If you’re new to the party, let me briefly explain that Blue Apron is one of several companies that delivers pre-measured ingredients and step-by-step recipe directions in a kit delivered to your home for easy meal preparation. I’ve been writing about a one-week trial period where I’d try out three meals and decide whether to choose Blue Apron, or not. Here’s my conclusion:
The quick answer is Not to Blue Apron. If you’d like to know why, read on.
I finally cooked the last supper (no religious comparisons, if you please) on Tuesday night, Roasted Pork & Mustard Pan Sauce. It was the least successful instructions-wise, I’d say.
To make the meals super-quick and easy, Blue Apron likes to bake meats at excessively high temperatures for a short period of time. I followed the directions, browning the little pork roast in a frying pan for some color, and to capture the drippings to make the mustard sauce later.
I put the roast into the 475 degree oven and set the timer for sixteen minutes. Directions said fourteen to sixteen, but I found that hard to believe. And I was right. Blue Apron said the roast should register 145 degrees with an instant-read thermometer, and mine had just reached 120. I plopped it back in the oven for another five minutes and soon I had smoke alarms going off (and sweat dripping down my face) even though there wasn’t any smoke – just way too much heat in my tiny kitchen. It didn’t help that the day I finally decided to cook this, the outside temperature soared to 88 degrees (most unusual in Northeastern Ohio in May).
The little chunk of pork finally reached the right temperature (total twenty-one minutes) and I set it aside to rest for five minutes, as directed, while finishing up the rest of the meal (well, kind of – there wasn’t much to do because I was on schedule to be finished by then).
I mentioned in an earlier post that I hate asparagus. Strong words, yes. But I really do hate it. Yuck. I tried to palm it off on my mother, but she wasn’t enthused enough to take me up on the offer. Anyway, I bought some beautiful, fresh green beans to substitute and have to say, the veggie part of this meal with the sliced fingerling potatoes, my beans, and sliced shallots, was delicious. I’ll make that again for myself in the future (just slice the little potatoes into about quarter inch slices and stir fry with salt and pepper in a little olive oil for maybe five minutes; add the beans and thinly sliced shallots and a little more oil and salt and pepper and cook for another maybe four minutes until the beans are just cooked. That’s it!).
The pork, on the other hand, was overcooked and tough. Maybe my thermometer is off? It’s possible. It might not be Blue Apron’s fault. But I’m not a fan of the fast, super-high heat cooking method (although it worked very nicely for the chicken, I must admit). The mustard sauce was quite good – a very grainy mustard mixed with the pork pan drippings, a little water, butter, and fresh, chopped tarragon.
I’d say, overall, the meal was pretty good. Pork would have been much better if I hadn’t overcooked it (no matter whose fault it is).
To wrap up the meal evaluations – I liked the catfish dinner best of all, but it needed a starch; a little skimpy for two people. The Indian tandoori-style chicken was okay, but I’m still not a convert to Indian spices. And the French-inspired pork roast with mustard sauce and potatoes and asparagus (or beans) would have been lovely if the meat hadn’t been overcooked.
I think that for people who are really busy, but don’t mind doing a little food prep for dinner, Blue Apron is a great option. The price is reasonable. The ingredients I received were fresh and of very good quality. Preparation takes at least twenty minutes or so. It’s more involved than I expected. I have two friends, Christine and Cindy, who do this with their families and enjoy sharing the prep and spending a little time in the kitchen together before sitting down to dinner. I can see that and think that’s nice! But being alone? It’s not really all that much easier or faster than starting from scratch.
The time it took to prepare the food was one of the negatives for me. As I’ve said before, I really am tired of cooking. It was fun having meals that were totally different from anything I usually cook, but it was still time screwing around, cleaning, chopping, cooking food. I just don’t want to do that anymore. Or not as often as Blue Apron shows up.
Which brings me to the next negative – the minimum I could order would be meals for two people, three times a week. That worked out fine with the catfish, which I loved. I had it for dinner one night, then heated up the second filet and put it on a bun for a fish sandwich for lunch the next day. The chicken and the pork I just threw out because I didn’t like either one enough to eat them again.
Unfortunately, with Blue Apron you have very little say over what your meal choices will be. I did try to change one of the nights before I got that first order and it gave me an alternative – and that was it. No multiple choices. Having said that, perhaps I wasn’t approaching it correctly on the website? It seemed odd. But, that was my experience – too few choices. I’m not the most adventurous eater, so I can see it becoming an issue down the road.
While I’m not going to continue with Blue Apron, I have begun exploring other ways to find healthy meals that I don’t have to cook. I’m as sick of eating fast good and stupid things like popcorn or cereal for supper as I am of cooking! Many might say I could do with skipping a few meals – and they’d be right. But that ain’t gonna happen.
I was talking to an old acquaintance who asked me if I’d tried a local caterer that has individual meals to go in their shop, not that far from where I live. What?! I checked their website and sure enough, this place offers all kinds of meals for take-out every day but Sunday. I’ll definitely give them a try. Then I thought, what about just plain, old family style restaurants? I’m thinking Italian, in particular. Usually the portions are so big, one meal can split into two; add a salad and there’s two nights taken care of!
This will certainly be more expensive than fast food or even Blue Apron, but if the alternative is eating junk . . . I think my health is worth it.
I sincerely hope I will not be writing any more blog series about food, but if you want to know how my new approach unfolds, let me know. In the meantime, thanks for joining me on my Blue Apron adventure and bon appetit!