Blue Apron will help you cook dinner tonight

And now a break to talk about a sponsor…

I like to think I’m a reasonably competent cook. But when I’m having a busy day or have waited too long to think about what to make for dinner, it’s way too easy to fall back on ordering delivery, and I have long-running guilt about how much we end up spending on delivery when we give into that impulse too often.

Mushroom & Fontina Grilled Cheese

Mushroom and fontina grilled cheese with sweet pepper and roasted cauliflower salad. I am obsessed with this salad.

Enter Blue Apron. Blue Apron is a delivery service that delivers farm-fresh ingredients for delicious, chef-designed recipes directly to your door. Everything is pre-measured and ready to go, so that you don’t need to figure out what to cook, shop for ingredients, or a bunch of time-consuming prep work; you just get to do the actual cooking and eating. And everything can be prepared in 40 minutes or less.

You can order a 2-person plan (one delivery a week, with three meals for two) or a family plan (your choice of one or two deliveries a week, with two or four meals for four). Each meal comes out to under $10 per person, with free shipping. You can set up your profile with whatever dietary preferences or restrictions you have, so that you don’t get meals you don’t like or can’t eat. Everything all gets delivered in a temperature-controlled box so ingredients stay fresh even if you’re not home when it arrives. (And all the packaging is recyclable!)

Thai Green Coconut Curry

Thai green coconut curry with sweet potato, green beans and jasmine rice.

Not only does Blue Apron make cooking dinner easier, but I’m convinced that it actually makes you a better cook. At least in my case, it gets me to cook things I wouldn’t otherwise have tried, many of which I end up making again on my own, or they show me how to make it better. Case in point: their Thai green coconut curry (photo at right). I’m obsessed with green curry and have been making my own for years, but after making theirs, I’m replacing my recipe with the one they sent me. It was creamy and spicy and sort of magical.

Fresh Linguine & Roasted Fennel

Fresh linguine and roasted fennel with lemon ricotta, castelvetrano olives, and breadcrumbs.

They’ve got a big selection of recipes and add new ones to their menu every week. I’m currently eyeing their crispy ricotta pierogis (!) and these queso & pepper arepas.

Interested in trying it? Blue Apron is offering two free meals on your first order; just sign up here. There’s no commitment – you can skip or cancel the service at any time.

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

 

{ 80 comments… read them below }

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      I’m pretty rural (town of 5,000), Eli, but Blue Apron delivers to me. They are pretty good all in all!

  1. Sheepla*

    My husband and I have been subscribing to Blue Apron for months now. My husband says “I have been waiting for this my whole life and I didn’t even know it.” We have saved money as we don’t do takeout as much now and we LOVE the cooking part of it. I feel like I’m a better cook due to Blue Apron. Made the ricotta pierogis last night and they were delicious. I’m a HUGE, HUGE fan.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      How do you get the ricotta pierogies?? There were only, like, six recipe options per week for me.

  2. A Jane*

    Is this a USA only company? I am in the UK and there are similar companies but I haven’t used them as they are very expensive. Plus my husband is very fussy and doesn’t like a lot of the recipes, which is a shame!

    1. Chriama*

      I haven’t heard of anything like this in Canada, but I would love it if someone did this. Cooking takes so much effort for me that I put it off for weeks and then spend 12-16 hours going crazy with batch cooking and am totally exhaused the next day.

      1. allegrofox*

        In Canada there is Chef’s Plate: https://www.chefsplate.com/ Right now they only deliver in Ontario, but they’re expanding! I use it and it is awesome – I’ve stopped my deliveries for the last couple months because I’m renovating and have no kitchen, and I MISS IT! Can’t wait to cook again :)

        1. Chriama*

          Lol I expect it will take a few years to work it’s way to Alberta then. It’s like when I lived in Montreal and everyone would deliver groceries – nothing like that out here in the city of a million cars :(

          1. Librarosaurus*

            There are at least a dozen delivery options in Edmonton. Are you sure you have nothing like that out here?

            1. Shell*

              Isn’t the point that Blue Apron (and similar companies) lets you buy food according to their recipes? So if you want to make, say, pad thai, they’d provide all the ingredients prewashed/premeasured and provide a recipe so you can cook without the prep? And you don’t have to think about what this ingredient could make?

