Blue Apron will be your sous chef tonight

And now a break to talk about a sponsor…

butternut squash and poblano chili with toasted pepitas and charred lime

butternut squash and poblano chili with toasted pepitas and charred lime

If you’ve resolved to cook healthier this year or to spend less money on take-out – or if you just like to eat delicious things but don’t want to spend a ton of time figuring out what to cook and rounding up ingredients, then you need Blue Apron.

Blue Apron is a delivery service that delivers farm-fresh ingredients for delicious, chef-designed recipes directly to your doorstep. You don’t need to make a trip to the store, and you’ll receive in everything you need in exactly the right proportions, along with instructions for preparing it. In other words, someone else does all the prep work for you (coming up with recipes, gathering ingredients, and measuring them out), so that you just have to do the actual cooking.

apple and blue cheese panzanella salad with smashed purple potatoes

apple and blue cheese panzanella salad with smashed purple potatoes

They give you the option of order a 2-person plan (one delivery a week, with three meals for two) or a family plan (one or two deliveries a week, with two or four meals for four). Each meal is less than $10 per person, with free shipping. And you can tell them all your dietary restrictions or food preferences so that you don’t get meals you don’t like or won’t eat. Everything can be prepared in 40 minutes or less, and it’ll come in a temperature-controlled box so it will stay fresh even if you’re not home when it arrives.

cacciatore-style baked eggs with lacinato kale and parmesan-garlic toasts

cacciatore-style baked eggs with lacinato kale and parmesan-garlic toasts

My favorite thing about Blue Apron – besides eating – is that it gets me to cook things that I’d never be making on my own otherwise, like the Butternut Squash and Poblano Chili with Toasted Pepitas and Charred Lime that I made this month. (It was ridiculously good, and now I want to put toasted petitas on all my food. Also, why did no one tell me that you could char limes?) And some of the recipes I make from their boxes end up in my regular recipe rotation, because once they show me how to do it and that I like eating it, I end up cooking it on my own (like the Szechuan tofu and long beans they sent me once).

If you’re interested in trying it out, Blue Apron is offering two free meals on your first order to the first 100 readers to sign up here. And there’s no commitment – you can skip or cancel the service at any time, so give them a try!

charred lime

Charred lime — who knew this would be good?

 Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 56 comments… read them below }

  1. edj3

    We used this and enjoyed it a lot.

    Unfortunately, our travel schedules mean we aren’t reliably home to make good use. While you can cancel a week’s delivery, you can only go so far out and we missed canceling last week. You can imagine our surprise when *thud* a big package landed on the porch on Friday!

    But yes, the quality is good, the recipes also–I think out of all the meals we got, we disliked only one of them.

  2. Who Watches the Watchers?

    I used it and loved it! But then I got all inspired to cook and I wanted to make what I wanted and not just choose from their options. So I ended up putting my account on hold. I have soooooo many recipes on pinterest to try! ^^

  3. Jerzy

    My husband has been wanting to try this, at least for weeks when we know we’re going to be really busy. In fact, he was talking about it again last night, so this opportunity seemed like kismet. Thanks, Alison!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      It’s not necessarily great for busy weeks – it’s much more work than just throwing some pasta in a pot, which is my busy-night go-to.

      1. edj3

        We would evaluate the recipes and on the weekend, make the ones that look like they’d be OK cooked ahead. Some don’t tolerate that but a lot did.

  4. Rae

    Alison, are those your pictures or stock pictures? I’d be interested in seeing how it plays out in real life.

  5. LizzieB

    We love Blue Apron. Very few flops. My one complaint is that I wish you could pick any three meals from the lineup, instead of having some combinations unavailable. (When you pick one, some others grey out.) If my selections are the more expensive ones, I’d be happy to pay a surcharge, and I don’t like not having that option!

    1. Anna

      That’s weird. Why do that?

