For those of you who haven’t heard of Blue Apron, it’s a meal delivery service similar to Plated or Hello Fresh. The subscription service sends you the measured ingredients to make gourmet meals at home.
As you can imagine, it costs more than your normal home-cooked meal. When Blue Apron contacted me, I was reluctant to give their meal delivery service a try because I was pretty sure it didn’t fit into anything “frugal.”
While I knew that Blue Apron didn’t line up with our normal food budget, I thought it would make a super fun date night at home, so I decided to at least give it a try. Blue Apron sent us a box with the makings of three meals for two people.
Let me give you a little overview of the service and the cost, and then I’ll discuss if it’s worth it. You might be surprised.
What do you get in a Blue Apron meal delivery?
The Blue Apron box includes:
–>Ingredients for three meals for two people, in the exact proportions you need for the recipe
–>Recipe cards with set-by-step instructions and beautiful pictures
–>Access links to cooking tips and videos
How do they deliver it?
If you’re like me, you’re wondering, “How in the world are they going to ship me meat and veggies without something going bad?” I admit I was a skeptical and nervous that the delivery wouldn’t make it on time. I had it delivered to my husband’s office on a Friday, but then I started to worry that if it was late we wouldn’t get it until Monday.
That didn’t happen at all. It arrived right on time as expected. Un-boxing it was pretty fun, so I called over the kids. Inside the box, everything was in an insulated bag. The top was like a refrigerator with the veggies, spices, and other ingredients. A piece of cardboard separated the lower portion, which had the meat (we got salmon, pork roast, and chicken thighs) sandwiched between two giant frozen ice packs.
Everything looked great! I was impressed that many of the ingredients were grown locally and the meat was organic.
My husband and I enjoy doing just about anything together. He is a better (or at least fancier) cook than I am, so this was totally up his alley.
Our delivery had three meals for two people. I made one of the meals, as a surprise for my husband on a day he was working from home. We had a fun, kid-free lunch together (the baby was sleeping)!
I made seared salmon and fall vegetables with apple-brown butter vinaigrette . And it was delicious!
The other two meals we cooked together date-style, which was totally fun!
I really enjoyed trying completely new recipes with cooking techniques and ingredients I had never used before! It was a learning experience, and I mean that in a good way. In fact, we will be adding some new foods (like salmon, radish, Brussels spouts) to our diet now that we know some good ways to pair and prepare them.
How much does it cost?
Now that I’ve got you thinking about dinner, you’re probably wondering how much does a Blue Apron meal delivery service cost?
If you’re like me, that was probably your first question.
Well, it’s way more than we spend on a normal dinner at our house! I’ll tell you that much! We keep our costs low by cooking from scratch with simple ingredients. If we used Blue Apron to regularly feed our family, we would spend our entire monthly grocery budget on just ten family meals!
On the other hand, if we compare the price of Blue Apron to the cost of eating out at a sit-down restaurant, the meal delivery service doesn’t seem so expensive. The meals themselves are definitely restaurant quality and the ingredients were top notch. You would definitely pay more at a restaurant, even before considering gratuities.
So is Blue Apron worth the price?
That’s up to you. It depends entirely on your situation.
Blue Apron can be worth it if you’re looking for an experience and not just dinner. For us, it was like a private cooking lesson where we got to eat a restaurant quality meal afterward.
If you’re consistently eating out because you just don’t have time for menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking from scratch, the Blue Apron could certainly be worth the price.
Blue Apron isn’t for everyone though. Here’s who Blue apron is not great for and who it is perfect for:
Blue Apron is NOT great for:
I like that Blue Apron provides a family option, but if you have more than two kids, you’re kind of stuck. Honestly it would probably be price prohibitive for larger families, even at the cheaper price per serving.
You are able to select your meal choices from several menu options, but they aren’t shy about using less-known ingredients. It’s better for cultured palates than those with mac-n-cheese taste buds (like my kids).
People on a tight budget
While three Blue Apron dinners might fit nicely into some couples’ entertainment budgets, since it’s less expensive than three dinners out, if you don’t have an entertainment or eating out budget right now, then it’s probably not for you.
Blue Apron is great for:
The price of Blue Apron suddenly seems very reasonable when you consider what you would pay to go eat at a restaurant. At home you’ll get bigger portions, won’t have to tip, and won’t have to hire a babysitter.
