Yesterday I received the box with ingredients for two dinners with four servings per dinner. "A great recipe is composed of incredible ingredients" read a cardboard insert in my package.
While I certainly agree with the sentiment - and find their one-use packaging visually appealing (read "super cute") - there is a lot of packaging and plastic in that box. Most is recyclable; some looked compostable. But it's a lot of packaging. A lot.
I received ingredients and slick, glossy recipe sheets for Pressed Chicken Tortas and Shepherd's Pie. Because I had a meeting at school last night, I didn't get a chance to try either. So, I woke up this morning and made the chicken tortas for lunches.
I wish they included the ingredients of the 'Chicken Tortas Spice Blend' so we could make it again on our own. But, I suppose, that's not really the point. They want you to go back and order ingredients from their online store.
Okay. Here we go on a Blue Apron adventure, making Pressed Chicken Tortas.
Step One: Season and cook the chicken.
Step Two: Layer your torta.
Step Three: Press the tortas.
Step Four: Enjoy!
- It's convenient. Everything for two dinners is delivered straight to your doorstep.
- It's almost effortless. Everything is packaged in the necessary measurements that are needed for the recipe.
- It's easy. The photographic instructions make the dishes easy to complete even if you aren't well-versed in the kitchen.
- The dinners are complete. When I write "everything is included", I do mean everything. The delivery yesterday included the pat of butter and 1 T of Worcestershire sauce (in a tiny little plastic bottle) you needed to complete one of the dishes.
- It's fun. The choices of meals, as I looked at future week deliveries, seem inviting, especially to someone who is just beginning to really cook. The selections might get people to try dishes and recipes they wouldn't normally tackle.
- There are a few cons, including ingredient selection. For example, the one tomato that came with the box for the Pressed Chicken Tortas recipe was fine. It was red and it was round. But it wasn't perfectly ripe. It was slightly firm and a little bit mealy. I prefer ugly tomatoes that ooze summer sweetness. So, the tomato was visually appealing, but not the one I would have selected if I were at the market myself. And I would have opted for a whole wheat bread if I were buying the ingredients myself.
- There's not enough for leftovers. I usually pack dinner leftovers for our next day's lunches. But the ingredients provided just enough for the one meal.
- I already talked about the packaging. The amount of packaging is off-putting to me.
- But the objection that puts the nail in the coffin for me: It's expensive. The two-meal family delivery plan costs just under $70 for the two meals. When I write "just under", I mean $69.92. Odd total. There was an option for three two-person meals for just under $60. I usually budget between $175 and $200 for twenty meals and snacks*, not including our CSA box. That means that these two meals, at $35 per dinner, cost nearly double the amount of what I normally spend on food. Back in April, I wrote a post about $15 dinners for four. In case you don't want to click and read that post, I concluded that just the main dish was do-able for $15, but to get a full meal, including salad, dessert, and wine, you're looking at between $30 and $40. So, Blue Apron is in the ballpark for price, but without the dessert and the wine.
*Twenty meals because I usually cook every meal - breakfast, lunch, and dinner - for my family at home. Lunch is to-go for school and work, but I pack it. And I left off one meal, instead of the twenty-one meals in a week, because we might grab one breakfast out, usually bagels.
I definitely see the appeal of a service such as this. And I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to try it, but I won't be a subscriber. I know there are other companies to try. But I think I would have the same objections.
Have you tried one of these ingredient-dinner delivery services.
What did you think?