This post was created for and sponsored by Blue Apron.
I love cooking. What I don’t love so much is meal planning and grocery shopping. Here’s how it usually works in my household as head chef: I figure out a week’s worth of meals for myself and my husband, usually a mix of one or two more creative dishes with a lot of safe but dull standbys, like stir fry and tacos. Then, there’s a frustrating trip to the crowded grocery store, which will inevitably be out of one key ingredient I need. Cue frantic Googling for substitutes or a trip to a second store. Finally, I arrive home to discover I’ve somehow managed to forget something I meant to buy for that night’s dinner. In a word, it’s a hassle.
So when I was invited to try Blue Apron, the fresh ingredient and meal delivery service, I jumped at the chance. Blue Apron eliminates dinnertime pain (and the temptation to order takeout) by sending you everything you need to make a fresh, home-cooked meal in about 40 minutes — no annoying trip to the supermarket required.
Blue Apron: How it works
Here’s how it works: Once a week, Blue Apron ships you a refrigerated box packed with tasty ingredients for several meals. My box included three meals for two people. (There’s also a family plan option, with three meals for four people.) You choose the meals you want the week before the box ships. Blue Apron’s in-house chefs create new recipes every week, so you don’t have to worry about repeats.
One of the big selling points of their fresh food service is that it’s an easy way to try out unfamiliar foods and ingredients. With that in mind, I passed on the admittedly tasty-sounding pimento cheeseburger and decided to try something a bit different. I selected seared cod with udon noodles, crispy chicken Milanese with Brussels sprouts, and avocado tempura tortas.
A few days later, my order arrived. The refrigerated box contained everything I needed for each dish. Everything was already measured, from charmingly tiny bottles of soy sauce to a single egg to just the right amount of celery and carrots, so I didn’t have to worry about wasting a bunch of food. (Seriously, has anyone ever used an entire bunch of celery?) The only items I had to provide were salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Healthy meals with less effort
Blue Apron selects its ingredients carefully, sourcing from farmers who use sustainable agricultural practices. The chicken was antibiotic-free, and the fish was wild-caught. Plus, the locally sourced produce was fresh and ready to use straight out of the box. (The exception was the avocado, which needed a couple of days to ripen on the counter.) I’ve been disappointed with the so-so fruits and veggies I’ve received from fresh food delivery services in the past, but Blue Apron seems to have figured out this piece of the puzzle, which was a pleasant surprise.
The recipe instructions were printed on big cards with pictures, and were clear and easy to follow. (Each recipe is also available online, along with specific cooking tips, like the best way to pit an avocado or peel and mince ginger.) Fancy kitchen gadgets aren’t required either. I could make each dish using basic tools like a knife, saucepan, and nonstick skillet. Plus, the estimates for prep and cooking time for each dish were pretty much spot on, unlike some recipes I’ve tried.
One more reason to love Blue Apron: Everything is healthy, with between 500 and 800 calories per person. If you’re trying to eat more veggies or control portions, Blue Apron is a great and convenient way to do so.
Most important, each of the three Blue Apron recipes I prepared was delicious. The unexpected ingredients were a nice touch – I never would have thought to put turnip on a torta, for example – and the serving sizes were just right.
To be fair, my final dishes didn’t look quite as nice as the professionally photographed ones on the recipe card, but my husband and I scarfed them down all the same. The crispy chicken Milanese will probably make it into our regular meal rotation, and I’ve been inspired to try out other torta recipes.
If you’re stuck in a dinner rut, too busy for weekly grocery runs, or a culinary novice looking to boost your skills in the kitchen, I’d definitely recommend giving Blue Apron a try. It may just change the way you eat dinner.
Ready to try Blue Apron for yourself? Use this link to get $30 off your first order.