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Why you might want to try a meal kit service even if you like to cook

Fitness

I have a routine. On Sunday mornings I get up, make my breakfast and coffee, open my laptop, and pull up my calendar and my Pinterest boards. I grab a pad of paper and a pen and I make a menu of dinners for the week and a grocery list. Then, once all my coffee is gone and the breakfast dishes are washed, I head out to the grocery store.

I actually don’t mind cooking. My husband will say I’m actually pretty good at it. Over the years I’ve gotten good at looking at a recipe and determining if it will be easy to make on a weeknight or if it’s something I need to save for a weekend. I look for meals that require the fewest number of pots and pans but which also incorporate proteins and vegetables and not that many bread-y carbs.

But, you know, after awhile it’s really nice to let someone else do the thinking about what ingredients you need and what recipes you’ll make. Especially if you’re going to be out of town on the day you would normally do your grocery shopping.

That’s what happened over Mother’s Day weekend recently. I was out of town and while, yes, I could have make the menu and grocery list before I left town and sent my husband to the store on his own, I thought, “hey, why not try one of those meal kit delivery services?” I figured this would be a great alternative for times when I can’t get to the grocery store.

I started with Blue Apron because, yes, I listen to podcasts and they advertise on ALL OF THEM. After a slight snafu with getting an account set up (apparently you can only have an address in their system once and the people who lived in our apartment before us also used Blue Apron), I was able to place my order.

I ended up with Roasted Pork & Mustard Pan Sauce, Tandoori Style Chicken & Rice, and Stir-Fried Wonton Noodles.

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So, what did I think?

The good:

  • Saturday delivery worked out perfectly
  • Mobile app is easy to use
  • One of the vegetable ingredients wasn’t available but they swapped it out for a different veggie and put a card in my shipment indicating that
  • The meat quality was good
  • Most of the veggies were fresh, although one of the cucumbers was soft on one end by the time I got to it

The not-so-good

  • Making these meals was STRESSFUL! Many of them required more than one pan and lots of fiddly ingredients. So. Much. Chopping.
  • The recipes used way more cooking oil than I’m used to. I tried to make them as written so I could give an honest assessment, but I’m just not used to using multiple tablespoons of oil in a recipe after years of tracking fat macros.
  • At the time I placed my order, I could only choose two meat-based meals and one vegetarian one. Both Jason and I like to eat meat. I ended up purchasing chicken at the grocery store to add to the stir-fried wonton recipe. Which, by the way, was one of the worst things Jason and I had ever eaten. The recipe, that is. Not the chicken.
  • The pork recipe was almost identical to something I already make, except the one I make (a variation on this one) is much simpler.
  • The chicken recipe was okay, but it still required more work than I wanted on a weeknight! Poor Jason had to listen to me complain almost the entire time. And I usually don’t mind cooking!
  • No leftovers! Jason and I (well, mostly I) take leftovers in our lunch 4 out of 5 days. The only Blue Apron meal that had enough leftover for another meal or two was the wonton noodle one. I’ve heard other people claim that their Blue Apron meals made more than they could eat, but apparently Jason and I eat a lot.

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All of the veggies for the roasted pork dish…for two people.

Overall, I was not impressed with Blue Apron. I know that some people like them because they try to use in-season items, source from local or sustainable farms, use non-GMO items, etc and even have a recycling program where you can ship back the packaging. However, I fully admit that those are not top priorities in our house. Except recycling. I like to recycle!

I’m much more interested in using a service that makes my life easier, not harder. But that doesn’t mean I gave up on meal kit delivery services! Nope! Instead, I tried HelloFresh with MUCH better results. But this post is already pretty long so I think I’ll tell you all about that next Friday. How’s that sound?

Do you use a meal kit delivery service? Which one do you use? I recently got a promo code for Sun Basket and I might try it, too.

P.S. This post is NOT sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. Although my HelloFresh link will get you $40 off your first box and $20 credit for me!

4 replies on “Why you might want to try a meal kit service even if you like to cook

  1. Dee

    I have been wondering about those dinner delivery services, thanks for the insight. I truly do like going to the store, thumping the cantelopes, pointing out the steaks I like the looks of, and being flexible about what to cook and how. I also prefer as few pans as possible!!
    Looking forward to next week’s analysis.

  2. Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    I got three free meals from Blue Apron earlier this year because I earned enough wellness points through work last year, and I agree that it was a bit of work to put them together and clean up afterwards. I loved the meals, though. It was all way different from anything I normally would’ve had on a weeknight, and I was super impressed. But, with changing menus all the time, I’m sure that’s not always the case. The biggest turn off for me was the price! It’s cheaper than going out to eat, but considering that it only made six meals (two servings of each), it didn’t seem more cost effective than going to the grocery store. Obviously it makes life easier, not having to plan or buy anything on your own, but the leg work of grocery shopping and meal planning isn’t *that* bad in my opinion, so it doesn’t make up for it. I enjoyed what I got out of it, but I don’t think I’d do it again, unless it was for a special occasion.

  3. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style

    It’s so interesting to hear about different experiences with different meal delivery options out there. I wrote about this on your Instagram, but Sam and I have tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh and have stuck with Blue Apron ourselves. Perhaps there are regional differences in freshness of ingredients? We’ve never had less-than-fresh ingredients in our Blue Apron deliveries; the same CANNOT be said for our Hello Fresh experience, with one delivery coming an entire day late, with the box crumpled and all the food completely thawed out and beyond recovery. (And the customer service we received upon reporting that failed delivery was the final deciding factor for dropping Hello Fresh.) For vegetarians, we found Blue Apron had lots more meal variety than Hello Fresh did. And we do generally get 2 meals out of every meal from Blue Apron, so our 3 meals-a-week often stretches to 5 or 6 meals, practically a week’s worth of dinners for us. So the pricing totally works out for us. I’m not the cook in our household, but Sam has told me he prefers the recipes and recipe directions for Blue Apron — but the needs and preferences for each cook, and each family, are different! 🙂

    Bottom line? I’m glad that it sounds like you’re enjoying Hello Fresh, and have had much better results with them than we did. And I like that trying out these meal delivery services has been getting us out of our food rut and *thinking* about food more, as well as our own eating habits. 🙂

  4. Alyssa

    We’ve tried both HelloFresh and Blue Apron. For both we’ve always gotten the 4-person plan so we had leftovers for lunch the next day. Whenever we are cooking we almost always make at least 4 servings because we love leftovers at our house and we pack our lunches 95% of the time. My theory is that doubling or tripling the amount of food you make per meal doesn’t increase the time by much!
    We’ve enjoyed the food from both and I did like Hello Fresh a bit better. But it’s just not worth it for us to use it regularly. I still found that I needed to go to the grocery store to buy fruits and vegetables. So I wasn’t saving much time on grocery shopping. And I agree with you that I was still using a ton of time to prep and cook the food. I have a lot of meals in my repertoire that I can get on the table in about 30 minutes and don’t wind up with tons of dishes.
    It was fun to try new meals but not something we will continue regularly .

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