A cheaper, efficient meal delivery service, with classic American fare with some added twists.
One of the cheapest meal delivery kit services on the market
Free delivery on 3 meals a week orders
Offers Saturday deliveries
Slight overuse of plastic in delivery boxes
Slightly vague cooking instructions for absolute beginners
Blue Apron delivers Tuesday-Saturdays, which is an interesting choice. I really liked that they include a weekend day, as other companies don’t. Sun Basket and Hello Fresh both include most weekdays, but this is the first time I’ve seen a weekend day on offer.
As far as delivery timings are concerned, Blue Apron keeps this a closely guarded secret. I'd assume the delivery hours are between 8am-8pm, although I wouldn't really know. It was only when I ordered, that I received a delivery tracker, which let me know the estimated time of my delivery.
My order arrived at 12.45pm, and I arrived home at around 6.30pm - everything was still cool (thanks to the ice packs), with everything present and correct.
I like that there was a delivery tracker (which Hello Fresh also has), which I found to be a nice little add-on, but actually, just knowing an estimated hour, or even two-hour window of when to expect my food would also be fine by me.
Blue Apron’s pricing works by choosing the number of recipes you'd like a week, on one of their three plans:
Here’s where something interesting happens: if you switch the 2-serving signature or vegetarian plan to 3 meals a week, Blue Apron adds free shipping… but with the Signature for 4 plan, free shipping is included right from the 2 meal option.
That and the Signature for 4 plan starts from $8.99, while the other two plans start from $9.99. I was also slightly annoyed (on behalf of vegetarians, because I don't think it's fair to make non-meat eaters pay the same for their food as those who’ll be consuming recipes with meat, which typically costs more.
Anyway, I did like that Blue Apron throws in free shipping on some plans, because Hello Fresh and Sun Basket don't. Home Chef does (which I discuss in my Home Chef review… but only on orders of over $45, so it’s a nice touch from Blue Apron.
In any case, I think Blue Apron might be one of the cheapest home delivery meal kits on the market, at least that I’ve seen so far.
From $7.49-$9.99 per portion (+ extras)
Meat, vegetarian, fish
The contiguous US (not HI or AK)
Free shipping on 3 recipes per week and up; $7.99 per week on 2 recipes per week
Of the 2-person meal plans, there were 11 choices on offer, including these:
I liked that each recipe card clearly displayed the cooking time on the bottom, and also if they were vegetarian recipes or not, but it would have been nice if Blue Apron included some allergen information at a glance - is that so much to ask? Or to have some innovative filtering? It must be said that only one meal delivery kit company - Sun Basket - came close to satisfying the types of filters I wanted to see, and even then, they left something to be desired.
But anyway. Clicking through to a recipe card gives you much more information, including calories, and even a downloadable nutrition facts card:
You’ll also see a little bit of information about the dish you're eating - which I enjoyed - the list of ingredients you’ll find in your meal delivery kit, and even a guide to the kitchen tools you’ll need, complete with the option to buy them (if you're so interested, which I wasn't, but I appreciated the usefulness of this for other users):
Then there’s the step by step instructions: as with Hello Fresh, some of these were a little vague for a non-cook like me (I’ve highlighted these in the below screenshot):
Otherwise the menu options were appetizing, and mostly standard American fare - tilapia, quesadilla, pork chops and burgers - but with some kind of twist.
I decided to choose:
Seared pork chops and gremolata
All of Blue Apron’s recipes - with some nice filtering on the side, might I add - are available on both their website and their app. I’m not sure I'd quite be the type of person to go and make my own food based on their recipes, but I know some people would.
As I mentioned above, some of the instructions were a tad vague for a non-chef/reluctant cook like me.
Because I can (and will!) mess up just about anything in a kitchen unless it's explained 100% clearly and exact, I managed to mess up all three dishes - this is by far the most I’ve messed up on any meal delivery kit I’ve reviewed.