      My resistance is that it’s not really $10 a meal if you count a meal as what everyone eats; it’s $10 a person and that makes it too expensive for my blood.

    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      Yes, I skip so many weeks because if I can’t get three meals I really want, why should I pay? I wish they didn’t have those restrictions and don’t understand why they do that.

  6. ali

    I’ve been wanting to try this, but with my Crohn’s I have some really specific dietary restrictions…like I can’t eat a lot of fresh fruit or veggies (they are usually ok if cooked, but I can only do it once or twice a week). How much can I customize what comes to me?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      You can choose the meals you want, but as I said below I don’t think it works well for restricted diets.

    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      Plated is a better option for diet restrictions, but I don’t know if they’re good enough that they’d meet your needs.

      (And in my part of the US they use the absolute worst delivery service ever and they won’t have my business back until they change)

  7. Jinx

    I used the AAM promotion a couple months ago, and used Blue Apron for about two months. At the end of December I switched to Home Chef. Here are my thoughts about BA:

    1) The food is really interesting, and it’s definitely not stuff the average 20-something thinks of to cook. Our favorite surprise recipe was tacos made with tempura-fried squash, which we were wary of but ended up loving. If you are an adventurous foodie, this is a good thing. If you’re kind of a particular eater, like myself and my husband, it can be an issue. We either really liked the food or really didn’t.

    2) The ingredient quality seems good (to my unpracticed eye). They send organic and fresh ingredients, and I always felt like I was using food that was higher-end than what I’d find at WalMart.

    3) Blue Apron gives you six options, and you can’t pick all combinations. This was probably my biggest pet peeve.

    4) The customer service is really good. We had one box that was missing an ingredient, and they gave us 10$ off our next box when I emailed them about it.

    Blue Apron is what got me into grocery-delivery as a thing. On the surface it seems like a lot to pay weekly, but it actually brought my monthly food costs down. This is partly because we barely go out to eat anymore, and partly because I’m going to the grocery store less. That means I have less opportunities to pick up a bunch of stuff I don’t need. It’s also a really cool introduction to cooking if you’re a young person who is learning to feed herself in a healthy manner, and a great way to build up your recipe book. :)

  8. Skye

    I am curious, has anyone who lives alone tried Blue Apron? I live alone and thus often eat alone, and while I have friends over sometimes, the price doesn’t seem workable for those who dine alone often. Just curious if anyone has subscribed as one person, how many leftovers you end up with, and if you eat enough of it to justify the cost. Thanks!

    1. TheAssistant

      I don’t have personal experience, but my roommate uses Blue Apron (as a single person) and loves it. The meals are really hearty, so she has dinner that night and lunch the next day. We live in an expensive city, so your lunch options are either eat out for $10-$15 per meal (at “cheap” places), make a lunch each day (can get expensive and time consuming if you’re already making dinner for yourself), or buy frozen meals (gross). With that in mind, she finds it really cost-effective for her.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Yeah, I think I’d love it as a single person. Dinner on Monday + lunch on Tuesday, etc.

    3. EditBarb

      I live alone and use it. Each recipe is good for 2 meals for me, so it does work out to $60/6 meals. I like it because each recipe is good for 2 meals–unlike a lot of the food I make, where 1 recipe = 4 meals, so I feel like I’m only ever eating leftovers. I get it maybe once a month or so, because the recipes do require time and effort (in general, I double whatever the “cooking time” listed says, and have yet to finish a recipe in less than an hour).

      I do think of it as something of a luxury, though.

    4. Mabel

      My girlfriend has been using Blue Apron for several months, and she’s been very happy with it. There was one dish that was too spicy, but everything else has been delicious. As she says, she loves to cook, but she doesn’t love deciding what to cook and shopping for the food. She usually gets 3-4 portions/meals out of one recipe. And if she’s cooking for me, she substitutes gluten-free pasta (or gf breadcrumbs, etc.). So far, I have liked the food. It’s good quality, and it’s filling.

