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Blue Apron Subscription Box Review + Coupon – April 2017

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Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Blue Apron is a subscription meal delivery service. Every week, they send seasonal recipes created by their culinary team and the pre-measured ingredients you need to make them at home.

Check out all of our reviews of Meal Delivery Services to see every meal kit subscription box option!

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

In addition to their standard 2-Person subscription plan, which features three weekly seasonally-inspired meals for two, Blue Apron also offers a Family Plan that features kid-friendly recipes and family-style meals for four.

This is a review of the 2-Person subscription plan ($9.99 per serving, or $59.94 per week). I usually just cook just for myself, but I’m hoping I can turn the second servings into leftovers that I can use through the week. 

This is also a review of Blue Apron‘s vegetarian option. I like to eat a vegetarian diet, so I was happy to find that Blue Apron, like many popular meal kit services, offers a veggie option. Each weekly menu has 6 recipes total to pick from, but be aware that only three are vegetarian! Like Blue Apron‘s other recipes, the veggie recipes have a gourmet air about them. They remind me of foods I’d find in a fancy restaurant or at least an upscale cafe. If you want to make your meals even classier, Blue Apron also offers a monthly add-on wine subscription. (You can find a review of that subscription here.)

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

I’m at the beginning of my cooking adventure. Though I’m so interested in food and food culture, I’m a total novice in the kitchen. I’ve been trying out meal kit subscription boxes to help teach myself some techniques and recipes—and stop eating out so much! Blue Apron, in particular, caught my eye, not just because their ads are everywhere these days, but because of their commitment to the health of the larger food system (and therefore, the satisfaction and well-being of their customers). Current practices in the food industry might get food to people’s mouths faster and cheaper, but they also dismiss a lot of the ecology needed to make those foods safe, tasty, nutritious, and valuable to our bodies. They can be really taxing on the environment, too.

Those considerations are definitely important to me, so Blue Apron‘s commitments to sustainability, high-quality produce, responsibly raised meats, the success of smaller farmers, and reducing food waste really compelled me to give it a try.

This box was sent to us at no cost for review. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

The Subscription Box: Blue Apron

The Cost: $59.94 for 3 recipes on the 2-Person Plan, $69.92 for 2 recipes on the Family Plan, $139.84 for 4 recipes on the Family Plan.

COUPON: Get three free meals on your first order! No code needed, just use this link

The Products: Fresh ingredients and recipes to make healthy meals at home.

Ships to: U.S.

Check out all of our Blue Apron Reviews and find other meal boxes in the Meal Subscription Box Directory!

Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Every meal kit is different in the ways they package or limit the packaging of their ingredients. Blue Apron‘s ingredients come packaged inside a silver, bubble-wrap-like bag with a big ice pack at the bottom to keep things fresh and chilled. Most of the ingredients are individually wrapped in lightweight plastic or cardboard, but they’re not grouped by recipe (which some other boxes do). That means I had to do a bit of digging to find what I needed, but I like that they’re leaving out excess waste. They do, however, group the smaller-sized ingredients (the “Knick Knacks” for the recipe) into individual recycled paper bags.

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

There’s an extra card in the box with tips for caring for a cast iron pan. There’s no cast iron pan in the box—this is more like an ad for the pan that Blue Apron is currently selling in its online shop. I don’t have a cast iron pan of my own (super-novice chef here), but if you do have one, maybe these cleaning tips are helpful!

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

On the back of the card, there’s a recipe for cornbread that you can make with a cast iron pan. I’m not that interested in the pan, but I could do a number on that cornbread!

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Crispy Gnocchi with Fontina Cheese Sauce and Roasted Broccoli

Calories per Serving: 710

Total Time According to Blue Apron: 25-35 minutes

Actual Time: About 45 minutes

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about getting nutritious veggies into my diet (and more of them), but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a hearty pasta dish from time to time! It’s been a minute since I’ve had pasta, and gnocchi is my absolute favorite, so I was thrilled to see this dish on the menu. I’ve boiled plenty of pots of pasta in my day, but I’ve never made my own cream sauce—I was a little nervous about putting that together. I gave the entire recipe a few reads to prepare, then got to work.

