Prepped, Cooked, Plated, Tasted : An Unpaid, Unbiased Review of the Blue Apron Meal Kit and Recipes
My first ever order from Blue Apron arrived on a hot Wednesday, just before noon. The foods in the box were well packed and, I was happy to see (as it was over 90 degrees this day), that the meat was well placed between two big ice packs and still very cold (even a bit frozen). I have ordered from a similar company, Plated, before and there was a bit of a difference in the way Blue Apron sends their recipe ingredients in your box. Plated has everything labeled and marked on the packaging as to which recipe that particular ingredient is for. For Blue Apron, many of the veggies were loose and unlabeled, the majority of items didn’t say which recipe (of three) they were to be used for. But – this does save on extra packaging, which is good, and I was quickly able to sort each ingredient into a separate bag for each recipe, and store in the fridge until ready to be prepared. We received three recipes with ingredients, and each recipe makes enough for two plates – perfect for a dinner for two for me and Hubby. So, onto my opinion of the recipes and meals we prepared using this dinner kit. I would like to add that I paid for this box myself and have started a subscription with BlueApron.com, so will be receiving more boxes in the future. My review:
What We Cooked – BLUE APRON BOX REPORT with true, honest opinions for the meals we made in November, 2016:
Ratings: 4 stars = Super Yummy; 3 stars = Yummy; 2 stars = Meh; 1 star = Yucky
SHRIMP AND SHIITAKE DUMPLINGS with SAUTÉED BOK CHOY AND SOY DIPPING SAUCE
— This recipe wasn’t particularly difficult (though it would definitely be pretty hard for a beginner cook) – but did take more than an hour to make with two people working on it (which was longer than the time stated on the recipe) and used quite a few different bowls and plates needed during the preparation. I actually made the dipping sauce ahead (which I didn’t actually count in the hour-plus time). After I made the dumplings, there was quite a bit of the filling left which we ate on the side (and still had some leftover the next day). We enjoyed this dish and – yay! – the dumplings held together very well during cooking. I particularly liked the dipping sauce for this. The Bok Choy was simple and decent, though nothing out of the ordinary. By the way, this didn’t tell you what extra ingredients you need to have on hand (as Plated.com does), but this recipe needed olive oil, salt and pepper in addition to the ingredients provided in the box.
Small complaint #1 : I think BlueApron should have provided more dumpling wrappers, so they could have been used to make more dumplings since there was so much extra filling.
Small Complaint #2 : It was hard to get the sticky Soy Glaze completely out of the little plastic bottle it came in, so a bit was wasted as it was stuck on the bottom of the bottle. Perhaps different packaging would have helped here.
Helpful Tip #1 : Don’t put too much filling into each dumpling wrapper (this recipe said 1 Tablespoon for each, but I found more like 2 teaspoons worked better). Too much filling makes them hard to seal. Press down hard around the edges with your fork to make sure you get a good seal.
Helpful Tip #2 : After each dumpling was prepped, the instructions state to place on a plate to await cooking. The dumplings were getting stuck to the plate, so I would recommend coating your plate with cooking spray (or lightly with olive oil) before placing the dumplings on it. – *** ½
SEARED CHICKEN with ROASTED HONEYNUT SQUASH AND GARLIC RICE
— This was easy to prepare (especially with two people working together, as me and Hubby did) and took about the time, perhaps slightly longer, to make than was stated on the recipe card. Though the recipe said to peel the honeynut squash with a knife, we used our vegetable/potato peeler (which is nice and sharp) and got it peeled quickly and easily. The squash was then roasted on a sheet pan, and came out perfect. The squash roasting in the oven while the pepitas were being toasted smelled SO good I was getting really hungry for this dish! The flavors of this dish really came together well, the lime with cilantro, honey, and chopped pepitas made for a lovely, Mexican flavored sauce for the chicken. This recipe was really good – loved it! Note that I am giving this the full four stars for “super yummy”, but my hubby only gives this three stars (he said he liked the Shrimp Dumplings better). – ****
VIETNAMESE MEATBALLS with SWEET POTATO NOODLES AND SCARLET QUEEN TURNIP
— After getting the veggies all cut and ready to cook, the prep for this dish was pretty easy. I had never prepped a piece of lemongrass before, but there was a helpful video about this (“How To: Prep Lemongrass”) attached to this recipe on the BlueApron website. I thought the meatballs tasted quite good, but the flavors of the ginger and lemongrass were just a wee bit lost in this dish (perhaps there should have been a larger amount so that the flavors of the meatballs didn’t overpower the aromatics) – but still, quite tasty. We thought the noodles tasted strange and had an unappealing, rubbery texture – this, unfortunately, put a bit of a damper on this meal. However, we had some leftovers of this which was heated for lunch the next day – the noodles tasted much better and were most likely just undercooked, so our boo-boo (though we did cook them longer than the recipe’s stated “4 to 5 minutes”). Oh well. By the way, I would have preferred that this dish was smaller and included a small side dish to make, like a simple salad. – ***
Summary and Subscription Information You Just May Want to Know! :
I enjoy receiving and cooking from these meal delivery subscription boxes, and found Blue Apron to be very similar to the Plated subscription which I have also tried a few times. You are sent glossy recipe cards for each meal you have selected from the weekly menu and you can select from six recipes for each week, three meat dishes (one of which is fish/seafood), three veggie dishes. A complaint – they don’t let you select from all six (so for me, if I don’t want all three of the meat dishes offered, I can only switch one out for ONE of the vegetarian dishes). I thought the recipes worked well, for the most part, though the prep times listed are a bit short. The amount of food for two plates seemed just about right. The website is easy to use and does make it easy to skip each week of delivery you are not interested in.
The pricing for the BlueApron.com 2-person plan with three recipes and the needed ingredients is $59.94 (I did find an online coupon for a discount off my first box – yay!). So, with the almost $60 price tag, it comes to just about $20 a dinner – a bit pricy for a home-cooked meal but I do enjoy the ease of receiving a box of food on my porch and saving the time of going grocery shopping. Plus – I find it quite fun to try out new recipes and new ingredients and even experimenting with new cooking techniques.
By the way, they also offer a Family Plan with family-style meals for four (costs a bit more, has different recipes).
Enjoy the Eats! #blueapron