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Blue Apron Review – Personal Finance Perspective

October 17, 2016

This post is unsponsored.  There have  been a ton of posts in the blog world about Blue Apron, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that they haven’t bothered with a sponsored campaign in the personal finance blogger world.  We are not their target audience.

Despite not being in their target audience in the blog world, I’m in their target demo in the real world. I tried Blue Apron for two weeks.  The first week was with a hefty discount that anyone can get, the second week was partly because I didn’t cancel soon enough and partly so T would have some good food while I was out of town.  I was traveling for part of the second week, so I tried five out of the six meals.

Things that I really loved:

No meal planning!  I generally enjoy meal planning, but my stress had reached a peak and I just wasn’t able to do it.

New recipes I really liked: I liked all of the five meals that I tried, and really liked several.  Some I will make again, others I would make again but they had some unusual ingredients that I’m unlikely to buy.  I don’t cook a lot of meat and fish at home, and when I do, its the same few dishes/cuts.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked salmon or roasted pork. This is mostly because when I’m looking for new recipes, I don’t think that I’d like a salmon dish or a pork dish as much as some other dish that I’m more comfortable with.  Blue Apron helped me branch into a few new areas.  I also really liked some of the different flavor profiles.  I’m a huge fan of trying new dishes, and Blue Apron made it super easy.

They also give you the recipes when you skip a week.

I like cooking and eating home cooked food:  If you don’t really care for cooking, this option doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Yes, just get your takeout.  For me, this setup is much more appealing than it would be to spend the exact same amount of money on takeout.

Less grocery shopping: It only covered us for 3 nights, which doesn’t eliminate the need to go to the store.  Still, it allowed me to plan something very simple for a few nights, and have something yummy the other nights. Since we’ve been doing such a poor job of meal planning lately, we’ve sometimes ended up at the store more than once a week.  This is a problem that I know how to solve, I just hadn’t had time/energy to solve it.  Blue Apron was nice in this pinch.  The second week, I came home from traveling late Thursday, and we still had 2 meals left for Friday and Saturday.  It was such a relief to not have to worry about shopping until I’d had time to decompress, yet we still got a good home cooked meal.

Things that I didn’t like:

Price is high:  This is the big deal breaker.  Without a discount, the pricing is about $10 per a plate.  That is a lot for home cooked food!  I did find the portion sizes a little bigger than what I’d serve myself (one dinner actually was designed for 3 portions), but still.    It is just not reasonable for anyone who has frugal values.

That said, it isn’t completely insane.  Some people say they could just get takeout for this price. For us, getting takeout actually takes more time than cooking, unless we pay a premium for Seamless/delivery.  Where I live, I can’t get cooked food for two delivered to our door for $20, and it is at least a 45 minute errand to pick it up (and still a bit over $20).  I can’t remember the last time we went out to eat at a proper restaurant for <$20. We don’t really do much “fast food”, and even Chipotle is closer to $20 than to $10.  Restaurants are really expensive here, even more than they were in LA/Santa Monica.

No leftovers:  With the exception noted above, I found it annoying to do all of the cooking work and not have leftovers for the next night or for lunches.

Unfriendly packaging:  Their website does tell you how to recycle everything, but there is a lot of packaging.

Quality Control: The first week was perfect, but the second week was missing an ingredient (!) and had one of the wrong recipe cards sent.  The recipes are available online, and we just made the recipe without the missing carrot – but we’re paying a price for the convenience, which makes this completely unacceptable.  We’ll be contacting them with a complaint, and I’ll report back on what they say.   I haven’t seen anyone else complain about mistakes, so maybe we just had bad luck.

Bottom line:

The price is just too high for me.  Honestly, I liked it so much that I might add it in occasionally (once per a month or less) to change things up, despite the cost. The next month is slated to be busy at work.  If  weekly menu sounds really appealing, I’ll probably do it.  I’ll likely eventually cancel all together, because this just isn’t a good financial deal.  I can see why people love it, but I can’t imagine doing this on a regular basis as a primary source of our food.  The only possible way it will save you money is if you are already eating lots of dinners out at places that are >$10 per a serving.  And if you are doing that, you are probably not that concerned about cutting your food budget.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2016 10:26 am

    I use a CSA for a number of the above (branching out to new foods, making menu planning easier), plus it saves money and forces us to eat more veggies. Blue Apron doesn’t sound like it’s taking the parts of cooking that I dislike (cleaning, time spent in the kitchen) away, just the ones I don’t mind so much (chopping, menu planning).

    When we hit peak stress levels, we eat TJ’s frozen stuff, which makes the kids happy. Currently our supplies are low since we haven’t been able to get to the city in a couple months. Our local grocery store also has somewhat healthy prepared meals, but they’re all pretty expensive and things that aren’t that complicated to make by hand (usually pasta + sauce + mixed veggies and chicken inna bag), so I haven’t been able to get myself to go for it. I think tonight we’ll have an omelet.

    • October 17, 2016 12:09 pm

      I used to do a CSA, but stopped when a bunch of veggies started to arrive and I’d be missing other ingredients needed to make it into a meal. Maybe I’ll revive again.

