Blue Apron got me to eat raisins in pasta

And now a word from a sponsor (with a great discount offer discount offerincluded)…

My husband and I keep shared Google docs for everything – from movies we want to watch to things we can make for dinner. (Yes, we are dorks. Mainly it’s my influence.) The dinner spreadsheet is in some ways aspirational, listing a bunch of recipes that we’re allegedly going to make some day, and a small number that we make over and over. We are in a recipe rut, as most people are.

Blue Apron is an easy and fun way of that rut. Blue Apron solves the question, “What are we going to make for dinner tonight that we haven’t already made too many times recently, and how can we do it without one of us having to go to the store?”

Blue Apron is a delivery service that delivers farm-fresh ingredients for delicious, chef-designed recipes directly to your door. Everything arrives pre-measured and ready to go, so that you don’t need to figure out what to cook or shop for ingredients; you just get to do the cooking and eating. I like that they give you the exact quantities you need so that there’s no food waste (you’re not buying a giant bottle of buttermilk because you need two tablespoons), and everything can be prepared in 40 minutes or less.

You can order a two-person plan or a family plan, and you can choose from eight recipes each week — in any combination you want, which is a nice improvement. Everything all gets delivered in a refrigerated box so ingredients stay fresh even if you’re not home when it arrives. Meals start at $8.99 per serving, and you can skip or cancel at any time.

Creamy Tomato Orecchiette with Broccoli and Crispy Breadcrumbs. It has raisins in it!

This month, I cooked Spicy Black Bean and Caramelized Onion Tacos with Marinated Zucchini; Sweet Peppers and Lentils with Cashews, Yogurt, and Mint; and Creamy Tomato Orecchiette with Broccoli and Crispy Breadcrumbs. I was a little skeptical about the Orecchiette because it had raisins in it! Who puts raisins in pasta? As of eating this meal, now I do. It was seriously delicious. (This is one of the things I love about Blue Apron. I would have side-eyed this recipe if I’d seen it somewhere else and never tried it, and so I would have missed out on how great it was.)

People sometimes worry about the packaging in 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 want to shake up your cooking game, or just make your evenings a little easier, you should try Blue Apron. And if you’re one of the first 50 readers to sign up through this link, you’ll get $50 off your first two weeks of Blue Apron, which is a pretty great deal.

Spicy Black Bean and Caramelized Onion Tacos with Marinated Zucchini

Sweet Peppers and Lentils with Cashews, Yogurt, and Mint

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

{ 152 comments… read them below }

  1. Lily in NYC*

    Raisins in pasta is very southern italian! One of my favorite recipes is pasta with cauliflower, golden raisins, pine nuts and parmesan. It’s glorious.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I like a Sicilian pasta alla sarde, with sardines, golden raisins and bread crumbs. Probably some other stuff too. Last time I made it at home I used dried cranberries and preserved lemon. YUMMY.

    2. General Ginger*

      Lily, do you mind sharing if you blanch or roast the cauliflower? Or is it one-pot, cook right with the pasta?

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Boil til soft then mash by hand. Saute some onions until soft (in olive oil or butter or both) and add the pine nuts and saute until they start browning a bit. Add the raisins (I usually soak them first). Mix it all together, add pasta and parmesan. Google “pasta riminata new york cookbook” for the best recipe.

    3. Specialk9*

      Wait, so how do all of those go together? Just kinda dumped together, with olive oil or something?

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Sorry, see my answer above. Google “pasta riminata New York Cookbook” for my favorite version.

  2. Former Computer Professional*

    Jewish people have been putting raisins in pasta for ages. However, lokshen (noodle) kugel is usually more sweet than savory.

    (Personally, I prefer potato kugel, which is like a latke casserole.)

    Yum! :)

    1. DouDouPaille*

      I came here just to say this. Raisins in a noodle dish can be very tasty, in the right circumstances.

  3. Aitch Arr*

    Raisins belong in raisin bran and in a little red box by themselves. Nowhere else.

    1. Tardigrade*

      Noooo. Off the top of my head, I like them in muffins, oatmeal, granola, bread, cookies, puddings, tarts, slaw, couscous, salads, and with carrots. I’m hungry.

        1. SarahKay*

          Noooo! No raisins in rice pudding. I admit, though, I am a purist about my rice pudding and really only like it with rice, sugar and milk, and maybe a grating of nutmeg if I’m feeling really wild and out-there.

      1. Snark*

        Or picadillo. Or in bucatini con le sarde. Or beet slaw. Or caper-raisin viniagrette. Or couscous, with mint and fresh peas. Or just about anything north African.

        1. General Ginger*

          Snark, what else goes in the beet slaw aside from raisins? Beets + raisins combo sounds a lot like something my grandmother used to make.