    5. Blondie

      I live with roommates but I’m the only one who uses Blue Apron and I love it! $60 gets you three meals for two people, so six meals at $10 a meal. But I can usually stretch each dish out to three meals which brings it to $6-$7 a meal! It works for me!

      My roommates have often sampled the food and expressed much jealously over how delicious it is. The only things I haven’t liked are the few times a ‘side salad’ comes with the main meal, I haven’t liked any of those side salads at all. But I like it! Plus I like that you can put weeks on hold and not get charged. I signed up last year but only ordered five weeks of meals over the entire year. I’m probably going to try it more this year (I’ve already approved the next two weeks) because I love Blue Apron!

  9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    I joined when you had their first sponsor post, and I LOVE IT. I’m a total evangelist. I’ve gotten my sister hooked, and given free meals away to another 5 people who use it occasionally. Love, love, love.

    The food is great, and more interesting than anything else I’d prepare at home. The quality of the fresh food – meat, produce, etc. – is incredibly good. Their sourcing is responsible and impressive.

    A few downsides and places I disagree with Alison:

    1) The recipes all SAY they take less than 40 minutes, but I – an experienced cook – have not found them to be all that realistic. I’d say they average 35 minutes or so, but I’ve had a few take over an hour.

    2) On the 2-person plan, they make six recipes and you choose three. But they are inflexible about which three you choose – not all combinations are available. So it’s rare that I can pick my three favorite recipes. I usually end up with two I’m excited about and one I’m kindof stuck with. On the other hand, which the exception of the fish entrees (which I don’t eat), I’ve never been disappointed in something I’ve gotten, so maybe this complaint is no big deal?

    3) It’s really not good for people with restricted diets. They have vegetarian options, but only three a week on the 2-person plan (which means that if you’re a vegetarian you have no choice in what they send you; if you eat everything you can pick your three meals). They don’t have a gluten-free or dairy-free plan (my gluten-free friend tried it, but couldn’t come up with three meals that she could eat in a week).

    4) It’s more like Blue Apron is the Executive Chef and you’re the line chef. They come up with the cool ideas and you execute, starting with your mise en place (i.e. chopping all the vegetables). This works well for me, ’cause they have better ideas than me. But it doesn’t take away the creative aspect of cooking, which I can imagine would be disappointing for folks who really love to cook.

    1. Jinx

      “The recipes all SAY they take less than 40 minutes, but I – an experienced cook – have not found them to be all that realistic. I’d say they average 35 minutes or so, but I’ve had a few take over an hour.”

      This was true for me too, as an inexperienced cook. Especially for recipes that involved multiple diced / minced / chopped ingredients – I’m a slow cutter, so it sometimes takes me 20 minutes just to finish the mise en place step.

    2. edj3

      Re prep time, yes also true for us and we are experienced in the kitchen.

      Some of the recipes had very generous sizing, enough that we got three or four servings out of them. That was good for lunch planning.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Yes, this is true. The casseroles and pasta dishes in particular make at least three full servings.

    3. Nobody

      Can you explain a little more about the process for picking meals? This is one of the hesitations I have about signing up, because I am sort of a picky eater. I don’t like seafood or lamb, and my understanding is that you can specify that when you sign up, and they will automatically substitute vegetarian meals for any meals that contain seafood or lamb. I was under the impression that they would select which vegetarian meal(s) to send in that case. Is that true, or do you get to choose from any of the three vegetarian meals? Do they sometimes restrict the choice to only one or two of the vegetarian meals, or is it always restricted? Have you noticed any patterns to which meals they won’t let you select? I don’t like mushrooms, so I would prefer to avoid any meals in which mushrooms are a main ingredient.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Each week, they prepare six recipes. Three are always vegetarian. One involves fish or seafood. The other two have some other kind of meat (usually the basics: chicken, beef, or pork; there’s been lamb once that I’ve noticed). When you sign up, you indicate which meal plan you want to be on (“vegetarian,” “omnivore,” etc.). After that, they’ll start sending you meals. If you never log in again, they’ll send you three items a week that conform to your plan (omnivore = one fish, one meat, one veg a week, etc.).

