Review of Blue Apron & Tips to Make Meal Kits Easier

Hi there!  So, I love meal kits!  Obviously, if you have been to this website, you know that I love creating my own menus and recipes, but on occasion, I splurge and order a meal kit which seriously gives me a kid-like excitement.  I have tried several vendors, but pretty much just keep Green Chef and Blue Apron in my rotation.  I order a kit every 4-5weeks just to shake up my routine and give me something exciting.  Yes, it’s exciting!  I try not to look too closely at what they are sending before I get it, so it’s like opening a present 🎁!

I know that most people have heard of meal kit vendors like Blue Apron, Plated, and HelloFresh, but many of you may not have tried them yet.  Well, even though I think you can make your own meal kits with my simple plans, I really am a fan of the delivery vendor options, so this week I wanted to share the experience.  Also, I am not being paid for this review, it is my genuine opinion.  Below you will find my opinions, but also TIPS for how to make these experience even better.

Overall Thoughts on Blue Apron 
Dave and I both loved the meals.  The only point we differ on is that I felt the calories and fat content is too high.  However, I have some really great tips for cutting down on both the fat and calories below!  I can also overlook this as an occasional treat.  The flavors were really great and I appreciated that they included ingredients that I would not normally purchase because I would not use them up, for example Miso paste.  The preparation was easy, BUT I have tips on how I made them so easy.  If you leave all prep for the meal to the night of, it could be a bit much, especially if you are running home from work and juggling kids and other home duties.  

The Ordering Process
So, how does it work?  Well, first, you set up an account online and select the plan you want.  For 3 meals for 2 people, the cost It is $59.94.  You are able to select the specific proteins you prefer from a list, including pork, beef, lamb, shellfish, fish, poultry, vegetarian.  Then, you download the app and select the week and the meals for that week.
My three meals were:

  • Sweet & Sour Pork Bowls
  • Miso Chicken Ramen
  • Meatballs & Polenta

The Kit Arrives!
First, the fun box arrives!  This really is fun for me, it’s an event.  
Then, I open it and peek inside.  Blue Apron packs all ingredients delicately and neatly in a insulated bag within the box.  At the bottom of the bag are large ice packs and any raw meats or fish are placed on those icepacks.  A cardboard sheet covers the meat and all other ingredients are layered on top.

  

 

 

 

 

I like to take out all ingredients to get a good sense of what I have and arrange them by recipes in the fridge as best as I can.  Each ingredient that is packaged pre-portioned gets a label indicating what it is and which recipe it goes with.  Large Fresh veggies may not get a label, such as the pepper or corn or eggplant that you see here.  Fragile ingredients that can break or bruise or crush are placed in additional protective packaging.  This results in a lot of packaging and that has been a source of concern for many.  I can see that Blue Apron is starting to move more toward recycled materials and less plastic, but let’s face it, it’s still a lot of packaging.

 

Each recipe card includes a short description with a list of the ingredients on the front.  On the back are the detailed cooking instructions.  In the app, there are supplemental instructions and videos if you need those too.

TIP 1:  PREP-AHEAD 
Ok, one of the biggest complaints that I see about Blue Apron and some of the other Kit Vendors is that the preparation time is just too long.  People buy these kits to save time and many of the recipes take 40-45minutes for a somewhat skilled at-home cook and even longer if you are just starting out cooking at home.  This makes me sad, because I know there is a better way!  So, I am sharing my secrets here!!

To reduce your preparation time on the night you are cooking the meal, prep ahead!
Below is what I do first…I scan through the recipe and circle the steps that can be done ahead and prepped ingredients stored in the fridge.  This is often the peeling, chopping, dicing, mincing needed for the veggies.  Sometimes, you can even prep ahead the proteins, such in this kit, I could make the meatballs on Sunday and cover them in the fridge, until I cooked the meal the next day on Monday.

Once I prep ingredients, I keep them together by placing on sheet pan, but this is taking it to another type-A (yes, I have to-do lists everywhere) level that you may not need to step too :).  But, it works for me!

TIP 2: Replacing an Ingredient
I have liked all of the meals that I have received from every delivery vendor and even if there is an ingredient that I wouldn’t typically use, I always give it a try.  However, sometimes, there may be an ingredient that you just do not like.  Replace it!  In my instance, I have to admit, there is 1 veggie that I just don’t care for and that’s eggplant.  However, I had some nice cabbage in the fridge which was great replacement for the eggplant in the Ramen chicken dish.

The final dishes
Here are the final dishes that I made, very hearty, very delicious.  The portions are large and as I mentioned earlier, they are pretty high in both calories and fat.  Which leads me to my final TIP.

TIP 3: Split 2 servings into 3 or 4
My final tip comes from a friend who has been ordering Sun Basket and has the same concerns with high calories and fat content.  She cuts each serving in half and saves the second half for a second meal.  She then supplements the meal with a green salad!  This is genius!  You get all of the amazing flavors of the meal and a healthy salad to round it out.  Simple.  AND you stretch your dollar.  Again, genius!

Try it for yourself
If you want to try Blue Apron, simply click on the website link below and sign up.  You can pause any week or cancel your subscription, but it is definitely worth a try.
www.blueapron.com

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