Blue Apron is your answer to what to eat for dinner

And now a break to talk about a sponsor…

My household has long-running angst surrounding dinner: Is it going to be a taco night, is someone going to make spaghetti, do we order out … or how exactly will we feed ourselves tonight? We’ve even recently created a shared spreadsheet that we’re using to plot out meals in advance (because one of us* is a huge geek), in an attempt to avoid realizing that it’s 7 p.m. and no one has thought about dinner. (The spreadsheet includes a lot of tacos.)

Sumac-Roasted Sweet Potato & Farro Salad

Sumac-Roasted Sweet Potato & Farro Salad

Having someone else solve the problem of what we’re going to eat for dinner is one of the many reasons we like 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.

Moo Shu Vegetables

Moo Shu Vegetables with Pancakes and Plum Sauce

You can order a two-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!)

Acorn Squash Risotto

Acorn Squash Risotto

When we cook our own stuff, we tend to cycle through the same recipes over and over again (ahem, tacos), but when we get a Blue Apron box, we cook stuff that we otherwise never would have tried on our own. This month, I cooked Moo Shu Vegetables (far better and less greasy than any I’ve ever had in take-out), Acorn Squash Risotto (with crispy sage on top – who knew that you should be frying up sage and putting it on everything?), and Sumac-Roasted Sweet Potato and Farro Salad. All delicious, and all things I wouldn’t have made on my own.

They have loads of interesting recipes, and they add new ones all the time. Next I’m particularly eyeing the Spring Miso Ramen and the Tortilla Soup with Hominy.

Interested in trying it for yourself? Blue Apron is offering two free meals on your first order; just sign up here. And there’s no commitment – you can skip or cancel the service at any time, so give them a try!

* Me.

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

{ 65 comments… read them below }

  1. Sanji*

    I think the mistake you have made here is that you don’t eat tacos ALL THE TIME!

    I eat tacos every evening and it’s great.

  2. Big McLargeHuge*

    My fiancee and I tried this out and it was pretty great. Decent portions and I couldn’t believe how well it was packaged. Meat was separated from the rest of the ingredients and there was sufficient dry ice to ensure everything was kept cold. The food was delicious as well!

    I would definitely recommend it, even as a trial like we did.

  3. Dot Warner*

    Do you ever have leftovers? I ask because I work the night shift, and since my employer’s cafeteria isn’t very good and nothing else is open at that hour, I usually bring leftovers to eat at work.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      My husband and I sometimes do the two-person meals, and the portion sizes are pretty generous. Occasionally we’ll have leftovers from one of the bigger recipes (some come with 3 servings), but it’s more likely that we’ll each have a larger meal.

    2. AnontherFed*

      Not very often with the 2 person meals and both of us eating – we either get 2 dinners, or if just one of us home, 1 dinner and 2 lunches worth leftover.

    3. miss_chevious*

      If you’re ordering for just yourself, then definitely! But if you’re a two person household, leftovers aren’t typical. The portion sizes are satisfying, but not gigantic.

  4. Katie the Fed*

    I might be interested in this, but the packaging seems awful. So much plastic and cardboard, not to mention delivery. It just seems really bad for the environment. If there were a local place I could swing by on the way home and pick up the ingredients for dinner, already chopped, I’d be all over that.

    1. Kristine*

      My mother used a service like that in the early 2000’s…I can’t remember the name of it. But she’d pick out her meals ahead of time from the menu they supplied her, call in her order, and then pick the box up on the designated date.

      I would use this type of service as well, but I imagine it’s much harder to keep the cost down when you’re operating on a smaller scale. So for now I will continue devoting my Sundays to pre-cooking meals for the week.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        That’s what I do too. And I chop as many veggies as I can on the weekend, and marinate meats, etc.

    2. Minnesota*

      I tried Blue Apron several weeks ago, taking advantage of a coupon on this site. It was cool and not overly expensive given the quality, etc. But I and my family could not get around the packaging. Every single item individually packaged, but then packed in a box that included multiple ice packs and non-recylable materials. We cancelled our second order and decided to just do a better job of being creative on our own. The food was delicious, but nothing we couldn’t make on our own.

    3. AnontherFed*

      The packaging is pretty awful – it takes a ton of space in the recycling bin, and is sometimes a PITA to clean out/deal with. I’m the person who reuses Chinese takeaway containers instead of buying gladware, and even I can’t manage to reuse much of the packaging.

    4. TBoT*

      In a lot of locations you can send two weeks’ worth of packaging back to them, at their expense, to be recycled, and they work it into the carrier’s existing delivery routes so it’s not a special trip (so there’s minimal fuel use associated with the return trip back).

      1. Clever Name*

        Fair enough. However, I feel compelled to point out that “recycle” comes third after reducing waste and reusing stuff in the eco-friendly triad. Because recycling isn’t a panacea.

  5. ZSD*

    Doesn’t Blue Apron offer two free meals to anyone who tries them out, not just AAM readers? On the one hand, I feel like I’m whining rather a lot if I say, “You aren’t giving me *enough* stuff for free,” but on the other hand, I guess I feel like if they’re sponsoring this post, they ought to offer readers a better incentive than they offer the general public. Like, maybe normal first-time users get two free meals, but if you use a special AAM code, you get three.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm. I’ve never thought the point of sponsoring was to give special discounts (although some do that) but just to tell a particular audience about a product/service.

