We're going to jump right into the "bites" portion of the blog with today's post recounting my experience with the home-delivery meal kit service, Blue Apron.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I pay for my subscription. I'm just sharing my experience – good and bad – with the company.
Jason and I have been cooking with Blue Apron for just over a year. And what a year it's been: meals have been mostly good but there's been some bad – and ugly.
How Blue Apron works
For those who don't know, Blue Apron is a subscription meal kit delivery service that ships a box of pre-portioned ingredients to your doorstep. There are a few plans to choose from. We get the 2-person, pescatarian plan.
For ~$60 a box, we receive three vegetarian or fish-centered meals. The portions are generous and each meal makes two dinners and usually one lunch. It's a pretty good deal, but we only get a box about every six weeks (you can pause delivery whenever you'd like by skipping a week's box). Obviously, you still need to shop for the rest of the week's dinners, breakfast, lunches, and snacks, so cooking with Blue Apron boxes isn't a money-saving hack. It's just fun to mix things up every now and then.
The boxes also contain meal cards for each recipe. The cards list the ingredients needed to for each dish, the estimated prep and cook time, and step-by-step instructions. The cards also suggest wine pairings, but we don't care about those because this is a beer blog.
Blue Apron hacks
The most important thing you should know about cooking a Blue Apron meal is READ THE DIRECTIONS ON THE RECIPE CARD. You would be surprised how quickly things go wrong when you start to go on auto-pilot. One time I was cooking farro for a recipe, and I was backtracking on the suggested order of events, and all of a sudden the farro bubbled up and exploded all over my gas stove. The boiling water leaked all over the stove and extinguished the gas lights.
We ended up ordering takeout that night.
It is also really important to prep the vegetables as suggested. Don't think you can just chop as you go, because a recipe that's meant to take 40 minutes box-to-table will take two hours. Trust me.
Finally, people living in small apartments may have trouble finding space for all this prep work. You have to be creative, and organized, otherwise you'll be cooking all night (usually worth it, but quite the time suck). My biggest failure was not recognize how my apartment-size stove (no, I don't have a regular size stove) and the small baking sheet I usually use would affect a pizza recipe.
Long story short, I didn't have enough room to spread the crust dough thin enough for it to bake. It was undercooked beyond reason and we couldn't bake it any longer lest the toppings burn. It would have taken probably an hour for this crust to bake through, it was so thick.
We got takeout that night, too. (In fact, this was from the same box as the farro).
(In hindsight, I should have split the recipe into to two pizzas instead of trying to bake one on my small baking sheet).
Now that you've been informed and warned, here's a look at some Blue Apron recipes we've enjoyed recently.
Blue Apron meals and beer pairings
We got a box a few weeks ago with these three recipes:
- Meyer Lemon Bucatini with Marinated Radish & Butter Lettuce Salad: This was good, but I forgot to take photos. I prefer my aunt's spaghetti aglio e olio, if we're talking about oily pasta recipes.
- Orange & Mirin-Glazed Cod with Warm Barley & Broccoli Salad: This was recipe was a hit. It was restaurant-quality and I was patient enough to sear the cod rather than mash it up into pieces so it cooked faster (stupid, I know, but I am afraid of under-cooking fish!) The glaze was light and coated the cod to a crisped finish. The warm barley salad served as a good contrast to the citrusy cod. We paired this dish with a Two Roads Little Heaven Session IPA. The hints of grapefruit in the IPA played well with the glaze.
- Creamy Ricotta & Lacinato Kale Strata with Apple & Endive Salad: This strata included a delicious, fresh-baked loaf of sourdough bread, thick ricotta, and slightly bitter kale to cut through the creaminess. The salad didn't do anything for me. I think the strata – which was very filling – could have stood on its own. We paired the strata with Ginga Ninja from Black Hog Brewing Co. This biting ginger beer complemented the heavy strata – it refreshed the palate between bites.
So that's been our experience with Blue Apron. Of all the deliveries we've received, I think my favorite meal was the Potato Chowder with Cheddar Cheese Toasts. It was easy and I felt like I was eating at an old English pub. It was incredible!
Have you tried Blue Apron? What was your favorite meal?