If you have been considering trying out a meal kit service and aren't sure which one to try, you've come to the right place. I'm on a mission to cook my way through all of the services out there so your hard earned money gets spent on the right fit for your family. Check out my review of Blue Apron below!
Table of Contents
The Review Criteria
For consistency’s sake, I will consider the following eight metrics across all of my meal kit reviews: Variety of Options, Cost, Ease of Recipes, Average Time Spent (Start to Plate), Clarity of Directions, Flavor, Recyclability of Packaging, and Replicability. I’ll also have a Notes section that I’ll use to pass along any other information to you that is applicable. So what are we waiting for?? Let’s get started.
Variety of Options
In terms of variety of options each week, Blue Apron is lagging behind the competition. Each week, Blue Apron offers 9 different menu items plus 1 "premium" meal that costs an additional $7-10/serving. Several of the other kits we have tried offer more than 20 per week, so this is a bit disappointing coming from the OG of meal kit services.
I should also note that the diet options within those choices are a bit sparse. For the weeks that I viewed, there were only 1-2 600 calories or fewer options, 1-2 vegetarian options and <1 carb conscious options on the menu.
The meals we received were:
- Honey Lime Tilapia with Bok Choy and White Rice
- Tahini Dressed Chicken and Kale with Pickled Peppers and Roasted Sweet Potato
- Fontina Pork Burgers with Charred Onion and Balsamic Mayo
In terms of cost, Blue Apron falls squarely in the "standard" category. The first three boxes are discounted by $20, meaning each serving is $6.66. After the price goes up to normal, each serving is $9.99 for a two person meal plan. Some of the competition have meals that verge into the $13-15 range, while others hover in the $7-8 range.
Ease of Recipes
In terms of the difficulty level of the recipes, I'd rate Blue Apron a ⅘. The recipes are basically on par with other meal kit delivery services, and are quite approachable. They all required multiple dishes, but none of the techniques were particularly difficult.
Average Time Spent
In terms of time spent on each recipe, Blue Apron falls in the middle of the road. The three recipes I received required between 25-40 minutes of active time, which is roughly the average across different services. If you're looking for speedier options, I suggest Sun Basket, Home Chef and Gobble, all of which offer pre-prepped meals or oven ready options.
Clarity of Directions
The instruction cards that came with the Blue Apron delivery were pretty clear and easy to follow. My one complaint is that for the Chicken and Kale recipe, I was given chicken pieces instead of whole chicken breasts. While this was easy enough to navigate as someone who has kitchen experience, I'm concerned that this kind of oversight could stress out a novice cook.
In arguably the most important of the rating metrics, Blue Apron was middling with a score of 3.5/5. The meals were all good, but not great. The only thing worth replicating (in my mind) are the potato wedges from burger night, and maybe the bok choy rice idea from the fish dish.
For the meals we received, the Chicken and Kale was probably my favorite. The Tilapia was my second favorite, and the Burgers were my least favorite (despite some pretty bomb potatoes). It's not that any of them weren't good, rather none of them were particularly inspired. The fish and the burgers both turned out kind of bland, which was disappointing.
Thus far in my review process, the front runners in terms of flavor have been Purple Carrot, Sun Basket, Home Chef, HelloFresh and Gobble.
Recyclability of Packaging
In terms of recyclability, Blue Apron scored 3.5/5. While there was a lot of plastic involved - the liner, each bag of "knick knacks," wrapping the veggies, and double wrapping the meats - most of it was recyclable through Kroger's plastic bag recycling. I also appreciated that their ice packs were drain safe, which made our trash load much lighter than in recent weeks.
In terms of replicability, I'd rate Blue Apron a 3.5/5. In two separate recipes, there were Blue Apron specific spice blends. While they did list the ingredients, they didn't list the proportions. If you wanted to truly replicate the recipes, you would have to buy a $10 jar of spices which seems a little excessive to me.
Additionally, the pickled Peruvian peppers are a bit of an obscure item that I don't think you could find at most grocery stores. I did find some on Amazon, but each can was $10, which also seems excessive.
The Blue Apron market offers Blue Apron branded spice mixes, a monthly wine club, wine bundles and cooking tools like pots, pans and knives. There are no add ons for snacks, other meals, or pantry items like many of the other services. If you're reaching for a meal kit delivery service to act as a substitute for grocery shopping, this is not a good fit.
I do appreciate the wine pairing idea, though the suggestion to pair a meal with a bottle that has a symbol that is exclusive to the Blue Apron brand seems less educational and more of a marketing ploy. That said, wine pairings are something that I haven't seen on other sites and could be an opportunity for other companies to up their games.
While Blue Apron is one of the oldest meal kit delivery services around, it does not seem to have adapted to the changing landscape of its industry. Before I can enthusiastically recommend the service, I would like to see more meal options each week, more add ons, and more diet specific options.
While it is a bit more reasonably priced than some of its competitors, the lack of added convenience by not offering a true market combined with the relatively small number of options each week makes Blue Apron seem a little antiquated. All that said, if price is your top concern, Blue Apron is a viable option.
Want to read more about meal kits? Check out these other reviews:
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Let's taco 'bout it.