Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service. Every week, they send seasonal recipes created by their culinary team with the pre-measured ingredients needed to make them at home.
This is a review of the 2-person, 3-meal subscription plan ($9.99 per serving + free shipping, or $59.94 per week).
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Blue Apron
The Subscription Box: Blue Apron
The Cost: You can choose from a 2-serving plan or a four-serving plan.
For the 2-serving plan (Signature, Weight Watchers Freestyle, or Vegetarian):
- $47.95 ($9.99 per serving + $7.99 shipping) for 2 meals per week, or
- $59.94 ($9.99 per serving + FREE shipping) for the 3 meals per week.
For the 4-serving plan (for families, get-togethers, or meal-prep):
- Starts at $71.92 ($8.99 per serving + FREE shipping) for 2 meals per week,
- $95.88 ($7.99 per serving + FREE shipping) for 3 meals per week,
- $119.84 ($7.49 per serving + FREE shipping) for 4 meals per week.
The Products: Fresh ingredients and recipes for delicious, chef-inspired meals at home.
Ships to: The U.S. only.
December 2019 Blue Apron Review
My July delivery featured a pretty cool box redesign, but for the months following (including this one), things are business as usual. I'd really like to see the updated design make another appearance.
It's back to the big silver cooler bag we go, which seals shut at the top with a little bit of adhesive. The top flaps are easy enough to pull apart. Inside, we find this month's ingredients. A lot of them come labeled in bags, but you have to check out the recipe cards to know which meal they go to. Smaller items like butter or sauces come in a “knick knack” bag so they don’t get lost in the shuffle, and those bags are also labeled with the coordinating recipe title. Those plastic bags are the same as the ones larger ingredients come in, and they are also recyclable. A cardboard divider separates the ingredients from a nest of ice packs at the bottom of the box where the proteins are kept.
Meal #1: Hot Italian Pork Sausage and Brussels Sprouts with Bucatini Pasta
Calories per serving (as prepared): 830
Total cook time according to Blue Apron: 20 minutes
Actual time: 32 minutes
A tip from me to you: Before storing everything in the fridge, I recommend taking a minute to gather all the ingredients and place them in individual grocery bags per recipe so everything stays together.
When I was looking at meal options for this month's review, I was hit with a myriad of irresistible options. This dish checks a lot of exciting boxes for me: hot Italian sausage, Brussels sprouts (which I had a lot of luck with last month!), and bucatini pasta which is always a trip. If you've never had it, it's essentially hollow spaghetti that sometimes makes a fun whistling sound as you eat it. Let's carb up!
While waiting for a pot of salted water to boil, I rinsed off my sprouts, gave them a quick chop, ran my knife through the onion, took a small break because my eyes were on fire (thanks, onion), and minced 4 cloves of garlic upon the return of my eyesight. By this time, the bucatini was ready to boil for 6 minutes. I placed a measuring cup behind the pot to remember to ladle 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining it.
In a large pan set to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil, I broke up the spicy Italian sausage into small pieces for about 8 minutes until cooked through and crumbled to my liking. The sliced sprouts and onions joined the party to cook until softened for 5 minutes, followed by the vinegar 'til the liquid cooked off. At this point, I killed the heat and stirred in the bucatini, mascarpone, and all of the pasta water which quickly formed a light, lovely sauce. Some salt and pepper went in there, too.
To serve, I topped everything off with the grated parmesan. I'm not usually drawn to incredibly saucy dishes, and this one was light on the sauce, so it was a hit with me right away. The vinegar cut down on any heaviness, the sprouts provided a great color and flavor, and the onions made everything just a touch sweet, which played well with the spice of the Italian sausage. Oh, and the bucatini was just as fun as I remember it being—while I slurped my way through the bowl, the noodles made a fun little whistling sound if I got 'em at the right angle. This was a delicious, simple dish that I'd love to make again.
Meal #2: Calabrian Ricotta & Orecchiette with Spinach & Zucchini
Calories per serving (as prepared): 620
Total cook time according to Blue Apron: 25 minutes
Actual time: 39 minutes
You may be thinking, "Savannah, really? More pasta?" Hear me out. I about screamed when I saw this recipe—it's like the stars aligned! I'm doing some family research right now and recently learned mother's grandfather immigrated from Calabria at the turn of the century, so how could I not go for this? Plus, orecchiette is my favorite pasta shape, and on top of that, I have a huge weakness for green veggies. There are worse vices to have!
The prep took quite a bit of time for me to complete because I had some difficulty peeling the shallot and the big pile of garlic I doubled from the recipe. Is anyone else really meticulous about those things? Anyway, I cut the zucchini into half moons, sliced through the shallot, minced up the garlic, and had a heck of the time grating the Grana Padano because it was soft and kept crumbling everywhere. In a small mixing bowl, I whipped together the ricotta, half the Grana Padano, Calabrian chile paste, a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper before sneaking a quick taste and it was good. By the time all of those steps were behind me, I tossed the orecchiette in a pot of boiling salted water for 8 minutes, using the same "measuring-cup-behind-the-pot" technique so I wouldn't forget to save 1/2 cup of cooking water before draining.