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There is no greater feeling than seeing your name written across a package of pasta. Especially when the pasta is gnocchi and the gnocchi looks so fresh and fluffy and delicious… ooooo, I can’t wait to eat this!

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The hardest part of making the gnocchi was waiting for the water to boil. But the trick to this dish is crisping the gnocchi in a frying pan before you finally plate them. At first, I was like, does this step really matter? But just seeing the gnocchi browning in the pan, covered in a confetti of parsley, I realized that oh yeah, these mere few minutes in the pan were going to take this recipe to the next level.

Between pasta cooking methods, I was also making my sauce. You make it in the same pot as you made the pasta in, which helps it soak up some of that flavor. The key seems to be constant whisking, which is a lot of work on your arm, but worth it when you see a smooth, creamy sauce develop.

There’s also a head of broccoli that acts as a side and helps to cut the richness of the gnocchi dish. Broccoli is my absolute favorite veggie. Has Blue Apron been spying on me? This meal is me to a T.

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

To the surprise of nobody, I was wild about this dish. The sauce actually isn’t terribly cheesy, but it’s the perfect creamy, salty complement to the pillow-soft gnocchi. Crisping the gnocchi gives them just the slightest bit of texture, which tastes so heavenly and gourmet. Again, I can’t believe such a simple, quick step made such an impact on taste! I ended up with plenty of sauce left over after eating the last gnocchi dumpling, so I swirled the broccoli around in it. Yum!

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Swiss Chard and Potato Shakshuka with Sweet Peppers and Garlic Toasts

Calories per Serving: 600

Total Time According to Blue Apron: 45-55 minutes

Actual Time: 55 minutes

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

I can’t tell you how many shakshukas I’ve seen glide across my Pinterest screen! They look so awesome, and I’ve always wanted to try one. I was really impressed that Blue Apron included eggs in the box (not all meal boxes do). They come in a cute little egg car seat and lid made out of cardboard—high five to whoever developed it because those eggs arrived looking flawless!

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Preparing the shakshuka was all about chopping. Chopping potatoes, chopping peppers, chopping chard, chopping a shallot… It’s a lot. But once that’s done, the process is basically just sauteeing veggies, then dousing them in crushed tomatoes. The whole thing smells amazing and looks brilliant.

Of course, what everyone recognizes about the shakshuka is the eggs! The trick to getting the eggs to sit neatly in the sauce is to create little “wells” in the veggies. Cracking the eggs into individual cups or small bowls rather than cracking them directly into the pan also helps you slip the eggs into the pan with more dexterity. Once the eggs are in, you slip the whole pan in the oven to bake the eggs in the sauce. I probably left my eggs in just slightly too long (the yolks weren’t as gooey as they’re supposed to be, I don’t think), but I tend to like medium-well eggs better anyway.

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Look at this beauty! Again, the smell is scrumptious. The flavor of the sweet peppers brings so much to this dish that I didn’t expect—it tasted like a sweet spaghetti sauce beefed up with hearty, soft textures like the potatoes and the egg. You eat the shakshuka with bread (also included—Blue Apron had me toast it and rub it down with garlic before plating). It’s kind of the experience of eating a thick, tomato-y Indian dish with naan, but with European flavors like tomato and garlic and ciabatta. I’m saving this recipe for sure.

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Chirashi-Style Rice Bowls with Tempura Mushrooms and Spicy Pickled Carrots

Calories per Serving: 670

Time According to Blue Apron: 40-50 minutes

Actual Time: About and hour and 15 minutes

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Well, everyone, that brings us to the third recipe in this box. I was so excited to try this bowl. I love Asian-inspired flavors (most of my dining-out money goes towards Asian restaurants in town). I also had just made a “rice bowl” sort of dish with another meal kit service that was just kind of… meh… so my Asian-inspired food cravings had yet to be satisfied. Could this be the dish to do it?

