A Dietitian’s review of the Blue Apron meal kit delivery service. Is it healthy? Is it worth the cost? This review covers the pros & cons of this meal kit service!
This year, I’ve been reviewing a bunch of organic meal kit delivery services. So far, I’ve already reviewed Sun Basket, Daily Harvest, Green Chef, EveryPlate, Home Chef, and now Blue Apron. In December, I purchased four Groupons for other meal kit delivery services, and Blue Apron was one of them, so it’s next!
Keep in mind I’m slightly biased when reviewing these companies because, in a way, they do compete with my What to Eat? Weekly Meal Prep Guide & Meal Plans. Transparency is always important to me at Hungry Hobby, and if you came to read this post from a source such as Google or Pinterest, you might not know that. And I think it’s essential that you do.
I was excited to review Blue Apron because this isn’t the first time I’ve tried them out. Way back in 2014, when HH had barely started, I did a review post in exchange for a free box of food. The experience was very positive, and overall I enjoyed their meals. I was excited to see how their service had changed over the years, what offerings they had, and if I would still love their meals as much. Spoiler alert, we LOVED our meals, but I’ll do the full review thing.
TOP 3 PROS OF USING BLUE APRON MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE
- Global inspired ingredients that are convenient and taste delicious.
- Meals are efficient to cook and instructions are easy to follow.
- They offer a variety of healthy balanced meals, it’s not hard to find healthy options!
TOP 3 CONS OF USING BLUE APRON MEAL DELIVERY SERVICE
- Limited specialty diet info and options such as paleo, keto etc.
- Inconsistent organic produce and no option to upgrade meat to free-range, etc.
- Extra packaging to deal with (similar to other services.)
If you want to give Blue Apron a try, click here to use my link to get $60 off your first four boxes! Hurry though, because this is a summer special only!
CUSTOMIZABLE VARIETY & DIETARY PREFERENCES
The signup process helps recommend recipes and a plan based on a few simple questions. (For reference, I think mine was automatically set to serving four because that’s the Groupon I bought. I’ve learned that if I’m going to order from a meal kit delivery service, I want it to serve four, so I have leftovers. I like cooking, but not more than I have to, leftovers are essential.)
Based on my answers to these questions, here were my initial recommendations:
After checking out the nutrition facts, I went with the two listed because I like the flavors, and they were the most well balanced.
You may notice the WW on the second meal from the left (the center picture on the top row.) Some meals comply with weight watchers freestyle plan, and you can sign up to only receive those recipes.
I have a love-hate relationship with weight watchers, as it’s generally just glorified calorie counting without information about protein, fat, or carbohydrates. So, not on my top list of diet recommendations, BUT, that being said, I appreciated that the WW meals I checked out were very well balanced compared to the other meals. (Well balanced = protein, healthy fat, a decent amount of veggies, and carb-conscious.) For the record, I also appreciate what Weight Watchers was trying to accomplish with community and education.
Pros: Good portion sizes. One of my biggest complaints when it comes to meal kit delivery services has been portion size, especially of the healthier meals. Not enough veggies or big enough servings of protein, we didn’t find that with Blue Apron. I acknowledge that Mr. Hungry and I work out consistently and aren’t trying to lose weight, so we may eat more than the average consumer who signs up for Blue Apron.
However, we still got four substantial portion sizes out of the meals, even the healthier ones, so that was a huge positive for me. They’ve also added the following new labels: weight watchers approved, 500 calories or under, Mediterranean Diet, Carb-conscious, Diabetes-Friendly, Plant-Forward, and Vegetarian. I’d love to see a Paleo option in there for my clients who follow this type of diet for GI reasons, but I appreciate they started with the most well-researched science-backed labels.
Cons: Allergen information is lacking, and a variety of labels isn’t guaranteed each week. So, for example, there may be one or less available of each label, so it could be hard to follow that dietary plan week to week. Like if you are strictly following a Mediterranean Diet every single week, you may or may not be able to get Mediterranean Diet friendly meals every week.
Pros: The box was super cold, and all the food looked crisp and fresh. The box comes with this giant bag with all the ingredients in it. There is one large gel pack that keeps everything cold. Overall the package was practical and minimal, which I appreciate.
Cons: Other services parse out ingredients into separate recipes, so it’s easy to find what you are looking for. I think this is a convenience thing and kind of unnecessary, but I’ll put it in the con list anyway. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the huge giant gel pack. The instructions were to let it defrost, cut it open, pour the contents down the sink, and then dispose of the plastic. To me, this was a bit of a hassle. I threw the whole thing in the garbage then felt guilty about the environmental impact of my laziness. But, who has time to let that giant ice pack take up my sink space, counter space, or bathtub space? What if it’s toxic, how closely do I need to watch the dog? What if it messes up my sink. I prefer to throw away packaging only, even if it means MORE packaging. Maybe a little more information about the packaging in the first box would have helped?
Pro: Clean up couldn’t be easier with Blue Apron. Everything is in the right portion, ready to go. Things are prepared so that you don’t’ have to take any extra steps. It’s beautiful!
Con: Like any other service, lots of extra plastic trash holding the ingredients.
