I want to cook without all the work, and so do you

And now a word from a sponsor…

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 bother with meal planning or grocery shopping; they’ll send you everything you need in exactly the right proportions, along with step-by-step instructions for preparing it. Especially during the week when you get home from work, it’s soooo nice to have someone else handle all the prep work for you (coming up with recipes, gathering ingredients, and measuring them out), so that you just have to walk into the kitchen and cook.

Crispy Chickpea and Freekeh Salad with Lemon Labneh and Harissa-Glazed Carrots

They have an option of 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. They make it easy to see ingredients ahead of time 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.

What I like the most about Blue Apron – aside from the fact that everything I’ve made from them is legitimately really good – is it gets me to cook things that I wouldn’t have made on my own otherwise, like the fontina and beet grilled cheese sandwiches pictured below. Never in a million years would I have thought to put beets in grilled cheese, and they were ridiculously good. (Just looking at the photo of it is making me want to eat it again). My other favorite this month was a crispy chickpea and freekeh salad with lemon labeneh and harissa-glazed carrots. I didn’t even know what freekeh was (it turns out it’s a grain), but it’s delicious.

I know people sometimes wonder about the packaging that comes with subscription meal services. You can recycle everything that comes in your Blue Apron box, including the baggies, liners, ice packs, and the box itself. If you don’t have curbside recycling, you can return your packaging to them for free and they’ll take care of it for you.

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

Green Garlic Pesto Pasta with Butter Lettuce Salad and Creamy Lemon Dressing

Fontina and Beet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Mixed Citrus Salad

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

{ 104 comments… read them below }

  1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

    We actually did give Blue Apron a try earlier this year, partly based on an earlier sponsored post! I’m definitely a fan of the concept: I’d say these services really work best for people who already like to cook but get overwhelmed by menu planning and grocery shopping. There are certainly cheaper ways to eat, but if you have a habit of defaulting to delivery (guilty) or going out to eat (guilty!) you’ll almost certainly save some money, not to mention eat healthier and probably learn some new cooking techniques. We used BA for a couple of months and then switched to Hello Fresh, as we’d had a few too many receipies with BA we didn’t like, but that’s a matter of taste.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      What do you think of Hello Fresh?

      We tried Blue Apron earlier this year as well. I liked that it pushed us to try new recipes, ingredients, and cooking techniques. But a lot of the recipes didn’t seem to have enough vegetables and the produce quality wasn’t great.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I will never try Hello Fresh because they’re so damn aggressive with sidewalk marketing! When I worked in Midtown, every time I went to lunch I’d be accosted on the way to and from lunch, and again before I got on the subway to go home.

        I realize that has nothing to do with the quality of their service, I’m just ranting :P

        1. NeverNicky*

          I’m in the UK, and they are annoyingly aggressive here too. A rep buzzed my flat and mumbled “delivery” and then shouted at me when I told her to leave the building (private property). A complaint to their head office got no reply.

        2. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Hah, that would be super annoying. Sidewalk marketing isn’t really a thing where I live, thank goodness. Facebook has figured out I use these services, though, so it’s pretty much all adds for Plated all the time.

      2. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I think the produce quality is a little better with Hello Fresh – also, I’ve found that the recipes are easier to reproduce because they use somewhat less creative ingredients. However unlike Blue Apron, which mixed in vegetarian dishes in their regular plan, Hello Fresh offers a separate all vegetarian plan, which means the “omnivore” plan includes meat or fish with every meal. And that’s a little frustrating as my biggest complaint with both services has been the quality of the meat – I’m especially picky about chicken, so we’ve gotten in the habit of using the Hello Fresh chicken for a slow-cooker meal and substituting in chicken from our local coop. I’d love to go all veggie, but I don’t do the cooking in my household and the gentleman who does is a big meat lover.

      3. introvert*

        We got Hello Fresh twice and both boxes had a significant amount of rotten ingredients. I know that stuff can happen but good customer service makes a big difference. We were house-sitting and didn’t have any food other than the box which arrived around 6 pm, opened it up to start cooking and the stink was unbelievable. Rotten meat, brown old herbs, and there was a mango in there that was dark brown and filled with goo. I picked it up because I wasn’t even sure what it was and the skin basically disintegrated in my hand and rotten mango liquid oozed everywhere. When I called, the guy was like “is it REALLY rotten? like how bad is it? can you send me a picture so I can figure out whether to give you a refund?” They only gave us a partial refund even though we couldn’t cook any of the recipes since something had gone bad from each of the 3 meals!

