Monday, April 13, 2015

Blue Apron - Restaurant-Style Food Delivered Right to Your Door

I really love to cook but one of the things that is a real challenge sometimes is trying to figure out what to make. Sometimes that extra effort of coming up with something delicious, healthy and not too time consuming is just enough to make me head to my favorite local restaurant.

One of my co-workers told me about Blue Apron and I was immediately intrigued. Not only do they provide the recipes, they also send you every ingredient (except olive oil, salt and pepper) that you need to whip up tasty restaurant quality meals. This sounded like the perfect solution to my weeknight meal prep problems.

It sounded too good to be true but I decided to take the plunge thanks to 3 free meals from my co-worker. The normal cost is $10 per meal, per person so it's less than eating out but slightly more than shopping for yourself. I signed up and couldn't wait for my first box to arrive. 
All of the non-meat items are on top and the meat/seafood items are tucked away below surrounded by freezer packs.

I was really impressed with how organized everything was. As you can see in the photo below, everything is labeled. This really comes in handy when they send you produce items that you've never seen before! 
The first recipe we made was chicken tacos with a jicama slaw. 
The jicama avocado slaw was the star of the show. The tacos were ok, but nothing special. 

The other two recipes in our box were much better. The Beef Bolognese had an interesting twist - brussels sprouts!
Beef Bolognese with Fresh Pappardelle Pasta & Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts showed up again in the Roasted Brussels Sprout & Freekeh Salad. This was our favorite of the bunch. 
Roasted Brussels Sprout & Freekeh Salad with Pickled Raisins, Shaved Parmesan & Hazelnuts
Since then, we've ordered many boxes, usually every other week. It's a great way to spice up your normal dinner routine. While it's more expensive than shopping for the ingredients yourself, it saves a lot of time and running around, and there's no waste.

We've enjoyed every meal we've gotten from Blue Apron. 
Some of our top picks:
Farro Jambalaya with Crispy Maitake Mushrooms
Farro Jambalaya

Pan-Roasted Salmon with Spicy Miso Broth & Wakame
Pan Roasted Salmon with Spicy Miso Dashi Wakame

Banana Leaf-Steamed Cod with Spiced Rice, Yu Choy & Coconut
Banana Leaf Steamed Cod with Rice

Korean-Style Tteok with Spicy Pork "Rag├╣" & Gai Lan
Korean-style Tteok with Spicy Pork Ragu and Gai Lan
I'm so glad we joined because it makes weeknight cooking a lot more fun and easy. My hubby even likes to join in. 

So - what did we think? 
  • What quality would the ingredients be? - Excellent! When we had issues (receiving everything frozen during the coldest part of the winter), they were promptly addressed.
  • What would the portions be like? Would be still be hungry? We are never hungry after eating our meals and we even have leftover side dishes sometimes. You get one protein per person per meal unless it's vegetarian. Sometimes we add extra ingredients (more carrots, add a sweet potato, etc.) to ensure leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Would the recipes be good? Unique? We love the recipes and really enjoy trying new ingredients. If you are a picky eater, you may not be as thrilled with the program as we are.
  • What would the prep be like? Prep is easy. Even with all the cleaning of veggies and chopping, most meals are on the table in about 1/2 an hour.
Our only real complaint is all the packaging and that everything is shipped from far away. While it's nice not to have excess food or have to buy exotic ingredients that you may never use again, there's a lot of packaging. Boxes, ice packs, mini bottles and more baggies than you can imagine. And it doesn't have a very good carbon footprint either. For this Green Girl, I struggle with these aspects of the service. 

Does this sound awesome to you? Do you want to try it? I have one free 3-meal shipment available to share. You'll have to sign up for the service so you can give them your meal preferences, allergies, etc. but there is absolutely no obligation to continue. And I don't get any compensation if you sign up. They just make sharing meals an option after you've been a customer for a while. This offer is only available to new customers so if you've already joined Blue Apron, you can't get the free meals. (their rule, not mine!)

So how do you win my free meals? 
Leave me a comment telling me either your greatest struggle with getting dinner on the table every night or share a favorite fast and easy weeknight meal. Bonus entry for sharing this post via Twitter or Facebook. If you Tweet or post on Facebook, share your link in the comments. Make sure you leave your contact information so I can get a hold of you if you win. I'll pick one winner on Friday 4/17 at 9am. Good luck!



Photo credit: photos are from the Blue Apron website except for the 1st three

14 comments:

  1. The hardest thing for me is planning ahead and making sure I can get to the store! I'm often scrambling to figure out dinner, especially near the end of our grocery week since I hate dragging the kids to the grocery store more than 1x a week. (Lenaia @lenniebk on twitter)

    Shared on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lenaia.burbankkramer/posts/10152806931044205

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  2. Fast and Easy: Stir fried chicken. Take some chicken tenders, slice to 1/4 inch slices, toss in pan with some olive oil and whatever seasoning fits with the rest of the meal, and fry it up.

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  3. http://twitter.com/MikeT11405598/status/587738401014751232 I tweeted!

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  4. Definitely my greatest struggle is deciding what to make each night. My kids have set meals that I know they will eat, but they tend to be super boring. This would be a fun way to spice up dinner a little bit, and give me some new ideas.

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  5. https://twitter.com/lilasmommy/status/587808756400058368

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  6. I'd love to try this. We enjoy cooking at home, but aren't always good about menu planning and having a stocked fridge.

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    1. I'm good with having a stocked fridge but a lot of times just don't have the energy to think about what to do with it. I love knowing exactly what I'm making and having all the ingredients magically arrive at my door.

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  7. I tweeted it. :) https://twitter.com/KaylainCLE/status/587963359527571457

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  8. I have zero confidence in the kitchen. Chad is an awesome cook and I'm always so nervous to try cooking. So this totally helps me! Would love to try it again!

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  9. https://twitter.com/ItsAHero/status/588001376506118144

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  10. The best part of my day is planning meals and shopping around for the stuff I want or need, so this is not for me. However, I know so many people who would really benefit from it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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    1. You know Megan, when I wasn't working, I really enjoyed all the shopping and meal planning too! But after working all day and battling traffic home, there's a lot less energy for that stuff. :)

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  11. This is a really interesting concept. The dishes actually look pretty good. Of course, I love to alter things, so Lord knows how my dishes would end up (maybe all as frittatas) :-)

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    1. I have a hard time following recipes to a T too Kristian but I've been really good about sticking to these. I've added some extra stuff here and there but I try not to because I want to taste what it's supposed to be. So far they've been GREAT!

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