        But you can also individually select which items you want. I log in every week and select the three meals I want to make, so they never choose for me. You can always make your own choices.

        The only problem is that not all meal combinations are available. So next week, for example, they are offering:
        1) Chicken & Sage Biscuit Pot Pie
        2) Shrimp & pineapple fried rice
        3) Creamy lemon linguine
        4) Italian beef grinders
        5) Tuscan ribollita soup (vegetarian)
        6) Acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, and farro salad

        What I’d really like is the pot pie, the lemon linguine, and the acorn squash salad. But they won’t let me get that combination. Once I chose the pot pie, it wouldn’t let me have the squash salad or the soup. So I got the pot pie and the linguine, and then had to choose between the fried rice and the grinders.

        Does that help?

        1. Nobody

          Thanks for the information — that is very helpful! I didn’t realize you could pick your meals every week; I thought the only choice was between vegetarian and omnivore, and if you picked the latter, you could only do a blanket request for, say, no fish. It is really strange and puzzling that they are limiting your choices the way they are, though, and that is definitely a drawback. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want you to get the pot pie, linguine, and squash salad. If anything, I would think the vegetarian meals would be cheaper, so they would prefer you get two vegetarian meals than two meat meals.

    4. Ellen Ripley

      I agree with all your points. I was a subscriber for about a year, getting deliveries about every other week most of the time, and I ended up canceling my service because the recipes were just too complicated and took too long. They were interesting and good, but I already knew how to cook and wasn’t looking for something novel; I wanted something quick for weeknight meals. I kept getting the occasional week and doing one of them on the weekend when I had more time, but ultimately it didn’t make sense to continue.

      My other beef with them is the packaging material – most of it is recyclable but man that’s a lot of stuff to put in the waste stream every week.

      Right now I’m getting meals from Gobble – they deliver across California and Nevada and just expanded to Washington (state). It’s a faster prep, supposed to be 10-15 minutes, with almost everything pre-chopped for you and some things pre-cooked. It’s a little more expensive per person, $15 per person per meal, but still cheaper than eating out most places and healthier too. They also offer a pickup service of your boxes and packing material so they can reuse them, so there’s no waste. Definitely a pricier, ‘fancy-pants’ option, but it’s been invaluable on those really long days.

    5. JessaB

      That’s a problem, I can’t chop, I have fine motor issues, if I have to do all the veg prep that kills it for me, I’m at the point where if I want onion in a meal, I have to go to a grocery that sells the already sliced or get it from a place that has a salad bar. I also have major food restrictions. Darn, I was kind of hoping there was a lot of choice. Someone above made the point that they’d pay a surcharge to pick any meals, I would too.

  10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

    Oh, and hell yes on the toasted pepitas (which I just had in the squash quesadillas).

  11. bassclefchick

    My husband and I really want to try one of these services. We’ve (OK, I..since I do the cooking!) narrowed it down to Blue Apron and Chef’d. I don’t mind cooking, I just never know what to make, so this seems like a great investment.

    Anyone compared the two? I may be leaning more toward Chef’d if only because I really like (and have met in person!) Robert Irvine.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      No reason you can’t do both! I’ve actually thought of signing up with some of the other services, so if there’s a week that I don’t like the Blue Apron offerings I can do something else. But so far I’ve preferred the Blue Apron menus to any of the others.

  12. Sarah

    My spouse and I have just started using it and like it. We’re often too busy to put together meal plans and shop for dinner at home so often end up eating out (at a high cost), but we do like to cook. Blue Apron ends up filling in the meal plan and the shopping piece. Perfect! Also the portions are nice – we usually have enough for me to take to work for lunch the next day with the two person plan.

