Blue Apron: The Future of Home Cooking?
A few weeks ago a friend sent me a free trial week to Blue Apron, the home-delivery meal service that sends every little thing you need to make dinner for 2 (or more) . Everything except for the olive oil, salt and pepper.
First I selected what type of meals I wanted: meat, fish or vegetarian. I chose fish. Then I picked a delivery date. And this is complaint one. The options, no surprise, are vast windows of time--waiting for the cable guy vastness. Since I don't live in a doorman building it means I had to be home. I chose Monday from 3 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Now come on. 10:30 p.m.? Couldn't the driver text me when he's 1-2 hours away? Want to make me do the work? Fine, I'll do it. Let me track my box.
I invited a friend over to dinner Monday night knowing full well I might not have my box in time to cook from it. So I hedged my bets and went to the market and bought extra ingredients. The box came at 8:30 p.m. I unpacked it and made a note to find three more nights that week to stay home and cook for a guest. Which is a lot to expect from anyone.
The Blue Apron dry ingredients come cutely packaged in a brown paper bag labeled: crostata knick knacks.
The Blue Apron meals that were delivered: salmon burgers with corn, caramelized onion crostata, and a summer vegetable salad over israeli couscous. The double-sided recipe cards are incredibly easy to understand, and because everything is portioned out, you can actually make dinner in well under an hour. Now, here's my next complaint. I'd like to be able to request things like vegan, low fat, low calorie, etc. But that's not an option. The salmon burger meal noted that it was 700 calories, which is way more than I wanted, since it included both a bun for the burger and a full ear of corn. That meal, without the bun, still needed a salad to go with it.
Here's another thing. The salmon burgers were made with a nice piece of flash frozen fish that I was then supposed to chop into itsy bitsy pieces. It felt like a sin to dice. On looking at the fish I also wanted to know where it had come from. So here's a simple request: label my food with greater details.
Carmelized onion crostata with arugula and feta. The crust was a blend of white and wheat flour. The recipe called for 4 tbsp of olive oil, which made it decadent. I'd like a healthier recipe to follow, but I would definitely make this again.
Next problem was what happened to my herbs and greens as the week progressed. Actually none of my greens lasted very long, all going limp and helpless almost as soon as I took them out of the box. Maché, to go on the salmon, looked bad on day one so I took it out of the plastic bag and wrapped it in a paper towel, which did nothing to halt its demise. By the time I made my third and last meal, the vegetable salad, the figs were soft and overripe.
I like to select my produce, I hate to waste anything, and I have little faith in any kind of large-scale operation having success at this tricky task. The Blue Apron site reads, "Fresher Than The Supermarket." I strongly disagree. The heirloom tomato I received, bundled up in its own box, looked like a large red tomato picked from a shelf in October, even though it was July. So how Can Blue Apron––or Plated, Fresh Direct, Freshology––choose ingredients that will meet our needs? Perhaps they need an added level that one might select: Doesn't Matter, Somewhat Matters, Super Picky.
My last complaint is the packaging. Since Blue Apron sends you everything––which is awesome––it means you also have bags, boxes, paper bags, a large box, ice packs and a silver waterproof sealer. That's a lot of waste. Oh, and one more complaint, Blue Apron wants you to join and stay on, like it's as simple as getting a magazine subscription, but its not. I need more flexibility from a service like this.
That being said, the service made me cook. It made me invite people over, and I had fun. I would recommend Blue Apron for anyone that hates to shop, hates to think about what to make for dinner, has someone to cook for, or cook with, and likes to be surprised.
Roasting the figs makes for a great side.
The finished product alongside the recipe card.