              I know us Canadians have (more limited) grocery delivery options, but I think it’s the combination of novel recipes + wide variety of ingredients + all ingredient prep done for you (wash, measure, de-bone, whatever) that’s so magical about Blue Apron. Having a box of chicken thighs delivered to my door isn’t quite as exciting if I don’t know what to do with it.

              (Yes, yes, allrecipes and etc., but that’s rather besides the point.)

  3. Colleen*

    I love Blue Apron and I completely agree with Allison that it gets you out of your comfort zone and introduces you to meals you wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. In particular, I’m a big fan of their warm winter salads (warm vegetables with a grain, greens, nuts, and cheese), which I just never would have thought of myself.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Totally. I also feel so fancy when I plate the dish with herbs or whatever side they had you create. It always looks so nice!

  4. The Other Dawn*

    I wish I could do this, but my husband wouldn’t eat hardly and of it; he thinks most of it is “weird food.” The most adventurous he’s even been is Chinese takeout and Japanese hibachi. So frustrating to be married to a very plain Jane picky eater sometimes. And, since I’ve has gastric bypass, I can’t see getting this just for myself. Sure I can have the leftovers, but it’s too much cooking for just me.

    1. mirror*

      My husband is like this, and he can act like that annoying kid “I’m not gonna like it!” just by looking at a meal, but we have an arrangement with Blue Apron. He at least tries it, or we can go back to everyone-for-themselves every week like cereal for dinner because we’re lazy/busy or we waste money on unhealthy take out.

      He hates the boring meals and wasting money more. So I win :)

  5. NYC Redhead*

    I actually made the arepas last night. Honestly, they were good but not great, the kale salad was a little underwhelming, but the chimichurri was delicious. It was definitely something I never would have made on my own, and I will be making the pierogi this week. I have been making the rounds of all of the meal delivery services, and many of them offer special rates for first-timers. I have liked Hello Fresh the best so far.

  6. Nefarious Hibachi*

    I just started it and I have to say, I love their recipes. I will say though…don’t expect leftovers. I generally cook hoping to have enough for lunch the next day, but that isn’t the case with these recipes.

    1. MegEB*

      I’ve found that it can be kind of hit or miss with the serving sizes. Sometimes I have plenty for leftovers (I think one time, my roommate and I managed to get four full servings out of a chicken sausage gumbo recipe they sent us) but other times I have just enough for a full meal and maybe a snack the next day.

  7. MegEB*

    I used Blue Apron for awhile now and I loved it. I’m a pretty decent cook on my own, so the $60/week is tough to swing on my budget every week, but my boyfriend, who is a terrible cook and used to eat out constantly, has become Blue Apron’s biggest fan. And his cooking skills have vastly improved :) Definitely a great service.

      1. Blue Apron Fan*

        Yes! I have cooked for many years and am very comfortable in the kitchen. Blue Apron has taught me lots of new flavor combinations and how to create them. People who are learning how to put ingredients together would get a lot out of a service like this because it takes you out of your comfort zone and shows you what things really taste like together, even if you couldn’t really imagine it when just looking at the unassembled ingredients.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Hmm, this may be the most compelling argument yet. Before reading these comments, I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would get Blue Apron instead of finding a recipe on the internet and buying the ingredients at the grocery store. Like Mirror, I’m a decent cook when I have a recipe, but I don’t have good instincts about flavor combinations.

          1. Blue Apron Fan*

            Fun story — My husband does a lot of our cooking. Even when we use recipes, he has a certain way he likes to spice things because he knows what it’ll taste like, so he’ll change the recipe to suit what he wants to make. I always teased him that all of his food tastes the same, even new recipes. With Blue Apron he can’t change it like that, so we get to try new stuff :)

      2. mirror*

        I’m really good at following recipes. Not so much in the innate ability to create flavor combinations. So I LOVE how much Blue Apron is teaching me! The recipes are so simple and yet so flavorful. Something like pan-frying potatoes with lemon juice and butter–never would have thought to do that in a million years, but soooo delicious.

        Same goes for all the side sauces and salad dressings. I’ve learned a lot.