  13. kristinyc

    My husband and I started using it 3 weeks ago, and love it. We’re saving a ton of money by cooking this way, and eating much better. (YMMV – we live in NYC, and previously were ordering taking 3-4 nights a week, which usually ended up costing $35-45 each meal after taxes & tips). Some of the meals do take a while to prep since they have lots of chopping, but we usually just split up the tasks and talk about our days while we’re chopping veggies. It’s nice. :)

  14. HRish Dude

    My lone complaint about Blue Apron is when they send things to make with pizza dough. I have no idea how the hell to roll out pizza dough.

    1. EditBarb

      Holy crap, yes! After one fiasco, I’ve determined to never order something involving dough again. SO not worth it.

    2. Ellen

      I’m not a Blue Apron person, so YMMV in terms of their pizza dough, but my strategy with pizza dough in general is to think about stretching it rather than rolling it. I find that my hands work better than a rolling pin (sometimes I even pick it up and sort of let it droop towards the counter, so that the dough’s weight is doing the work–kind of like a less-skilled and vertical-rather-than-horizontal version of the spinning in the air you see really skilled pizza makers doing in shops) and that the whole thing is more successful if I let it rest periodically during the stretching process (so stretch for a few minutes/rest for a few minutes/stretch for a few minutes/rest for a few minutes/etc)

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Yes, this. Also, I let it sit out for much longer than the recipe calls for to bring it closer to room temp.

  15. Career Counselorette

    Oh my God, that cacciatore-style egg dish… we adored it. And it was stupid easy to make.

  16. Lillian McGee

    I signed up to give it a try too! I probably won’t stick with it because Mr. McGee and I already spend pretty frugally on food so I don’t see us saving money BUT three meals for half the price of a meal out is worth a try!

  17. Sheepla

    We’ve been using blue apron for about six months now. Literally has changed our life. I am SUCH a better cook than I used to be because of what I have learned (plus just more confidence). Plus for us, it has been a huge cost saver since we don’t eat out as much. I preach the gospel of blue apron (and evernote!) to anyone who will listen.

  18. LawBee

    I listen to a ton of podcasts, and I think Blue Apron sponsors almost all of them. The casts I listen to actually do use the products, and have been raving about BA for years. I’m still on the fence about trying it, but being able to pause the subscription is pretty sweet.

  19. Becky O.

    Blue Apron is awesome. My husband and I have been subscribing for over one year. We would be eating cereal and frozen waffles every night if it were not for Blue Apron. They have offer lots of promo coupons for first time customers — good incentive for those who are on the fence. Most of our meals do not turn out as pretty as the photos on IG or directions, however, they all are super delicious and tasty. Most of the meals are very healthy as well.

  20. Omne

    Eh, give it a shot and see how it works out.

    Thanks for the ad, it was one of the more useful ones I’ve seen on the net. I signed up a few minutes ago.

  21. The Other Beebs

    I have used it on and off. The ingredients are high-quality, the recipes are good, and it’s fun to unpack the box. The challenge for me was that I just didn’t feel it was a good value for our family. I expect to pay a premium over shopping from scratch, obviously. But one time (on the meals for 4 plan) I got a pizza for one of my meals. After it was made, I was staring at a $36 vegetarian butternut squash and caramelized onion pizza that just barely fed my three family members (granted, we are hearty eaters). I added up the cost of ingredients–including buying pre-made pizza dough from the deli and a full can of tomato sauce–and the grand total was about $11. After a couple of similar meals, I cancelled. So I might use it if we get really busy and I know I’ll be grabbing crap on the way home otherwise, but I just can’t justify it as a regular thing. I definitely urge people to try it, though–some of my coworkers have continued to subscribe and love it.

    Another good thing is that you have the recipe so unless there’s a something like a mystery “spice packet” (which I got in one of my favorite meals) you can duplicate the meals from the grocery store.

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