We have all been there. Looking in our fridge, scratching our heads, wondering what to make for dinner. Or, trying to think of a new, creative dinner (yet healthy) in order to break the monotony of eating our “go-to” meals. For me, that’s baked chicken or baked salmon with sides of baked sweet potatoes or brown rice with veggies (can you tell I like baked items?). Combine that with being short on time and the idea of healthy meal planning becomes an arduous task.
In a casual chat with one of my girlfriends, Brittany, I discussed how hard it can be to meal plan AND to go food shopping. Excitedly, she told me about a food service that she uses called Blue Apron. Blue Apron is a snazzy food delivery company that ships a box of pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep, along with detailed recipe cards for three dishes. She proceeded to show me a stack of glossy recipe cards with familiar, yet exotic dishes. Calorie counts and educational asides were included on the cards. I was intrigued.
To be honest, I was wary about the service–were the food portions going to be enough for my husband and me? (Yes, they were perfect.) What if I didn’t like the food but already committed to it? (You can cancel or modify an upcoming week’s meal online if you don’t like what is being offered.) What if my food bill was now even higher because of this “added” expense? (My food bill was actually LESS expensive. Adding the cost of Blue Apron ($59) with my food bill, I STILL spent less than I would normally spend on a weekly basis.)
So I took a baby step and tried a few of their online recipes. I tried the Crispy Catfish with Sicilian Eggplant Caponata. Obviously, I didn’t have catfish & eggplants laying around the house, so I had to plan a shopping trip. I also had to pick up tomato paste, rice flour, capers, and red wine vinegar. I had to forgo the marjoram because I couldn’t find it (honestly, I never heard of that before). The finished product was great (click here for blog post on that dish), but I was left with a lot of extra ingredients that I will probably never use again. What a waste of money.
I decided to try out the service. What’s the harm? I told my girlfriend I was thinking about trying it out so she gifted me a week free so that I could try it “commitment free” (Disclaimer–>I DID have to enter my credit card info, but I could cancel before they charged me if I didn’t like my first free week of food).
On Saturday, I got a gorgeous and impeccably organized & insulated box of food delivered to my door. I got three selections of raw meat that were sitting on ice packs. Separate from the meats were various vegetables and “knick knacks”–all labeled and perfectly measured for their corresponding recipes. The recipe cards were super stylish: large glossy cards with pictures detailing each step of the cooking process.
Since I had three meals already taken care of, all I had to do was think about two other meals for the week. I found the inexpensive solution of buying a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club for under $5. I then bought some other basic necessities like bread, milk, etc. My food bill was $50–more than $75 less than what I normally spend.
A recent study showed that when customers purchased the ingredients in one Blue Apron delivery at grocery stores (from local grocery stores to Whole foods) in five different cities, the ingredients were 60% more expensivethan a Blue Apron delivery, and fewer than 75% of the ingredients were available at any one store on average” (Blue Apron, About Us)
I had this, this, and this. The recipes took me out of my comfort zone, as I never really “seared” anything before, made cod fish, or prepared an Indian dish. Each and every dish was absolutely lovely. The only downside was that since it was my first time making these meals (and I had a busy baby in the background), it took me a long time to get through preparing each dish–washing & chopping the veggies, rereading the recipe cards, and debating whether or not the meat/fish was fully cooked. If I were working full time outside of my home (instead of being a WAHM), I’d have to prepare these meals on the weekend. Or, maybe over time, I’ll get faster. Also, the other downside is that there are no left overs. So I’d recommend opting for a family plan if you are looking for extra food to last more than one day.
Special promo for you!
I reached out to Blue Apron to 1) tell them how much I love their service and 2) see if they would be interested in offering my blog readers a promotion code so that you all can try out Blue Apron. I figured many of you would appreciate a few free meals (without a shopping trip). So here you have it faithful reader, a promo code so that you too can fall in love with Blue Apron –> My first 50 readers who use this link will get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box (for first time customers only).
Some cool Blue Apron facts from Blue Apron’s About Us
Blue Apron is building a network of family farmers that champion sustainable farming practices. These direct farmer relationships allow Blue Apron to give customers access to hard-‐‐to-‐‐find seasonal produce (e.g., fairytale eggplants, fiddlehead ferns, watermelon radishes and micro-‐‐basil).”
As of June 2015, over 1.1 million pounds of specialty crops were planted and harvested by small, family-‐‐run farms for Blue Apron recipes. “
Blue Apron ships over 3 million meals per month to 99% of the U.S.”
I really, really, really hope that you enjoy Blue Apron as much as I did. I decided to keep my subscription, so I got my second box of food yesterday. I can’t wait to write & to post Instagram photos about this batch of food (follow my Instagram page here.