        We love Plated – it’s a little too expensive to do weekly but we do it semi-frequently when we feel like we’ve been eating out too much or when we have such a busy week we know we won’t meal prep without a little help.

        1. miss_chevious*

          The few times I’ve had an issue with Blue Apron, I’ve gotten a complete refund of the week, no questions asked. I was fully expecting to have to show proof of the bad produce, but they did not ask for it just refunded me.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I had a similarly good experience with Plated – my delivery got delayed once so I was concerned about the food going bad. I emailed them and they gave me a partial refund, no questions asked, and told me to write back if the food wasn’t cold to the touch by the time it arrived for a full refund.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          Eww! :-( had some moldy herbs in my first Blue Apron box and they just added a credit to my account, no picture needed and no pushback.

      4. Professor Marvel*

        I used to use Hello Fresh. I wanted the ease and to break the meal repeat rut. We enjoyed it until the meals became repetitive. I’ve tried to do the same on my own, but it’s easy to let it slip.

  2. Mark M*

    Are there vegan options available with Blue Apron?

    Also Alison – I know it is none of my business, but I didn’t think you ate cheese :)

    1. Purest Green*

      I had the service for a few months in 2016, and at the time they didn’t offer a vegan menu.

    2. KB*

      There is a company called Purple Carrot that does vegan. $68 a week for 3 meals a week for 2 people. They offer a 4 person 2 meals a week version, too. I love it. I have been using it for months (really busy and helps us be creative and try new menus a few times a week) and have only really disliked a few dishes. They also ask for feedback, which I give and let you cancel a week anytime.

      There are usually lots of pots/pans and you need a blender and/or food processor (I just use blender) for many dishes, but I find you can clean up when you are cooking once you get the hang of it. We live in a small apartment (high COL here) and have a small kitchen, but still love it. Most meals take 40 minutes or less.

  3. Dani X*

    I just signed up with Blue Apron three weeks ago and I like it. I hate cooking but they make it easier. I don’t have to do meal planning or figure out how to pick out good veggies. I feel like with some of these recipes I could definitely make it myself without the preportioned items so I hope eventually I will be able to go back to regular cooking. I also like the lack of waste – I throw out so much food because i just forgot about it but here you have no choice but to use it all.

    1. Temperance*

      I have been really struggling lately with anxiety, so having someone else plan meals and send me the food is really helpful. I can’t praise meal delivery enough. Plus, I get the accomplished feeling from making a meal.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I love to meal plan, grocery shop, and cook, so a service like Blue Apron isn’t for me, but I am totally in favor of its existence! I like the confidence-building aspect of it especially for people who don’t enjoy cooking — that it takes away a lot of the barriers in people’s minds to getting a nutritious dinner on the table. I like that it fits neatly into the gap between cooking shows and cooking classes.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I’m honestly not sure how great the two services my spouse and I have tried would be for someone who doesn’t enjoy cooking – I both hate and know almost nothing about cooking (I gave up on it years ago, after the great pot pie oven fire of aught seven) and the recipes seem far too involved and time consuming for me. However for anyone who likes cooking and wants to stretch out, I think it’s great. I think you’re right about it being in that gap between cooking shows and cooking classes.

  4. Juliecatharine*

    I would give it a shot but my husband isn’t into it so I would have to eat both meals which would put me eating it four times a week–way more than I’m interested in. I hope they come up with a single option soon. I’m sure it’s a cost/shipping efficiency issue but they’re missing out on a significant market share by effectively excluding single people and folks like me.

    1. sunshyne84*

      I usually take the second portion to work or if I cook early enough on the weekends it can be lunch and dinner.

    2. Temperance*

      FWIW, Booth and I have very different food preferences, and we haven’t had many issues. It has pushed us both a little out of our comfort zone. For reference, my husband loves meat, and I am an ex-vegetarian who only eats meat for weight control.

      I really recommend the free trial.

    3. TL -*

      Is your husband a super picky eater or just refusing to eat Blue Apron?
      If he’s on the pickier side, I actually think all of the Blue Apron recipes I’ve seen are fairly easily modifiable by leaving things out (ie, if he hates beets, then you could easily leave beets out of one of the above grilled sandwiches.) I haven’t used Blue Apron but I’m pretty good at eyeballing ease of recipe modifications and nearly every Blue Apron meal I’ve ever seen looks like it would be okay with leaving some ingredients out.

