By Jess Goulart
Photo by Dane Feldman.
I once lit my kitchen on fire.
It was an accident. As I explained to the firemen and my hysterical mother, I was trying to microwave a hot dog for an after school snack.
I put the hot dog on a paper towel so the grease wouldn’t get everywhere (I was being clean!) and then… well, I sort of forgot the hot dog existed until smoke began billowing into the hallway.
To be fair, the title of MasterChef was not in the cards for me even before I blew up the hot dog, but after that I rarely tried my hand in the kitchen again. So when a friend of mine started working at Blue Apron and offered me a free week-long trial, I was skeptical.
Blue Apron is one of the first companies to ship pre-packaged, pre-measured, fresh ingredients to their customer’s door along with step-by-step recipes to turn those ingredients into gourmet dinners. After discovering that my oven (which was being used as winter coat storage) did in fact work, I decided to try Blue Apron because my boyfriend and I wanted to break our habit of ordering in five nights a week.
When the shipment arrived I was immediately impressed by the packaging and presentation. The proteins looked plump and fresh, the produce bright and colorful. The ingredients were portioned out exactly to make three recipes, which were each detailed in pictures and words on large cards.
Banana-leaf wrapped cod. Photo courtesy of Sheldon O’Brien.
The first night we made a beef and bean casserole, then Thai chicken soup, and lastly a banana-leaf wrapped seared cod. All the dishes were delicious and made huge helpings; both my boyfriend and I ate until we were stuffed and still had leftovers for the rest of the week.
Considering that, if you’re splitting the cost with someone, at $60 per week Blue Apron is a steal. However, if you’re cooking for one, you may want to consider the fact that you’re spending $20 per meal (when you break it down) and the servings are so large that the food will likely go bad before you can finish it. Unless you have freezer space, it may not be worth it.
That same friend at Blue Apron, who is a cooking pro, says she loves knowing she won’t be wasting any ingredients. “I’ve enjoyed the challenge of menu planning and trying to buy the perfect amount of ingredients to waste-not,” she explains, “but Blue Apron makes this so effortless and delicious, I rarely skip a box.”
What I loved most about the experience wasn’t the actual food, the sustainability, or the low cost. It was learning new cooking techniques. Okay, okay, learning any cooking techniques. I took great pride in finally making something that was not only edible, but actually tasty.
Having said that, as a cooking novice I found the recipes to be esoteric. The only reason I was able to follow them was because my boyfriend is an ex-aspiring chef and easily navigated the jargon. Without him, I would have had to Google just about every direction.
All in all, if you’re comfortable in the kitchen, Blue Apron will be a breeze and you’ll likely learn some new tricks. If you’re like me, you might find that each meal takes a bit longer than 40 minutes to prepare (the allotted prep time for most is 35 minutes) because you have to figure out how to mince or whatever first.
But, no matter how much effort it takes to get there, the dinners are healthy (between 500-700 calories per person), filling, and flavorful.
And guess what? No microwave required.