          1. Snark*

            So you julienne 5-6 raw, reasonably young beets, preferably a nice mix of colors, and toss them with sliced mint, parsley, golden raisins, olive oil, the juice of a lemon, and lots of black pepper. Smear the interior of some salad bowls with a generous amount of almond or pistachio butter, drop the slaw on top. Make sure you fork through the slaw to get some nut butter with every bite. It’s one of the most sensational things I’ve ever eaten.

            1. Specialk9*

              Do you enjoy the taste of beets normally? I really want to like beets but don’t, so I’m wondering if this is even worth trying out of I don’t like that flavor.

              1. Snark*

                I do like beets in all their various forms, but I feel like when they’re raw, the dominant impression is sweet and minerally, not that strong earthiness that roasted beets have.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Oh, Picadillo is wonderful: burger, onions, peppers, garlic, raisins, tomato sauce, and spices, all sauteed together and served over rice in a wonderful savory dish with happy sweet bursts of flavor. (I’m looking at recipes, and I think my version came from a Puerto Rican friend, so it’s a bit different.)

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Raisins in cookies are good provided you’re expecting raisins. Have had more than one stealth raisining where I bit into a cookie expecting chocolate chip…

        1. Karo*

          I have the opposite problem. If you give me an oatmeal cookie with dots in it, those dots had better be raisin!

      3. Just Employed Here*

        Or in liver casserole, along with rice. (Although raisin-less liver casserole is also widely available nowadays, and labelled as such, due to the high proportion of raisin refusers.)

        Mmmm, liver casserole. The only meat dish I’ve actually dreamed of since I stopped eating meat 20 years ago. It doesn’t even taste of liver!

    2. Deus Cee*

      I literally just had a stuffed pepper for lunch with pilau rice, raisins and pinenuts in. Delish.

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I agree, no raisins in baked goods please. I know most people don’t agree, but something about the texture after their baked just grosses me out.

    4. Bea*

      Oatmeal raisin cookies all day long. I’ve bit into a cookie and found it just to be oatmeal and was a sad panda.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        My favorite cookie is my mom’s oatmeal raisin cookie. Store bought oatmeal raisin cookies all have cinnamon in them and I don’t like that. My mom’s 79 now and I think her days of baking cookies are over, so I’ll have to start baking them myself.

      1. Arya Snark*

        Same – I very much dislike them in every other form but there was a restaurant that served this delicious curry with golden raisins and that is the only way I have ever enjoyed them. I would imagine that they would be OK in some of the savory dishes others have described.

  4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Yum. Love Blue Apron, although I’m still waiting for them to offer more flexibility in which meals you choose.

    1. SarahTheEntwife*

      Yeah, especially if you have any food restrictions. I tried them for a few months, but as a mostly-veggie-and-fish eater, I had trouble just finding three meals that I could eat and that looked good each month.

      I liked the recipes for kick-starting my cooking creativity, but I found that they were kind of time consuming for the level of fanciness they produced. A lot of the time it has you do all the chopping and other prep beforehand, when it’s often more efficient to do some of it while other things are simmering (and also reduces the number of little bowls you then have to wash when you’re done).

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Yeah, they definitely take longer than they say. I’m a confident, experienced cook and I’d say that the recipes nearly always take 45-60 minutes (even if they claim 30 minutes).

        I’m bummed that Blue Apron hasn’t improved its flexibility, because I’ve tried several of their competitors and strongly preferred Blue Apron’s recipes and food quality. I’m not currently using any service, but if they offered a couple more options (and let you choose the three you wanted rather than locking you into various combos) I’d be back.

        1. Adlib*

          They’ve changed their menu options. You can now choose from 8 meals and there are no combo restrictions anymore so I really have enjoyed picking out my upcoming weeks. Might be worth another shot if you liked them before!

        2. Millennial Lawyer*

          Yikes – I cook regularly for two and my meals take 45-60 minutes or less. The appeal of switching to something like Blue Apron would be to cut it down to 30 minutes because of the pre-portioned ingredients.

          1. miss_chevious*

            Yeah, if that’s your motivation, BA isn’t for you. While I find the time estimates pretty accurate on the recipes, they generally take anywhere from 30 minutes on the short side to an hour on the long side, with the vast majority at the 40-50 minute mark.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m a terribly picky eater and I really wanted to try blue apron but I kept peeking at their menus and there were never enough things that sounded appealing to me. On my boss’ recommendation I ended up going to Home Chef, which lets us pick fewer meals (we can do just two meals for two people, I think Blue Apron required more?) and had more options.

      I do love the whole concept though regardless of which one you use, and it has helped me expand my horizons a bit. I’ve tried beets now! And tofu! My husband will eat anything so sometimes I try to pick something I’m not sure I’ll like on the assumption that if I don’t like it I’ll just fix some ramen and he can have the second serving as leftovers.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        Blue Apron lets you pick just two meals, but then they charge you a significant amount for shipping — I think like $8.