      1. Juliecatharine*

        He’s a picky meat and potatoes guy and I’m a vegetarian. From the menus I’ve seen there’s very little we would both eat.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Oh my goodness, meal planning must make you pull your hair out, unless you both just make your own. I’m also married to a meat-and-potatoes guy, although he’s branched out a bit since we’ve been together. I would mind mixing things up with vegetarian options now and then, but when I suggested this he said, “I’m OK with vegetarian meals as long as they’ve got some meat in them.” Which of course defeats the whole purpose.

          He’s got type 2 diabetes, so the potatoes aren’t an option anymore (except for Thanksgiving and maybe twice a year other than that) and carbs in general are reduced. He also isn’t crazy about chicken, so my compromise is that I’ll never make it 2 nights in a row. My mother-in-law lives with us, and her gout will flare up if she eats too much red meat or pork. No one is a huge seafood fan, except for some recipes I’ve found for shrimp and smoked salmon. We all love spicy food, but I can’t go too far with that, since we have an 8 year old. I’m trying to slowly up the spice level for her, but once in awhile I miscalculate or get an extra hot jalapeno and it’s too much for her. It’s a real balancing act planning out meals for the week that will satisfy everyone’s dietary needs and individual tastes.

          1. dragonzflame*

            That’s like my dad – if a meal doesn’t have meat he doesn’t think he’s been properly fed. However he’s happy to have vegetarian dishes, you just throw a few slices of ham on the side of the plate.

          2. Julia*

            I am super lucky because my husband even cooks me vegetarian meals, sometimes throwing meat into his portion, sometimes not.
            Veggie low carb is hard because legumes and beans we need for protein still have carbs, and I am not a fan of eating tofu and eggs all the time (because of soy isoflavones acting like estrogen (I have endometriosis) or iodine in eggs (thyorid troubles), plus the egg industry), so I am a chubby vegetarian.

    4. The Final Pam*

      Yeah, the meals got to be too much for me as a single person. I usually would cook all the portions and then use the leftovers for lunches / other dinners, but often the meals would split up into 3 servings and I was sometimes a bit overwhelmed with how much food there was. It also doesn’t help that if you’re cooking it all on your own it takes a lot longer than they tell you on the card.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’ve been thinking about trying something like this out and doing exactly that, so I appreciate your experience.

        1. miss_chevious*

          FWIW, I get Blue Apron for just myself, and I don’t find it to be too much food. It is definitely two servings for each meal, but most of the recipes keep well for next day lunch or dinner and I like that I have six meals out of 14 covered without spending additional money.

      2. Lucy Honeychurch*

        Yes, that’s what I found too–WAY too much food for one person, cooking and cleanup took forever, and some of it didn’t keep well for the length I would have needed it.

        It was fun to try, though, and I think it would be great for couples!

  5. SarahTheEntwife*

    I’ve been trying out Blue Apron the past couple weeks; how timely! I’ve enjoyed the experience, but I think I probably won’t renew for more than another week or two. The recipes are tasty and well-written (Other than the baffling instructions to salt and pepper at every single stage of cooking. Do not do this, especially if it then tells you to put a salty Szechuan pepper sauce on it at the end.), and nicely served the goal of getting me out of the packaged-frozen-thing rut I’d been in when it comes to meals. :-) The portions are just about right — two large meals, or two smaller meals and some leftovers if you’re less hungry that day.

    My main issue with it is that it really isn’t very flexible if you have any food restrictions. If you’re vegetarian, you’d better like the three veggie meals that week, because there usually aren’t any more you can swap out. There are a few vegan recipes but no vegan-box option and no ability to modify due to any restrictions other than meat/fish/veggie other than by scanning through the ingredients and hoping you can find three recipes that week that fit.

    1. Rainy, PI*

      Yeah, my old roommate got Blue Apron for a while, and she really loved it, but I have food allergies and there’s no real way to account for them. (We looked at the plans and recipes, and basically it’s just a no-go if you have any protein or broad vegetable allergies.)

  6. Allypopx*

    I’m so bad at following recipes. I’d end up trying to find ways to tweak everything which would probably take me twice as long, and if any package would be stolen from my doorstep it would definitely be a package containing food.

