Typical restaurant food delivery will always be in high demand (at least in my house it will be), but services that deliver the ingredients to create your own meal at home are quickly gaining popularity. If you’re a busy mom like me (which duh, we all are) then this probably piques your interest, too. There are a variety of companies that offer this service, including Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Home Chef, Purple Carrot (which specializes in vegan food), and Peach Dish (which serves healthy, Southern-inspired meals).
I decided it was time to add some variety to my family’s dinner routine, and after a quick search online, I found that you can do a free trial or reduced price on your first order for all of these services. Boom–I’m in! My family will be trying each of these and providing an honest (unpaid) review for my fellow Iowa City area moms. First up, Blue Apron.
-For two: $59.99 ($9.99 per serving) for 3 meals, 6 total servings
-Family plan: $69.92 ($8.74 per serving) for either 2 or 4 meals, 8 total servings
Blue Apron lets you choose which day of the week your box will arrive and choose your recipes for each week. They currently offer five menus to best suit a variety of tastes, such as vegetarian, pescetarian, and people who love meat and fish. They can also accommodate some dietary restrictions such as no shellfish, no red meat, no pork, and no fish. For the smaller plan, you have six meals to choose from each week. For the family plan, you have only four meals to choose from. This is a subscription service, meaning a box is set to come every week. But, you can skip a week or cancel at any time.
Heads up: You have to make selections or changes to your subscription at least 5 days before delivery! This sneaks up on you because you’re still finishing up the meals from the prior week. I accidentally got a second shipment when I meant to cancel, and didn’t get to select my meals.
Recipes we tried:
- Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Quiches with Lemon Arugula (5 stars)
- Empanadas de Picadillo with Tomato Cucumber Salad and Lime Crema (5 stars)
- Brown Butter Gnocchi with Summer Squash, Almonds, and soft-boiled Eggs (1 star)
- Sweet Chili Chicken with Tinkerbell Peppers, Snow Peas and Coconut Rice (5 stars)
- Za’atar Chicken Burgers & Oven Fries (2 stars)
- Roasted Pork & Summer Salsa (4 stars)
Overall, we liked Blue Apron. The food was good, fresh, and the recipes were simple to follow–even for a novice cook like me. I wish there were more options for the meals, because there were a few recipes that my family didn’t care for (see our personal rating above, in stars).
Convenience and non-waste are the obvious benefits of these services. However, other than the fact that I didn’t have to think too hard about what to make for dinner and the groceries arrived at my door, it wasn’t that much of a time or energy saver AT ALL. I still had to chop all the ingredients and prepare the food. Additionally, due to following an unfamiliar recipe, it actually took longer than if I threw something together myself.
All in all, I’d say these services are not for everyone, or at least not to be used weekly. After the first week of this, I was tired of coming home after a long day at work and cooking a whole big and new meal. Our family tends to make a larger batch of something and eat for a few meals. Other nights, I throw together a quick go-to meal or toss something on the grill this time of year. I also missed having leftovers to bring to work the next day for lunch—these services don’t really allow for that.
If you’re like us, try this here and there, but don’t count on it being your main source of food. It’s a great way to learn about new foods you wouldn’t usually cook. However, our toddler often ended up eating chicken nuggets or PBJ (the struggle is real).