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Blue Apron Review - A Non-Chef Takes on Meal Prep

blue apron review logoI am not a great cook.  I freely admit this.  But I would love to become a better cook, and so when the opportunity arose to do a Blue Apron review, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve actually been using Blue Apron on and off for a while, but I was excited to learn more while I put together my review.

What is Blue Apron?  Blue Apron is a service that delivers fresh, high quality ingredients as well as detailed recipes to allow you to put together great tasting meals and also try out foods you might never try.

blue apron review calendarOne of my favorite things about Blue Apron is how customizable it is.  This isn’t a service where you sign up and have to get a box every week.  Not only do you get to select from 6 unique meals for each week’s box, you can also skip weeks.  I schedule all of my boxes on Fridays so that I can cook over the weekend.  I actually only get boxes about once a month, when I know that I will have the time to cook, when the meals are really appealing, or when I just want to try something new.

Let’s get the cost out of the way up front.  You can get a 2 person plan or a 4 person family plan from Blue Apron.  The 2-person plan contains 3 unique recipes, each with 2 servings, for a total of six meals.  Each week’s box costs $59.94, or $9.99 per meal.  The family plan contains either 2 recipes or 4 recipes, and the two recipe plan costs $69.92, or $8.74 per meal.  Not too bad, especially as I often consider my meals a replacement for eating out, and $9.99 is clearly cheaper than a meal out!

blue apron review recipesFor this week, I selected three different types of meals:  Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry, Oaxaca Cheese and Plantain Tortas, and Moroccan Chicken.  All Blue Apron meals come with these awesome large recipe cards, showing you just what goes into each meal and giving you photographs of the steps along the way.  And if that’s not enough for you, their website is also filed with all sorts of tips for cooking the meals and also learning about the different foods you’re about to eat.  For example, this wasn’t the first time I was going to be eating plantains, but I certainly wasn’t sure how to prepare them.  I know they look like bananas, but I also know they’re somewhat different from bananas, so this was something new.

A peek down into my box when it arrived

A peek down into my box when it arrived

Blue Apron boxes are really well packaged.  They package their boxes based on where they’re shipping and what’s inside, and there’s never any worry about your box sitting on your porch if the delivery comes early and you’re still at work.  Even on the warmest days in the summer, I’ve come back to very cold Blue Apron boxes.  And the best part is that the packaging is all recyclable, or you can ship it back to Blue Apron if you live in an area where recycling is more complicated.  Or you can reuse the packaging.  The giant freezer blocks are awesome in coolers in the summer!

The food is designed to stay fresh for an entire week, as well, so once you unpack your box into your fridge, you have a week to cook everything.  Of course, it’s recommended you cook any seafood first, but I usually want to try everything right away!  The box comes with everything that you need – they only assume you have salt, pepper, and olive oil in your pantry.

The first meal I prepared was the Spicy Shrimp Coconut Curry.  One of the reasons I selected this meal is that I knew it would reheat well.  Frequently, I cook up my Blue Apron Meals and package both away to take to work for lunch.  I really like eating my big meal at lunch, and Blue Apron makes it easy for me to bring something tasty.

blue apron review shrimp1This recipe didn’t really have anything too complicated for me to do, and I love that they tell you how long the recipe will take to cook, from the prep to the actual cooking.  If you’re a slow chopper, it might take you longer, but the more you use Blue Apron, the more your knife skills will improve.

As this is a curry, it can be a spicier dish.  The recipe warns you about this and instructs you to put in as much curry as you prefer.  So if you like your dish milder, don’t use very much curry.  If you love spicy like me, dump in all of the curry!  Whatever works best for you.  That’s one of my favorite things about Blue Apron – you can customize the recipe to your tastes.  Following the very simple step-by-step instructions, I prepared my meal and got it to cooking without any problems. It smelled absolutely delectable!  Of course, I was cooking it to package up for lunches, so I haven’t gotten to eat it yet, but the taste of the sauce was delightful.

blue apron review torta2The next meal I cooked was the Oaxaca Cheese and Plantain Tortas.  I actually made this for Sunday brunch, because I love a good sandwich at breakfast.   This one had a couple of ingredients I hadn’t ever cooked with before – both the Oaxaca cheese and the plantain.  Neither were particularly hard to work with, and now that I know what I’m doing, I know that this combo is one I will likely put together again.

This sandwich was supposed to have marinated shallots on it, but I am just not much of a shallot fan, so I opted to not include that part, and I have no regrets about it.  Another great thing about Blue Apron – you can feel free to doctor the recipe a bit and make changes to suit your tastes.

After all, the name Blue Apron is an homage to the blue aprons that chefs around the world wear while they are learning to cook, so why not take that to heart and experiment a bit with the recipes?  (But I don’t experiment too much – I’m not a good enough cook for that!)

I did learn one new trick while cooking, and it was such a simple one: Placing a heavy pot on top of a sandwich while it cooked to flatten it a bit.  It’s so obvious, but the difference was amazing.  It helped keep the heat down on the torta and made sure that the cheese melted properly and everything was cooked to perfection.

I may have slightly over-grilled this sandwich - but it was still delicious!

I may have slightly over-grilled this sandwich – but it was still delicious!

This sandwich actually came with a side salad as well – delicious – but I forgot to photograph it, as I had tossed it in a bowl on the side.  And this wasn’t just a plain salad either.  It had bits of citrus in it to give it a perfectly summery flavor.  Such an easy salad to toss together.

My final meal was the Moroccan Chicken.  Oh my goodness, this was delicious.  I never would have thought to cook with prunes (I think we all think one thing when we consider prunes), but they were just perfect in this sauce.  Again, such a simple set of ingredients, but what a beautiful end result.

I love the way Blue Apron packages their recipes – I always take the cards and slide them into page protectors in a binder so I can use them again.  You can also find all of the recipes on their website or their app – even if you didn’t get that recipe for that week!  So if you just can’t pick between four recipes, you can choose your three and then copy the fourth recipe from their website to try on your own later!  They don’t repeat recipes for an entire year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t repeat them on your own at home.

I took a few additional pictures during the process that I wanted to share, so I put together a quick little gallery at the end of this review.  In sum, I really like Blue Apron.  I like that it’s reasonably priced, easy to use, and that you aren’t locked in to preparing three meals every single week.  You can get the boxes as you see fit, and that sort of flexibility is perfect for those of us with very busy lives!  You should sign up if you get a chance – this link will get you $30 off your first order.

Don’t forget, if you liked this review and do want to sign up – please use this link – it will get you $30 off your first order.

Full disclosure: This review was sponsored by Blue Apron, but all opinions (and cooking mistakes) are my own.

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