    That said, I love this concept. I love anything that gets people cooking, especially if it can help them enjoy it!

  7. Here we go again*

    Has anyone had any experiences with cancelling the subscriptions for any of these (Blue Apron or other similar service)?

    I’ve been wanting to try it, but have read some horror stories online about people being locked into the subscription and having to jump through a lot of hoops to get their subscription cancelled. Is that normal or out of the ordinary?

    1. The Final Pam*

      Blue Apron was super easy to cancel, and super easy to skip a week. I’ve had some nightmare scenarios with cancelling subscriptions (some of those monthly boxes are the worst to cancel) but I didn’t have any issues with Blue Apron.

    2. LQ*

      I’ve used Hello Fresh here and there and it is super easy. I like it when I have a week I know will be hard to get to the grocery store and I’ll just sign up for a week or two and then not for months. No problems at all with it. I know what you mean about horror stories, but these have been easy. (They will bug you to sign up again, but that’s to be expected with any service, you get emails.)

    3. Temperance*

      It’s pretty easy. I have a few different memberships and alternate weeks between them with no hassle.

    4. ace*

      I used Blue Apron last year and it wasn’t terrible to cancel. I liked the food but it was more involved than I was wanting for a weekday meal, and 3x a week meant we’d have to cook both weekend nights plus fit in a weeknight meal so wasn’t for us. My two complaints with cancellation were:
      1.) For us at least, delivery day was the same our last day to cancel for the following week, so after you “free” week, you can’t really evaluate whether you like the first week enough to sign up for a second (not sure if you cancel while the free delivery is en route to you?)
      2.) You couldn’t cancel on mobile – just on the desktop site. Seems kind of silly and deliberately designed to prevent people from cancelling easily.

    5. Cat*

      I haven’t cancelled BA, but have “skipped” probably 8 weeks in a row at this point, with no issues.

    6. LawPancake*

      I didn’t have any problems cancelling it after a couple weeks. I just couldn’t justify the amount of packaging.

    7. petpet*

      We did a trial week of Blue Apron in January and now I’m eating Blue Apron again this week because my partner finally missed a week of opting-out, so that’s something to keep in mind. The food is great, but it’s way out of our budget to do regularly and we really weren’t planning on a surprise $60 charge this week. We’re debating deleting our account altogether.

    8. Poster Child*

      I easily cancelled Blue Apron. I liked it once in a while and would do it if it was an “opt-in” service. Because it’s an “opt-out” that will automatically send you a box unless you cancel each week, it was not worth the annoyance of having to remember to cancel. But if I just felt like getting it next week, I’d love to opt in for the week and not be signed up for a subscription again. I understand that they’re a business and that’s how they make money though.

    9. Triceratops*

      A friend was using it and had a coupon code for a completely free box (the usual promo is half off your first box), so I ordered that box and then canceled my account. You do have to email a person to cancel the account — there’s not just a button to press — but they just sent me a link to use to cancel it.

      If you want to keep the account to get the boxes intermittently, though, it’s very easy to cancel individual boxes as long as you remember to log in every couple of weeks. You can cancel boxes up to a month out and after that it will default to sending them to you, so you just have to check in periodically if you want keep opting out.

    10. Josie De Vivre*

      I didn’t have any problems canceling Hello Fresh.

      They were ok, but I didn’t think any of the recipes we tried were very good. Just got our first Home Chef box last week. Very happy with it.

      Haven’t tried Blue Apron. The recipes appear to be out of my food comfort zone.

  8. TL -*

    If I’m ever cooking for two (and any sort of cohabitation would get me doing the cooking instead of the cleaning), I would love to use Blue Apron and modify my half to be allergen friendly for me (assuming their packaging is good) and leave the other half as-is.

    That’s what I think of whenever I see BA ads – how easy it would be to just stock GF, ect… substitutes in the house and not worry about grocery planning for two different diets! Does anyone else use it like that?

    1. Biscuit!*

      For the record, Blue Apron puts all their recipes on their site for free. So I’ve actually pulled the recipes and just gotten the ingredients from Central Market. That way, if you have food allergies, you can just make the little tweaks you need without having to plan a completely different meal.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I really love the recipes from the site! With two preschoolers and their picky eating, Blue Apron was fun for the adults, but I ended up making two meals for dinner. I’ve enjoyed making some recipes from the site and adapting some for our tastes at home. I do love meal planning and grocery shopping so using the recipes is a great fit for us.

