UPDATE #2 — 08 November 2016: Today’s box arrived and I’m looking forward to the ricotta and beet grilled cheese sandwiches. They also sent a coupon for $20 off their wine club, which includes six reds and six whites monthly. Maybe I’ll try it once, but I won’t subscribe to it, as it includes what they call “pairing” sizes. This basically means that you get enough in each bottle for four glasses. Four glasses? More like four shots. It’s not worth it. I consider it fair if I can get two glasses out of a regular sized bottle. I’ve taken communion that included more than what they’re offering. So, no thanks.
Also, one other thing about today’s delivery: I only got around to eating one meal from last week, so I’ve now got five to cook. And, since it’s election night in the United States, I will be continuing my tradition since 1996 of eating a pizza and drinking beer while watching the results come in. So the ricotta and beet grilled cheese will have to wait.
UPDATE #1 — 01 November 2016: When my box arrived today, they included a fall newsletter and two free Kind Bars. Also, since I never got around to eating all three meals last week, I cooked the cabbage and smoked mozzarella pizza from last week tonight. It might not sound too good, but it was.
I recently signed up for Blue Apron, a meal delivery service. Let me get right to the question to which you probably want to know the answer, and that is, “Is it worth it?” YES! I absolutely love the service and think it’s worth every penny it costs.
How Does It Work?
It’s pretty simple. You sign up and choose your plan; in my case it’s three meals a week, with two servings per meal (six meals total). Keep in mind that obese Americans have a hard time defining what a “serving” actually means. But that portion control is actually one of the things I love about BA.
You can choose which day of the week you want your meals delivered. I have them delivered every Tuesday (they don’t deliver on Mondays). I go to my BA online account and pick from an assortment of menus for the upcoming weeks. I can usually plan about four weeks out. The BA system is designed so that if you choose certain menus, other menus in that week’s selection might not be available. But there’s usually enough variety that that is not an issue.
As for delivery, there’s a couple of great benefits. First, delivery is free! My boxes are delivered via FedEx Ground out of Arlington (Dallas), Texas, and take two days to arrive in Atlanta. The boxes usually weigh about 8.5 to 9.5 kilograms each. I’d hate to have to pay shipping on that. Second, I can suspend (skip) a week of deliveries if I’m out of town. I just manage it on my online account.
I just keep a credit card on file, and I’m billed $59.95 each week. That may sound like a lot of money, but I will explain later why it’s a good deal. As for menu variety, BA isn’t geared solely to the gluten free, vegan, or vegetarian market. They might have some of those options available, but it’s not their target market. There are other services that offer that, but it’s also a lot more money.
When the package arrives, it’s like Christmas morning. You open it up to find everything you need to prepare each recipe, with the exception of salt and pepper or olive oil. They even include all the herbs and spices called for in the recipe, right down to the red wine vinegar. When I did the Spicy Beef Skewers recipe, they even included four wooden skewers! Every item is clearly labeled. Each box includes color recipe cards printed on heavy cardstock (for keeping). All the fresh fruits and vegetables (mostly organic) are on top, with perishables (such as proteins) at the bottom of the box near the frozen ice packs. There is a foil insulated liner in the box to keep everything cool and fresh. With the two day delivery, the ice packs are still frozen when they arrive. So far, I have been very pleased with the quality of the ingredients received and the variety of the menus.
Here’s what I really like about this program:
- Convenience — If you think about it, menu planning, trips to the store, shopping, etc. can take up over three hours of your week in total. If you’re any type of professional, your time has to be worth at least $100/hour. Everything I need is on my doorstep every Tuesday afternoon.
- Variety — You can put a new spin on chicken and roasted vegetables. So far everything I’ve made has taught me new ways to spice (pardon the pun) things up using everyday pantry items. I consider myself to be not a gourmet cook, but at least more advanced than most, and I will admit that there have been several ingredients so far that I was always too timid to try, but have experienced them via BA. It’s now given me the confidence to modify them and incorporate them into other dishes.
- Cost — I slightly covered this before. If you include time alone, you’re already ahead of the game. But you’re also getting the actual food — always fresh and sourced, not mass produced. I have cut down on eating out because of this, so there’s a savings right there. And there’s a certain value to having someone else think up new and interesting things to eat.
- Education — I have learned new tips, tricks, and techniques while preparing these, not to mention how to use foods and ingredients that I never thought to use before. And with the recipe cards that are designed to be kept, I have been able to pull certain things from various cards and make my own creations.
- Health — OK, this isn’t all organic, but the food is fresh and locally sourced by BA. Nothing is processed. Also, and most importantly, is that what you are getting is a true portion size. We tend to overload our plates, when in reality we don’t need as much as we think. You will probably look at what you got in the box and think it’s not enough. Just prepare it as instructed, eat and enjoy it, and I promise you’ll be satisfied. If needed, you can augment it with an additional vegetable or salad — something with fiber.
My Advice to You:
Yes, I would give it a chance. I think you’ll like it. But here are some things to keep in mind:
- Give it a fair chance, not just one week.
- Prepare your refrigerator before your box arrives. You’ll need to store a lot of ingredients. Usually one or two drawers will suffice.
- Learn how to use your kitchen. Yes, that sounds like a no-brainer. But what I mean by that is, know and understand the utensils you have. Know how to use your food processor. They come with a lot of gadgets. Know what they do. Understand your knives and other utensils and how to use them.
- Appreciate what you’re getting. Again, this sounds simple. But I mean, you will be introduced to new foods, ingredients, and ways to prepare them. DON’T say you don’t like something. Try it. Learn from it. Understand it. You can cook to eat, or you can turn it into a fun experience and learn and explore. But you have to have an open mind and appreciate the opportunity you have in front of you.
- I think the knife (or knives) would have to be the most important utensil you can own. Invest in good ones. Do not buy the 17 piece set for $89.00. These include about 15 knives you’ll never need or use. Go to a cookware store and invest in two to four good knives. Take care of them and they’ll last for decades.
- Cookware — You don’t need to invest in expensive cookware to do this. But good cookware does make a difference. So if you’re an aspiring chef, this is a good excuse to invest. You can spend $300 on one Le Creuset pot. That’s a lot of money for roasted brussels sprouts with maple-balsamic drizzle. In the end, enjoy the art of cooking.
You can click on the pics below (and then click on them again for a bigger view) to see what comes in an actual box for a week of three meals. In the end, I’d give Blue Apron five out of five stars for value, variety, freshness, creativity, and customer service. There are other services out there, but for price and what you get, I think BA is the best. I am considering signing up for a second service through Plated or Hello Fresh. They offer the same type of program as BA, but this would give me much more variety and also something to prepare for lunch or if I needed something over the weekend. In the end, I am very pleased!