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The majority of the time I spend on this recipe, I spent preparing vegetables. There are lots to skin, slice, chop, de-stem, wash and gently wipe down. It probably took me a full 15 or 20 minutes just to get all of those elements ready. That probably seems slow, but remember that I’m newer to the kitchen, so my chopping isn’t quite up to standard speed yet!

Here’s the thing about this recipe. Once you get going, it feels like a crazy dance getting all of the elements ready. The recipe makes it seem like each step is its own definitive thing, but I did a lot of whirling around the kitchen and losing track of one thing or another. Some steps require the same pan to be rinsed, wiped out, and immediately used again—an especially tricky maneuver when you’re working with a big, hot pan and a not-so-big sink. There’s also a lot of “setting aside,” which doesn’t seem like a problem unless your counter space is limited. (I had a lot of bowls and pans either filled or waiting to be filled with ingredients all around my kitchen.) Given the resources I had, I felt a little bit like I was always playing catch up with the recipe.

I’ll also be honest—I’m bad at rice, gang. It came out okay, but only after the water boiled over onto the stove and the bottom layer of rice stuck like concrete to the bottom of the pot. I’m working on an electric stove, and I’ve never ever understood the whole gas-stoves-are-better thing until now. Each pad of the electric stove takes forever to heat up or cool down, which is not the kind of temperature control you want when making delicate rice.

Check out our review of Blue Apron for April 2017!

Okay, so here’s the breakdown. The rice that didn’t stick to the pot was actually really good and tasted great with the furikake seasoning on top. The avocado was sprinkled with vinegar to keep it from browning, but the vinegar also woke up the flavor in a really tasty way. The “pickled” carrots had been soaked in a mix of sugar, vinegar, salt, water, and gochujang (a spicy, flavorful paste). I don’t think the carrots soaked up the flavors as much as I’d expected, but they tasted spicy and sweet and had just enough softness to them. The broccoli was roasted, but at the last minute, the recipe had me toss it in mirin and soy sauce. I love those flavors so much, but the amount of sauce they gave me turned out to be way too much for the amount of broccoli I was given. In other words, the broccoli seemed wet and was hard to taste through the sauce.

And last but not least, the mushrooms. Oh, those poor mushrooms. When I hear “tempura battered”, I think fully coated and crispy. But what I ended up with was partially battered mushrooms that ended up sticking to the pan. I followed the instructions really closely, but I did notice that there just wasn’t very much batter to work with. That meant that each mushroom was super lightly coated. And again, I’m pretty sure my stove’s version of “medium-high” heat is way hotter than these mushrooms needed. They tasted okay, but they lacked the pizzazz I expected.

Verdict: I was really into every recipe Blue Apron supplied in this box, but I’m not sure that I, as an amateur cook with limited resources, was ready to do these particular recipes justice. I enjoyed everything that worked out, but I feel like cooking each meal was more about me trying to keep up with the recipe rather than me absorbing the experience (and the techniques therein). The good news is that Blue Apron came through on their promise of delicious produce, and they offer a lot of great content for members on food and recipes. It’s a pretty middle-of-the-road price per serving, compared to Hello Fresh (which is cheaper) and Plated (which is more expensive). Just know that Blue Apron‘s customer seems to be someone who’s already comfortable in the kitchen, rather than a newbie who needs practice!

Do you subscribe to Blue Apron? Which meals did you pick this week?

Written by Anna Reilly

Anna Reilly

Anna loves collecting little treasures, be they pop-culture finds, handmade mementos, or new potions to put in her makeup bag. Beauty boxes got her interested in the subscription world, but now she’s swooning for all things kawaii!

All views in this review are the opinion of the author. My Subscription Addiction will never accept payment in exchange for a review, but will accept a box at no cost to provide honest opinions on the box. This post may contain affiliate/referral links. Read the complete My Subscription Addiction disclosure.

14 Comments

  1. I love to eat rice, but am crap at cooking it on a stove top. Invest in a rice cooker! They’re pretty inexpensive, and you basically just pour in your rice, water, and salt – the cooker does the rest.

  2. I also, cook for just myself and these boxes provide plenty of leftovers…

    I have tried BA a couple times, but its usually too restrictive, and the menus too exotic for my meat and potatoes palate.

