Blue Apron Food Delivery Review

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Blue Apron Food Delivery Review

Blue Apron Logo

Blue Apron Logo

Blue Apron Box

Figure 1: A Blue Apron box

Blue Apron is one of the first food delivery services.  Based on their website, in the summer of 2012, Matt Salzberg, Ilia Papas, and Matt Wadiak tested the first Blue Apron recipes in their tiny New York City apartments. They planned to develop recipes and a company to make the experience of cooking with quality produce and specialty ingredients accessible to everyone, no matter where they live or how busy they are. In the beginning, the three hand packed the first Blue Apron boxes themselves.  The first boxes were delivered to their family and friends with positive feedback.

Since then, Blue Apron has expanded tremendously.  They have developed recipes with the close cooperation of chefs and farms.  The recipes are full of fresh, seasonable produce.  They use only non-GMO ingredients, meats with no added hormones, and sustainably-sourced seafood.  The recipes are not only delicious but also good for you, and the ingredients are chosen in an environmentally conscious manner.  

I decided to try Blue Apron because I was tired of frozen meals and vitamin supplements and wanted to improve my health.  I thought about ordering it many times, and I am glad I finally gave it a try.  I ordered my first box in February of 2017.  I have ordered 12 boxes over the last eight months.  This article is an honest review of the Blue Apron meals and delivery.  I have not received any payment from Blue Apron outside of the $30 discount on my first box that they give every new customer. 

Summary of my review

Quality Of Ingredients 3.5-stars
Organization of Ingredients  3.0-stars
Price / Value 4.0-stars
Ease of Cooking 4.0-stars
Recipe Selection      3.0-stars
Taste / Deliciousness  3.0-stars
Nutrition: 3.5-stars
Website 4.0-stars
Packaging   1.5-stars
Shipping 4.0-stars
Customer Service 4.0-stars
Overall Rating 3.5-stars

Pros

  1. Learning to cook – The recipes come with the food, and they are detailed so you can learn to cook.  
  2. Less meal planningYou will be able to reduce planning by letting Blue Apron do it for you.  
  3.  Less shopping – This is my favorite thing about Blue Apron. I have the meals shipped to me so I can avoid most of the grocery store.  I buy only a few essential items and water.  Out in less than 30 minutes.  
  4. Knick-knack Bag – The additional items are in a small paper lunch bag.
  5. Less food waste – Portion sizes of vegetables and seasoning lead to less waste.  
  6. Diverse Recipes – There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes that will create a diverse list of options each week.  
  7. Wine! – Blue Apron has a wine subscription service.  
  8. Nutritional Information – The “knick knack” bag has a large nutritional information foldout.  
  9.  Kitchen tools – Blue Apron has an online market full of kitchen essentials.
  10. Mobile app – Blue Apron has a mobile app that it is easy to use.  

Cons

  1. Limited options for dietary restrictions – There are vegetarian recipes, but gluten-free or Paleo are not included.   
  2. Some meals are time-intensive – Washing and cutting up all the ingredients and cooking them can take some folks a lot of time.  I wanted to learn to cook so this is required.  You may find it less attractive. 
  3. Portion sizes are small –  If you are trying to lose weight, they might be ideal. 
  4.  You cannot cancel from the website –  You must email customer service to cancel a subscription.  It is easy, but I would prefer to just click a button.  
Open Blue Apron Box

Figure 2: Open Blue Apron Box

Packaging: Unboxing Blue Apron

When I opened my first box of Blue Apron, I thought the packing was great, but I did not have anything with which to compare it.  After ordering from a few more companies, I had a different perspective.  It is definitely a little less polished packing.  A typical box is shown above in Figure 1.  I wish I could have shown the disarray in most boxes.  I could not capture it in a photograph.  

In the box, you will find your recipe cards.  They are usually placed on top of the insulated plastic bag that contains the ingredients (see figure 2).  Once you open the bag, you will notice that the vegetables and “knick-knack” bags are on top of the ice packs.  Once you remove them, you will find two large ice packs with the meat and refrigerated items between them.  Everything is nice and cold as long as you get them on the day of delivery.  Separate paper bags which are labeled “Knick-Knacks” contain each recipe’s sauces and spices.

Quality of the Ingredients

Box From Blue Apron Website

Figure 3: A box from Blue Apron website

On occasion, the ingredients spoiled before I used them.  The quality of the cucumbers, squash, and zucchini was poor in general with lots of breaks in the skin of vegetables.   Arugula was spoiled on arrival on two occasions.  Outside of these two issues, the quality was fantastic.  I actually gave them an extra 0.5 points because they always include a whole head of garlic when garlic is an ingredient.  I have enough garlic to last a month (I like garlic so it might be a year for you).  I will tell you that none of them looked as good as the contents in the photo from their website.  The vegetables were often bruised.  This result is likely because many of the vegetables were unwrapped and just placed in the box.  You can see two images of typical ingredients from Blue Apron in Figures 5 and 7.  

