I notice a similar theme among my clients, my friends and folks I meet at various events…we all want to eat healthier but struggle to find the time and the energy (and sometime the planning ability) to put together healthy meals. I’ve decided to experiment with a couple different services that help with this, to determine if I would recommend them.
First on the list is Blue Apron.
Blue Apron is a mail order ingredient service. You choose your plan (3 meals a week for either 2 or 4 people) and then customize by any diet restrictions. I chose vegetarian/fish as my only meal options. I would have preferred more customizable (is that a word?) options, but the basics are covered. They put together a list of 6 recipes a week and you pick the 3 you want (there is a default 3, so if you don’t choose, you will still get a delivery). They send you the recipes and all the ingredients you need (with the exception of only salt, pepper and oil). You can choose to receive meals every week, or you can skip weeks (you just have to make these decisions well in advance).
I decided to give it a try and see what I thought about the food and recipe quality.
This was my experience (pictures are below):
Delivery Box – Everything was still cold and fresh, but there was a lot of packaging.
The Recipes – Huevos Rancheros Quesadillas, Steakhouse Salmon, Spicy Korean Rice Cakes. They were all meals I looked forward to trying. The recipe cards were very detailed with lots of pictures. Someone fairly new to cooking would be able to follow along. The website is also available, which has some reviews and suggestions from other members (although honestly it seemed a lot of people were kind of bitchy and expected Blue Apron to know exactly what ingredients they personally disliked – weird, I thought).
The Food – Nice quality food, but I was not a big fan of all the packaging waste. Some of the packaging was easily recyclable, and there is information on the website on how to recycle the rest. It is also good to note that you need very little in the way of pantry items. They send you every little thing you need…down to a TBSP of mustard or a ¼ c of flour.
How I Organized It – I put the ingredients for each meal in its own bag, so I could just pull it out of the fridge and cook.
Huevos Rancheros Quesadillas – reading over the recipe, this felt more like a brunch meal, so that’s when we ate it. And I’m glad we did because it took just short of an hour to pull together and I was busy the whole time. This was not what I would consider a good weeknight meal. It started with homemade tomatillo salsa; then a can of pinto beans was reborn as zucchini infused refried beans. Both delish, but a lot of work chopping and dicing and cooking (and I love to chop and dice!). The cheese had to be grated, which is fine except they provided a fairly thin slice, so it was awkward to grate. I ended up with a lot of small chunks I couldn’t grate without losing skin. Overall a very tasty meal, but I felt a little cheated, as the ingredient list here couldn’t have cost more than $5. The recipe was a bit busy for a weeknight meal, but the salsa and the refried beans could have been made ahead to speed up meal time.
Steakhouse Salmon w/ potato medley – this was a simple but delicious meal. The potato/mushroom/bean mixture with the shallot vinaigrette was easy to make and very tasty. The salmon was very nice quality. This meal came together with much less fuss than the previous meal, and I felt the salmon was well worth the money spent.
Spicy Korean Rice Cakes – never having rice cakes, I decided to read the reviews on this recipe first. It was noted that this meal was a little sparse on protein. Now, while I think Americans tend to get a bit obsessed with protein, I had to agree. The recipe did seem a little lacking. In the end, I decided to toss in a couple shrimp from the freezer and served them over lettuce to create a more well -rounded meal.
Bottom line? If I just consider the price I paid for the meals themselves, it was a little pricey. For meat eaters, the meal options might seem more in line with the $ spent. (There is no adjustment to price for vegetarian only meals). However, considering it took all the meal planning and grocery shopping out the equation it saves a lot of time and would be a great help to someone who currently eats out most of the time, struggles to plan meals, hates shopping and/or doesn’t have much of a pantry.
Because I personally tend to cook a lot already, I have a pretty well stocked fridge and pantry. Therefore it seemed a bit wasteful for me to receive fresh thyme (I have it growing outside my door), 2 eggs (I have eggs in the fridge), 1 TBSP mustard? (I have mustard and I have a lemon and I have spices….etc). But for people who don’t, this really simplifies things.
While I did add to the rice cake meal, there was then enough of the rice cake mixture for a leftover meal or to be used for lunch the next day; same with the quesadilla recipe.
All in all, I feel this option would be great for people that currently eat out the majority of the time or that rely heavily on processed/packaged foods to create meals. If you tend to buy ingredients and throw half away because you can't use that much, this is also a great option. I would indeed recommend this program for anyone who really wants some help and inspiration to learn to cook real food at home. It doesn’t help with lunches or snacks, but it is a good place to start, especially if you don’t currently cook much.
If you do already cook a lot, this program might not be for you, but you can still check out the recipes on their website and walk away with some inspiration for next weeks meal plans.don’t think you need their complete services,(maybe you just need the inspiration), take a peek at their website. You can see the recipes and print them for free.
I have my 2nd and last Blue Apron delivery tomorrow and then I'm trying Hello Fresh. I will let you know how those go.
If you have tried Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, I would love to hear what your thought about them.
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.