Thanks to a friend, my hubby and I were able to score a Blue Apron box to try for free. It was thrilling, going to the website and selecting our first box. We chose our meals, selected the delivery day that best suited us and waited with anticipation for our package to arrive (of course, we had to wait a few weeks as we had our heart set on ramen, but gladly settled for a meal box that included udon noodles).
On the glorious day of its arrival, we took stock of everything Blue Apron sent us. There were full-color 8.5" x 11" recipe cards to help us divide the ingredients (which were packaged very nicely) and which later helped walk us through the process of preparing each meal.
While my experience with Blue Apron was positive, overall, there are a few things that I didn't realize I would want or need until after hubby and I began cooking our way through the box. I spent a lot of time, too, thinking about less experienced home cooks and some of the faux-pas that might occur if they ordered a Blue Apron box with little to no experience in the kitchen. These things aren't meant to deter you from trying Blue Apron or any similar service, but they are good to think about before you go all in.
You'll Need Your Own Equipment
That probably sounds like the silliest piece of advice ever, but hear me out! Hubby and I are fortunate enough to have our own kitchen, a full set of pots and pans, a decent set of knives and a functional range and oven. Not everyone who orders a box may have these luxuries.
What if you're a college student with a mini fridge and a hot plate? Or what if all you have are a few hand-me-down pots and pans (the kind that are warped on the bottom and whose mismatched lids are a headache every time you need to use them) - I've been there! Maybe all you have to work with when it comes to slicing and dicing are a set of 6 steak knives. Or maybe, like me, you find that your colander is leaking pearl couscous like a sieve because the holes are too big. Working with equipment that isn't right for the job is always a challenge.
If you plan to start ordering meal boxes, you may want to invest in a few good pots and pans, a sharp knife (the duller your knives, the more likely you are to hurt yourself) and maybe even a couple of fancy plates if you plan on doing some food-tography.
Brush Up On Your Kitchen Basics
What is the internal temperature chicken must reach before it's safe to eat? How big is a "medium dice?" Can I store my ground pork with my head of butter lettuce since they're for the same meal?
Food safety is a passion of mine, and food poisoning is probably one of the worst ways to get sick. It's important to make sure that you cook and store your food correctly, especially if it's something that you may not be used to cooking or working with.
Always cook your meat to the proper internal temperature. If you have a meat thermometer, these temperatures may be labeled - if not, a quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know. Also, never ever ever store meat and produce together, especially when it's something you're planning on eating raw (like lettuce). When our meal box arrived, the meat was separated from the rest of the ingredients, and most of it was double-bagged. When I divided the ingredients into their respective meals, I made sure to keep the meat stored separately. Nobody got sick, and everything was delicious!
As for other basics, like knowing what certain terms mean, Blue Apron has video tutorials on YouTube to help you through the tricky bits. I will say, though... make sure that you're well stocked on the following three kitchen staples: salt, pepper and olive oil. You're gonna need 'em!
What You'll Get Out Of It
Going in, I had no idea what kind of experience I would have with Blue Apron. I know how to do my own shopping, so could I trust a company to package me the same quality of meat and produce I would select myself? A lot of our meals are cooked at home, but our budget doesn't allow for a lot of extravagance. Usually, we eat the same protein all week (albeit, prepared in different and interesting ways), or close to it.
With Blue Apron, we were able to create three nights of completely different meals. Our week included catfish, chicken breasts and ground pork as the proteins (that's so much better than 7 days of nothing but chicken), and we enjoyed them all. It was cheaper than eating in a restaurant, and the accomplishment of successfully completing a new recipe (or the thrill of having hubby cook a meal for me) is something that I really enjoyed.
So, I can honestly say I was impressed with Blue Apron. Going in blind can be a little scary and I hope that this advice helps shine a little light on things before you make your decision to subscribe to a meal delivery service. Have you had a stellar experience like me? Was your trial of a similar service the worst? Please let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more reviews!