      I’m kind of a picky eater and TJ’s isn’t the closest store, so I don’t eat their frozen stuff lately. My go to no-cook meal for the past 2 years is avocado toast or cereal, but I think coming up with a few more that I like would be nice.

      Also, they don’t take away the chopping, you still have to talk. I do like spending the time in the kitchen and my husband and I cook together, and I find it relaxing.

      • October 17, 2016 12:23 pm

        They don’t pre-chop? So basically they just plan, shop, and measure?

        Avocado toast ftw! (Mine is a fried egg on toast with cheese– somewhat less healthy, but eggs and cheese keep longer than avocados so we tend to plan avocado meals.) Somewhere in our archives there’s a post of suggestions for quick weekday meals.

  2. October 17, 2016 11:24 am

    I tried Blue Apron a couple times when friends couldn’t use their whole order. It’s definitely not for us. I think it MIGHT be a good way to transition a person who eats out almost exclusively to one who cooks at home sometimes by taking the planning and shopping aspect out of cooking and giving detailed instructions. However, I think it also might give the impression that every home-cooked meal must be fancy and complex. When I was first cooking for myself during and after college, I oscillated between eating food that required next to no prep/cooking (sandwiches, canned soup) and many-step, many-ingredient recipes. It took me some time to figure out that easy, quick meals requiring only a few basic, minimally-processed ingredients were possible. I suspect that services like Blue Apron might delay that realization for other people.

    • October 17, 2016 11:59 am

      Weeknight meals FTW!

    • October 17, 2016 12:12 pm

      I didn’t find the recipes complicated so far – some more than others, but really nothing hard.

      Yeah, I don’t think it is for most PF people. It is not the most efficient way to cook. I really enjoy cooking new things and haven’t had a lot of time to seek out new recipes, so it filled a certain hole in my life right now.

    • October 17, 2016 12:22 pm

      “I think it MIGHT be a good way to transition a person who eats out almost exclusively to one who cooks at home sometimes by taking the planning and shopping aspect out of cooking and giving detailed instructions.”

      I see a lot of young (often male) engineers who don’t know how to cook at all and I think this would be great for them. Per nicoleandmaggie’s suggestion, my husband I got the “Help! My Apartment Has A Kitchen” book which was really awesome for simple meals. We’ve since branched out into more cookbooks.

      • October 17, 2016 8:01 pm

        I am still really thankful for that cooking class DH took 6 years ago. Pretty sure he wasn’t the only engineer with terrible knife skills in the class.

        Yay Help! book!

        • October 17, 2016 8:23 pm

          My husband actually does all the chopping! He even does most of the cooking and grocery shopping now too…

  3. October 17, 2016 3:39 pm

    In the past, I have

    a) tried a similar service here (got a free week, so why not). It was awesome but would be crazy expensive to pay for.

    b) tried getting fruit and veg delivery boxes. Convenient but pricey. I also like having more control. Just can’t beat the local Asian produce shops for price.

    The service mentioned in a) has now put out a lower tier option aimed at families with less fancy meals and I think I will be trying that at some point. Just for weeks when we get really busy and the time/hassle of shopping is a serious hurdle. The meals aren’t the most exicting but the price seems decent and that’s all we really need for those weeks. Will write something up I think once I’ve given it a go!

  4. yuppiemillennial permalink
    October 17, 2016 4:07 pm

    I pretty much feel the same about Blue Apron (having never tried it myself). In our area, we actually could find reasonable food for ~$10/meal nearby so I really see no benefit.

    In an ideal world where I am a gazillion sure, we’d get already-prepped meal deliveries offered by a local farm to table restaurant. Sadly it is even more expensive ($155 for 8 servings of food).

  5. November 2, 2016 9:28 pm

    On a regular basis it’s expensive but I do think it has a useful place in our food ecosystem depending on what we’re looking for. If we are just mentally exhausted for recipes – that’s usually my area because I’m the one cooking and I resent being given “suggestions” at a molecular level for some reason, when I’m going to do all the cooking. Not like I actually resent PiC at all, I just HATE being “told” what to do even when it’s just bouncing around ideas.

    Also it’s pretty fantastic for letting you test new ideas and foods in a small scale way without big commitment. I don’t want to commit to a full bottle of a spice if I don’t know what else I’d use it for.

    I like all aspects of cooking so it doesn’t bother me that they don’t do the prep but it wouldn’t bother me if they did the sous chef stuff, especially on high pain days.

    It’s not a huge timesaver on the per-meal sense, but it actually does work out to be a bit cheaper than takeout for the kind of food it is. Unfortunately, delivery of not-pizza around here is like $12-14 per meal, and most other places don’t deliver, and if they do go through seamless or whatever, it costs more and takes an hour to arrive.

    • November 2, 2016 9:58 pm

      totally agree – I really did like it, it just isn’t cost effective as a regular thing. I also enjoy cooking (including chopping) and have the same view of takeout.

      Have you used it or others?

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