        I gave Blue Apron as a gift to my parents in their 70s and they think it’s really fun and “modern”. They travel a lot and have had no problem skipping weeks.

    2. Recovering Adjunct*

      I used Sun Basket. I’m gluten free/dairy free/egg free to help manage a disability and I usually have about 9 meals to choose from in a given week, it’s nice. However, all of their packaging clearly states things come from a site where wheat/dairy/eggs are on site, so if your allergies are severe, it might not work for you. We do mostly paleo meals so we don’t need to sub in very often.

    3. Agile Phalanges*

      If you stock substitutes at home, then you have two issues–you’re paying for the box PLUS your substitutes, so you’re paying more than someone who can use the box as-is, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but just something to be aware of. And then you also have the food that comes in the box that you sub in your own ingredients for, and now you have to do something with it. If you have non-GF people in your home who will eat the bread or use the breadcrumbs, or whatever, it might work out. Otherwise, you’ll have to find a way to donate it or whatever.

      I don’t eat meat, so I get the vegetarian meals, and a few of them have come with mushrooms, which I also dislike. I think one time I just left them out, as they weren’t a critical part of the meal, but sometimes they’re a pretty major component, and I’ve subbed in tofu or some other meat substitute, or I think one time even some kind of cheese or something, depending on the dish. But that’s just a couple of times in the few months I’ve been using Blue Apron. I’m not sure I’d bother if nearly every meal required me to make substitutions…

      1. TL -*

        It would be cheaper to buy substitutions than to feed two people on my diet (sigh) and it looks fairly easy to just sub things out, so it would be a nice compromise of reasonable price plus mostly the same meal prep. I could make one salmon bread-encrusted and one not, or with the breadcrumbs I can eat or whatever. At least, most of their plates, I think, oh that could be easily modified to be me-friendly – do all the prep work and then split at the end when you add the offending ingredients. Leftover food that I can’t eat is never my problem. :)

        But yeah, not worth it if you’re just feeding for allergy restrictions.

  9. Emoji pizza unicorn*

    For the vegans: Purple Carrot is a similar service, but 100% vegan. I’ve been using Purple Carrot for about a year now and am pretty happy with it.

  10. Lia*

    I tried it, mostly liked it, but in the last several months, can’t find three meals I like enough to justify its cost. I won’t pay $10/person to make pasta or grilled cheese or quesadillas, and the fish options we’ve had have been low quality. Shame, because we did enjoy the ones we did try.

    Also note that although there are six options available per week, you cannot get any selected combination of them. You’re usually limited to choosing from 3 or 4 of them.

  11. animaniactoo*

    Unfortunately, between my husband and myself there’s too much food pickiness for this to work successfully for us. My foodie mom and sister are in love with it, and my dad likes it as well. They’re sharing a 2-person plan and have found that they can get 3 meal portions out of the 2 portion plan, so size portions are definitely on the generous side.

    Another sister is doing the family 4 person plan and feeding a family of 5 with it, but says she prefers to do the 2x a week plan because that way there are choices of what dishes they get and if they were doing the 4x a week plan, there would be meals that wouldn’t work for them as a family.

  12. annejumps*

    I’ve been using Blue Apron for almost a year, almost every week, and it’s been a godsend for meals for myself and my mother. I’ve very rarely had a problem. That said, I’ve found that the prep time is two or three times what they give it as. Maybe that’s just me.

    1. Purest Green*

      The prep time was way longer for me too. Some meals I honestly think it took at least as long to prep as it did to actually cook the meal.

      1. LN*

        I honestly have no idea what kind of next-level comic book drugs people are on when they estimate prep times, but I have the same issue with basically every recipe, cooking show, etc. So I don’t think it’s just a Blue Apron thing. Who on earth can prep and cook an entire dinner in 30 minutes, Rachel Ray???? A bunch of squirrels on meth?????? GET OUTTA HERE WITH THAT NONSENSE.

    2. LBK*

      I think the disconnect is that they give you all the prep steps at the beginning. Normally when I cook I prep a piece, cook it, then prep the next piece as that cooks, and so on – I find that following BA’s directions to the T means doing a ton of prep at the beginning, then standing around doing nothing while things cook. I think it’s intended to accommodate newer cooks who aren’t comfortable multitasking, but it does extend the cook time dramatically.

