Earlier I posted about learning how to start cooking. Now I want to follow-up with another cooking-related post sharing my experience using a meal kit delivery service and helping you decide if it’s right for you. Meal kit delivery is a booming business right now. Companies such as Blue Apron, Plated, and HelloFresh send customers a box of ingredients and instructions for pre-designed meals right to their door. As someone who wants to eat more home-cooked meals and improve my cooking skills, when I heard of this service, I thought it would be worth a try. I picked Blue Apron to start my experience, probably because I received a many of their flyers and they offer new subscribers a discount on their first order.
My boyfriend and I signed up for Blue Apron’s two-person plan at three meals per week. At full price, each meal comes out to $9.99 per person. Since we got a discount for signing up, we paid about half that at $5.00 per person per meal. One weekday, a box arrived containing everything we needed to make Greek pizza, fish tacos, and pasta with chicken. The ingredients looked fresh and high quality upon inspection. The package came with recipe cards that were easy to follow. After some chopping, boiling, frying, and whatnot, we had dinner ready in less than an hour for each meal. I imagine we’d be even faster if we were repeating these meals and knew the steps by heart.
How did the dishes turn out? The meals were good, not great. My favorite was the pizza because it was fun to make and tasty. Shaping the dough and putting ingredients on it reminded me of making Boboli pizza as a child. The fish tacos were basic and good for someone new to making the dish. I already make a mean fish taco on my own, so the tacos from Blue Apron were only okay by comparison. My least favorite was the pasta with chicken. The dish was dry and pretty bland in taste. I accept that in any set of meals I try, I will like some more than others, as was the case here. Overall, we rated the meals an average of 6.5/10, which is on the higher side of average.
Now on to the pros and cons of a subscription meal service.
1) Practice cooking! You interact with the food you eat and the practice will make you a more confident and better cook.
2) Add variety to your meals. If the meals offered are not ones you typically make for yourself, then you’ll get to try new dishes and flavors. You can build a recipe box with the recipe cards for the dishes you like and want to make again.
3) Minimize food waste. Each shipment comes with portioned amounts of ingredients so you have just the necessary amount or a little more. You don’t have to buy lots of groceries that you use for only one meal and then sit in your fridge to spoil.
4) Possibly save time. Ingredients are delivered to your door so you can go to the supermarket less frequently. Meals come together quickly too because they’re only a few steps and a few ingredients.
1) So much garbage! I couldn’t believe the amount of packaging used in the meal kits – the cardboard box, the giant cooling gel packs, the plastic baggies and containers holding every ingredient. I’ve read that companies now have packaging recycling programs, but it’s still not ideal.
2) High cost per meal. At $10 per person per meal, it’s likely cheaper on a per meal basis to grocery shop and cook for yourself, especially if you can make use of leftovers. It may also be cheaper or cost the same to buy a meal outside. I can get a bowl of udon or good burrito for about $10.
3) Minor ingredients may be missing. The recipe card for the pasta dish suggested putting olive oil on the pasta to keep it from sticking but didn’t provide any.
Overall, I would recommend trying a meal kit delivery service on two conditions: 1) if you’re looking to learn how to cook or change up your normal routine and 2) it’s within your budget. These services cost less than many professional cooking classes and eating out, but can’t beat good meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking for yourself. And with continued practice, you may find yourself making great meals even better than the ones delivered to your door.
As for me, I’m still cooking away in my kitchen using recipes from cookbooks or online. I’m considering trying out a few other meal kit delivery companies. There are so many different types, from American standards to Southern cooking to vegan offerings. The flyers keep coming and I’m looking forward to some good eats!
What do you think about meal kit delivery services? Have you or would you try one?