In my large, trusty pan, I cooked the zucchini on medium-high heat for about 7 minutes. It didn't quite brown as I'd have liked it to, but I have some inconsistent heating issues with my stove, so as long as the zucchini was cooked, that was enough. I mixed in the spinach with some salt and pepper until the leaves wilted, about another 3 minutes. The greens went to hang out in a bowl off to the side while I added a touch more oil to the pan, followed by the shallots, garlic mound, and oregano. The aroma was unbelievable! Those ingredients cooked together for 2 minutes until I added in the tomato paste 'til heated through.
I made a little mistake and added the 1/2 cup of pasta water to the tomato paste to form the sauce when I should've just used normal water, but it wound up not really making a difference in the end. Whew! Before I knew it, a sauce had formed, so I stirred in the veggies, pasta, and some salt and pepper before turning off the heat. Tomato paste is so cool—truly an unsung hero of the kitchen.
Each bowl received a generous heap of spicy ricotta and leftover Grana Padano before serving. This was really good, too! Was it the most interesting or complex dish I'd ever made from Blue Apron? Certainly not. But, it was hearty, lightly spicy, and the ricotta was the perfect bait to keep me going back for more. I appreciated the mix of green veggies and how the orecchiette held the sauce. There's a reason it's my preferred type of pasta. Also, there was no way I couldn't like this dish—it's one of my people! Do any of your families hail from the tip of the boot as well?
Meal #3: Peruvian-Style Quinoa Bowl with Crispy Chickpeas, Purple Potatoes & Orange
Calories per serving (as prepared): 740
Total cook time according to Blue Apron: 40 minutes
Actual time: 50 minutes
So, I typically stop at two meals, but because this week's selections were impossible to narrow down, I decided to go for a third. Shipping is free after your third, so why not? The draw of the purple potatoes and Blue Apron's incredibly delicious cilantro sauce were too strong. Speaking of the sauce, that's the first thing my boyfriend noticed when I proudly showed him my choices for this month. Its reputation certainly precedes it.
Purple potatoes are truly a majestic thing. I was really excited to work with (and eat) such a cool ingredient. These pretty little tubers were rinsed before getting chopped along with the onion, pickled jalapenos, and orange slices. The jalapenos and oranges were joined by a drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl with salt and pepper to marinate. In a separate bowl, I whipped together the heavenly cilantro sauce and crème fraîche with salt and pepper, snuck a taste, and immediately smiled before sneaking a few more tastes, you know, to make sure it was just right for my dinner partner and not because I couldn't help myself. It's my kitchen!
To a pot of boiling water, I let the quinoa cook uncovered for 20 minutes. This was my first time preparing quinoa like rice, and I must say, I much prefer it to meticulously measuring everything and waiting for it all to absorb without it getting stuck to the bottom of the pot.
After draining and rinsing the chickpeas, I placed them on a foil-lined baking sheet and rubbed a paper towel over them to loosen any skins that wanted to come off. Upon discarding the skins, the potatoes joined the chickpeas for a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and the seasoning mix before roasting for 20 minutes. About 5 minutes into the roasting time, I realized I initially forgot to add the seasoning mix, but there was no harm done in adding it when the thought occurred and proceeding as planned.
In my large non-stick pan, I cooked the onion with salt and pepper for close to 10 minutes with some olive oil on medium-high heat. I added the honey, vinegar, and red pepper flakes once they'd cooked to my liking.
For Black Friday, I finally caved and bought a large wire mesh strainer from Blue Apron (with my own dollars, I might add) and it's one of the best kitchen investments I've made in a long time. My old wire mesh strainer could only hold 1/3 cup of anything, so this was a massive improvement. No more rinsing quinoa and canned beans in multiple, painstaking rounds—I can just do it all at once, like most other functioning people! As you can see, it worked well to drain my quinoa before it went into the pan with the onions.
From here, it was just basic assembly. I created a foundation of quinoa and onions, then piled on the roasted chickpeas and potatoes, the marinated oranges and jalapeno slices, and finally, that dreamy cilantro sauce. There were a bit too many moving parts for my liking when getting this dish together, but the end result was fantastic. The combination of colors, flavors, and textures was spot-on, and while I had some hesitation about the oranges, they meshed well with all of the other pieces. As good as it was, I did feel frenzied trying to get it all together, but in terms of taste and presentation, this is exactly the level of quality and creativity I'd expect from Blue Apron.
Verdict: Blue Apron was pretty good this time around and on-par with my satisfaction with last month's delivery. The ingredients were fresh and unique, and the dishes themselves were delicious, creative, and more filling than usual. In fact, I was pretty surprised by how generous the portions were. Of course, Blue Apron isn't less expensive than going out and purchasing the groceries yourself, but considering it's wildly convenient, there's no food waste, and the recipes are outstanding—not to mention it's far less than takeout for similar meals at $9.99/serving (including free shipping for 3 meals)—I think it's worth it, at least as a monthly treat instead of a weekly staple. The only area I'd like to see some improvement is with the reduction of single-use plastic packaging. I understand the need to keep things separated and organized, but there has to be a better way, you know? Given Blue Apron's commitment to building a better food system, I'd be surprised if this item isn't already on their long-term agenda.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Recipes change every week, so these are gone for now, but popular ones always come back in the future. Sign up today to choose from a whole new crop of meals.
Value Breakdown: At $59.94 (plus free shipping), you’re paying $9.99 per serving.
Check out all of our Blue Apron reviews and find the best meal delivery kits of 2019!
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