      I remedy this by reading through the whole recipe first, then progressively prepping things as I need them rather than doing it all at the beginning like they tell you to. I’ve found the cook times much more accurate that way.

    3. em2mb*

      We use Green Chef, and while I find the prep times to be accurate +/- 5 minutes, it usually takes my roommate about three times as long. I’m a more experienced cook and will kind of batch tasks together (i.e., start step 3 when the thing in step 2 is cooking for the requisite ten minutes). We figured out that’s what my roommate was doing, as well as fussing more about cutting things up exactly versus chopping things quickly like I do.

  13. Tara*

    Blue Apron isn’t an option for me because they don’t have a gluten-free option. I have tried both Green Chef and Sun Basket. Ultimately Sun Basket was my favorite because you can pick from multiple options in multiple categories (GF, paleo, vegetarian, etc.), they have lots of Asian-inspired recipes, and it was cheaper than Green Chef.

    1. em2mb*

      We’ve been doing Green Chef for the last four months and have really enjoyed the quality of the meals and the variety – other than I’m not able to eat gluten, we aren’t picky! But oof, yes, it *does* get expensive. How does Sun Basket compare? I’ve seen their ads on Facebook, but it looked more complicated, like I kind of had to plan the menu myself.

  14. HR Gal*

    My boyfriend and I have had a Blue Apron account for about 1.5 years now and have gotten maybe 20-30 packages from them over the years. Their recipes are great (although recently some of the recipes seem a bit redundant). As recent college grads who never had to cook for themselves, it helped us learn new methods of cooking, try new ingredients, etc. Most importantly, we’ve built up a solid foundation of easy/quick and cheap meals using their recipe cards. While it’s pretty expensive at $10 a meal, you can generally recreate their meals pretty easily for under $4/person (especially if you’re open to minor substitution – and it’s easy to know what can be substituted after you make it the first time). And honestly, that’s what makes it most worthwhile for me: because of it, I can try out new recipes to add to my repertoire that I know are easy to make, taste great, and are within budget!

  15. MoinMoin*

    Just chiming in that if you’re a Costco member, I’ve seen them sell $100 AP gift cards for $80 there. I’ve never tried AP but I did give a week of meals as Christmas gifts for family members this past year and they all seemed to like it.

  16. Alex*

    These subscriptions always look tempting but…the price! yikes!

    I understand why it is so expensive–they have to source, process, pack, and ship everything, plus have chefs develop the recipes–but….I can’t justify tripling or quadrupling my grocery budget! Most of my meals cost $1-3 each.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      Agreed! The price for one box is what I pay for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for an entire week. I always assume that box subscriptions are more for middle class/upper middle class people who can afford to spend more and aren’t on a strict budget.

      The idea is nice, but the cost isn’t.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I think you’re exactly right about the cost, although I would include cost-of-living in there too. I live in a fairly expensive city for our region, which makes the boxes a better deal for us than they would be in a lot of the cheaper cities around us. But I think they’re primarily targeting DINKs (guilty) who are used to spending more than $10 a person on delivery or eating out.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I live in a HCOL city where takeout averages a $15-20 minimum for one order, but I’m also willing to spend time going to multiple places for cheaper produce and staples or whatever’s on sale.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            Oh for sure. It’s really only a cost-saver if you’re at the point where the value of your time spent shopping and meal planning is higher than the savings in food costs. I won’t deny it’s a privileged problem to have.

        2. LBK*

          But I think they’re primarily targeting DINKs (guilty) who are used to spending more than $10 a person on delivery or eating out.

          Yep – I just paid for it with my weekly takeout budget and it didn’t end up being much more, plus it was healthy and got me cooking rather than letting me be lazy.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Yeah, same here. A friend sent me the free trial of Martha and Marley Spoon…it claims it’ll save you money on groceries, and I’m like “Martha, you do not know what I buy for groceries, do you?”

