Three weeks ago, my manager at work and girl friend Alexa hooked me up with a few free meals from Blue Apron, a food delivery service. The basic idea is every week they send you the exact ingredients you need to make three meals, each one for two people. It costs $60 a week, allows you to skip any week you want, and accommodates specific diets like gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. Meals are between 550 and 700 calories per serving and are supposed to take 35 minutes to prepare. All the ingredients are pre-proportioned and utilize in-season produce. Every week the box with ingredients is overnight shipped to your house (anywhere in the country) in a refrigerated container packed with icepacks to keep it nice and cold.
I have to say, despite what feels like a slightly steep price, I am totally sold on this service. It ends up working out to about $10 a meal, which isn’t outrageous considering the quality of the ingredients, plus it means I have to do less grocery shopping and waste less food. Nearly every meal that we’ve had is truly delicious, and it’s been teaching me to cook foods that I’m not familiar with like cod and radishes. Reg and I have been finding that they give you quite a bit, and it’s not unusual for me to have leftovers.
The biggest con is the cooking time is often closer to an hour than 35 minutes, especially the produce prep. It sometimes takes me 20 minutes just to wash and prep the fruits and vegetables, but if I handle that all ahead of time, the meal usually comes together fairly fast. On the second week, they actually forgot my “knick knacks” bag for the gnocchi, and when I reached out to customer service, they gave me a $20 credit toward my next box, a more than fair accommodation.
I really love this service. I’m probably saving over an hour a week in grocery time alone, and always having a fresh meal on hand means that Reg and I are ordering takeout much less than normal. Out of nine meals we’ve had so far, only one was a flop and one was lackluster. I’d say that’s a pretty darn good ratio!
Here are all the meals we’ve received the last three weeks and my thoughts on each of them. I’ve also included links to the recipes, so you can try them for yourself!
Cat’s Thoughts: Umm, wow. I think Reg and I commented to each other four or five times as we ate how good this was. I’d never sauteed radishes before, but I’ll definitely be doing that again.
Cat’s Thoughts: These meatballs were amazing. I’d never thought to do an “Asian-inspired” glaze on meatballs before and pair them with rice instead of pasta, but it’s pretty darn brilliant. The only downside is I felt like this was pretty heavy on the rice and could have used more veggies.
Cat’s Thoughts: You know, I don’t have very much experience cooking fish, and I’m usually not the biggest fan, but I was actually pretty fond of this meal. The fish was very easy to cook, and it was light and flakey. The vinaigrette on the veggies was so delicious and easy, I’ll likely be making it again.
Cat’s Thoughts: On paper, I thought this would be a total winner for me – I mean, lamb and pasta, how can you go wrong? In practice, I thought it was a little boring and could have used more of a sauce. On the plus side it was a lot of food, but to be totally honest, I didn’t even finish it before it went bad. That being said, it was still a perfectly fine meal.
Cat’s Thoughts: This one was the biggest bust. I’m not a huge fan of cooked veggies and they also don’t save very well, so the wilted greens were a bit of a flop for me. The biggest problem though is I put all the miso paste on the chicken as instructed, but it must have been too much because it was insanely salty. I actually threw the second chicken away, I found it so inedible.
Cat’s Thoughts: Well, if the last one was a bust, this one was a total home run. It was incredibly easy and despite the fact that it included gnocchi, it was still a surprisingly light dish that didn’t leave me feeling fat and sick at the end. I think I’ll be making this one again!
Cat’s Thoughts: Fried chicken is literally my favorite food, so I knew this one would be an obvious “love” and it was! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to whip up a bunch of biscuits could go with it (I’m drooling just writing this), and although I’m not normally a fan of raw kale, this slaw totally worked for me.
Cat’s Thoughts: I found this one to be kind of whatever. I make cheeseburgers plenty on my own, so the main course wasn’t very special, and I honestly found the watermelon salad to be kind of a strange combination. To put a nail in the coffin, the pickled watermelon rind turned out so weird I was afraid to eat it… and normally I love pickles.
Cat’s Thoughts: I was tentative about this meal before making it and felt concerned it would be so smothered in mayo it’d make me feel ill. On the contrary, Reg and I completely wolfed the shrimp rolls down.
Is Blue Apron the sort of service that would interest you? Which of the meals do you think looks the most mouth-watering?