If you spend any amount of time on social media networks, you’ve probably seen countless ads for various meal delivery services. Some claim to make dinner prep faster; others profess to save you money; and many will apparently teach you to cook like a pro. Now, if we could find one that does all three—we’d have a winner!
We’re all for things that make life better at Grok Nation, so we wanted to put these boxes to the test. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reviewing various meal delivery services and seeing if they make dinner time easier, better, or cheaper.
We’re kicking off this review series with Blue Apron, which in my mind is the OG meal kit box.
Signing up for Blue Apron is pretty simple: You select whether you want a two-person box or a family box, which serves four. The two-person box is available for two or three meals a week; and the family box is available for two, three, or four meals a week. Once you’ve made your pick and entered billing info, you select your delivery date and your meals. The eight recipe options are a pretty even mix of vegetarian and meat options.
I was cooking for myself and my sister, so I chose the two-person plan for three meals. If I had been paying (Blue Apron sent me the box in exchange for providing an honest review for Grok Nation), it would have been $10.99 per serving, which is just over $65 for the week.
If you don’t like any of the offerings, you can push or skip a week; they show the menus for three weeks at a time. Each entree has an ingredient list, a calorie count, and a wine pairing idea (Blue Apron also has a wine service).
I wanted a range of meal types, so I selected the vegetarian Three Cheese Calzone with kale and golden raisins, which was dubbed a “customer favorite”; the Harissa-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks with potato wedges and chard, a Whole 30 compliant meal; and the Ginger Pork Meatballs with bok choy and jasmine rice, which was marked as a 30-minute meal as well as another customer favorite.
I received a confirmation email after I had made my choices, and then I just had to wait for the delivery…
Even though I knew what was inside the box, it still felt like a surprise unpacking it. From top to bottom, there were fresh ingredients, an ice pack, meats, and another ice pack. Everything was kept very cold, so if you weren’t home for delivery, the box could sit on your doorstep for a few hours.
If you like organization, you’ll love how everything has a place: Every seasoning has its own little packet or little plastic bottle. If you are trying to limit your plastic consumption (you should!), you’ll hate how everything has a place. True, I think most of the bottles are recyclable, but do two radishes need their own little ziploc? Seems unnecessary to me, but maybe it is more sanitary.
I cooked the three meals over three nights in the week with varying degrees of success, starting out with not very successful at all.
Three Cheese Calzone
When I was looking through recipes, I thought, “a calzone sounds fun!” I was wrong. The instructions seemed easy enough, but once I had put the filling into the dough and tried to seal the calzones, I realized I must have done something wrong. Try as I might, this dough did not want to hold the filling and stay together.
I got very angry, said a few curse words, and threw the calzones into the oven unsealed. Bad idea. A few minutes later, there was smoke billowing out of the oven because the filling was seeping out onto the cookie sheet and burning like crazy (which in turn set off all the smoke detectors in my small NYC apartment).
I am no food stylist, but I was able to make the finished product look halfway decent. But don’t be fooled—the bottom half of all three calzones were missing because they stuck to the cookie sheet. Luckily, the meal was pretty tasty. The dough—the only part that I didn’t make from scratch—tasted the best. And even though I didn’t make the dough, the whole recipe took much longer than I was expecting.
Harissa-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks
Much to my relief, this meal was completed without major issues—the biggest problem I had was when I somehow squirted lemon juice straight into my eye. Being a cook ain’t easy! It was also Whole 30 compliant, and delicious.
I did Whole 30—a 30-day food elimination program—in January, and if I had known Blue Apron was offering these meals, I would have definitely purchased them. It gets pretty hard to find creative, new ways to eat meat, veggies, and fruit. This was a recipe I would have never come up with on my own, but enjoyed a lot. Unfortunately, Whole 30 meals were only available through February 26.
Ginger Pork Meatballs
The third meal was my favorite. The Asian-style meatballs were flavorful and easy to make. If you are wanting to learn new cooking techniques or pick up a few new recipes, Blue Apron would be perfect for you. If you are slightly impatient in the kitchen like me, you might get frustrated, as I did (is it too much to ask for things to be pre-chopped!?). But aside from the fact that I’m a slow chopper, this recipe was fairly true to its 30-minute meal claim.
The nice thing about the Blue Apron recipes is that you could save them and use them with your own ingredients. This is one that I will save and use in the future—that’s how much I liked it.
The Final Verdict
If you need fast, easy meals for the family, Blue Apron probably isn’t for you. If you want to try new recipes and expand your palette a little bit, this would be a good service to try. Blue Apron ingredients are all non-GMO and organic in many (but not all) instances. Everything felt fresh and high quality. And the portion sizes were filling, so I felt the price points were reasonable.
I would try Blue Apron again, on my own when I’m not reviewing it and don’t have to take photos of the final product. But I would be sure to avoid recipes that involve dough … and close my eyes when I juiced lemons.
Have you tried Blue Apron? What were your experiences? For a limited time, you can try Blue Apron for $50 off their first two boxes. Click here to sign up!
UP NEXT: Read our Green Chef review. And if you’ve heard of other meal services you’d like us to review, let us know in the comments!