(Note: I did not receive compensation of any kind for this review. Just my unsolicited opinion.)
|Summer vegetable gnocchi|
Have you tried one of the meal kit delivery services out there? Over just the past several years, this industry has sprung up, now delivering millions of meals a month across the country. Blue Apron, Plated, Peach Dish, Hello Fresh . . . there's many choices out there. And growing. The market is expected to grow by $3 to $5 billion in the next 10 years.
Its appeal, of course, is the convenience of not having to shop for or plan meals. You still have to cook. But you get a box containing fresh ingredients for (usually) three meals each week delivered to your doorstep, complete with detailed, illustrated recipe cards to follow.
I recently signed up for Blue Apron, the "oldest" kid on the block (started in 2012). I picked them mostly because they were one of the most well-known services, and also a little less expensive than a few of the others ($59.95 a week for three meals for two persons, or about $10 per serving; I got $30 off my first order).
Well, I can cook much more cheaply than that, but I thought I'd give it a try just to see what the hype was all about. You can order one week, skip the next three if you want, order the next week, etc. No obligation to buy each week. So, you can see what's on the menu, and what's on your schedule, and order accordingly.
Fun to have dinner arrive on your doorstep.
Inside each box is an insulated bag and a couple large freezer packs to keep things cold. All the food is portioned, so there is no waste.
For example, on the right above is a little packet of golden raisins. I would probably not make a recipe calling for golden raisins because I never have them on hand and wouldn't want to buy a whole box just for one recipe. But here, you get only what you need. No waste.
Packaging waste is another story. A big criticism of these kits is the amount of packaging. Some companies do better than others; all of Blue Apron's packaging is recyclable, but I still feel guilty using those little plastic bottles filled with a tablespoon of rice vinegar or soy sauce.
The only ingredients you need to have on hand are oil, salt, and pepper. Everything else, including a couple tablespoons of butter, if needed, or a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, is included.
I've received two shipments so far. The produce is fresh and locally sourced.
Good quality meat.
It feels a little silly to get this white sugar, when I have several pounds of it here in my pantry. However, the Espellete pepper is something new to me; I will be using it to make a piperade, a traditional Basque dish from the western Pyrenees.
The recipe cards are printed on nice heavy cardstock, and include photos and very detailed instructions. There are instructional videos on the Blue Apron website for the novice cook, including things like how to dice an onion.
Even experienced cooks can pick up a tip or two.
And I really like trying dishes that use ingredients that I would not have gone out to buy just for a weeknight dinner for my husband and me. Like the piperade. Or even the gnocchi, pictured above.
Hard for me to justify spending the money (I definitely wouldn't do this if I had a family of more than two to feed)
Some of the cooking is a little more involved than I want to get on an average weeknight
Lots of packaging, so not environmentally friendly; however, everything is recyclable
Perfectly sized portions, so no waste
Opportunity to try new things
No thinking needed
Vegetarian option available if you want to swap out the beef, chicken, or fish
So, at this point, I will probably order a box every few weeks or so, just to add a little variety to our roasted meat/veggie standby meals, and to try some new things. It's still cheaper than going out.
I may try another company, too, just to compare. One that appeals to me is Peach Dish, a southern company offering updated (think healthier) Southern cooking, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Their meals look delicious, and I've read some good reviews.
How about you? Have you tried one of these services, or would you?
(You can visit Blue Apron here.)
(You can visit Blue Apron here.)