  5. Snark*

    One of my very favorite pasta dishes is a thousand-year-old Sicilian recipe of sauteed fennel, onions, golden raisins, pine nuts, grilled sardines, and an indecent quantity of anchovies, tossed with bucatini and topped with fennel fronds. I think there’s at least three groups of ingredient-dislikers who would find something to passionately loathe about it.

      1. Snark*

        There’s a number of recipes out there – that looks right. I use the one in Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian. Years ago, in my copy, next to “4 anchovy filets,” I wrote “haha f*ck that shit, use the whole can.” My attitude towards anchovies and sardines in a nutshell. I used some smoked, oil-cured sardines I picked up in Barcelona to make it last time and it was like a fish party in my head.

        1. Princess Of Pure Reason*

          Thanks. That’s my approach to anchovies as well, “whole can” is always the correct amount.

        2. Snark*

          Per a request from Alison, here’s my recipe:

          Snark’s Bucatini con le Sarde

          1lb bucatini
          1 fennel bulb, diced and with the tender fronds picked off and set aside for garnish
          1/2 yellow onion, diced
          2 cans best quality sardines (I prefer Matiz Gallego brand from Spain)
          1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water
          1/4 cup pine nuts
          An indecent quantity of good quality jarred anchovies (original specified four filets – GTFO with that nonsense, we eat anchovies with commitment in this house)

          Boil pasta water. Use just enough to cover the pasta, no more – this helps the water get nice and starchy.

          Preheat a skillet on medium with more olive oil than you think is probably necessary. When the fennel and onions are getting tender, add the anchovies and cook, stirring, until they disintegrate into the oil. I’d add the pasta now – the sauce comes together quickly.

          Clear a little open space in the bottom of the pan and add the pine nuts. Leave ’em alone until they pick up a little color, but keep an eye on them – they burn easily. Add the soaked and drained raisins.

          Open and drain the canned sardines, but don’t be too fastidious about it. Dump them into the pan and break them up a little, picking out the spinal columns if necessary. Try not to let them fall apart past large chunks – when you toss the pasta, they’ll break apart to bite size.

          Drain the pasta and return to the pasta pot. Add a glug of olive oil and a splash of pasta water and toss vigorously – you want the pasta glossy. Scrape in the sauce and toss minimally to just incorporate; if tossed vigorously, all the tasty bits end up at the botttom of the pasta.

          Plate the pasta. Garnish with reserved tender fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil. No cheese – this is already as subtle as getting hit with a board.

          Serves three. Maybe two, if you’re feeling gluttonous. The original recipe said “serves four” but don’t lie, we’re all going back for seconds.

          Alternative: if you have access to fresh sardines, or good quality frozen ones, clean and butterfly 6-7 of them, grill them briefly over a very hot charcoal fire (unless you have a real strong extractor fan), slice into chunks, and add as specified above.

          1. smoke tree*

            Okay, this is what I’m making next time I’m alone and don’t have to cater to anyone else’s inexplicable dislike of anchovies, fennel and/or raisins.

      1. Snark*

        It’s mindblowing. It’s also a real window back to Roman, Arabic, and Sicilian cooking pre-Columbus, because a lot of other Italian recipes have come to incorporate New World ingredients like tomatoes and chiles. But this kind of fishy/savory/sweet/funky flavor combination is a real callback to one, two thousand years ago. Romans used to slop fish sauce on basically everything.

        1. Mockingjay*

          I am eating my plebeian sandwich and imagining that I am wearing a tunic and sandals, with Russell Crowe galloping towards me on horseback.

          (Fantasy beats the hell out of the very mundane and boring report I am working on today…Apologies to Mr. Mockingjay, but he’s got a long-term thing for Olivia Newton John anyway, so I can have Russell.)

          1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

            Sub out Russel for the guy who played Agron on Spartacus and you are me right now!

    1. Oxford Coma*

      The only way to make this worse is to add cilantro. (Does anyone else hate cilantro without actually thinking it tastes like soap? Everyone assumes that’s why I don’t like it.)

      1. Snark*

        I got the people who hate fishy fish, raisins, AND licorice-y flavors all running for the hills! This dish is like leading an army into battle. Most of us won’t be there at the end, but those who were are gonna have esprit de corps up to here and some serious lingering side effects.

        1. Oxford Coma*

          Remind me to never come over for dinner, Snark. Between your licorice pasta and your carnivorous pizza oven, I’d fear for my life. :p

      2. JanetM*

        I don’t think cilantro tastes like soap, but I don’t like it as a primary flavor (it’s okay for me as a background note, though).

