I’m sure you’ve all seen, and potentially tried, these pre-packaged meal delivery services that are all the rage now.
I’ve basically been against them from the beginning. My primary reasons for being anti-meal delivery service are: 1) price and 2) customization. Along with a handful of other reasons, but those are the main two.
That said, I DID buy a groupon for Hello Fresh a while back, and gave it a whirl. My thoughts on it at the time were that the quality of the food was good, but that the overall taste was not as good as what I could produce on my own, and that it was, bottom line, totally not worth it. The one misgiving I’ve had about that decision is that my honey made one of the meals, following their simple directions, and I did not have to cook it. And he was thrilled with it. But still, not enough to sway me over.
So, last week, my old next door neighbors who moved to Los Angeles ordered Blue Apron, and forgot they moved to Los Angeles. This resulted in them offering me their box of Blue Apron foods! Of course, I was happy to accept. So! Here is my Blue Apron test; after all, these meal delivery services are totally a project.
1) Korean Bao Sliders with Gochujang Mayo and Sweet Potato Tempura
This was delicious. It took a while, though, and was not overall a simple process. I cook a lot, and I definitely felt like, if I didn’t cook a lot, I’d be a little taken aback by the process. However, it was really, really, good. And it was immediately better than any of the Hello Fresh meals I had.
2) Seared Salmon and “Green” Potato Salad with Pickled Mustard Seeds
Again, really good! And again, slightly more complicated than I would expect, particularly the pickling of the mustard seeds (which made the dish). The green potatoes were fantastic. There was nothing mind blowingly difficult about the preparation, but it definitely crossed my mind a few times that if I was a cooking newbie, I might be overwhelmed. Cause as far as I understand, those are primary targets for these companies.
The final meal in my box was Za’atar Chicken & Pearl Couscous with Asparagus and Pink Lemon Compote. For this one, I was working all day while my partner was off, so I decided to let him do the cooking. “Just follow the steps, like you did with Hello Fresh”, I told him. I did quickly scan the recipe and ask if he knew what zest was; he did not. So I showed him how to zest the lemon and was off.
I got home to him in a panic. He was certain he had screwed up the couscous and was trying to get to the chicken but was still freaking out about the couscous so hadn’t moved on. I took over. The couscous was fine. The lemon compote, however, was a mess…he somehow had added the zest to that instead of reserving it for the couscous. (In Blue Apron’s defense, it does clearly state this in the instructions, but it does go to show how someone with no experience in the kitchen may panic and do crazy things, like throw lemon zest into a perfectly good compote.) In any case we mostly salvaged it, and were able to enjoy the full meal.
Of the three, this was my least favorite…a little boring and kind of dry. Still, it was fairly good, and all three beat anything I had tried with Hello Fresh.
Overall, not a bad experience with Blue Apron! Pretty yummy, and their ingredients were fresh and good quality. Would I buy a box? Definitely not. It’s more expensive than buying your own ingredients, and really not any easier than just cooking it yourself. The only difference I could really see is that they send the proper portions to put in…but really, how hard is that to do on your own? All three dishes took longer in prep time than the recipes stated, but that’s normal everywhere. Also, when you choose your own ingredients you have the option to customize it to your personal likes. If it was simple enough for anyone to follow along and feel like a chef, also, great! But I don’t think it’s for those people. So, overall analysis, skip it and just pick yourself out some good recipes and some good quality food.
If you’re interested in making any of these three dishes (cough, Bao Sliders!), here are the recipes. I would feel guilty about posting their recipes, but they have them right on their website, you don’t need to be signed up to get them. So.
Korean Bao Sliders
Seared Salmon & “Green” Potato Salad
Za’atar Chicken with Pearled Couscous
Of course, you may want to make your buns from scratch…but that’s another post.