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Written by: Felicity Kay on Nov 3rd, 2021

FreshDirect vs. Blue Apron 2021: Groceries or Recipes? 

When I started researching for this FreshDirect vs Blue Apron comparison, I’ll admit I was probably a little biased in favor of Blue Apron. After all, it’s made several of our lists, including the Best Meal Delivery Services of the Year.

However, as the premier grocery delivery service in the northeast, FreshDirect also has its perks.

Ultimately, both companies have the same end goal: to make it easier to buy and create delicious food at home. The question is, which one does it better?

At a Glance: FreshDirect vs. Blue Apron


FreshDirect

Blue Apron

Dietary preferences offered

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Vegan, Paleo, Keto

Vegetarian, WW-Approved, Diabetes-Friendly, Carb-Conscious

Menu variety

N/A

16 recipes per week

Starting price

$30 minimum order

$7.49 per serving 

Shipping cost

From $5.99

$9.99

Prep time 

N/A

20-50 minutes 

Special discount

60 days free delivery

Get $110 Off Your First Four Boxes

Dietary Preferences

Let’s start with one of the biggest factors in choosing a grocery or meal delivery service – whether or not it caters to your dietary needs.

Since FreshDirect is essentially an online grocery store, you can find foods that cover just about every diet. The service offers a range of vegetarian and vegan foods, as well as products catering to weight-loss, gluten-free, paleo, and keto diets.

Blue Apron also caters to a range of diets, but is particularly great for those seeking weight-loss or diabetes-friendly recipes. Its four plans include the Signature and Signature For 4, as well as a Vegetarian plan and a Wellness plan. It’s in the latter that you’ll find WW-Approved recipes and carb-conscious dishes.

Winner: It’s a tie

Menu Variety

Thankfully, both services have extensive offerings to keep your meals fresh, fun, and exciting, but let’s start with Fresh Direct. Of course, the variety is really up to you, considering the size of the inventory. The foods are organized into sections based on type, just like you would find at a typical grocery store.

FreshDirect also sells a selection of prepared meals, including pizzas, kebabs, salads, sandwiches, quick-cook proteins, and more. You can shop a variety of meal kits, like the Malaysian Chicken Skewers with Coconut Rice, too.

Blue Apron, on the other hand, only offers meal kits. But with 16 recipes to choose from each week on the Signature menu, you’re spoilt for choice. You’ll find everything from classic American comfort food (hello, Creamed Onion and Smoked Gouda Burger) to internationally inspired cuisines, including Yuzu & Maple Glazed Tofu over Fried Brown Rice.

However, it’s important to note that the number of recipes will depend on the plan you’ve selected. The Wellness and Vegetarian plans offer significantly fewer meals, usually around five per week.

Winner: FreshDirect

Starting Prices

Comparing the prices of these two companies isn’t easy, since they both offer very different services.

FreshDirect is primarily a grocery delivery service, so we’ll start there. With a minimum spend of $30 required for every order and shipping fees starting at $5.99, depending on location, you’re looking at a starting point of $35.99 per week.

Now, compared to Blue Apron’s starting price of $49.95 per week (based on two meals a week for two people, plus shipping), FreshDirect appears to be the winner – but that’s only at first glance. In reality, we have to consider a more realistic weekly amount spent on groceries, and the average shipping cost for FreshDirect rather than the minimum.

According to a recent Business Insider article, the average New York household (FreshDirect’s main market) spends around $93 a week on groceries, and the average shipping cost for FreshDirect is $6.99, so that brings our cost up to almost $100 a week.

Add to that FreshDirect’s reputation for slightly inflated prices on everyday items such as milk and bread, and Blue Apron’s more expensive plans start to look like good value. For example, you can get four recipes a week for four people for $129.83 with Blue Apron’s Signature For 4 plan, including shipping.

Blue Apron’s meal kits are great value for the quality meals they provide but bear in mind you will also have to do a weekly grocery shop for the rest of your general food needs.

Winner: FreshDirect

Delivery and Packaging

A smooth delivery experience is essential –  and there are a lot of differences between these two.

One key thing to note is that FreshDirect only delivers to New York City and some parts of the surrounding states, including New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Washington D.C, and Pennsylvania. Blue Apron, on the other hand, delivers nationwide. This is enough to win this category outright, but let’s have a look at the types of packaging you can expect.

Groceries from FreshDirect are delivered in a strong, reusable tote bag rather than a cardboard box like Blue Apron. The company allows you to return the tote bag if you want, but with Blue Apron, you’ll have to recycle the packaging yourself.

With FreshDirect, you can get your deliveries as soon as the next day – all you have to do is reserve your two-hour delivery window, but keep in mind that these can get booked up on busy weekdays. Blue Apron delivers weekly, but the exact day and time will depend on your location and you can find out more about this when you sign up.

When it comes to packaging, Blue Apron does its utmost to ensure your ingredients stay fresh and at the appropriate temperature. The boxes are carefully packed with thermal liners to keep items cold, and though there is some plastic used for produce bags, food trays, ice packs, and more, there is plenty of information on the website about how these can be recycled.

Winner: Blue Apron

Meal Prep

Now this is where Blue Apron really shines. The company exclusively offers meal kits, which can take anywhere between 20 to 50 minutes to get on the table. All your ingredients will arrive portioned and individually packaged, which will save both cooking time and space in the fridge.

You’ll also get a step-by-step recipe card complete with photos to help guide you through the cooking process. It couldn’t be simpler!

With FreshDirect, you don’t have the advantage of prepared ingredients or meal planning done for you. Just like when you visit the grocery store, that part is down to you. Unless you order some of the company’s prepared meals, of course, in which case all you’ll need is a microwave.

Winner: Blue Apron

The Bottom Line

While the categories above are tied and it was a pretty close call, I’m going to hand the win to Blue Apron.

FreshDirect did surprise me with its extensive inventory and impressive dietary range, but when it comes to getting food on the table quickly and efficiently, FreshDirect simply can’t compete with Blue Apron’s great recipes, prepared ingredients, and nationwide delivery.

If you’re not convinced by either Blue Apron or FreshDirect, there are even more companies to choose from on our list of today’s Best Meal Delivery Services.

Overall winner: Blue Apron

About The Author

Felicity Kay

Staff Writer, Delivery Rank

Felicity loves and lives for food, and new culinary experiences in general.
When shes not out walking her dogs, shes trying out the coolest new restaurants and take out in the local area - one day she might even learn to cook!

Felicity loves and lives for food, and new culinary experiences in general.
When shes not out walking her dogs, shes trying out the coolest new restaurants and take out in the local area - one day she might even learn to cook!
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