Blue Apron is a subscription-based meal/grocery service that sends recipes and ingredients (portioned out) on a weekly basis. Blue Apron does the “legwork,” as they say, by planning, shopping, measuring and delivering. And then you do the cooking, estimated to take about 35 minutes. It comes out to about $10/person per meal, with 3 healthy meal ingredients and recipes sent each week. You can customize your account online for any dietary restrictions.
I’ve always been intrigued by this idea but never thought it would be for me. Mike and I plan out our meals each week and go grocery shopping once a week. Sure, sometimes it’s a pain to go to the grocery store, especially when it’s packed but it’s never been a big issue.
My co-worker had tried out Blue Apron through a Groupon-type deal but there was a week where she was planning to go out of town (you need to put a hold on it 6-7 days before it delivers). Since she didn’t need 3 meals that week, she offered one to me so it wouldn’t go to waste. She gave me the Chicken, Baby Artichoke and Spinach Casserole recipe. Each box comes with three double sided and sturdy 7.5 X 11 recipe “cards”. The front gives a description and photo of the dish, as well as a list and photo of all ingredients.
The ingredients arrive in a very large box that has a lot insulation and freezer packs in it. Ingredients aren’t separated by recipe so we went through the box, pulling out ingredients listed on the recipe card. We had everything except the white onion, which was missing from the package unfortunately. All small ingredients are put into a paper bag labeled “Knick Knacks” for the recipe.
All ingredients are packaged separately. Most are in plastic baggies with labels but the white vinegar, for example, was in a tiny plastic bottle, measured out for the recipe. Milk came in a juice box form (have to measure it out) and even butter came measured in a little plastic container. So cute! I’m surprised most people wouldn’t have milk or butter but Blue Apron only requires that you have olive oil, salt and pepper for their recipes.
So this recipe looked com-pli-cated. I would never have chosen to make this on my own. I have to admit that it was kind of fun to be presented with these actually pretty easy to follow directions for a recipe out of my comfort zone.
Step One – Preparing the ingredients took me awhile. Why couldn’t everything come chopped already? That’s the part of cooking that I like least.
Step Two – I learned how to prepare baby artichokes! A new, random kitchen skill. Here, the directions could have been better adjusted for this recipe. Directions suggest you chop off the top inch of the artichokes, but the artichokes were pretty small so I wasn’t sure how much to actually chop. It would be cool if you could go on Blue Apron’s website to see video demonstrations of preparing artichokes and follow along with a person, rather than reading the recipe card.
Step Three – cook the pasta. I think I’ve been way over-portioning. Look at how small of an amount this is for 2 people! How could this fill us up?! (but it actually did…)
Step Four - Saute chicken, onion and artichokes (minus the onion since we didn’t have one in the Blue Apron box). Here things started picking up since I decided to do step five at the same time as step four. We had three burners going: pasta, bechamel sauce and chicken saute – much more than our usual dinner cooking!
Step Five - The bechamel sauce (sounds so fancy) required constant stirring so it was helpful for Mike to take over the chicken sauteing while I handled this. We were worried about messing up the bechamel sauce since it a) sounded delicious and b) seemed like a major component to the recipe.
Step Six – Bake the Casserole.
The casserole came out great and was much more than I had anticipated from just looking at the baggies of ingredients. We actually had leftovers (maybe a little less than a serving worth). It was absolutely delicious and like nothing we have ever made (or really eaten!) before. The Panko coating on the casserole added a nice bit of crunch.
Overall, a fun experience! This took longer to make than our normal dinners, but was fun to try out for a change. The recipe was delicious and pretty healthy at about 500 calories for a generous serving. I don’t think this would be something we would subscribe to on a regular basis, but I can see doing it once in awhile to change things up, learn some new kitchen skills and be exposed to different recipes. This could be a good option for urbanites who don’t get to the grocery store often; it offers a healthy and fun alternative to take out (although you have to put in some time and effort).