The soy-miso ramen was tasty, but I managed to burn the broth; the quesadillas ended up almost perfect, except I burned both the potatoes and the quesadillas, as I didn't put enough olive oil in the pan. The pork chops went pretty well, but, in what should be no surprise to you by now, I overcooked it a bit - no harm done, but it was slightly dry by the time I got around to eating it.
All of the meals were still very tasty - what I'm saying is, I think the instructions need to be much more specific, in some cases. Home Chef does this very well, and even Sun Basket has some great instructional videos that really helped me out when I was confused by something very basic. On Blue Apron’s blog, I found some interesting articles (such as a guide on how to cook a chicken, which I didn't know how to do before reading it), but nothing like the videos I found so helpful on Sun Basket or Home Chef. If I were you, I’d check out my Sun Basket review here and my Home Chef review here before you make your final decision.
It’s very straightforward to sign up to Blue Apron. You can either use your email or your Facebook login details. Then you’ll see this screen: (there’s also a vegetarian 2-serving option below). As you toggle the number of recipes on each plan, you’ll notice some changes: on the Signature plan for 4 people, the amount per serving changes, and across each of the plans, the shipping charges change. More on that above.
You’ll be taken to a page where you’ll enter your delivery information and payment information. After that, it's time to choose your meals!
I’ve gone into the meal choice above, but I will say that I did like being able to toggle between the 2 and 4 person meals here - and was very interested to see that they’re completely different menus!
And then you're all set to go! I'd say this is one of the quickest sign up processes I’ve seen on any meal delivery kit I’ve reviewed (including Home Chef, Sun Basket and Hello Fresh).
Blue Apron uses a lot of plastic.
When I received my delivery, it came in a big, recyclable cardboard box, which I appreciated.
Inside the box, I found the standard ice pack - also recyclable or reusable - as well as the recipe cards (one double-sided recipe card for each meal, which is almost identical to the recipe cards online, other than not trying to sell you the kitchen utensils I mentioned earlier).
Now, here’s where Blue Apron got things very, very wrong. All of my meat and fish was vacuum packed - which is always good. But, not only was there a lot of unnecessary plastic (my tomatoes and asparagus were both in plastic containers), but the other loose produce were all in plastic bags - other than Sun Basket, who are also guilty of this, other meal kit providers (Hello Fresh and Home Chef) go to great lengths to minimize their plastic use.
That and, it looked like Blue Apron had simply thrown the ingredients into the box from a distance. It was presented messily, and didn't leave a good impression. Other meal delivery kits I’ve been reviewing at least took some pride in organizing their delivery boxes nicely, but this didn't seem to be the case here.
There’s a pretty in-depth FAQ section here, although having to click through to each question asked became kind of annoying (what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned accordion FAQ, Blue Apron?).
I clicked through to the “How do I contact customer service?” question, and found this:
I called the first number, and was connected within 3 minutes, which was good - Home Chef and Hello Fresh both kept me waiting a lot longer than that.
Otherwise, there are a range of email addresses to get in touch with for specific things (such as meal cancellations and wine cancellations), and an online web form to contact.
I used the web form to ask about my eggplant allergy, and received an immediate answer from the FAQ section.
I tried typing in nonsense, to see when I would be connected to a human.
I didn't actually receive a reply, to my knowledge, BUT I did get a really in-depth response from the customer support team.
Canceling your Blue Apron plan is pretty straightforward, but less automatic than with other email delivery kit providers. You’ll need to email email@example.com, and you’ll be guided through the cancelation process.
You should know - as with most meal delivery companies - if you've placed an order and it’s already marked as “processed” in your account settings, you’ll still be charged for the order even if you cancel your account. You’ll see a note in your account settings, related to when the order will still be chargeable and changeable.
I liked Blue Apron, as the meals on offer were simple recipes with a twist: yes, I would have liked to have seen a few more specific instructions in some cases, as well as far less plastic than I received in my delivery.
However, having said that, Blue Apron is a great meal delivery kit solution, as well as one of the cheapest I’ve seen on the market - I particularly liked the free shipping on 3 meal deliveries.