      It also assumed I had a bunch of kitchen implements I do not have, so I had to improvise a bit.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I have cracked up at some of the ads that say meal-delivery things will save me money on groceries. Like, really? I can feed both of us breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for LESS than $250/month with your service? Mmmmmm, maybe not. But if you’re eating out or getting takeout/delivery four times a week, I can definitely see the benefit to your budget.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yeah, a lot of the “look, it’s cheaper!” calculations assume you’ll buy more ingredient than you need and waste the leftovers. It is nice to not have to figure out how to use a giant bunch of celery when I only wanted one stalk, but what I need is more intentional menu planning so I don’t buy a pineapple on impulse because they looked tasty and then let it go bad before I get around to dismembering it.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yeah, I decided Martha Stewart must also buy all new spices every time she cooks, throwing out the ones from last time. Like…yeah, it’s going to add up if I buy a jar of cumin every time I want to use cumin.

          2. all aboard the anon train*

            This is why I’m glad that some supermarkets have loose produce selections. Because sometimes I just need one or two carrots, not an entire bag.

          3. Parenthetically*

            Yeah, the skill of using up the stuff you’ve bought… it is definitely a skill that has to be acquired. I think about the amount of food I used to throw away because I never planned to use it up, and it makes me shudder. My husband, on the other hand, is a GENIUS at using up last week’s produce for this week’s menu. He’ll stand in the kitchen and say, “Well, we have half a bag of potatoes we need to use, what about those German sausages in the freezer? Maybe with some sauerkraut? And then this celery… we could chop and freeze if we don’t get to all of it, but let’s do fried rice, and that’ll get the last of this roast pork from Sunday.” It’s pretty amazing. I do 75% of the cooking, but because I don’t have to do the majority of the planning (or shopping or cleaning) it feels like about 3% of the burden.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      We found the same thing. We meal plan every weekend and stick to our grocery list, buying (usually) what’s on sale to eat and we found that it would easily triple our food budget each month. Plus we both pack leftovers for lunches and the meals barely made enough for the two of us for dinner (Lord Kelvin is a big eater). Tasty food, tons of packaging waste, but being able to access the recipes online makes having a subscription unnecessary. Plus you can’t just pick 3 of the 6 meals, some meals have to come together, which meant I usually had trouble selecting 3 I would eat. I’m not even a terribly picky eater, but I do not eat some of the more common vegetables (tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions). I’d actually recommend using a grocery delivery service as many have started implementing as you can save yourself the trip to the grocery store and still get the recipes online so you don’t have to worry about meal planning and save a bit of money.

    4. Anxa*

      I think these are so much more expensive than regular grocery shopping for me, but I can imagine situations in which they save money. I have more time than money, so it doesn’t make sense for me to do one of these subscriptions for the time-being (although I can see how it would be nice if you want a few weeks here and there to focus on bigger after-work projects).

      But I imagine that if I were the type of person who could get more work if I wanted and if I made a decent wage, it would be nice not to have to grocery shop. Plus, I don’t always feel like cooking. Or at least, it takes a lot out of me. It would be nice not to have to make so many decisions.

      Budget-wise, seems like an excellent alternative to takeout.

      1. Alex*

        But does it really save much time? I spend 1-2 hours grocery shopping per week, and maybe 3-4 hours cooking, and that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all 7 days. I only eat out or take out once every few weeks. It seems like with subscription services, you still need to go to the store because it is only some of your meals, and you still need to actually do the cooking!

        I think maybe it is the “mental energy” of thinking up what to prepare that you really actually save, and some people do find that challenging, and it just seems fun to have meals thought up for you and put at your door!

  17. Amber Rose*

    I’d try this but we almost exclusively eat Japanese food if we aren’t eating chicken and potatoes. You never get this kind of thing for non-western cooking.

  18. Cat*

    I recently tried Blue Apron thanks to receiving a free box from a friend. I think it works decently well if you’re someone that loathes grocery shopping or meal planning AND enjoys cooking at night. The main downside to me is that doesn’t really save you much “prep time” at all – there’s lots of chopping etc. to do. We (husband and I) decided not to continue receiving meals because for 30-45 minutes of “cooking” activity, we prefer to get at least 3-4 “main courses” (for 2) out of the time investment.

    It’s also way more per-dinner than we prefer to spend for cooking at home – even including the wine we enjoy with our meal, at-home dinners are MAYBE $4-5/each on average, and some nights (can of soup with bread & cheese) probably more like $1/each. For $10/each, we’d expect to get healthy takeout for 2 that requires *no* cooking – e.g., two hearty Sweetgreen salads, or an appetizer and entree to share from a Thai place, or a hummus & pita & veggie platter, etc.