      3. Specialk9*

        I used to hate cilantro and now love it. I used to taste it like soap and now don’t. (Brrgamot too.) That’s not supposed to be possible, genetically. I’m a special little flower.

        Not that that’s what you asked.

    1. MrsCHX*

      It’s so ubiquitous that I saw this headline and thought it was a joke. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Catabodua*

      It will forever by in my memory. Keep your bland ass potato salad away from my picnic Karen!

  6. Jen James*

    We’ve been using a service for about 3 years (currently on Home Chef). Love that you get to pick your meals and your day of delivery. We have also eaten a lot of ‘initially’ questionable items, but everything always turns out yum-o!! I do not like onions or garlic, so we just chuck those ingredients (when we can’t find a willing taker – pains me to toss, but I’m not going to use them!!) I’m glad you stretched your comfort zone and tried the raisins – I would have questioned, but added them as well!! Taking the ‘what’s for dinner’ off the table has been awesome!!!

    1. BadWolf*

      I did Blue Apron for several months and I started handing out garlic at my hobby group. Even when I used extra garlic in recipes, I couldn’t keep up. I guess it’s cheaper to send the whole garlic bulb that package up the right number of cloves.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My husband started Hello Fresh, and the problem with them is lemons and limes. I guess wasting a lime isn’t the worst thing in the world, but yesterday I had a whole lime provided just to give a few squeezes on tacos. I put the rest of it in my fridge to throw away next week, lol.

        1. BadWolf*

          I always used that as an excuse to make a rum and coke and fancy it up with lemon or lime!

        2. Margot the Destroyer*

          Instead of tossing out you could put through the garbage disposal if you have one to help clean it.

      2. SarahKay*

        You need someone like my friend’s daughter, aged five, who was found behind the sofa calmly eating a whole bulb of garlic, one clove at a time. My friend said that was definitely one of those times where she needed to go from “Oh, gosh, lovely peace and quiet” to “Daughter’s very quiet…why is she very quiet?!?” slightly sooner than she actually did.

          1. SarahKay*

            She just … really, really likes garlic. And strong tastes, I think – same child, aged eight, would sometimes choose to eat a quarter lemon for a snack.

      3. Adlib*

        Funny you should say that! Blue Apron posted a recipe on social media not long ago for all that leftover garlic – garlic confit! You can google any number of recipes for that, and it requires a good bit of garlic. You could also roast the whole head in the oven. If you’ve never had roasted garlic, you’re missing out – it turns buttery and spreadable! Highly recommend.

        A Garlic Lover

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah, cut the garlic in half, brush with oil, roast, then squeeze onto toast and get lost in mmmmmmmm noises.

          1. SarahKay*

            Oh, gosh, yes, I’d forgotten how yummy roasted garlic is. For those of you reading this dubiously, I promise you it’s lovely. It loses the garlicky ‘bite’ that you’d get from garlic bread and just become this really mellow flavour.
            Although it probably does still leave you with garlic breath for the next 12 hours so is best shared with any other occupants of your space. (That way you all have stinky breath, but can’t smell it on each other.)

            1. Your Weird Uncle*

              There is (or was?) a restaurant in Amsterdam called Garlic Mama where everything – and I do mean *everything* – on the menu featured garlic. Even many of the drinks! I had a sip of one of the garlic drinks my friend ordered, and it was like experiencing a rainbow of flavors….first sweet, then the flavor of anise hit you, and then you got punched in the face by the garlic finish. I couldn’t have finished it myself (I don’t like anise though) but it was an amazing drink!

  7. irritable vowel*

    For what it’s worth, you can make a substitute for buttermilk by adding a bit of white vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. Put 1 Tbsp vinegar/lemon juice in the measuring cup and fill w milk to the 1 cup mark. (Adjust up or down as needed for how much buttermilk the recipe calls for.)

  8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Rather than raisins, I tend to use dried cranberries in almost all my cooking — to me, they work better with savory foods and they still add that little burst of sweetness. Yum!

  9. miyeritari*

    I tried Blue Apron, and while I thought they were okay. I use Sun Basket now, which is a similar service, but I find the recipes easier to make and there’s less garbage to throw away.

    1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      We’ve tried both Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, and greatly preferred Hello Fresh for the same reason. We did Hello Fresh first, and it has almost entirely reusable packaging (lots of glass jars and bottles we’ve been able to repurpose) and paper bags (with the exception of meat packaging)- Blue Apron’s stuff seemed ludicrously package-heavy in comparison (stuff in plastic packaging put in other plastic packaging put in a third layer of plastic packaging), and much of the stuff was in crappy packaging, some of which my boyfriend managed to break by putting other stuff on top of it in the fridge. Blue Apron’s recipes were definitely more adventurous, but we will never order from them again due to the packaging.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Plastics recycling is energy-intensive and inefficient- less packaging is always better than more packaging, even if that packaging is fully recyclable. I’m also skeptical that the average consumer without curbside recycling will actually bother to return the box to them rather than throwing it out.