      3. AnotherFed*

        Definitely! I’ve also found that ingredients I didn’t think I liked (broccoli, to name one in my dinner tonight) are not the icky, nasty things I thought – depending on what you put them with, they can come out fantastic! It’s like the grown up version of pouring Velveeta on your vegetables to make them edible. Case in point – tonight’s broccoli fennel casserole is something I would never in a million years have picked out and put together or even been willing to try a bite that someone else had ordered at a restaurant, but now that I’ve had it I’m hiding the leftovers so that I don’t have to share.

  8. Elizabeth West*

    I’d only do this if they cooked it for me. There IS a personal chef/meal prep service here in our city, but I can’t afford it. I wish I could; it would be a real help to me during NaNoWriMo and the April blogging challenge I do every year. As it is, during those busy times, I just shove whatever is within reach into my mouth.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Do you have Munchery where you are? The meal’s prepared for you and you just need to pop it in the microwave or oven. Where I am the cost is about the same per meal as Blue Apron ($8-11), though I don’t think the meals are portioned for leftovers the way BA often is (I’m eating serving 2 of 4 of this week’s broccoli fennel casserole right now!)

      I personally haven’t used it much but lots of my coworkers have raved about it.

  9. Interviewer*

    Thank you so much for Blue Apron! I signed up for this the last time you posted about it, and it’s been a huge hit with me and my husband. I get to cook stuff I’ve never tried, and really enjoy it. He loves the variety, the new flavors, and having homecooked meals versus going out to eat.

    But my 3 kids HATE the service (ranging from ages 5-10). They won’t even try them without strong encouragement or “salesmanship” on my part. And the most difficult meals are total battles from start to finish. Doesn’t matter what I’m making, the entire meal is up for debate on why it sucks. Sometimes to avoid fights, I give them the main entree and make them a different side dish, or end up cooking 2 different meals – one for us, one for them. So ridiculous.

    I hear it takes a lot of exposure to certain foods to get kids used to them, and we don’t get enough of that exposure with such a huge variety of meals (no repeats so far in 3 months, although some ingredients are repeated). Still, I press onward. Maybe one day I’ll have a daughter who thanks me for making her eat Blue Apron. Or they’ll just moan about it to their therapist.

    1. mirror*

      Interesting! I always thought the family plan was more kid-friendly in the meal department. I make myself jealous sometimes comparing the 2 person plan to the family plan–it seems the 2 person plan is for the Friend Who Goes Farmer’s Marketing and the family plan is Mom’s Cooking.

      Although, can’t complain too much, because I’m getting to make all these meals I never in a million years would choose on my own, and most of them are really good!

  10. Lirael*

    See, I just don’t understand how this is a deal. Maybe if I lived in a high cost area or someplace where I was relying on public transportation to get to the grocery store. But, honestly, if I’m paying that much to still do all the cooking and cleaning, why don’t I just go out then? If I’m going out to eat, it’s because I’m tired and stressed after a long day at work and I want someone else to do all that for me. Everyone tells me that it helps teach you how to cook, but how is it any different than following a well-written recipe or cooking demo video? Again, if I lived in a big, crowded city where getting to grocery stores was a pain or decent restaurants were super pricey (I live in a medium-sized college town), but otherwise I just don’t see how it’s worth the money.

    1. NL*

      If you don’t like it how about just not commenting? This is a company that’s helping to support AAM. I don’t see how comments like this help her get future sponsorships.

      1. Squirrel*

        I think it’s fair to point out that this may not be a service for everyone, and I don’t think Lirael did it in a rude or nasty way. I don’t believe there’s a need to censor non-nasty or non-rude posts here…

        1. LBK*

          Eh, I thought the comment was a little unnecessarily snarky, as if she couldn’t fathom why someone would ever use the service.

          1. Lirael*

            I didn’t intend it to be snarky. I just wanted to hear a good defense/argument for it. Most people I talk to tell me they love it but don’t really spell things out (other than say I need to try it for myself).

            1. Treena*

              Well, if you can truly get a similar quality take-out/restaurant meal for $8-10, then you’re right, there’s no reason for you to get it. But I’ve lived in medium-sized college towns, and they’ve been considered really inexpensive places to eat, but only if you don’t really care too much about the quality/nutrition-factor.

