I have long been intrigued by the mail-order meal craze. I mean, you can pretty much mail order everything else at this point, so why not dinner, too?
Turns out a friend of mine has used one of the services for a couple of months, and has been pretty happy with it. She had some “free meals” to give away, and so she sent me a code and I set up my account.
Here is how it went…
The service I tried is called Blue Apron. You can learn more about them here. I didn’t look at other services, or think carefully about which to try, I simply went with what my friend had recommended. Signing up was quick and easy, and they assigned me two meals for my family of four and scheduled it to deliver the following week – all completely free of charge thanks to the “gift” from my friend. (I have since learned that I could have changed my meal options if I wanted to – their app and website make that pretty easy.)
The box arrived as predicted by FedEx, although was a little mangled, and I thought “Oh, no. It’s all going to be smashed!” After all, I knew that there was at least one egg in the box and I had serious doubts that it could have survived the trip.
However, as I unpacked the box, I realized that they used some pretty good packaging and that everything was just fine. Even the egg!
Our first meal was Crispy Cod and Roasted Corn on the Cob with Mashed Potatoes. I read through the recipe, which seemed simple enough to me. It wasn’t unlike other pan-fried fish recipes I’ve cooked. The potatoes were a strange color (purple!) – which I think was part of the intrigue about the meal – but they tasted just fine. Everything I needed was included right down to the butter. The only thing I had to supply was salt and pepper. I did cut the corn off the cob (the girls have braces) but otherwise, I cooked the entire meal as instructed.
Here are some pictures of the meal prep, and the final plated meal.
Our second meal was Seared Chicken and Fettuccine. Again, the recipe was pretty straight forward. This one made a LOT of pasta – way more than 4 servings – and was good enough for Pete to go back for seconds.
Here are some pictures of this meal.
So what did I really think?
Well, everything was pretty good. I’m fairly sure that my kids and husband could have cooked both meals with the step by step instructions that were provided (which they will do next time.)
The portions were generous. Neither of the girls finished either meal. Not unusual, but I had been worried that the portions would be skimpy. Not so.
I did find a few things that maybe could be better:
- The cooking time for the protein in both meals was way shorter than was actually required. Both the fish and chicken would have been pretty much raw if I’d served it after the recommended cooking time.
- The only seasoning recommended was salt and pepper – and they recommended it a bit too much. The chicken recipe says 8 times to “season with salt and pepper”. That’s just too much. Other seasonings might have made up for the flavor I think they were trying to add to the meal.
- The instructions were good, but in some cases didn’t overlap the steps enough for the meal to be cooked in the allotted time. It wasn’t a problem for me, but definitely would be for an inexperienced cook.
Price-wise, this box was awesome – because it was free. The actual cost of the two meals delivered would have been $69.92, (or about $35 per meal) which is more than I would spend to purchase these food items at the store myself, but less than I would spend on our family of four if we went out to a restaurant two nights in a row. So you be the judge as to whether you think that is expensive or not. I’m thinking it’s a little pricy for something I still have to cook, but might be worth it if/when my family handles the cooking and I get the night off!
My family’s reaction to both meals was good. They ate till they were full. Pete won the night when he said that he liked my cooking and recipes better. Good job Pete!