 

Organization of the Ingredients

Outside of the “knick-knacks,” some of the ingredients often appeared as if they were just thrown in the box.  Some of the ingredients were packaged in their own bag, but unlike many of the other companies, the ingredients were not separated by meal.  I prefer some of the others I have ordered that have the non-meat ingredients of each meal in a separate bag. The Knick-Knack bags are a neat method of organizing the spices and sauces (see Figure 4).  The problem is the bags were occasionally wet or ripped.  The calorie information was listed on a small folded sheet in the bag.  I keep these in a binder with the recipe cards.   

Price / Value

  • For two: $59.99 ($9.99 per serving) for three meals, six total servings with free shipping.
  • Kick Knack Bags

    Figure 4: Kick Knack Bags

    Family plan: $69.92 ($8.74 per serving) for either two or four meals.

  • I usually get 2-3 meals out of each meal with about 400-600 calories a meal.  

Ease of Cooking

Blue Apron’s recipes come printed on card stock.  The recipes provide step-by-step instructions on how to make the meals.  The recipes are fairly easy to follow as long as you pay attention to the directions, but there is a slight learning curve if you have never cooked before.  If you are unsure of a certain step, there are YouTube videos to help if you search for them.  Heck, the recipes even contain some helpful photos to guide you along. 

Recipe Selection

Contents of Blue Apron Box

Figure 5: Contents of a Blue Apron Box

Blue Apron’s recipes can be quite artsy.  There were about 4-6 weeks where I did not like the recipe choices.  It was easy to skip the week, but it would be nice if they were easy to follow as long as you pay close attention to the directions and check them off as you go. Anyone who’s unsure whether they’re doing things right will also appreciate the pictures that go along with the instructions. It is good to know how something should look at a certain time during the cooking process, and it definitely kept me on track.

Taste of Recipes

I really like most of the recipes for Blue Apron.  I especially liked the Tempura Cod, Chipotle Meatloaf, and Spiced Chicken Chilli.  I will say that I did not like the currants or olives in many of the recipes, so I removed them.  I also found that I really like sweet potatoes and blistered tomatoes when they are cooked right.  Blue Apron has helped me diversify my diet.  

Nutrition

Blue Apron has done a good job making sure there is a good mix of protein and vegetables.  The recipes tend to be a little higher in starch than I would like.  There is not a lot of choices for gluten free if that is your focus and if you are paleo, give up on Blue Apron.  The recipes have 400-600 calories so they fit in the weight loss plan for most as long as you are not on a low carb diet.  

Website

The website is relatively easy to use.  It is easy to pick your recipes for each week.  If you are going to be out of town, there is a link to skip the week’s recipes.

Blue Apron Meat

Figure 6: Blue Apron Meat

Blue Apron Insulated Bag

Figure 6: Blue Apron Insulated Bag

Packaging

Overall, the packaging is not bad, but it is clearly not the best I have ordered.  The ice packs are ok, but they are so large that you will likely not reuse them. The insulated bag is a nice touch and does limit the likelihood of the ice packs leaking (see Figure 6 for the insulated bag).  Blue Apron has a lot of plastic packaging.  Like I said above, the ingredients were all adrift in the box. One thing I really like is the fact that Blue Apron put the meat in a zip-top baggie (see Figure 6).  This way if it does leak, it is not all over the box and vegetables.  

Shipping

Out of the 12 weeks that I received meals, I had two delays in delivery that resulted in lost meals.  If the meals do not arrive on the day of delivery, often the meal is too warm to eat.  Some of the ingredients are usable, but the meat and dairy are not.  I guess 80% is ok.  In school, that would get you a “B-.”   

More Contents Blue Apron

Figure 7: More Contents Blue Apron

Customer Service

In general, customer service was ok.  I had a unique experience with Blue Apron.  On one occasion, they tried to encourage me to use the ingredients when the meat reached 41 degrees.  When I stressed I was uncomfortable, they gave me credit for a free week.  The second time I had a delayed arrival, they gave me a free week without prodding.  In general, I would give them a passing grade, but I did not like that I had to email to end my subscription.     

The Bottom Line

Blue Apron graded out 37.5 out of 55 possible stars for an average 3.5 stars.  I would recommend Blue Apron to anyone who loves to cook or wants to learn to cook.  You need not mind paying a premium for the convenience because you can buy more for the same price if you shop on your own but you will not get the recipe card or spices.  Blue Apron impressed me with its semi-organized packaging and clear recipes cards.  I am deeply indebted to Blue Apron for helping me expand my food selection and teaching me how to cook.  My wife and I now enjoy cooking together, and I have learned how to cook and prepare meals.  Blue Apron’s recipes can easily fit into your weight loss or maintenance plans.  If the recipe is too calorie rich for my plans, I divided it into quarters or thirds.   

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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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