    Home Chef is also my favorite.

  3. I really appreciate all the great feedback everyone! Thank you!

  4. BA has been beta-ing a new system where they have more meal options (8 total) and no limitations (if you choose one meal, it doesn’t block out other meals so you can’t choose them). Being part of the beta has definitely increased my ability to order from them and I’m choosing BA over others more often because of the expanded choices. I really hope they decide to implement this permanently and for everyone!

  5. Anna, I know you said you don’t care about the cast iron pan, but you should DEFINITELY invest in one. They are the best. First, they are reasonably cheap. They last forever. If “seasoned” properly, they get better with age. Cornbread cooked in it will taste even better than in a baking dish. Also, handy as a weapon, if you should ever need it.

    Seriously, get one!

    • You MUST have at least one cast iron pan! Growing up in the Deep South, it’s the only cookware my grandmothers ever used. You can cook anything in it, because unlike many other pans, it provides even heat. After many uses it builds up a layer of “seasoning” with causes it to be very nearly non-stick.

      I was fortunate enough to inherit my great-great-grandmother’s cast iron skillet, and I use it every day! If you can find vintage cast iron (yard sale, flea market, or thrift store), the older the better, grab it! If you buy new, Lodge is the best. They’ve been around for eons and are made in the USA.

      Happy cooking!

    • Heheeeeee! I love the dual purpose, Kate 🙂 I’ll definitely check it out! I have a friend who has one – maybe I’ll take it for a test drive (in the kitchen… not as a weapon) and see how I like it.

      Thanks so much for the advice!

  6. I second the Home Chef recommendation. I tried Blue Apron but hated that they restricted what meals you can select, I’ve tried Hello Fresh but found the meals boring, I tried

    • Oops, that cut off. I tried Plated as well but had a lot of issues with the quality of ingredients. Home Chef has been the best fit for us and the app makes it really easy to view and manage your account.

  7. I’m interested in trying one of these meal sub boxes for reasons similar to yourself, but 1) I’m very unadventurous with food and 2) I’m counting calories. I would say these dishes are pretty calorie heavy.

    Anyway, my big question that hopefully someone can answer – when you subscribe to these, I know they have weekly menus but do you CHOOSE what meals you want from the weekly menu or do you just get what they send you? In this instance here (and in another box that was reviewed last week) – there is a vegetarian specific menu. Why can’t it all just be one big menu? It screams to me that these meals are selected for you and I’m just not adventurous enough for that!

    • I’d also like to add that I have tried to find the answer to my question through the individual sites and from carefully reading these reviews, but I just can’t seem to find it! Not only am I not adventurous enough, I might just be too dense!

    • I tried Blue Apron a few months ago, and the veggie options were limited so you really didn’t get to pick… you pretty much had to get the three veggie items to fill out your box. If you’re not eating veggie, once you select one recipe for your box, it limits which ones you can select for your other two meals.

      It’s been a long time since I’ve done the other boxes so hopefully some other folks can chime in about how they’re different! Hello Fresh seemed to have a good vegetarian variety but I think pretty much all of the boxes only have a limited number of veggie meals/week.

    • AmberP, we’ve been subscribers to home chef for almost a year and love it. You pick the meals each week, and we’ve started skipping weeks if there aren’t 3 meals we will love. Some meals are high calorie and some are low, there are a few vegetarian options each week, and a mix of protein types. Home chef is less adventurous than some of the others, and they offer really good deals for your first box. Check out the reviews on MSA and give it a try!

    • I’ve been using Blue Apron for over a year now and it works for me. I’m doing the family plan so I get 2 meals a week for 4 people and it’s always enough food. For the family plan there are 4 options each week and it picks 2 for me and I can change them if I want. I’ve never had it restrict me from choosing an item, but it may be different for the 2 person plan. I like that the meals are a little more adventurous than Hello Fresh, but not as much as Plated so the kids will try everything. Plus it’s never a problem to skip a week if I don’t see two items that I’m excited to try. Whichever service you pick, it’s really helpful to have something planned out for a weeknight meal.

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