During my time with a busy schedule at the law firm, I came to rely on regular deliveries from Plated. I was impressed by their meal options. Unfortunately, Plated suspended their service, leaving a vacuum in my meal planning schedule. Since moving to Boston, I have not used these services often, but on occasion I want easy but creative meals that don’t require a lot of effort. So, I decided to give Blue Apron a try. Like most of these companies, they give discounts for first time customers. I got a $60 dollar credit to spread over three orders just by signing up. This brought the total for each delivery of six servings (three meals) to $39.94.
I got my first delivery back in September, but I chose to wait until I tried a few boxes before writing my review. For the first box, I chose the three meals I most wanted to try. I selected Seared Steaks & Mushroom Agrodolce with Roasted Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts; Crispy Skin Salmon with Salsa Verde & Farro Salad; and Crispy Chickpea & Barley Bowls with Harissa Glazed Carrots & Lemon Yogurt.
My favorite meal from this first box was the chickpea and barley bowl. The dish had great flavor and a mix of textures. This was a solid vegetarian dish. I also enjoyed the farro and salmon dish. However, I wished that I could have made the salsa verde instead of drizzling over a pre-made sauce. I understand a goal of these services is to streamline the process for both the producer and consumer, but I would have much preferred to make a simple herb sauce myself. Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed this meal.
The steak dish, however, was the reason I was so disappointed in this box. I had high hopes for this dish when I saw they sent bavette steaks, which are one of my favorite steak cuts. Then, I looked at the package of Brussels sprouts, seeing I received just six sprouts (three per serving). Never in my life have I sat down to a meal and said, “I think I’d like to eat just three Brussels sprouts.” Then there was the agrodolce, which is supposed to be a sweet and sour sauce. This sauce was overwhelmingly sweet without sour notes to balance it out. I loved the steaks, but I was underwhelmed by this dish.
I wasn’t particularly impressed by my box, but I decided to keep my account open, since I still had a $40 credit. One of the perks of my job is I get to bring home food often, so I did not have much of a need for a meal box throughout the fall. I did finally order a second box the first week of December, in time for finals.
In my second box, I chose Spanish-style chicken & aioli with mashed potatoes & sautéed greens; creamy pasta & kale with fried rosemary & walnuts; and Vandouvan tofu & coconut-ginger curry. My favorite meal was the pasta dish. Although I found the serving to be small for two full meals, the creamy sauce with the fried rosemary and walnuts made this irresistible. Plus, it came with Mafalda pasta, which is such a fun shape.
I was fond of both other recipes as well. The use of smoked paprika in the chicken certainly made this meal feel very Spanish. I did not feel the collards quite fit in with the theme of this meal, but all the elements came together for a composed plate. As for the curry dish, the thing to keep in mind is that this is just one version of curry using one particular spice mix. It doesn’t represent any particular cuisine. In fact, Vadouvan curry is a French derivative spice mix, so it would not be a traditional representation of cultures who are known for curries. With that said, I did enjoy this dish. I added some more curry powder I had on hand to amplify the flavor, but I did find it pleasing, especially the crispy tofu.
Finally, I ordered my third Blue Apron box the last week of January, which was our first week of classes. Coming off of winter break, I wanted quick meals to make so I could have nourishing food without having to take ample time out of my week to cook. The first week back always drains me. I chose pesto gnocchi with mushrooms & pistachio bread crumbs; Shawarma chicken & couscous skillet with lemon labneh & harissa sauce; and Indian-style Beyond burger with creamy mango chutney & spicy cucumbers, specifically because they all had short cooking times. I also was curious about the use of Beyond burger, because I had not yet tried one of those plant-based burgers that mimic the flavor and textures of meat.
I enjoyed each of these meals, but I especially appreciated that each of these meals took between 20 and 30 minutes to make. The gnocchi dish was luscious and packed full of flavor from the pesto. The chicken shawarma was delightful with the crisp vegetables and harissa. The burger was actually quite good. My mind and taste buds were certainly confused, but I really liked the Beyond burger. I don’t really have complaints about this box.
My overall thoughts on Blue Apron is that it may be worth the cost for people who have very busy lifestyles and/or those who are interested in expanding their typical cooking patterns. If you are a more adventurous eater, you may find yourself disappointed with this service. I have come a long way in my cooking techniques and general palate since I first tried a meal kit service. My thoughts on them now are much different than my initial views. I think there can still be a use for them in my life occasionally, but for the most part, I think I could come up with better meals myself.
*This post reflect my honest views. I did not receive any compensation or other incentives to post this review.