Here is a second installment of my series on meal kits. Check out my first post here, where I reviewed organic, vegan meals from Green Chef. This week, I tested out three meals with classic meal kit service Blue Apron. How did it stack up?
Unlike Green Chef, Blue Apron does not offer a vegan option, so we went with a set of vegetarian meals. We ordered three meals, for two people (me and my husband). The meals were delivered to our door on Sunday, ready to start the week off with some real food.
When we opened our delivery, we immediately missed a few features from Green Chef. To start, Blue Apron does not color-code ingredients, meaning you need to pick out which ingredients go with which recipes. Not terribly difficult, but when you are going for convenience, every little bit counts. Next I started following the step-by-step instructions. I really disliked that the instructions have you prep all ingredients at the outset. With Green Chef, there was a nice flow to the instructions: prep ingredient 1, start cooking ingredient 1, while that is cooking prep ingredient 2. It helped me keep a clean workspace and reduced the number of bowls and cutting boards I needed it use. Blue Apron folks should give this a little more thought.
Our first night, we made Fontina Panini. A sandwich? I initially thought, unimpressed. This one included broccoli (supposed to be baby broccoli but they were out so we got regular broccoli instead), piquante peppers, fontina cheese, and an egg. Arugula salad on the side with pistachios and olives. The kit provided way too much broccoli to fit on the sandwiches, so we had a good amount of leftovers, even after I awkwardly and messily piled the ciabattas as high as possible. Also, the egg was provided raw, so I had to hardboil and peel it myself. Even though I followed the instructions exactly, I still got a sticky shell, which is the whole reason I don’t hardboil my own eggs. We ended up with about 3/4 of an egg. The finished sandwich actually tasted pretty good but definitely not worth the price and the hassle. Maybe if it included a fun spread or more interesting seasoning on the broccoli, we would have preferred that. It was very basic. I guess it is something I could make again all on my own, but that’s not the reason I signed up for a meal kit… Side salad was necessary along with the sandwich, and I got to eat my husband’s yummy olives because he doesn’t like them. 800 cals, 74g carbs, 28g protein
For the second night, we made Spanish-Style Potato and Chickpea Stew. It was easy enough to make, although the potatoes took longer to cook than the instructions provided. I have two criticisms of this one. First, this dish was really basic and I could have made it really easily and VERY inexpensively myself. There wasn’t really any value-add from Blue Apron — no special sauce or ingredient that wouldn’t be easy to find elsewhere, no interesting cooking method. Second, this dish did not taste great. Perhaps I should have added more salt, but my husband and I both agreed this dish was lacking flavor. My husband said the swiss chard was really the only component that was the least bit interesting. I didn’t finish my bowl. 660 cals, 93g carbs (!), 22g protein.
On the third night with Blue Apron, I made Saag Paneer. I love Indian food and am not good at making it, so I was optimistic about this one. Looking at the recipe, this was the most interesting, with paneer and spinach with ginger and cilantro, naan bread, and a cucumber-yogurt-mint sauce. When I made my way through the recipe, the meal plated up nicely. But when we ate it, we were so disappointed. It was really meh. We wondered if it was so tame because it is meant for folks that don’t usually eat Indian, but it wasn’t just lacking a punch — the seasoning blend tasted… weird. The mint was the one highlight of the dish, and we also ate our naan separately and enjoyed it. I thought this one was going to be my favorite, but it turned out that I have no interest in eating this again. 780 cals, 99g carbs (!!!), 33g protein.
Between the two services we’ve tried so far, the clear winner in our house was Green Chef. I found Blue Apron to be less creative, and more basic in terms of flavors and types of dishes. However, if your family includes folks who are not so adventurous and like more bland food, maybe Blue Apron would be a good option. For us, on to the next!…
Have you tried Blue Apron? What did you think? I know people who LOVE it — what do you think went wrong here? We will try Hello Fresh next… any other must-try meal kits?