Apparently I’m very hard to please. (Right now, everyone in my family is thinking, “Yeah, tell us something we *don’t* know.”) Seriously though, people seem to really love these meal-in-a-box delivery services, but I guess I’m not one of them. I didn’t like Hello Fresh, and I don’t like Blue Apron. Here’s the skinny.
I really wanted to like Blue Apron. My friend Sean in New York uses them and seems to like them. They’re a little bit cheaper than Hello Fresh ($59.94 per week vs. $69 per week), but you still get the makings of three meals per week. (I will say that the portions are larger at Blue Apron. Although every recipe indicates that it serves 2, we had leftovers after almost every meal–in some cases quite a lot of leftovers.)
Right off the bat I was annoyed because their delivery day in my area is Thursday. These meals are best eaten relatively soon after receiving them, and they generally don’t show up in time to use them Thursday night for dinner, so that meant we’d be using them for dinner Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I don’t know about others, but I need meal planning for weekdays, when my husband and I have been working all day and don’t have the time or energy to think about an elaborate dinner. Saturday and Sunday we have time to think and cook. If you’re in a similar boat, Blue Apron is not for you.
I also didn’t like the fact that, unlike Hello Fresh, you have no meal options – you just get what they want to send. Hello Fresh offers five meals a week from which you choose the three you want. Blue Apron makes that decision for you. I don’t like other people choosing my food for me. They make bad choices.
On the positive side, I think the Blue Apron meals are packaged more efficiently and effectively than Hello Fresh. We had a total of five boxes from Blue Apron. No ingredients were ever missing, and none was damaged. That’s a big improvement over Hello Fresh. There also was less garbage/recycling after unpacking the Blue Apron box.
As for the recipes and meals, I can’t say that I’m a fan. For starters, most of them estimate 25-45 minutes of preparation time. This is a dramatic understatement. In most cases, just prepping and chopping all the fresh ingredients took about 30 minutes. Whatever their prep time says, double it. Unless of course you have a team of sous chefs with professional knife skills to staff your home kitchen. Oh, you don’t have that? Yeah, me neither.
Then there’s the fact that two meals in our first box (and one in our second box) involved beets. Beets! The world’s grossest vegetable. No one likes beets that much, especially not me. Even my husband doesn’t like beets, and he likes pretty much everything. When did it become acceptable to foist beets on people? (My friend Liz says beets are the new kale. God help us all.)
My other ingredient gripes relate to garlic and shrimp. Most of the recipes involve garlic, which is understandable. However, instead of sending just the necessary number of cloves of garlic (pre-peeled and shrink-wrapped) like Hello Fresh did, Blue Apron sends an entire head of garlic every week. My cup overfloweth with garlic. It doesn’t last forever, folks. Sooner or later it’s just going to get tossed, and that’s a waste.
As for the shrimp, they are, well, shrimpy. They’re those tiny little shrimp you see at Chinese restaurants. When I’m eating a shrimp dish, I want SHRIMP! Something you have to cut into with a knife. I’d much rather have 10 jumbo shrimp than 30 puny ones. Take note, Blue Apron.
Of the 15 meals we had, I intensely disliked 3 of them, mildly disliked 7 of them, and enjoyed the remaining 5. That’s not a great track record. I’ve heard about one other meal delivery service (Plated) but I’m not sure whether it’s worth a go. If anyone has experience with it, let me know in the comments. I still like the theory of having pre-planned meals and ingredients, but the execution is not living up to my expectations. I think a farm box may be in our future…