          1. Margot the Destroyer*

            Where I live, everyone gets a recycling bin and we all use Rumpke. Its the only garbage pick up we have. My sister lives across the country, they don’t recycle because it isn’t picked up like ours and every house in her cul de sac uses a different garbage service. I didn’t even know that was a thing until she moved out there.

          2. LeRainDrop*

            Blue Apron actually stopped offering the service that Alison mentioned about returning all the packaging to them for recycling. They stopped it about a month or two ago, when I finally had enough to send back to them. It used to be that they would accept a minimum of three week’s of packaging, but now they don’t accept it at all.

    2. DecorativeCacti*

      I tried Blue Apron and only got one delivery of three on time (or at all). It was a nightmare. They charge way too much for what they offer. I didn’t have any room in my grocery budget to save myself from their shipping screw ups.

      I really want to try another service, but now I’m scared.

      1. LBK*

        FWIW they are all more or less the same price, so if you didn’t think the value was worth it then I don’t know that you’d be better off with another one (unless your issue was specifically the delivery problems).

        1. DecorativeCacti*

          That’s part of the reason I haven’t looked into any of the others more closely yet. Right now $20 a meal is just way too much.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Is Sun Basket the vegetarian one? I think I kept getting ads for it on Facebook and I don’t even like vegtables much but everything looked so good lol.

  10. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    I just signed up, hope we like it! I’ve been wanting to try a meal service for a while now and this gave me the boot to try one. Both hubby and I aren’t picky in the slightest so this should be fun!

  11. S*

    My favorite recipe rut-buster of late: Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre. Everything is good but OMG THE BUTTER CHICKEN!!!

    1. Your Weird Uncle*

      Oooo, I’ll have to check this out. I love my IP and my husband and I both love Indian food, so that sounds right up our alley!

    2. Overeducated*

      Nice. I have a favorite Indian cookbook and an IP cookbook but both sounds so good…

  12. Lygeia*

    Oh man, I love Blue Apron. My best friend (who is also my room mate) and I have a subscription. It’s wonderful to have a couple meals a week that we don’t have to shop for and that are different from our normal fare. Plus, the cooking is built in hang out time for the two of us. It’s been so wonderful for strengthening our relationship even while we’re super busy adults. Also, every recipe we’ve made has been delicious.

  13. Sigrid*

    We’ve been using Plated for a year and a half now, and it’s been an absolute life-saver. We’re three adults who are money-rich but time-poor, and while I love to cook, I just don’t have the time to devote to menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal prepping that I used to. Plated is the ideal service for us because a) it’s very foodie, which is us, and b) it allows you to choose which meals you want out of the week’s options instead of having that choice made for you. It’s not only saved me a lot of time (I’m the cook in the house), but it also has broadened our palate and ensured that each meal really does have enough vegetables in it, not something I was always great at back when I did the menu planning.

    Plated is the best choice for us, but my sister-in-law uses Blue Apron and has found they’re the best choice for her. Meal delivery services are obviously not right for everyone (I think it’s just the “money-rich but time-poor” category that they suit, no matter what their marketing says, because they are not cheap), but if they are right for you, there are enough on the market by now that you can probably find one that works for you.

    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      We’ve been doing Plated for the last year and love it for many of the same reasons as you. We went with them over the other companies because they were the only one I could find that offered 3 servings instead of 2 or 4.

    2. BadWolf*

      Yes, I viewed my meal subscription more of a hobby/better than takeout/educational expense than saving on food. I’m bad at cooking and even I didn’t mess up any Blue Apron meals (or my mess ups weren’t serious enough to make anything taste bad — which has happened on more than one occasion when I try to cook on my own).

  14. Leave it to Beaver*

    I’ve been picking raisins out of rice for decades. But to be fair to the dried grape, my aversion to raisins only exists in savory foods or when I mistake them for chocolate chips.

  15. Peaches*

    Blue Apron is awesome. When you sign up, you get $30 off your first box. Also, if you pause your account (which we do often when we know we’ll be out of town, have dinner plans that week, etc.) they almost ALWAYS email over a $20 off coupon to reactivate your account. The food is delicious, and we often repeat our favorite recipes by purchasing the ingredients ourselves.

  16. SparkyMcDragon*

    We’re doing this with MarleySpoon and we love it. It’s gotten me to take the extra step on things to get a better finish on foods like broiled for the last 2 minutes etc. There’s definitely vegetarian options. Not sure how good they are with other restrictive diets. Even when we only do two portions there’s usually enough to make lunch the next out of. It’s taken a lot of the fear and stress out of cooking and now I actually like cooking.