      1. ZSD*

        I guess that’s reasonable. I will say, though, that in earlier Blue Apron posts you’ve done, there’s been a stronger implication that the deal is special to the sponsored post. (For example, the most recent one said they were offering 2 free meals “to the first 100 readers to sign up [at a link],” which implied that AAM readers were getting something special.) This latest post doesn’t say anything to indicate that the deal is special for AAM readers, so I guess that’s okay. But when they act like they’re giving us a special offer when in fact they give that to everyone, it kind of bothers me.

  6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I always comment on these Blue Apron threads because I started using it after the first one and it’s life-changing. Happy to answer any questions people have. We love it!

    1. SG*

      Saaaaaame. I cannot sing its praises enough. And I’m someone that LOVES to cook, loves to try new recipes- but cooking for one while working and with tons of hobbies? Blue Apron is the reason I get to try super new exciting recipes but don’t have to eat them for like six meals. I already have three recipes I saved from previous boxes and make all the time now- too good not to reuse!

    2. neverjaunty*

      Do they actually let you pick out the specific meals for which they’ll send ingredients? I’m contemplating ordering Blue Apron for Mr. Jaunty (who does most of the weekday cooking, but it’s really not his thing), but it’s a waste of money if they send ingredients for a meal none of the family will eat.

  7. LBK*

    I think I’m going to finally bite the bullet and sign up for one of these services. I loathe grocery shopping and I have the same problem with lack of menu creativity. I think I’ve avoided it in the past by saying I can’t justify the cost, but realistically it’s more efficient when I factor in how much stuff I end up throwing out because I’m forced to buy ingredient portions that are enough to serve a whole family and then I can’t use all of it before it goes bad.

    1. AnontherFed*

      I also loathe grocery shopping, and have the problem of never leaving the store with all the things I meant to buy (but with 16 sale items that jumped in my cart when I wasn’t looking). I think our overall food bills have gone down with Blue Apron, if only because I’m not coming home with random things that don’t make a meal!

    2. Honeybee*

      Me too. Honestly initially I was balking at the expense – that’s $240 a month if you do the 2-person, 3-day-a-week plan. But seriously, that’s honestly not that bad for 3 meals per week even just raw ingredients, much less prepared and separated ingredients. It would just come out of my grocery budget, and I wouldn’t have to worry about selecting meals or chopping and measuring food? I could just come home and cook? Hell yeah. And I love trying new stuff but never have the energy to dig up a new recipe after a day at work. So yeah, this is happening.

      And yes, it would help me limit the waste…especially fresh vegetables.

    3. miss_chevious*

      It’s turned out to be *more* economical for me than regular grocery shopping, because I eat out a lot less, and don’t have to buy huge portions of groceries for one person that go bad.

      Another side benefit is that it really did expand my eating horizons. I make things with Blue Apron that I’ve never even heard of, let alone would attempt on my own, and virtually everything has been good to AMAZING in terms of flavor.

  8. J*

    We tried Blue Apron while I was on maternity leave late last year and I really enjoyed the experience. I’m a newbie cook and was able to make some pretty impressive (for me) dishes. Ultimately it was too hard to continue with 2 small children on a regular basis, but I’ve already told my husband I want to do it again when we staycation.

    I will say that (maybe I’m just horrendously slow at chopping?) the food prep took WAY longer than BA recipes suggested. But everything was good!

  9. Paloma Pigeon*

    I went over to a friend’s house and she was making one of the recipes and my mouth was watering the whole time. For me, the issue is time – it seems like a lot of the recipes are labor-intensive. The recipe my friend was working on was multi-step and took well over 2 hours with prep/cook time. Not practical for mid-week.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’ve never had anything take that long, but it is longer than I would do otherwise. Left to my own devices, I’d eat spaghetti with a can of diced tomatoes every night.

      I’d say that the prep time averages around 45 minutes.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        (And the median isn’t far off. The spread is maybe 30 – 60 minutes, with almost all clustered around 45 minutes).

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        (Oh, and when I say prep time I mean the whole shebang, not just the mise en place.)

      3. Honeybee*

        That’s what they say on their website, too, that their meals are designed to take around 40 minutes.

    2. SG*

      I’ve never had any recipes take me near that long, but there usually a fair bit of prep work involved. But to me that’s a lot of what makes it satisfying as someone that enjoys cooking- you are still cooking, you just got all the ingredients and recipe neatly bundled up and dropped at your door.

      1. Honeybee*

        Me too. I don’t want the prep all done for me and I don’t want to whip something up in 10 minutes all the time because that doesn’t feel like I’m cooking. I still want to cook, because I like to cook, I would just like someone else to choose what I’m going to make and then buy all the stuff and deliver it to my door. LOL.

        1. Amber*

          Ooohhh it’s definitely cooking. If a recipe has thyme, parsley, etc, you will be the one peeling the leaves from the stem and chopping!

