Blue Apron meal kits keep dinner interesting with global flavors like gochujang, za’atar and Calabrian chilies, though the results tend to be bland. The company uses quality ingredients but packages them in small plastic bottles and lots of plastic bags. The recipes come together quickly and the instructions are easy to follow, even for beginners.
Blue Apron is one of the most popular meal kit delivery services in the country, so we gave it a try to see if it deserves its top status. We cooked our way through three kits, each promising bold flavors like chipotles. Sichuan peppercorns and gochujang . Did they deliver? Not quite. All of the meals we tried were very quick and easy to make, but the results were sweet and the flavors felt silly. Read on for the full scoop.
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How It Works Easy Blue Apron Registration
Blue Apron is a weekly subscription meal kit service. Subscribers create an account, select one of four plans, and choose their meals for the week. If you don’t want to select meals, or if you forget them, receive the default meals based on your meat preferences.
Creating an account was easy. The hardest part is choosing between Signature, Signature for 4, Wellness or Vegetarian Plan. Each plan only serves two people, except for the Signature for 4 plan.
We could choose any Blue Apron delivery day from Monday to Saturday, but there is no way to choose a time window. Ours arrived in a delivery van in the afternoon and was left on the porch. The company recommends that customers unpack the box and refrigerate perishable products immediately notifying you of the delivery through the application.
But realistically, not everyone can get home until late at night, so we didn’t open the boxes until 5 pm Fortunately, the ingredients were still cold.
Blue Apron Meal Choice – More Variety Needed
In general, the meals were diverse, featuring interesting ingredients such as farro, ponzu, and dukkah . However, we were surprised to find that we only had a choice of six to eight meals to choose from each week on the Signature plan.
Other services we tried offered double-digit options. And the company’s other plans have even fewer options. The Signature for Four plan includes a vegetarian option only occasionally, and not even the same meals offered in the Signature for Two plan.
So, if you want to consistently serve four people with those kinds of meals, you’d need to create two accounts.
Potential allergens are not listed on the recipes and all kits are processed in a facility that is not allergen free.
Still, the recipes are well-photographed and have helpful tags like “Customer Favorite” and “Make Ahead,” meaning they can be eaten cold or reheated just fine. There is often a “Carb Conscious” option, but diets like paleo or keto are basically out of luck. Vegetarian recipes are marked with a leaf symbol, but there are no vegan options.
Another alarming thing: potential allergens are not listed on the recipes and all kits are processed in a facility that is not allergen free.
That said, we selected and tested the following recipes:
- Braised Pork Chops and Chipotle Mayonnaise
- Chicken Lettuce Cups with Hoisin Mayonnaise and Spicy Pickled Carrots
- Cumin-Sichuan Peppercorn Beef with Ramen Noodles and Broccoli
Supporting Materials: Recipe Cards And Instructional Videos
As informative as Blue Apron recipe cards are, they do not have a list of allergens or nutritional information. However, a separate Nutrition Facts card is included in each box for all available recipes for that week.
All Blue Apron recipes are available online and in the app via the Cookbook link, and can be saved to your account, but cannot be printed. For those just starting out, there are plenty of instructional videos for everything from salt water to holding a chef’s knife.
Blue Apron Packaging: A Lot Of Plastic
Blue Apron’s large gel ice pack is really efficient at keeping the ingredients in the box cold, so much so that it doesn’t cover the box with plastic insulation like most other companies.
However, it certainly doesn’t skimp on plastic packaging for its ingredients. Each ingredient came wrapped in plastic, or in the case of the meat, double wrapped.
The recipes we tested had a lot of small components, like a tablespoon of vinegar or two teaspoons of mayonnaise. These are packaged in small often half-full plastic bottles, tubs and plastic bags, and then inside a plastic bag labeled Knick Knacks with the name of the corresponding food.
Sure, this kept the little things organized but it also added more plastic to the mix. Also, they didn’t have tear notches, so they were difficult to open on the fly. the rest of the ingredients, like vegetables, were scattered around the box, so we eventually had to organize things ourselves anyway. Other services we tried organized all the ingredients for a particular recipe in paper bags,
The cardboard box is curbside recyclable, but you’ll need to check your local recycling restrictions to see if any of the plastic bags, tubs, or bottles are recyclable in your area.