              The best meal I could get for under $10 was at a great Turkish place that since closed down. But it’s super unhealthy, so for regular eats, not a great deal in the long-term.

              Now I live in a huge metropolis (outside the US, to be fair) and I just paid $20 for a medium pizza, perfect for two. Blue Apron would definitely be a step up if we had it here!

      2. Amber Rose*

        It also gives other people who’ve used it and loved it a chance to convince her otherwise.

        I highly doubt one disagreeing opinion in a comment is going to hurt Alison and AAM in any way. Any company that would sulk and pull advertising dollars over one politely worded dissenting opinion isn’t a company that would survive long.

    2. T3k*

      I was coming on here to say the same thing. Where I am, I can run to several nearby local places and get a healthy meal for about $7… and have leftovers for a lunch the next day. Granted, if one day I’m paid well enough to throw some extra money around I might like to try some of these, but as it is I have to watch where every penny goes.

      1. Lirael*

        Me too. It’s not that it doesn’t sound like a cool service if I had extra money to allot to something like this. It’d just, for me, the ROI isn’t really there.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it really depends on your preferences. I love cooking but I also love having someone else do all the planning and shopping for me so that I literally just have to do the cooking part.

      Their meals out come to $9.99 per person on the 2-person plan and $8.74 per person for the family plan, so it really just depends on whether that’s a cost that works for you or not. I think it’s in line with a lot of people’s food budgets, although certainly not all (which is of course the case for nearly any product).

    4. Chriama*

      I like the idea of a service like this, although I’ve never used it. The appeal to me is the pre-measuring and prep work already done for you (I seriously don’t understand why it takes me so long to wash and cut vegetables — especially bell peppers, I think it’s all the seeds I try to avoid). I think if you’re not used to cooking having everything pre-measured is really helpful. And you’re also paying for convenience like havnig the stuff delivered to your door.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        But that’s not done, right? You still do all the chopping?

        We actually signed up through this post and I’m excited to try. But I really wish they did more of the prep! :)

      2. HappyWriter*

        While some things do come pre-measured (like flour, spices, etc.), you still have to chop your own veggies. And yes, it takes time. But I still like it! Using Blue Apron has helped me get a lot better about doing my mise en place (getting everything ready before you cook) so I’m not scrambling to chop something else while my garlic burns :-)

    5. Blue Apron Fan*

      I didn’t think I’d enjoy it for some of the reasons you list. If I am tired after a long day, I don’t necessarily want to to cook and clean at all. I also really enjoy eating out.

      However, I’ve ended up loving it. I do really enjoy cooking, and having meals that are similar in quality to a restaurant (rather than my boring old standards I was already cooking) makes me want to eat in rather than go out. In my area, it is also cheaper than eating at a restaurant with comparable food. And I don’t live in a big city at all. I also like having no guilt over that 3/4 of a bunch of cilantro that went bad in my fridge because I didn’t have the energy to come up with 5 cilantro recipes in one week. My husband and I typically cook the meals together, so it’s also given us a fun way to bond and spend time together.

    6. Laura*

      For me the advantage is getting the exact right portion of the ingredients, especially things like spices. I live alone. I love to cook and am an adventurous eater, but if I’m considering a new recipe that involves new spices that I don’t already have on-hand I usually won’t try it – it’s not worth it to pay $6 for a bottle of something that I’ll use once every 6 months. With Blue Apron, I get to try a wide variety of flavors and styles without ending up with cabinets full of wasted ingredients.

      This isn’t my primary way of feeding myself. I consider it a treat, I usually get a box 1-2x/month. On weeks I get Blue Apron I will eat out less. If I were on a more frugal budget it would absolutely be one of the first things I would cut, but now that my income allows me a little more flexibility it is something I really enjoy.

    7. LBK*

      I don’t think it’s meant to be a deal. I think there’s a few reasons you’d use the service:

      1) The biggest factor is that you like cooking. If it’s a chore for you rather than a hobby, then obviously you’re not going to like a service where the whole point is cooking.

