, with flavors that are incredible. I’ve taken to calling Blue Apron “culinary training wheels” because I’ve quickly gotten good at prepping and crushing garlic, cutting up and prepping fish and chicken, and chopping vegetables. It really does feel like a quick education in how to prep many different decent meals and I’ve learned a ton in the past two months. Even my spouse who is an expert-level home cook has been impressed with the flavor combos, seasonings and sauces, and overall taste of the dishes.
After two months, it’s been a solid hit. I’m learning how to prep tons of different ingredients and meals and we’re getting really good food that feels like it’s worth $10/plate and would be at home in a restaurant. My original plan was to get enough experience that I could bust out some cookbooks and go to the store to prep my own meals, but it’s incredibly convenient to have it all gathered for you with easy directions. I’ll likely keep doing this long term because it’s pretty fun to prepare, the recipes are easy to follow, and the results are top-notch.
Honestly, I didn’t think it would go this well. This isn’t a sponsored post and I’m not even sticking my affiliate code in a link to sign up. It’s a pretty good service that is both teaching me how to cook as well as letting me make good meals for my family.
We’ve been using Dinnerly and loving it for the most part too. It’s maybe not as fancy and varied but it’s fresh, and costs about half as much as Blue Apron.
100% agree with the culinary training wheels idea. I used them when we had a newborn to learn to help more in the kitchen and I still benefit from my experience with Blue Apron. The other thing they do is meal planning, which is a TON of work. Once I stopped Blue Apron I picked up on how much work goes into that.
Also, add a zester to the list of kitchen gadgets that make the recipes easier.
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