    1. Lindsay J*

      I saw these available through Amazon and Amazon Fresh and was interested in trying them. Glad to see the good review.

  17. Oxford Coma*

    Does the food just sit on your doorstep all day? I ordered and deeply regretted a Microbrew of the Month club for Mr. Coma a few years ago. Four months of the subscription were skunked since the bottles baked in the heat until we got home at night. (UPS also sucks because they were supposed to get a signature for delivery, because alcohol, but they dumped and ran instead.)

    1. Adlib*

      Yes, but there are two GIANT ice packs in there which are supposed to last at least 24 hours, I believe. I haven’t had any issues with that, but if you ever do have issues, Blue Apron’s customer service can’t be beat! They’ll make it right.

    2. Relentlessly Socratic*

      They are packaged well with insulation, I never had a problem (Speaking to Blue Apron, specifically)

      1. BadWolf*

        The only time I had a problem was when it was “too cold” when we had -10F temps and some lettuces wilted/froze, but I could still do my meals fine overall. I actually sent them a note about it — more as an FYI than I’m angry and they still gave me $5 coupon for my next box.

    3. LBK*

      They usually tell you that as long as the food is still cold to the touch when you open the box then it’s safe. I had one where the delivery was delayed by a day and the food was still good (although it was delayed due to snow, so whatever warehouse/truck it was sitting in was probably just as cold if not colder than a fridge).

  18. Adlib*

    I love my Blue Apron! For all the reasons Alison lists. They also frequently have themed meals, and I’ve gotten some vegetarian dishes I wouldn’t have normally tried! At the very least, try a box or two and see.

  19. Elizabeth West*

    I like raisins. I also really like prunes, although they’re basically candy, so I can’t eat them as often as I’d like.

    You’re just never, ever going to get me to do this–it’s too expensive, there’s too much packaging waste, they’ve come under fire for the working conditions at their packing facilities, and did I mention it’s too expensive? If I could afford a meal service, I’d pay a personal chef so I don’t have to even do the cooking.

    1. Kate Daniels*

      It’s too expensive for me as well. At that price, I can get takeout on the way home from work and save the time required to prep, too!

  20. Mockingjay*

    I have to try one of these services. We’re in a food rut, and we’re tired of each other’s recipes after almost 30 years of repeats.

    I made lasagna the other weekend. Mr. Mockingjay tasted it and stated, “It tastes like Stouffer’s.” I asked, “Is that a compliment?” He wisely did not reply.

    1. Millennial Lawyer*

      I absolutely recommend New York Times’ Cooking. There’s a wealth of really great (and easy) recipes from notable chefs and food writers. And it’s free!

    2. KX*

      Real Simple had a year of recipes, curated by the week with a shopping list included. They sent the five recipes out on a Friday via email for the week following.

      I would say I was interested in about 3/5 of the recipes, and made half of them. A lot–a LOT–of the recipes seemed targeted to the UK palate.* Some of the ingredients were not rare, exactly, but things that not all the grocery stores carry. There were some dried cheese, a lot of watercress, and some different kinds of pasta. Many, many frozen peas. I usually prefer a California cuisine, with Thai/Indian flavors thrown in. Some Mexican fusion. I hate typing that. It makes me sound very snobby and knowledgeable about food! I am an ordinary eater with average kitchen skills, but those are the menus I prepare and the Real Simple recipes were not what I would have sought out.

      Nothing bad, nothing you couldn’t adapt, and almost everything was easy to prepare. It was $10 or $15 for the year and you got PDFs (not a link to a site that would expire). We got AT LEAST 10 family favorite recipes out of it. It totally broke us out of our rut and it was totally worth the investment.

      The top three recipes I can think of that we loved are the shrimp/pineapple skewers with black bean and lime salad (so SoCal!), a salmon with horseradish potato salad and watercress, and a red cauliflower curry over couscous. There was also a coleslaw with rice vinegar/soy sauce dressing instead of mayo that I love.

      *I used to work at a publishing company that would buy expired copyrights from the UK and lightly localize them for the US bargain book market. So many were cookbooks. Maybe my ideas of the UK palate aren’t current, but I have a pretty good idea what ordinary groceries in the UK were in the late 1990s.

  21. T'Challa*

    So this is why Karen thought it would be a good idea to put raisin in potato salad!

  22. The Bimmer Guy*

    Not that I’m Jewish (although I think I remember you saying you were), but do they have specific options for kosher food? Or halal meat for Islamic people?

    1. Cooking Fat*

      No, they don’t. They don’t have any specific dietary plans except for a vegetarian option.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Not sure how Blue Apron does it, but I do HelloFresh and they at least allow you to pick from several options each week, with all of the ingredients listed. A lot of recipes have dairy, but many would be pretty easy to skip the dairy (e.g. don’t put the cheese on top of a pasta dish, or skip the sour cream-based sauce).