      2) You like exploring different types of food but are bad at picking them out. This is totally me; I’ll eat basically anything and I love trying out new foods, but I’m wildly unimaginitive when it comes to planning my meals. I have a ton of cookbooks and there’s hundreds of cooking blogs and sites out there but somehow when I end up at the grocery store I always end up getting the same old stuff. This forces you out of your comfort zone (and it sounds like from the testimonials that it may end up introducing some new favorites into your usual cooking rotation).

      3) The one economic advantage is that it has correct portion sizes for uncommon ingredients. Sometimes I avoid making things like curry because they don’t sell just one meal’s worth of some of the ingredients. Thus, I end up not cooking it very often because I know I’ll have to throw out half the ingredients, or I end up having to plan all my meals for a week around using up a giant package of bean sprouts or whatever. This eliminates that problem and allows you to sample from a wide array of different cuisines without worrying about wasting food.

      Obviously there’s enough of a demand for this that there are several different services out there like it (Plated is the other one I’ve looked into and I believe there’s a third big competitor that I can’t think of right now). I don’t think it’s meant to replace going out or buying regular groceries, it’s just a fun thing to do for people who like experimenting in the kitchen.

      1. A is for A*

        This exactly. I use Plated, because I like cooking new things, and trying new ingredients. I also work a FT job and am a college professor on the side, so not a lot of free time to shop and be inventive. It’s a convenience that I actually enjoy paying for.

    8. Parfait*

      It’s definitely a bit on the pricey side. I justify it because I enjoy cooking, but don’t really enjoy meal planning or grocery shopping. I consider part of the price entertainment value. If you don’t actually like the cooking process, then it absolutely is not a good deal.

      Also? They send exactly the right amount of each ingredient, so you don’t end up buying an entire thing of celery or green onions or whatever and then throwing away the excess in two weeks once it’s a soupy mess in the bottom of your crisper drawer. I appreciate that very much.

    9. mirror*

      It’s worth it for us because:

      1. We were sick of eating the same boxed meals. I also hate defrosting meat and that whole process to get it ready to cook, so usually my poor husband went involuntarily vegetarian. He now finally gets meat with each meal, which makes him happy.

      2. If I’m tired, I dont feel like eating out either. We live near a foodie paradise of restaurants, but that involves driving into town. And they are way more expensive and not really that healthy. Our own town is a fast food waste haven. You only get 3 meals a week with Blue Apron so we space out the meals according to our laziness :)

      3. I’m the bomb at following recipes. But choosing the recipe, reading all the reviews, modifying the ingredients according to the reviews, going to the store, buying the ingredients, hating myself because I didnt really like the meal and dont want to make any more meals with all the leftover ingredients, throwing those unused ingredients away….then feel even more apprehensive about trying a new recipe because I risk wasting a ton of money on all these ingredients that I may not like? Back to the boring boxed meals! Blue Apron solves all this risk for me. If we dont like it, that’s $20 gone, which is less than a whole shopping trip and tons of leftover ingredients to throw away.

      3a. I also havent seen a place that offers simple recipes. They always seem to have ingredient lists 20+ long, with at least 3 hard-to-find/expensive ingredients. Then lots of prep steps. Blue Apron is so simple and that’s why I love it!

      1. Lirael*

        The pre-measured ingredient and access to the right amounts of hard-to-get ingredients aspect does appeal to me.

      2. T3k*

        For 3, you should check out the site Supercook for leftover ingredients. It lets you select the ingredients you have available and even lets you select which ones to prioritize, if you have diet restrictions, etc. and it’ll spit out recipes you can make with what you have available (and show a few others that require other ingredients). I found an amazing pesto mozzarella chicken recipe doing that, and now every time I put chicken down on the menu for the week, my mom wants me to make that dish.

    10. AW*

      Again, if I lived in a big, crowded city where getting to grocery stores was a pain or decent restaurants were super pricey (I live in a medium-sized college town), but otherwise I just don’t see how it’s worth the money.

      Other possible situations for this service:
      * You live in a food desert
      * The grocery stores don’t carry the ingredients you want
      * Mobility issues
      * Time constraints

      relying on public transportation to get to the grocery store

      Oh man, I feel you on not wanting to do that. It SUCKS.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I saw a TV commercial for Blue Apron last week. It doesn’t appeal to me personally, because I get a weekly CSA box (at work – very convenient!) and do enjoy planning out my own dinners and coming up with menus, but I can really see how it would be a great idea for people who don’t want to/can’t easily do the grocery shopping or who are trying to expand their cooking skills but don’t want to or have time to take a class. (Also, not everyone is like me and sees having three heads of different cabbage varieties as a creative challenge rather than a problem.)

