When my friend Ellen recently invited me to try Blue Apron, a diy meal delivery service, I was trepidatious. Being someone who is very selective in picking thru my own produce and other grocery items, the idea of a chilled box bringing them via mail puts a LOT of trust in a new(ish) company. I had a list of concerns. How do I know the food has maintained temperature? (I’ve had food poisoning before. It’s awful.) Do I have the time to cook the meals they might send? Will we even LIKE whats on the menu? Is it truly cost-effective with our budget? When Ellen told me that she had a code and we could try the company for free, it seemed like a no-brainer to give it a go.
Creating my account was easy. I clicked the link, created the profile and In less than five minutes it was time to select our meals. We are a family of 4, and half of us don’t eat meat. This was surprisingly not an issue, because you can select meals that don’t include the foods you wish to avoid. The website was incredibly easy to navigate, and I soon found that there is more to Blue Apron than simply a food delivery company. Each selected meal not only has recipes and cooking instructions but it also includes videos, nutrition information- even suggested wine pairings! It seemed almost too good to be true!
In the week we waited for the box to arrive my daughter and I were doing research. We watched the videos of the meals we would be cooking, looked at the other options should we decide to continue with Blue Apron, and did many price comparisons. I asked other people what their own experiences have been so far, and even looked into a few other similar businesses. Each day my initial hesitation slowly evolved into excitement. We could hardly wait until our box arrive so we could get down to business!
Finally, our box arrived. My daughter screamed in excitement and even my husband couldn’t wait to open the box to see what was in store. The box was slightly soggy on the bottom, but condensation will do that. Opening the box you immediately see that it is enclosed in a huge refrigerated bag. When you open it, two large ice packs were inside, keeping the produce chilled. Right away I liked how the contents were arranged. The two days of ingredients were separated, with bags clearly labeling which recipe they belong too. You get illustrated instructions that are clear and concise, and you also get a full print out of nutrition, calorie count etc. (I’m thinking we will get a notebook and organize the recipes. If we stick with the program).
We started pulling out the produce and the meat and I started to do my usual inspection. Horrified, we discovered a FLY in the package of sugar snap peas. Barf. Looks like we would be making the chicken kung pao without them. The chicken wasn’t frozen, and I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be or not. I’m not trying to die of salmonella, so I reached out to my friends on social media. Almost immediately several of my friends said that I should give Blue a call, and all stated the customer service is fantastic. I was hesitant to call, as this IS a free experience. It’s only a fly after all, and in organic produce, sometimes you’re gonna come across a bug or two. We won’t eat the beans, but we will plant them. Seems like that balances things out.
We decided to make the pizza recipe for supper and began prepping. Usually, dinner during the week is rushed. Usually one of us is doing stuff around the house while the other cooks. Baths are given, grass is mowed, laundry is started. Today was different. We worked as a team and began the process together. Pretty soon chicken was sizzling, broccoli was roasting and the dough was rising. It was an absolutely wonderful, lovely evening.
The food was already perfectly portioned, the shopping was done and I didn’t have to rummage thru the fridge for ingredients to measure things out. Time is precious to me as a student, a mom, and a wife, and it was a refreshing little break for me. I’ve learned that you must appreciate something when you have it- and I certainly plan to enjoy this experience. However short it may be.
Within a half an hour we were pulling our pizzas from the oven ready to devour. It smelled delicious, but would it taste as good too? More importantly, would the picky eaters in the household actually eat it? Suddenly we were food critics discussing, between bites, the tastes and textures of the food as if we are culinary geniuses. (We most definitely arent!) There weren’t many crumbs left on our plates once we were finished, that’s for sure.
The following day we made the Kung Pow Chicken. Overall the recipe was a success, even without the greens. My young daughter thought there was too much spice, but my husband was a huge fan. The clear over-all winner was the roasted brocolli and goat-cheese side dish. I can see making it as a side dish often in the future. We probably never would have made either of these recipes ourselves, but I’m so glad that we did! Both will be on the menu again.
Price wise, I ran the lists thru the checkout counter on the Publix and Wal-Mart websites. Both came in about 20 dollars less than Blue Apron, with Wal-Mart being the lesser of the two. For busy families, without a whole lot of time to go shopping, I can absolutely see an extra 20 bucks being worth the purchase. For our middle-class income family, an extra 80 dollars a month- which equals almost an entire weeks groceries is money we need.
After much discussion and weighing the pros and cons of everything, including price, convenience and product quality, the decision to continue the subscription truly came down to the issues with the fly and the cost. The fly was probably not an everyday issue, and honestly, we could probably forget about it. The price ultimately pushed us to make the decision that Blue Apron doesn’t fit our household. We loved the recipes, the packaging and the taste of each plate. There is no question that the company strives to make the customer happy. In the future, after I graduate and income increases, we may revisit this decision. For now, we will continue to get our produce at the local farmers market and grocery stores. Don’t take my word for it, however. Give it a try! You may find its a perfect fit for your family.