I Tried Blue Apron and You Can Too

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

We have a special offer just for Billfolders: the first 50 readers will get $40 off their first two weeks with Blue Apron! Click here.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from interviewing people about How They Do Money, it’s that a lot of us have anxiety around food purchases and meal planning.

Maybe we don’t buy enough groceries at the beginning of the week and have to get takeout.

Maybe we buy too many groceries and have to throw out that rotting head of lettuce we were planning to turn into a salad.

Maybe we want to spend more time cooking fresh meals instead of eating prepared or convenience foods, but the last time we tried to cook from scratch we had to buy four new spices and a bag of flour and we haven’t used any of that stuff since and now we feel guilty for wasting all that money on, like, one recipe.

You know where I’m going with this, so I’ll get to the point: Blue Apron is here to help you solve those meal planning problems.

  • Want to know where your next few meals are coming from? Blue Apron sends you enough food for either two, three, or four meals per week, in both a two-person and a family plan.
  • Need flexibility? Blue Apron packages arrive in refrigerated containers, so the food’ll stay fresh even if it reaches your home several hours before you do. Plus, you don’t have to cook your three meals in the next three days; the ingredients will stay good for about a week. (Cuts of meat will need to go in the freezer if you aren’t planning on using them right away.)
  • Want to learn how to cook without the waste? Blue Apron provides you the exact amount of ingredients you need — plus step-by-step instructions.
  • Want to stay within your food budget? Blue Apron meals start as low as $9.99 per serving. (There are ways to bring that cost down even further, but we’ll get to that.)

Of course, this wouldn’t be The Billfold if I didn’t try Blue Apron myself and give you a full report — so here we go.

These are the raw ingredients Blue Apron sent me for the Pork Chop & Balsamic-Pear Compote recipe. Blue Apron gives you eight recipes to choose from every week, and I picked this one because I love sweet potatoes.

When you select your Blue Apron meals, you have the opportunity to review ingredients and nutritional information. Since I’m the kind of person who ALWAYS DOES THE MATH, I used my trusty food scale to check the ingredients I received against Blue Apron’s nutritional info — and the actual calorie count was ridiculously close.

Blue Apron meals are designed to provide between 500–800 calories per person, and if you’re the kind of person who tracks that sort of thing, be aware that you can adjust your individual meal’s calorie count up or down by, for example, using less oil. (The pork chop recipe called for around two tablespoons of oil, and I halved that.) If you’re watching fat or sodium or anything else, you can use Blue Apron’s nutritional guides to make informed choices and/or adjust the recipes as you make them. (When I cooked Blue Apron’s Soy-Glazed Korean Rice Cakes — pictured above, and my favorite of the three recipes — I only used a portion of the soy marinade to keep my salt intake down.)

The biggest “problem” I had with my Blue Apron recipes? I wanted to taste all of the fresh ingredients. Look at that pear! How could you not cut off a slice of that pear and eat it right away, even though it’s supposed to go into the balsamic-pear compote? I also tasted the raw fennel, which was amazing, and now I want to learn how to make a raw fennel salad.

The thing about Blue Apron is that it’s designed to broaden both your eating and your cooking palates, and I don’t mind admitting that I had never tasted raw fennel until last week, or that I didn’t know what a fond was until Blue Apron explained how to make one as I cooked my pork chops.

Two of the three Blue Apron recipes I tried taught me new cooking techniques that I will incorporate into my non-Blue-Apron meals. (The third recipe was for French bread pizza, and… I kinda grew up making that.) I’d never smashed garlic before; only chopped or grated. I’d never made a stir-fry base out of carrots and celery. I’m going to do all of this again, now that Blue Apron has shown me how.

Don’t be intimidated if your Blue Apron recipe calls for some kind of cooking tool you don’t have. I didn’t have a strainer, and I was still able to strain the water from my Korean rice cakes by doing the thing where you hold the lid of the saucepan at an angle with the pot and hope the rice cakes don’t fall into the sink. I didn’t even have aluminum foil, so I kept my pork chops warm by putting them between two plates.

And yes, everything tasted great. The portions were generous — especially if you’re Nicole-sized — so if you’re hesitating on Blue Apron because of the cost, be aware that you can easily split a two-meal recipe into three meals, or even four if you want to pair half a meal with a roll or a salad or a piece of cake. (Dinner and dessert!) Use Blue Apron to help you with meal planning, but feel free to adjust it to make it work for your individual needs.

If you already use Blue Apron, what have been some of your favorite recipes — and what cooking skills have you added to your repertoire?

If you would like to try your own Blue Apron package, we have a special offer just for Billfolders: the first 50 readers will get $40 off their first two weeks with Blue Apron! Click here.

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