Blue Apron — a great idea that needs some work

One of my most dreaded weekly tasks is planning and buying food for daily meals. It was worse when the kids were home, but even now, with just the two of us, planning meals is a pain. I usually end up just buying the same things and cooking the same things week after week. Some sort of pasta meal, some sort of Tex-Mex meal, some sort of casserole, etc. If Dean feels like cooking we either have something grilled or something fried.

Then I heard about Blue Apron. I may have seen an ad on Facebook and checked it out or maybe I saw an ad somewhere else, but either way, I really wanted to try the service. If you’re not familiar with Blue Apron — it is a fairly new (about two years old) company out of Brooklyn, NY that sends you all the ingredients and recipes for three unusual meals each week. All you need are salt, pepper and oil. What got me to finally subscribe to Blue Apron was a sponsored blog post on Amalah where the funniest blogger in the world talked about how delicious the meals were and how her kids and foodie husband loved them.

I was so excited about my first shipment that I think I checked the Blue Apron website several times an hour each day before my first blue and white box arrived. Dean was okay with it — but skeptical. Our first three meals were Chicken Hiyashi Chuka, Seared Cod Piperade and Peperonata & Fried Eggs. We liked the first two (Dean loved the cod) but the peperonata and eggs were served over homemade polenta that could have cooked longer.

We continued to get shipments and I continued to be excited about each box and talked it up to friends and family until the week of the Blue Apron typo. I was not terribly excited about the Crispy Fish Sandwiches with cole slaw and homemade tartar sauce, but decided to give it a go anyway. When I saw that it called for 1 tablespoon of salt to be added to the shredded cabbage I knew that was too much, but thought it was to extract the liquid from the cabbage and would be rinsed out. By the time I got to the step where I would have rinsed the salt from the cabbage I guess I forgot and just went with the recipe. As you can imagine the slaw was ruined. I read reviews about the dish and saw several complaining about the salt.

About the same time I’d sent Clare a couple of weeks of Blue Apron for a gift. The first week she was excited but didn’t like the food she made and thought it was too much work and made too much of a mess in her small kitchen. The second week she was sent meat instead of vegetarian recipes. (her fault, she didn’t check the vegetarian option this time) To their credit, Blue Apron sent her a couple free weeks of food because the first package was delivered a day late and because the second contained meat.

Since we were visiting Clare the week after the salty slaw meal we figured we could re-purpose the meat she was sent and maybe make one of her meals at a cabin we were renting on the Olympic Peninsula. The meat looked a little iffy, so we tossed it (Clare was not sure how long it was not refrigerated) but Clare and I made a very good and unusual pizza from one of their recipes that had been delivered.

The day before we left for Maryland, Clare got yet another Blue Apron delivery so we decided to make everything in the box in one meal and invite Clare’s roommate, Bennett, to have a vegetarian feast with us.

The meal began with a Moroccan-Spiced Heirloom Cauliflower Salad, continued with White Chili and ended with a Cauliflower and Kale casserole. Sounds okay, right? It was awful. But awful in a fun way since the four of us suffered through these dishes while sitting in the hallway of Clare’s amazing apartment building.

So back to Blue Apron — I think Blue Apron is a great idea. They have a wonderful help desk staffed with folks who seem genuinely interested in your happiness with the company. I don’t think I am the target audience for the company, however, since I’ve been cooking for decades and can probably come up with recipes as good or better then their best recipes. Their best recipes are very good but they also have a few duds. Of course it is a matter of opinion. What I like is different from what someone else likes (seen much of the time in my reaction to the meals versus what Dean thought about them).

I am not stopping my subscription — in fact I am getting a delivery the week of December 15 when I will be making Gnocchi with Sausage and Savoy CabbageRoasted & Stewed Chicken with Potato Latkes & Crème Fraîche and Macadamia-Crusted Cod with Forbidden Rice, Golden Beet & Avocado Salad. Dean won’t be pleased with the chicken, but hopefully he will like the gnocchi and cod.

If you do plan on trying Blue Apron make sure you check for comments on the recipes (at the bottom under “Tips for Home Chefs”) before you start cooking. Had I done that with the coleslaw recipe I would never have added a tablespoon of salt.

 

6 thoughts on “Blue Apron — a great idea that needs some work

  1. How interesting! But the meals sound as though they’d appeal to foodies–who are likely to think them up on their own. As you said, you can come up with recipes that are as good or better. The Blue Apron dishes do sound good, but they also sound like a lot of work. Okay for some, not for others.

    I loved meal planning when my kids were growing up. Every week I’d try something new. I used to say they were raised on ethnic peasant food. Two out of three of them loved it. 🙂

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    1. My kids were picky. We tried to get them to eat ethnic foods but it didn’t really take. We ate a lot of spaghetti. It became more difficult when Clare quit eating meat and Andrew started wrestling. About the same time Dean became serious in Tae Kwon Do so there was rarely a night when everyone was home but everyone still expected me to have dinner on the table at some point. A low-calorie mix of vegetarian food plus some sort of meat was hard to vary each night.

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  2. Is it in bad taste to ask how much a service like this costs? It sounds like it might be expensive, in which case I would be upset about the hit-and-miss quality (although, as you say, people’s tastes are so different–but it sounds like everyone agreed on the awfulness of the vegetarian meal).

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  3. I’m catching up on my blog reading, as you can see. Sorry I’m so late. To be honest, $10 per meal sounds pretty reasonable, and even if you get only a few new recipes to add to your collection, the adventure part of it sounds like fun.

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