  19. AMPG*

    I’ve tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh in the past. Neither is in our budget right now, but we preferred Hello Fresh, because the recipes were simpler, faster, and easier to swap. With Blue Apron, it was trickier to get the meals we wanted, they always took twice as long to make as the card said (I’m kind of a slow cook anyway), and they almost always had at least one important ingredient my fairly picky spouse wouldn’t eat. However, I’m told by a friend who loves Blue Apron that they’ve streamlined the recipes (in terms of both ingredients and ease of preparation) quite a bit over the past year, and so I’ve been thinking about giving them another shot.

  20. Naruto*

    You can’t really recycle the ice pack. They tell you to thaw it, cut it open (it’s a bag version of an ice pack), and pour the liquid into a different bag, throw that bag away, and then recycle the original ice pack bag. So you can recycle the bag part, but only by throwing away a different plastic bag, and still throwing away the freezable liquid stuff.

  21. Mrs. Fenris*

    I’ve done Blue Apron a few times, and the only thing it really does for me is that it’s fun. For whatever reason, meal planning is just not that hard for me, so BA doesn’t really add a lot to that. It also costs about twice as much as grocery shopping (but less than takeout, so there’s certainly that). My kids and I do get a kick out the cute packaging (the clamshell package labeled “tomato” that does indeed contain one tomato is adorable) and we’ve enjoyed trying some new recipes. I do feel that the quality of their ingredients declined over time. The first couple of times I opened their packages of herbs I was just blown away by how fresh they smelled, but then later they started being kind of wilty.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      I just got a two-egg cardboard clamshell in my box this week! It’s so cute! I have pet rats and they are going to get a *lot* of Blue Apron furniture ;-)

  22. CheeryO*

    It’s great that the packaging is all recyclable, but I’m sure a lot of people toss it all in the garbage anyway. You also have to consider the environmental impact of producing all that plastic in the first place, plus the impact of the actual recycling process. I’m not trying to preach – I firmly believe that everyone needs little indulgences here and there – but personally I can’t do it.

  23. Tulips*

    I haven’t tried any of these services but is grilled cheese a full dinner? That would not fly in my house!

    I have taken recipes from the Hello Fresh website and made them using regular groceries. Their Thai Veggie Curry is good! Much cheaper that way and can batch cook and really save on cooking time and cost.

  24. evalyn yanna*

    I just bought a Blue Apron subscription based on your “recommendation”, I have a food allergy so I was excited to see you say “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.” NOT. Out of the entire month of upcoming menu, most of the items I can’t eat. My fault for not checking into it… but disappointing you’d recommend something and it’s not true.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You know what, I shouldn’t have said “all.” You can tell them some restrictions/preferences, but it’s not comprehensive. They give you full ingredient info well before the week’s shipment, so you can change your selections (or skip that week) if you need to, but “all” does feel inaccurate. I’ll correct the post.

      1. Rainy, PI*

        Anyone with complicated food allergies (I can eat X but only if it’s cooked, or Y but only if it’s raw, or Z but only if I eat it no more than once per week etc) or multiple food allergies is almost never able to utilize services like this, just FYI.

        It’s important for allergy-sufferers to be diligent, but it would also be nice if companies like this didn’t basically mislead non-allergic folks about how accessible their product really is.

  25. Elan Morin Tedronai*

    Considering I input my two cents worth in another post WRT prepping and cooking lunch, I find the timing of this post hilarious. xDDD

  26. KV*

    I can’t try Blue Apron because of the country I’m in right now, but I’m genuinely interested. One catch: my partner is allergic to animal rennet, usually found in cheese (“vegetarian” rennet and rennet free cheeses are fine). Does anyone know how they handle allergies and does the packaging they use include ingredient breakdowns? Or if they use vegetarian cheese as the standard?

    1. Rainy, PI*

      I wouldn’t try it–I looked at BA when my former roommate was getting it, and they don’t have a very good allergy handling setup. I also don’t think that the packaging itself included any ingredient breakdowns, although you might be able to find that on the website. I think the plastic baggies just said “panko bread crumbs” and “oregano” and “cornmeal” etc.

  27. MW*

    I live in the UK and Blue Apron isn’t available. Anyone in the UK used the similar services available here? I’m keen but all I hear about are the US ones that I can’t use :(

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