    3. cbackson*

      Really? I’ve gotten Blue Apron for a year and I’ve never had a recipe that took longer than 20 minutes to prep.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Me neither! In fact, the prep is usually fast enough that I just do most of it while moving through the recipe (like while the first thing is sauteeing or whatever, rather than doing it all up-front). Maybe there’s major variation in how fast people chop!

        1. LBK*

          I wonder if this is a factor of how much cooking experience you have, which probably gives you a more natural instinct about what things you can multitask (like your “chop stuff while something else sautes” example).

    4. Nashira*

      Knife skills are definitely a skill, and one that can get faster over time and with the right tools. For example, I can blitz through a ton of produce due to using a large sharp Chinese cleaver in the amount of time it takes my mother-in-law to mince a carrot, since she uses a dull paring knife and I have more practice at knife skills vs just chopping stuff. Technique videos on Youtube can really help!

  10. Not Karen*

    I wonder how particular you can be with selecting dietary preferences. For instance, can I specify that I don’t like more than a little bit of spice?

  11. Rachel*

    Can you specify that you want to avoid certain ingredients? I have to avoid gluten(it is the wooooooorst and I do not understand people who avoid it when they don’t HAVE TO), but I know I’ve seen multiple recipes that include forbidden grains.

      1. Rachel*

        Thanks for that!
        In scoping out their sample recipes, I think they may not recognize how many of their recipes include gluten-y ingredients(easy to do when bread/pasta is an affordable, filling food that doesn’t cause you problems.) 5 of the 6 two-person plan recipes have bread, breading, or pasta of some sort, although the Mushroom & Poblano Pepper Quesadillas sound AMAZING, and 4 of the 4 family plan meals do. I got a pop-up asking if I want to receive their recipes by email, maybe I’ll sign up for that and see if the non-sample recipes tilt more gluten-free, because everything sounds so good!

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yeah, my gluten-free friend who tried it cancelled right away – she consistently could not get three gluten-free meals a week.

  12. GT*

    I tried Blue Apron based upon the recommendation here last time–I’d been thinking about it, and the sponsor post pushed me into the “order” category. I liked it overall, but there just wasn’t enough choice. For the plan I had, you choose 3 meals and have 6 options to choose from, but not all combinations are available. For example, if you choose Option A, you are not allowed to choose Options C or D; if you choose Option C, you are not allowed to choose Option A, etc. The portions were correct, and the time usually took me about an hour (longer than predicted, but still manageable for me, since the “thinking” part of the recipe was done, and I just had to follow steps).

  13. Amber*

    In response to the author’s final comments, the tortilla hominy soup was what we had the other night and it was surprisingly flavorless, despite all of the flavor-FUL ingredients. We love the majority of Blue Apron’s recipes (high quality meat and veggies!) but so many recipes have way too much lemon or lime, which ruins the flavor for me (i.e. fontina grilled cheese and onion… with actual lemon slices, in the peel, ON the sandwich).

    I have 2 sets of 3 free meals (better than the current promotion) I can send to whoever wants them if anyone wants to try it out (just reply with your email address). It’s one of those where you do need to enter credit card info but cancellation is easy if you don’t want to continue with the subscription of $60/wk.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Ha! My husband has revolted against the lemon by refusing to zest. He’ll add the lemon juice, but he’s done with zesting. :)

    2. Imsostartled*

      If you still have a set I’ll also take you up on it. :) stiaden at gmail dot com

  14. ThatLibraryChick*

    So, I tried reading on the website and I’m not 100% sure…does the 2 free meals mean if you order the 2 person plan, 2 of the 3 meals/recipes in the first shipment are free so it’s a discounted rate for the first week or are 2 shipments/weeks free?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just asked them this. It’s 2 servings free on your first delivery. In the 2-person plan, there are 6 total servings and in the family plan, there are 8 total servings.

  15. Matt*

    This reminds me of Sheldon throwing Penny’s french toast in the trash because it’s the wrong day of week …

    “mmmmh do these smell good … too bad it’s Monday”

  16. Another Day*

    I signed up the last time there was an offer here (December, I think), and have been very happy with Blue Apron. In fact, I’d say I’ve never eaten better in my life! Love their use of seasonal produce like kale, collards, brussel sprouts and citrus, and love experimenting with different spices, ingredients, techniques without having to buy too much of something I may never use again. The recipes are so creative, too — I mean, a slaw made of apples and brussel sprouts? a grilled cheese sandwich with shallots and lemon slices? Delicious! It’s been a fun way to stretch my cooking skills and jazz up menus for the winter months, and I like the flexibility of being able to opt out for a week or change menu choices from omnivore to vegetarian for a week.

  17. PersephoneUnderground*

    Sorry I’m posting to an old thread, but can you share the layout of that spreadsheet you mention making? Pretty please? It sounds like a good idea to me!

    Yes, I’ve tried Blue Apron- I might do it again, it was good, but I found I wasted a lot of food because I would be stuck in “only have time for 5 minute prep or takeout” mode at work, so my box would sit un-cooked for 2 weeks or more, then everything I couldn’t freeze went bad. When I did have time/commitment to cook it I loved it.

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