        Someone in my city just started a business where they will get items from the farmers’ market, local farms, and other local food producers and bring them straight to your door on Saturday morning. My understanding is that it’s very popular. Not the exact same thing, but a similar concept in terms of the “farm to table” (literally!) concept.

      2. MegEB*

        I didn’t even consider the advantage it provides to people in a food desert. That’s a good point!

    11. misspiggy*

      Great for people like me who haven’t the spoons for shopping, carrying, and prepping food, but like to cook and want to escape the grease of takeaway food. Pity it’s not in the UK!

    12. Nerdling*

      For us, it’s a once-a-month-or-two splurge rather than a deal. It lets us try new things and keeps me from having to run all over god’s green earth for ingredients. And with a lot of the spices, those are things I would have to shell out an arm and a leg for in order to make one recipe that my spouse might not like. I get higher-quality ingredients than I would often buy for myself, too, which is part of why I consider it a splurge.

    13. MegEB*

      One of the things that differentiates Blue Apron from just following a recipe is that Blue Apron provides all the ingredients you need for that particular meal, AND they only provide exactly what you need. So if a recipe calls for just 2 cloves of garlic, for example, you only get 2 cloves of garlic in your Blue Apron box, rather than having to buy a whole bulb of garlic and let the rest sit in your kitchen for a couple months. I live alone, so I really have no reason to buy anything in bulk, but I hate wasting food, so the portion-specific sizes are perfect for me.

      For those who are comfortable enough to look up a recipe online and follow it, Blue Apron might not offer a huge advantage in that regard, but for people like my boyfriend, who didn’t even know how to scramble eggs and generally found kitchens overwhelming, it was incredibly helpful for him to have a service that not only decided what he was going to have for dinner that night, but provided the ingredients for it as well. It’s really useful for certain types of personalities and for people that really just have no idea how to start cooking.

  11. BrownN*

    I’ve started using Blue Apron three weeks ago. Originally, I just wanted to try it because I noticed other people in my building were using them. I ordered the two-person meals and like what I cooked. I felt that some of the meals were way more food than I usually eat in a meal, but that’s okay. Because I’m cooking for one, my meals last for six days.

    I skipped a week last week and really missed not having Blue Apron. I had a routine for eating dinner. While shopping at the grocery store, I bought a number of items that should never be in my presence. I promised myself that when I’m bored or down, I would have the self-control I didn’t have in the past and make it all last a week. I was NOT successful.

    After being told that I am pre-diabetic two weeks ago, I needed a new plan. I decided that Blue Apron would be my tool to eating better. I’m learning how to cook, eat healthier and save money. This was going to be my adventure to eat things that I’ve never had before or been hesitant to eat. So far, I have had any qualms even when it came to eating vegetables that I swore I’d never eat again.

    My deliveries come via UPS, so I think if you can get UPS, you can probably get Blue Apron in your area.

  12. licoricepencil*

    I will also sing Blue Apron’s praises. As a university student having my first internship in an expensive city to live in with no prior experience cooking, it helped me out enormously to have a Blue Apron delivery once per week.
    Since it was just me eating my Blue Apron meals, I would have half for dinner and then have great leftovers for lunch the next day! I can’t think of a single disappointing recipe, and I know my parents were relieved that I was eating well and not binging on ramen or spending all of my money on fast food.
    When I graduate and leave behind dorm food for good, I will definitely be going back to Blue Apron.

  13. steve g*

    If they had a buy-for-a-week only option I’d do it. But I cook often enough that it’s wouldn’t help and would actually be a burden if it HAD to come every week. If it was possible I’d get it like every 6-8 weeks just for a change. Food for thought for them…..

    1. AnotherFed*

      You can get just one delivery, or one every once in a while. You do have to tell it what you want, but you can go in a decide to skip or get deliveries for ~5 weeks out, and they were great about suspending and then reactivating the account for a friend who took a 3 month posting overseas.

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