Busy people who like to cook
Planning a menu, shopping for ingredients, and then using them before they go bad is tough enough for those who are home all day, but those who work may have an even more difficult time cooking at home instead of eating out all the time. Having someone else make the menu, get the ingredients together and portion them out so there isn’t any waste, will save time and money over constantly eating out.
Time spent together in the kitchen is memorable. It’s a great time for a kid-parent date. If you have a child that likes to cook or experiment in the kitchen, then making a meal together is a great one-on-one activity. With the ingredients portioned out the way you need them and step-by-step instructions, everything is set up for your success.
The beauty of gifts is that you can give something that people wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. Giving gifts gives you the chance to splurge on something special and spoil someone that you love. A Blue Apron order could make a unique and memorable gift.
You’ll get a chance to cook something that’s a little outside your comfort zone (at least it was for me). I learned new techniques and how to use new ingredients. There is even a link on the card that gives additional info and a video tips for various ingredients.
Want to try Blue Apron?
If you want to try it for yourself, check out the current deal Blue Apron has going on!
While Blue Apron is a subscription service, there is no commitment. You can pause deliveries, skip weeks, or cancel at anytime.
In fact, if you’re looking for a fun and unique gift of experience, Blue Apron might be just what you’re looking for!
How about you?
- Have you ever tried a meal delivery service? What did you think?
- What are occasions when you would consider a meal delivery service “frugal?”
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I received my first order as a gift. Having a hard time getting off their delivery schedule. Was sent something I didn’t select, and would not have anyway. Fun learning new techniques..but need to figure out frequency and affordability. Portions a bit too small for my partner and dislike the packaging. Creates too many dishes..but fun when you have the time for clean up!
Chef Hen says
Meal kit companies need to stop advertising the price point as per serving and offer the single meal with double the price and set a minimum meal plan. Blue Apron has minimum of 2 meals per order which equates to almost $50 bucks and Homechef has 3 meals which equates to $50 bucks.
The recipe is not really all that great. The benefit is you don;t have to go shopping for one of item and not have to worry about coming up with ideas on what to make.
For the price point, it was not worth it for me. If they make the order based on per serving, it will be much better deal and price point is manageable.
Too spendy for me! I think it’s great for people who have money and don’t want to learn to cook on their own. It would be cheaper to buy some good used cookbooks…
wendy robbins says
Enjoyed your post. I’ve been using Sun Basket, and I have to tell you that my husband and I love it. So fresh and all organic. We haven’t been disappointed with one meal yet! Have not tried Blue Apron. Love that we have these options, though.
Les Hudson says
For me, I am frugal, but yet I also cook from scratch. For the price I would pay for the family plan, I could get a month’s worth of groceries, and still pretty much make the same quality food. I have been cooking for 30 years and lots of experience. Plus, I have a great discount store here as well. Way to over budget for me. They say it’s fresh, but it is still processed. It’s more fun for us to just learn a new recipe and add as we go. This doesn’t seem like cooking as it does like re-making the food. Like building with Legos.
I’ve had great luck using Blue Apron for our family of 6. My kids are 10, 8, 6 and 3 and we get the family option. It is always enough food and sometimes we even have leftovers. It has really helped expand my family’s palate. I’ve tried all sorts of foods that I never would have made otherwise. My kids are much more adventurous now after the exposure to all these new foods. I do rotate and do a week or two of Blue Apron meals and then a week of our regular family recipes. It has also made it easy for my husband to help cook sometimes and my 8 yr old son even made a Blue Apron meal pretty much on his own tonight. I feel like it saves my family money because I have learned how to buy better quantities of ingredients and how to use cheaper healthier ingredients. I also don’t buy as much at the grocery so there is less weekly waste. I truly love Blue Apron.
Karen Mueller says
I agree with your assessment, it makes a good date night type event or special occasion. It is more costly than buying the ingredients, but it sure saves time and allows me to allow others into my kitchen without worrying about watching them for instructions as the sheets I found really easy to follow and it added a few good recipes to my list. However, there are several good grocery stores with semi prepared food which would be more cost effective and still as nice (the type you just put in the oven and serve). My boyfriend also found the servings to be very small, so I ended up having to make additional food.
