Blue Apron Meal Kit Review : Catfish & Udon Noodles, Za’atar Chicken, Spaghetti Bolognese

Review of the Subscription Box with Cooked and Served Taste Test

So, I enjoy getting subscription dinner boxes every now and then and have used Blue Apron once before. I liked the selection of recipes they offered for this week so decided to pick three and go for it! The box arrived at my door on Thursday, April 13th and I was soon unpacking all the ingredients and getting myself ready to prepare, over the next three days, the meals I chose. Okay, I even chose catfish – not normally my favorite, or something I eat very often, but the recipe looked interesting and different and my husband thought it sounded good. Here’s my take on the Blue Apron service, followed by my review of the meals I prepared.

What is Blue Apron and How Does It Work?

Blue Apron offers a weekly box filled with all the ingredients you need to create your chosen recipes. Here’s what happens after you join: you go onto the website and select three recipes that you would like to make for the week being offered – you also choose a delivery date (or you can skip that week if you are not interested in the recipes, or have other plans – or just don’t want to spend the money that week). On that date, your box will arrive at your house and you will have all you need to start cooking the recipes, including a recipe card with photos for each selected meal (the recipes are also available online).

What I Like About Blue Apron : The Good!

I think that, for the most part, the recipes are well written and the dinners come out tasty and filling (sometimes I even have leftovers for myself – though usually my husband eats all of his!). I enjoy trying the various ethnic dishes that they offer and trying out new ingredients, some of which aren’t always ingredients that are easy to find at my local grocery store. I also find it rather fun to receive all I need to create three new dinner recipes at home (no shopping needed!). Each recipe offers a “tips from home chefs” message board on the website, where you can post and read what other people say about the recipe – very helpful.

What I Think Can be Improved : The Not as Good

First: Blue Apron has only been offering a choice of six recipes, which is normally two meat, one seafood, three vegetarian – but, they really only let you select from four recipes. Example: if you get the meat/seafood choices, it only gives one option for the vegetarian. The very good news here: they are changing this and are now beta testing a selection of eight different recipes each week, and the ability to choose any combination (in other words, select any of the eight recipes you like). Yay! This could potentially become a HUGE improvement for this company. Second: I also find it to be a bit expensive to order a box, when I know it would cost lots less to simply buy the ingredients at the store. But, that being said, it does save me the trouble of planning recipes and shopping – which I find is worth the extra expense sometimes.
Here’s my review:

What We Cooked : BLUE APRON REPORT featuring Recipe Reviews and Ratings for April, 2017 Box:

Ratings: 4 stars = Super Yummy; 3 stars = Yummy; 2 stars = Meh; 1 star = Yucky


    Seared Catfish with Udon Noodles : A Recipe from the Blue Apron Meal Delivery

    Seared Catfish with Udon Noodles, topped with lots of Smoked Dulse which gave this dish plenty of flavor. Quite tasty. Recipe from Blue Apron.

    — A Japanese-inspired dish that was very easy to prepare (I think this was actually the easiest I have made from Blue Apron — and Plated too). The quick cooking process used in this recipe left the chopped celery and carrots a wee bit crunchy, which actually tastes just right with this dish. The noodles were soft and came out perfect. The dish had a nice blend of flavors with a little bit of spiciness (just the right amount!) coming from somewhere (the Yakiniku sauce, perhaps?). We used the whole packet of the crumbled Smoked Dulse which added a very flavorful seaweed taste that I quite liked. I found this dish to get better as I got more towards the bottom of the bowl – I guess that’s where lots of the really flavorful toppings and aromatics ended up! Pretty good, and I’m not really much of a Catfish fan (the Catfish sent was of a high quality, so that helped). I was full on about three-quarters of this dish, so saved the rest for my lunch the next day. – *** ½


    Za'atar-Spiced Chicken with Pearl Couscous and Brussels Sprouts, recipe from Blue Apron

    Our dinner plated : Za’atar-Spiced Chicken with Pearl Couscous and Brussels Sprouts – meh, bland!

    — The first thought that came into my mind when I bit into this dish was BLAND. Hmmm – that’s not good. Okay, this was reasonably easy to prepare, though had multiple steps going on at once – the cooking of the Couscous, the roasting of the Brussels Sprouts, the coating and then pan frying of the Chicken followed by the creation of the pan sauce. This all went pretty smoothly. The dish plated up nicely and looked good – but, oh no! The Pearl Couscous was very bland – close to being a “yucky” rating for me for that part of the dish (Hubby liked it okay). And that Couscous really overwhelms this dish, just too much! The Brussels Sprouts and Almonds tasted good, but there needed to be more (possibly a lot more – or something, just something else for flavor!). And where was the Za’atar? Just not enough spice taste. The sauce tasted lemon-y and pretty good, but this dish needed at least twice if not three times the amount of sauce to add some flavor. Really disappointing. Not horrible, thus the “2 star” rating, just – like I said – bland. I had some leftover of this dish as it was a lot of food, I am not really looking forward to eating it. – **


    Blue Apron Subscription Box : Ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognese with Salad Recipe

    Here’s all the ingredients sent in the Blue Apron box that are needed to prepare and cook the recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese made using ground pork, plus a side salad.

    — After reading a few of the comments others said about this recipe (on the Blue Apron website) we made a few small alterations to this dish and it came out wonderful! This spaghetti was delicious and the salad was really good too. This recipe called for putting the entire packet (1 Tablespoon) of the Bolognese Spice Blend (sent in the box) into the salad dressing. But – there were not any spices to be added to the Bolognese Sauce that you make. Seemed a bit odd, perhaps even possibly a recipe error (since it was called “Bolognese Spice Blend”). Anyway, whether the spices were meant to be entirely in the salad dressing or not – I put half the spice blend in the dressing and half in the sauce – it worked out perfectly. The other change we made was that, instead of 1/2 cup water that was to be added to the spaghetti sauce, we used red wine — and then simmered the sauce for about an hour to really blend the flavors. Ooh la la – this ended up being one of the best meals I have had from a subscription box recipe. The quality of the noodles was high and the sauce tasted great. (NOTE: this recipe originally called for “Butter Lettuce” but they subbed Romaine Lettuce with a note included in the box stating the reason for the substitution was based on being a fresher option from the farm it came from. The salad tasted really good, so this worked out fine.) – ****

    Spaghetti Bolognese and Green Salad topped with Radishes, prepared using ingredients and recipes from Blue Apron.

    Delicious Spaghetti Bolognese served with a green salad topped with radishes on the side. Loved this.

Summary and Subscription Information You Just May Want to Know! :

Our best meal from this box ended up being the Spaghetti. This did require a few changes to the recipe, but it worked out great (the message board for the recipe on the website was helpful with this). Came out very yummy. The chicken dish was quite a disappointment though. I do find it a bit expensive to pay close to $60 for this box, since you still have to cook. But – I will continue to subscribe and skip the weeks I don’t want (or can’t spend the money on). There is definitely some pleasure in receiving the box of ingredients and cooking a new recipe from those ingredients at home. I like that the produce, meat, and other food products sent seem to be fresh and of a high quality.

Here’s the scoop on how much this will cost you: the price for the BlueApron 2-person plan with three recipes and the needed ingredients is $59.94 (each recipe serves 2 people and it comes to $9.99 per plate).
If you are interested, they also offer a Family Plan with family-style meals for four (costs a bit more, and has different recipes).

Enjoy the Eats! #blueapron



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