Pro: Recipe instructions of Blue Apron were clear and easy to follow. Sometimes when I review meal kit delivery services, I find myself thinking of ways to make the cooking process faster, that didn’t happen with Blue Apron. Everything was fast, efficient, and just like last time I tried them out, I learned a new cooking technique! As a food blogger, I’d keep subscribing just to learn new ways to cook things (I provided more info on that below under the meal reviews.) And not only new ideas, but cooking methods that are fast and efficient too!
Con: I can’t think of anything other than some of the recipes being more time consuming than others. That info is provided to you when you pick your recipes, though!
Pros: One thing I love about Blue Apron is the emphasis on global ingredients that I’ve never worked with before. To me, this is a considerable benefit of Blue Apron because I get to cook something unusual and fun without searching endless hours at the grocery store for some obscure seasoning or ingredient. Overall, I believe that the ingredients come from high-quality sources.
Cons: Some of the produce is organic, but not all—no option to upgrade to organic, free-range, etc. meat, poultry, and seafood. I try to focus on meat-quality in my home and purchase almost all my meat from Butcher Box. I’d like the option to upgrade to humanely raised, certified organic protein sources. They do, however, have an animal welfare policy, which you can find here. I found it kind of vague but appreciated it’s presence.
BLUE APRON COST
Blue Apron costs $9.99 per serving with free shipping. So if you get three recipes a week that feed two people, that totals 59.94 for the week. We did two recipes, four servings each for $79.92 per week. Less expensive than eating out, more expensive than grocery shopping, and meal planning yourself- similar to any other meal kit delivery service. Blue Apron is definitely not the most expensive or the cheapest, it falls middle of the road on price.
One Week of Meals
Sheet Pan Pesto Salmon
I loved this meal so much! This recipe used a simple base of pesto mixed with mayo, which kept the salmon moist throughout the dry oven cooking method. Mayo, on top of salmon, is actually how I used to cook salmon all the time. For a long time, it was the only way I knew how because that’s how my southern Grandma did it (butter, mayo, lard were major cooking groups)! Still, it was fun to revive this cooking method in an interesting way.
The sheet pan veggies came with a delicious weeknight hero spice blend, a mix of onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and whole dried parsley. I loved that I didn’t have to pull all of those spices out of the cabinet and put them all back, convenient for the win!
Overall this, was probably one of my favorite meals I’ve gotten from a meal kit delivery service ever. Simple, healthy, full of flavor, and delicious! My kind of meal.
Chicken & Brown Rice Lettuce Cups
Overall, this recipe was packed with nutrition and flavor. Lots of veggies, flavorful chicken, and brown rice tossed in a soy-tahini sauce that was DELICIOUS. This recipe required me to shred the carrots and let them “marinate” in a vinegar mixture. That was a brand new cooking or preparation method for me, and it tasted delicious! Love “no-cook” cooking techniques.
The seasoning that came with this recipe for the chicken was called Togarashi Seasoning, a new to me blend of sweet paprika, hot paprika, fired orange peel, poppy seeds, white sesame seeds, and black sesame seeds. It was smokey, sweet, with hints of citrus, so packed my chicken breast with flavor!
Bonus Week of Meals
So, I don’t have pictures for the “bonus” week. It happened because I forgot to shut off my account after I ordered the meals for review. Out of all the services I’ve reviewed, this was the first time I forgot to cancel. Win for myself, I think. The meals shipped without me choosing what I wanted (I’m knee-deep in a big recipe project right now and not keeping up with my email, this wouldn’t have happened if I downloaded the app.) So, what came? Za’atar Spiced Chicken Pitas and Italian Pork Sausage and Broccoli Pasta.
The chicken pitas were delicious! And I cooked couscous for the first time, which was surprisingly easy and I plan to buy more of it soon. The pasta was delicious, but not creamy enough for our palates. We ended up adding extra oil or, in my case, marinara sauce too it. The flavor was delicious, though, and the noodles were orecchiette pasta, a new to me pasta! It’s hard to fairly review those meals, though, since I wouldn’t have picked a pasta dish (just not my favorite) anyway.
BLUE APRON: IS IT GOOD FOR YOU? IS IT WORTH IT?
In doing all these reviews of meal kit delivery services, I kept comparing back to my first experience with Blue Apron in 2014, which was positive. I can tell they’ve put a ton of effort into creating balanced meals without sacrificing flavor, quality, or a cut that many services make, portion size. I felt like there was a good mix of “normal” meals and more exotic meals to chose from. They could probably stand to have a bit more variety, but I was satisfied with the options. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with choices from meal kit delivery services, so there is definitely a sweet spot between too many and not enough.
This meal kit is probably not for those with allergens (little information is given), or those strictly following a dietary protocol (like Paleo.) However, it’s great for the general home cook who likes flavorful, convenience, and a well-balanced meal. The overall downside is the pricing is on par with other “healthy cooking services” despite limited organic produce and organic, free-range meat options. Like I said though, the meals are nutritionally balanced, the ingredients are fresh, and there are no upcharges or hidden fees (like shipping.)
So, if you are very particular about your ingredients, Blue Apron may not be for you, however, if you’re looking for healthier meals that make your life easier than it is for you. I would 100% recommend Blue Apron in that case, especially given the adequate portion sizes, even for healthier meals, that’s a huge plus!
If you want to give Blue Apron a try, click here to use my link to get $60 off your first four boxes! Hurry though, because this is a limited of time offer!