One suggestion for those that worried about cancelling, upon ordering, I immediately went in and “skipped” all future shipments, that allowed me time to try it out and not worry about being charged immediately for the second meal. I then ordered another for his birthday week and then eventually cancelled. Trying out a competitor now.
Millennial Money says
This sounds more like a human capital investment rather than a frugal budget decision. Thanks for the review of this service.
I like the idea of Blue Apron for date nights. It is still outside what we choose to spend on food, and since we don’t really eat out it wouldn’t be a cheaper alternative for that. But that would be a perfect use for Blue Apron! It sounds like their meal options are very creative, and I am glad you took this on to tell us about!
I was very intrigued to see your perspective on Blue Apron, and thought you did a great job with the post! I have always strayed from meal delivery services because of the price, but I like how you framed it as an experience! It would definitely be much lower stress than trying to shop and plan for an exotic dinner for me and my husband!
Thanks for staying true to your core principles and adding something new to the conversation:)
[email protected] says
I think it would be fun to have all of the ingredients show up at your door, but I think I would prefer to eat out, mainly because I don’t have to do the dishes :). I agree with another commenter that if you have several of the ingredients on hand, then you don’t need to spend as much as they say you would. And if you would like to try new recipes, then there are plenty online or in cookbooks. HelloFresh publishes their recipes online, and several of them would not cost that much at all to make. But I don’t fault people who use it – I have one friend who regularly uses it for her family of 7 and says it has been a lifesaver for her.
I know several couples with crazy work schedules that this makes perfect sense for! (Residents working 80 plus hours, nurses with 12 hour shifts, for example) This is not only cheaper than going out or getting take out, it is also much healthier for them as well. Plus, being able to cook in their own home makes them feel a little more balanced.
I also read a tip to have it sent to your vacation rental and just buy a few basics and simple meals to supplement.
Financial Panther says
I’ve used all of the big meal delivery kit services, including Blue Apron. The way I see it, if you’re using Blue Apron as an alternative to being lazy and going out to eat, then it’s a no brainer. Paying $10 per person to eat is much cheaper than grabbing food at a restaurant, and you get the benefit of learning how to cook.
I’ve been able to save much more as well by utilizing these $30 off coupons that they (and other meal delivery kit services) occasionally give out.
Blue apron is okay for date nights. However, for a while I opted to get a subscription to emeals.com and order my groceries online for delivery. It eliminates the hassle of coming up with a menu and driving to the grocery store. you get more meals and food this way. That was my alternative to blue apron for a few months.
Sarah @ little bus on the prairie says
After receiving several offers with the $30 discount, I looked into it, but choked on the price point for the same reasons you say (we have a large family and would spend almost an entire week’s worth of grocery budget just feeding four of us dinner).
After doing more research, I saw that they actually claimed to charge less than if you went out and purchased all the ingredients yourself at the grocery store. I read a few blog posts by people who tested this and it always seemed to come out in BA’s favor in comparison to what you would spend at a place like whole foods, BUT the bloggers also never said whether they included buying the entire portion of something they only used a small amount of to get to that price. E.g., if they included the cost of buying an entire bottle of a particular seasoning when they only needed a small amount.
When I did a very casual survey of the cost of ingredients based on three recipes they included in the mailer, I found that I already had many of the ingredients on hand and estimated a typical a reasonable price point (I typically only pay $.99/lb or less for apples, etc.), which made each entire recipe only cost about $6-10 to make rather than over $8 per person.
Having said all that, I DID use the discount code to gift a week of meals to a good friend who just had her first baby and was interested in trying it. $30 for 3 meals for 2 people is actually a pretty good deal! She enjoyed it for the most part, but found some of the recipes complicated and wound up totally ruining one (a fried chicken one, which would have been hard for me too!)
My only issue was that my account was charged a second time (this time without a discount) the day after the meals were delivered and I had to request a refund. If anyone is waiting to actually have the chance try the meals before deciding whether they want to continue the service, I recommend canceling before you are charged a second time to avoid being charged for something you might not want. The customer service was great about handling my refund via email though.
Lindsey Mozgai says
I was really interested in blue apron when I first heard about it, honestly now that I know the price and details I’m less interested. We are very picky eaters (We have unique dietary restrictions) so I don’t think this would be a good fit for us.