It was the words fresh food and interesting recipes that got me all ears. My friend, who used to be a caterer, was talking about a weekly delivery that took her out of a dinner rut and made cooking fun again. I wanted to know more—what are these meals in a box that you cook yourself? That’s how I ended up with three delicious vegetarian dinners from Blue Apron.
Miss P, that’s my friend, she’s been cooking with Blue Apron for a while, so she had them email me an offer to try a box for free. All I had to do was click on the link, create an account and choose a convenient week. I think you guys will be interested in hearing about our recent Blue Apron adventure, so here you have it.
We ordered the vegetarian plan. I felt like the birthday girl opening our box; it was jam-packed with fresh herbs and veggies, butter, cream, eggs, 3 kinds of cheese, plus ice packs to keep the perishables cold. Inside was everything we needed, except salt and pepper and olive oil. They enclose a 2-sided 8 ½ x 11-inch photo card with full color detailed directions for each recipe.
Not knowing what to expect, both Robbie and I were genuinely delighted; each of our meals was imaginative and damn delicious. The first night we made Smoky Beluga Lentils, a Spanish-themed stew with an egg on top. We sprinkled the Manchego cheese on top and sliced the miniature baguette into garlic toast.
Night two was a very flavorful and rich-seeming baked pasta and cheese, with Brussels sprouts and sage breadcrumbs. Yes, shaved Brussels sprouts in mac and cheese. The pasta–a cute ruffled noodle called campanelle.
Have you ever eaten a Salvadoran pupusa? Well, I hadn’t even heard of them. Now I know how to prepare the thick handmade corn tortillas stuffed with spicy black beans and cheese. We sliced the cabbage, radishes, and red onion, and tossed it with the lime and cilantro to make a slaw called curtido.
Blue Apron calls their subscribers “chefs.” And you really are. This is not fast food in a box–you cook the food. The recipes are uncomplicated and well illustrated. I swear a Blue Apron subscription could teach budding chefs how to cook–cooking school in a box. We learned a couple of new things preparing our 3 meals, and we’re not kitchen rookies!
Lest you’re thinking this is a sales pitch, I was not paid to write a Blue Apron review—I’m doing this all on my own. After our box was on its way I told them I planned to write about our experience. That’s when they sent me a coupon for a special offer—scroll down for the link.
- The ingredients are high quality and a little bit gourmet—e.g. tiny black beluga lentils. We think the servings are generous and leftovers could be stretched for lunch or dinner the next day.
- There is something fresh in every meal—e.g. braising greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and radishes. I don’t know for sure, but I bet Blue Apron plans their menus to feature seasonal produce.
- Like with a CSA subscription, Blue Apron gets you cooking at home, in my mind always the best option, good for conviviality and healthier eating. You do need to budget cooking and prep time; Blue Apron says no more than 35 minutes but we say about one hour per meal.
- We think three meals a week is just right, not too many or too few, leaving nights open for dining out or just fixing a quick salad. We ordered the 2-person box, but they sell a family plan to feed a family of four, with the option to receive one or 2 deliveries per week.
- You can put a subscription on hold for up to 6 weeks if you are going on vacation. Or if you’re ready for a break. (Once you are signed up the boxes come automatically so if you want to cancel a delivery, you need to let them know at least 6 days ahead.)
- The menus are inventive meals you might not make without Blue Apron inspiration. Our recipes were #566, #567 and #568—does that mean 1 ½ years pass before there’s a repeat?
- Everything is individually wrapped and labeled in clear zip bags, little plastic containers and brown paper bags—an awful lot of packaging, even though everything is recyclable. Did you know that to recycle frozen ice packs you cut them open and rinse out the water-soluble gel?
- A subscription for 2 costs $60 a week—expensive when compared to actual ingredient costs. But you could look at the cost another way–$20 a meal is probably less than dinner out, even take-out. And you don’t have to go to the store to buy a special bottle of vinegar when all you need is 2 tablespoons. (But I like having 7 different vinegars in my cupboard for vinaigrette variety.)
P.S. You might want to try this Green Salad with Beluga Black Lentils, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese and Curry Vinaigrette. Or my gluten-free healthified Sunflower Crusted Macaroni and Cheese.
Wishing you a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!
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