This review takes a look into Blue Apron and a few other meal kit services. As people lead increasingly busy lives, they have less time to search for recipes and shop for groceries and ingredients. Meal kit services bring food to people’s homes, complete with recipes with instructions on how to create meals. All they need to do is unpack the food out of the box and follow the steps. People still have to put some work into making the meals, but the ingredient selection and some preparation work have already been done for them. With many meal kit companies vying for business, this review strives to provide information that will help consumers make decisions on whether or not they wish to try this service.


What Is Blue Apron?

Blue Apron

Blue Apron is a meal kit company that delivers pre-portioned food ingredients and recipes to customers who subscribe to the service. The company is based in the United States and is publicly traded. It was founded in 2012, with its founders boxing ingredients from a commercial kitchen in Long Island City, New York. Two years later, it opened a fulfillment center in Richmond, California, with two more opening afterwards, one in Jersey City, New Jersey, and another in Arlington, Texas. The company has also launched a store called Blue Apron Market that sells kitchen tools and cookware. In addition, there is also Blue Apron Wine, a wine delivery service that sends six bottles of wine purchased directly from vineyards and delivered to customers. Blue Apron’s meal kits can also be purchased in some Costco store locations, making it its only physical store retail presence.

The name Blue Apron honors chefs who wear blue aprons as they are learning how to cook.  Blue aprons are also a symbol of continued education and lifelong learning in the culinary field. The company wants the name to inspire its customers to prepare and cook new foods.

Blue Apron advertises fresh produce, sustainable seafood, quality ingredients, and exclusive spice blends. On the Blue Apron website, you select a plan, then enter your delivery and billing information before placing your order and choosing the specific meals in the plan. Dietary preferences can be set after the checkout process. However, the preferences are limited for people who are vegetarians, pescetarians, or avoiding certain proteins, such as red meat, shellfish, fish, pork, or lamb.

Blue Apron guarantees that their ingredients arrive fresh in an insulated box. The recipes, which feature step-by-step instructions, come with perfectly-portioned amounts to avoid waste. Ice packs keep the ingredients cool and are recyclable, as is the packaging. Meals take between 20 and 45 minutes to prepare. They range from cheeseburgers and fresh basil fettucine to beef stir-fry and vegetable tostadas. The company wants to teach their customers how to cook recipes that they may have never tried before, using seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients.

Product Specifications

Starting Price Per Meal: $8.99 for family plan, $9.99 for vegetarian or classic plans
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: No
Extra Delivery Charges: No
Availability: Nationwide, but limited to the continental United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii

Who Should Use A Meal Kit Delivery Service?

If you are too busy to handle meal planning, spend too much time trying to find new recipes, or find maintaining a regular meal schedule is challenging, using a meal kit delivery service may be perfect for you. A service like Blue Apron does all the meal planning, saving you time from searching for images and recipes.

Some people generally don’t follow recipes very well, forgetting where they left off or becoming confused by measurements. Blue Apron pre-portions ingredients so that you don’t have to worry about measurements. Photos of each step of the recipe are also provided so that you are less likely to get lost in the text and instructions of a recipe.

For those who are not confident in their cooking skills, there is assurance with a meal kit that the recipe has already been tested. Before you begin cooking, you already know how long it should take to prepare the meal, so you don’t need to spend time doing any prep work prior to cooking. As long as you follow the recipe provided, your meal should turn out well.

Since Blue Apron’s recipes tend to be simple, they are easy to remember and make so that you could recreate them on your own. Blue Apron’s meal kits use easy techniques and encourage learning so that you can become a better, more confident cook. Since Blue Apron changes its menus often, there is always variety. If you are someone who makes the same meals repeatedly due to lack of skills, knowledge, and/or confidence, using the meal kit service expands your choices. It’s also good for people who don’t go grocery shopping at a store, have time to select groceries online to have them delivered, or frequently order take-out for delivery. Meals made from fresh ingredients are usually the healthiest option.

To entice people to try the service, Blue Apron offers discounts. Currently, it offers new customers $40 off their first two boxes. Because you can cancel your subscription at any time, the risk of using the service is low.

Pricing

Blue Apron is considered one of the most economical meal kit services available. To place orders, one must first create an account at Blue Apron’s website and choose a subscription plan. Blue Apron offers three plans: vegetarian, classic, and family. You can choose a delivery time that is convenient for you, and you can skip meals or cancel the subscription.

The vegetarian plan is designed to serve two people, and you can opt for either two or three recipes per week. The cost for two recipes per week is $9.99 per serving and $7.99 for shipping, for a weekly total of $47.95. For three recipes, the cost is $9.99 per serving with free shipping, for a total of $59.94 per week.

The classic plan also serves two people, with a choice of two or three recipes weekly. The cost for two recipes is $9.99 per serving and $7.99 for shipping, for a total of $47.95. Like the vegetarian plan, the per serving cost is $9.99 and shipping is included, for a total of $59.94 weekly.