      I don’t think it’d be particularly easy to eat HelloFresh and keep strict kosher… but I think it’d be possible if you checked ingredients carefully ahead of time and were prepared to make minor substitutions/alterations like leaving off cheese.

  23. Discordia Angel Jones*

    I usually hate raisins in everything apart from baked goods or on their own but I did a HelloFresh recipe which is now mine and my hubby’s favourite pasta dish – they called it Venetian Chicken Pasta (not sure of its relevance to Venice, tbh).

    It is chicken, green beans, raisins and a smidge of honey, penne pasta, finished with a dash of creme fraiche and topped with chopped walnuts + grana padano.

    It. Is. Legendary. I don’t even like walnuts EVER but I’m fine with them on this.

    1. KX*

      I bought a Rotisserie Chicken cookbook on impulse from the grocery checkout line once. Most of the recipes were stupid, but there was one where you made a sauce with curry powder, golden raisins, jarred sliced olives, honey, and a jar of Pace picante sauce. So good!

      And I am a foe of raisins.

  24. sigh*

    I think I’m too fussy for blue apron- we enjoyed our original trial, until there was a week where everything was straight up treif. Like, pig or nonkodher fix or more pig mixed with cheese. :/

  25. Adlib*

    I hate olives with a passion, but I discovered through Blue Apron that Castelvetrano olives are quite tasty! (Just found a quote from Bon Appetit that said about them: “If you don’t already know, get yourself involved.” The article itself is quite amazing.)

    1. LBK*

      I have heard from multiple sources that Castelvetrano are the olive hater’s olive. Finally tried them recently and…nope, still gross to me. But I’m glad other people have found success in enjoying them.

  26. Bookworm*

    I was afraid that this was going to be a story of an office using Blue Apron and feeding raisins to an employee who has a documented allergy! :P :P :P

  27. Julia*

    This is unrelated to Blue Apron, but I have a question I’m too embarrassed to ask to email to you? Is there a way to ask anonymously?

    1. Kiwi*

      If you’re too embarrassed to even give Alison your real email address, you can use a temporary one, like one from Only disadvantage is that if Alison wants to ask your any clarifying questions, she probably won’t be able to. lets you see replies to that email address as long as you check it at least every 48 hours, but a lot of other temporary email sites don’t.

  28. RB*

    With China cutting back on which plastics they’ll accept for recycling, that has resulted in changes to curbside recycling policies in my city and likely many others. I’m concerned that when Blue Apron and other services describe their packaging as fully recyclable, it doesn’t reflect current options for recycling.

    I’m also concerned about the prices of these services. I was pretty shocked to see it listed at $8.99/serving. When I do my own cooking the prices come out to a couple dollars per serving, or less, and I buy organic ingredients at pretty expensive stores. One of the advantages of doing your own cooking is supposed to be that you are saving money compared with buying deli food or other types of pre-assembled meals.

    1. Sigrid*

      No matter what the marketing says, none of the various meal delivery services are cheap, or in any way cheaper than buying your own groceries. They just aren’t. You are paying for the recipe testing, menu planning, food portioning, and shipping as well as the food. For some people — myself and my family included — that is completely worth it. We’ve used Plated for over a year and it has been absolutely wonderful, but we are three working adults in jobs that pay well but are very time-intensive, so we have an excess of money and a dearth of time. At the same time, we really value cooking at home instead of eating out or getting prepared meals. I honestly think that the meal delivery services only make sense for people in our position — if you are looking for an inexpensive option or something that will save you money, none of the meal delivery services are it.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        +1 – this is exactly the situation my family is in as well. Plated replaces two nights of takeout per week, and while the cost is about the same, the options are much healthier and offer a greater variety than restaurants new my home. On the weekend I have time/energy to come up with what I want to make, shop for the ingredients and cook, but weeknights it’s hard to get all that in without eating dinner at 10pm.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      TBH most people are not going to save money doing things like this unless their current lifestyle is basically eating out every night (which for a lot of that is not far from the case!). I know in my house, it’s more about giving my husband the opportunity to cook more without having to worry about what to buy and trying interesting recipes we wouldn’t have thought of. And in a household of two it can be hard to find recipes that don’t result in tons of leftovers so it’s nice to use a service like this where they give you the exact amount of ingredients that you need. It’s a fun twice-per-week activity that is cheaper than going out to a nice restaurant, but it’s definitely not leading to huge savings for us.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        Yes, it’s really nice to only get as much as you need of unusual ingredients instead of buying a whole jar of something from the store and having it go bad in your fridge months later because you don’t have another use for it.