The Blue Apron Cooking Process: A Breeze
The Blue Apron meals came with all the promised ingredients. However, one package of Knick Knacks appeared to have a leaking bottle. And they sent us the wrong card for one of our dishes and we couldn’t download and print a new one from the website. Instead, we had to follow it on our computer screen.
The recipes were so simple that even a beginner would have no problem preparing them.
The cooking times were correct or we were able to finish in less time than indicated. In fact, all three of the Blue Apron meals we cooked were super quick and super easy. The recipe cards were well designed and easy to follow with helpful step by step photos. Two of the recipes took 25 minutes to prepare.
The pork dish took longer, 35 minutes, and only because the red rice took 28 minutes to cook. The recipes were so simple that even a beginner would have no trouble making them. The recipes we tested required minimal cutting. Preparation time was 5 to 10 minutes maximum. They also didn’t involve too many components, requiring just a pot, a nonstick skillet, and a small bowl or two.
Customer Service: Reliable
We used the chat service a couple of times and found that the representatives responded quickly and courteously. Most of our questions can be answered by searching the FAQ in the Help Center. Customers can also call or email customer service and the phone number is prominently displayed on the website and in the app.
Make Changes And Cancel: Relatively Easy
It’s easy to switch plans, select recipes, and skip weeks on the Blue Apron website and app with just a few clicks, taps, or swipes. No need to go to settings. If our usual Blue Apron delivery date didn’t work out a week, we could simply choose a different day instead of having to skip the week altogether. We were also able to go into our profile and select our protein preferences, so if we didn’t like, say, lamb or seafood, our default meals wouldn’t include them.
It’s easy to switch plans, select recipes, and skip weeks on the Blue Apron website and app with just a few clicks, taps, or swipes.
Please note that the deadline and time for making changes to the delivery date can be viewed in the customer’s profile. And, according to the website, canceling outright requires emailing customer support for instructions, which isn’t as easy as clicking a button as with other services we’ve tried. However, once we received the instructions, it turned out that all we had to do was look for the “edit” button in our account settings.
The Competition: Hellofresh Vs. Blue Apron
HelloFresh and Blue Apron offer contemporary recipes that take about 30 minutes to prepare for the same price per serving. Blue Apron recipes are a bit easier, but not as tasty either despite using more global ingredients.
Blue Aprons also don’t offer as many options, especially for families. Both companies aim to source their ingredients from small farmers, and both offer websites and apps that are clean, well-designed, and easy to navigate. If you order three or more meals per week Blue Apron doesn’t charge extra for delivery, but HelloFresh does. HelloFresh used to offer wine pairings, but Blue Apron’s is cheaper.
So, if you’re looking for some recipe variety and more flavor, and who isn’t? HelloFresh wins.
Easy to follow recipes but more flavor and variety needed.
Blue Apron’s meals are quick to prepare even if you’re a kitchen novice, but lack of variety of recipes no options for keto, vegan, etc. and the relatively bland flavor could use some improvement.
We also thought the plastic packaging was a bit excessive, but we were glad the ingredients arrived fresh. If you’re looking to wow your next dinner party, it may not be your best option, but if you’re only cooking for one or two people and want an easy dinner meal with no dietary restrictions, Blue Apron will work just fine.
- Product name Blue Apron
- Price $47.95
- Signature plan 2 meals for 2 people: $47.95
- Shipping $7.99 / free when you order 3 or more meals per week
- Average cost per serving$9.99
- Weekly meal options2 to 4 recipes per week for plans of 2 and 4 people
Blue Apron Pros And Cons
What we like
- Meals are quickly prepared and often include globally inspired ingredients
- freestyle plan aligns with Weight Watchers points
- shipping is usually free
- Large gel ice pack is effective
What we don’t like
- food tends to be too sweet
- Very limited options for four-serving meals
- The ingredients are packaged in a large amount of plastic
- There are almost no special dietary options such as vegan, ketogenic and allergy free
- Shipping is not free for plans of two people and two meals
Blue Apron is a good option for singles or couples who have very little time to cook but enjoy fresh ingredients and trying new flavors.
Picky palates will likely find Blue Apron recipes a bit bland, and families will have limited options.