The family plan serves four people and can be set for two, three, or four recipes per week. Shipping is free for all family plan options. The per serving cost for two recipes is $8.99, with a weekly total of $71.92. For three recipes, it is $7.99 per serving and $95.88 per week. The four-recipe plan costs $7.49 per serving for a weekly total of $119.84.

How It Compares

There are at least 150 meal kit companies in the United States, with Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated being amongst the oldest, entering the market in 2012.


HelloFresh

HelloFresh

HelloFresh is a meal kit company based in Berlin, Germany. It is the largest provider of meal kits in the United States and also offers its services in Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. Like Blue Apron, the ingredients are prepared for a meal and then sent to customers, who can cook a meal with them in 30 to 40 minutes. Its offerings include figgy balsamic pork, burgers, and fajitas. Some reviewers have mentioned that HelloFresh’s recipes are easier to follow by reducing the number of steps it takes to create a meal but its recipe cards are difficult to read because of small text and lettering that is too close together. The online account management portion is easy to manage, allowing you to update subscription preferences or pause deliveries.


Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: Yes
Extra Delivery Charges: No
Availability: Nationwide

Plated

Plated

Plated is a meal kit company that was founded in 2012 and was acquired in 2017 by Albertsons. Plated stands out from the field of meal kit companies in that its meals are more aspirational and of higher-end quality. The company emphasizes sustainability and health, promoting its meats as being completely antibiotic-free, hand-packed organic produce, beef with no added hormones, sustainably-sourced fish, and locally-sourced ingredients. Plated also offers low-calorie, low-carb, and gluten-free menu options. Among its menu offerings are various chicken dishes, fish and chips, steak fajitas, meatballs, tacos, and sandwiches. While it offers many subscription options and provides delicious and easy-to-prepare meals, Plated does not offer as many tips or educational information as its competitors. Plated does offer dessert options and delivers its boxes in environmentally-friendly packaging.


Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: No
Extra Delivery Charges: Yes
Availability: Nationwide, but limited to the continental U.S.


Sun Basket

Sun Basket

Sun Basket offers subscription meal kit plans with fresh, organic, and sustainable ingredients and recipes. Its offerings are vast, covering paleo, clean, vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean, gluten-free, diabetes-friendly, and pescetarian diets. The company was founded by chef Justine Kelly and entrepreneur Adam Zbar in 2014. Kits are delivered weekly and you can choose any recipe from 18 weekly options. No additional grocery shopping is required, and all meals can be prepared within 30 minutes. The meals have been described as tasty and easy to prepare, with a good amount of meal choices and environmentally-conscious packaging. However, this may not be the best option for people who do not cook often or are new to cooking, as the recipes may be difficult to replicate.


Vegetarian Options: Yes
Vegan Options: Yes
Extra Delivery Charges: Yes
Availability: Nationwide

Blue Apron Pros And Cons

Pros
  • Good for meals during busy weeknights
  • Good for change in routine
  • Good range of delivery times
  • Menus posted one week in advance
  • Step-by-step color photos provided
  • Organized packaging
  • Meals are easy to prepare
  • Delivery is generally reliable
  • Meals taste good
  • Customers are given speedy attention by responsive customer service
  • Ideal for people with limited kitchen experience
  • Generous portions
  • Canceling account is not difficult and can easily be reactivated
  • Recipes can be found online for all meals offered, even meals that you skip
  • Recycling program offered for box packaging
  • Healthier option than frequently dining out or ordering take-out or delivery

Cons

  • Recipes sometimes call for ingredients that you need to buy yourself and are not easily found in local grocery stores
  • Ingredients may be jumbled together, requiring you to spend time separating them before beginning to cook
  • Blue Apron only offers vegetarians a specific dietary plan
  • High amount of packaging, which is not environmentally friendly
  • Not recommended for people with allergies or dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, low-carb, or no sugar
  • Some customers have reported delivery problems, receiving produce that was not very fresh, or missing an ingredient
  • A credit card is required upon registration for future auto-debits
  • Need to be proactive about skipping meals before credit card is charged and delivery cannot be canceled
  • Canceling an account requires contacting customer service

PRODUCT

IMAGE

RATING

PRICE

Blue Apron

Blue Apron

HelloFresh

HelloFresh

Plated

Plated

Sun Basket

Sun Basket

Conclusion

Blue Apron is a good option for those who have never used a meal kit service before, do not have much time for grocery shopping and cooking, and/or have cooking skills at beginner level. It has decent food quality and the meals are easy to prepare and tasty. The meals are not particularly creative, but they taste good and are solid and reliable. While this service is one of the most economical, there are apparently inconsistencies in service, ranging from missing or not-so-fresh ingredients to improper delivery scheduling.

Blue Apron is not a good option if you are on a restricted diet beyond being vegetarian or avoiding certain proteins. While some adjustments can be made to accommodate restricted diets, it may be more work than one is willing to do and there are other meal kit services that offer recipes for restricted diets. The customer service is good, with an extensive Frequently Asked Questions list on the website and the ability to email or call Blue Apron. Answers are returned quickly from a live person, not a robot.

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