  29. Queen of Cans & Jars*

    We’re too cheap for the services that send you the food (and I have a huge veggie garden, so I’d rather use my own produce), but we use Cooksmarts. They give you 4 customizable recipes a week and a grocery list to go with it. I combine that with Kroger Clicklist, and I’m good to go!

  30. Anna*

    There have been times in our family that using a meal service would be great, but we have two obstacles, that no one service has been able to address. First is food allergies (milk, and seafood-different people) and the Second is the size of our family. We have four kids, so we are a family of 6. So while some companies will address one, they won’t the other.

  31. Thany*

    When I had just married my husband, I signed up for Blue Apron. It helped me learn the kind of foods that my husband liked. It also helped me get better and more comfortable cooking with things I normally didn’t know how to cook. It got to be too expensive for us to afford but I loved their ingredients and recipes! I tried Hello Fresh and I thought their quality of ingredients wasn’t that great.

  32. LeRainDrop*

    “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.”
    No, they got rid of this service maybe a month or two ago.

    “I like that they give you the exact quantities you need so that there’s no food waste.”
    This is true with one exception — garlic! For each recipe that calls for 2 cloves of garlic, they send you an entire garlic bulb. And then if you get a recipe the next week that also calls for 2 cloves of garlic, you get another garlic bulb. I end up stockpiling leftover garlic.

    I have loved nearly all of the Blue Apron meals that I have ordered and prepared, but I will say that they usually take quite a lot of work and more time to prepare than the recipe card estimates. This is principally because all of the produce is totally fresh and whole, so you have to wash, dry, peel, and cut up everything.

    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      Plated sends individual garlic cloves, but never enough for me. We love our garlic and always have to add a clove or two from our personal stash.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        That’s a fair point. Truthfully, I usually use 3 cloves when the recipe calls for 2, but over time, the extra garlic just builds up! I’m going to try that garlic confit or roasted garlic that others have mentioned above.

  33. Barley*

    Chiming in with praise for Hello Fresh. We felt a bit self-indulgent at first, since it’s more expensive than groceries, but we love it! We’re eating a better, more varied diet, cooking together more, and not wasting veggies that used to get bought but never used up. The delivery and packaging are reliable and the quality of the ingredients and the finished meals has been great (several months in, no bad luck yet!) The one downside is that about a third of the meal options involve pork, which we don’t eat. But the fish, beef, chicken – all good quality. These services don’t suit everyone, but it’s worked out great for us!

  34. NoteNerd*

    Allison, I would love to know how your format this shared document because it is goalz. I have running notes on my phone for movies, recipes, books to read, but I have yet to come across a good way to share that info with my SO.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just a spreadsheet in a shared Google doc that we both have access to!

      We haven’t come up with a format for the movie list that we’re happy with and are constantly changing that one, but the dinners one is literally just a long list of things we might like to eat in a shared spreadsheet! You could also probably do the same thing via Dropbox.

  35. TCPA*

    Thanks for sharing, Alison! I haven’t tried Blue Apron, but for any vegan or plant-based folks out there (or anyone interested in eating that way!), Purple Carrot is another meal subscription service. I’ve only tried one box because a friend sent it to me for free, but the meals were delicious and so easy to make.

    Everything is vegan, even the butter and mayo provided for certain recipes! I love to cook and don’t mind grocery shopping, so the subscription price is a little high for my budget, but for a busy individual or family I think it’s a great option :)

  36. kitryan*

    For NYC people and some other east coast areas, Fresh Direct also has meal kits, so it’s a way to try out that kind of thing with low investment, especially if you’re already signed up for grocery delivery with them.
    The meal selection isn’t as broad as from the Blue Apron type services, since FD is mainly grocery delivery, but it’s been a nice option to have if you’re a person who wants that service either just every now and then with no commitment, or someone who isn’t sure if the full on meal delivery will work for you.
    Through trying out the FD kits, I concluded that I shouldn’t sign up for something like Blue Apron. I’m a bit too picky on a couple frequently used ingredients – I don’t like shrimp, scallops, avocado, or mushrooms. I also get off work late so the prep time is a bit much on weeknights and I’m only cooking for one and not every recipe is good reheated. I wasn’t sure if these would be deal breakers, but trying out the FD meal kits convinced me they would be. So now I get a meal kit to try from FD every couple weeks along with my groceries and cook them on the weekend.

  37. Mazarin*

    Many USA-nians are not aware of the importance of the raisin in that great Anglo tradition: Chutney! (It’s pickles Jim, but not as we know it) Chutney is a great addition to everything, and pretty much everything can be made into Chutney. A brief look will get you recipes for
    Apple Chutney:
    Tomato Chutney:
    Onion Chutney:
    And from there you can branch out into pineapple, beetroot, or quince chutney-the world is yours!

    (Note: Sultanas are what you guys are calling ” golden raisins”)

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