How This DIY Meal Kit Changed My Life
by Amy S.
Meal kits are quickly gaining popularity both in big coastal cities as well as small towns across the United States. You’re probably even familiar with some of the biggest brands in this booming industry, most notably Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated, Peach Dish, Marley Spoon, and Home Chef.
My personal experience with meal kits started over a year ago, when I moved to New York City and realized that all of my daily expenses were really starting to add up. I had gotten into the habit of ordering lunch to my office every day, which could easily amount to $11, $12, or even $15 once I added in tax, delivery fee, and tip.
I was chatting with my co-worker about how much I was spending on takeout and she mentioned that she and a few other co-workers had started using Blue Apron and absolutely loved it. She scrolled through her Instagam and showed me some of the meals she had made a few months prior. My eyes widened as I saw beautiful dishes with things like quick pickled shallots and ramen with soft-boiled egg. My first reaction was, “I could never ever make that,” but she laughed and told me that the instructions accompanying each recipe made cooking dinner achievable and even *gasp* enjoyable.
With her encouragement, I decided to give it a shot. I figured at the very least I would save money, and at the very best would maybe, just maybe, pick up a few cooking skills along the way.
The process of signing up was really simple; I went to the website and selected the 2-person plan for $59/week. Blue Apron also has a family plan, so if you have four or more people to feed you can upgrade to that option, which costs $69/week.
I felt almost giddy waiting for my first box to arrive and squealed when it finally appeared on my doorstep a week later. I picked up the hefty box, still cold to the touch, and lugged it into my tiny kitchen. A cool breeze hit my face as I opened up the refrigerated bag and saw an abundance of veggies, fruit, and herbs, and meat. It reminded me of the CSA boxes my mom used to get in the Midwest, but everything came perfectly portioned for the recipes I would be cooking.
The first few meals I made were a bit of a struggle, as even chopping an onion felt foreign to me. But the step-by-step recipes held my hand as I pan seared, roasted, small-diced, stirred, and sautéed for the first time. Within the first few months I started feeling more confident and I quickly picked up on patterns and techniques, making the prep time faster and faster.
Acorn Squash Tempura Tacos with Smoked Paprika-Lime Sauce
It’s now been nearly 14 months and 100 meals since I started, and I honestly can’t believe how much more confident I feel in the kitchen. Blue Apron emphasizes education and empowerment by teaching skills and explaining techniques, so I know why and when to use specific methods, making it easy to use them in my own recipes.
I’ve tried a few other brands (Hello Fresh, Plated, and Purple Carrot) but keep coming back to Blue Apron. Here’s why:
- At $9.99 a serving, it’s the cheapest option
- I personally find Blue Apron recipes to be more complex and tastier than Hello Fresh and Plated
- Blue Apron’s quality is the best, and on the rare occasion I’ve had a delivery mishap, their customer service has been really responsive and always willing to credit for a late delivery or missing ingredient
- My delivery schedule is super easy to customize. I just log into the website and skip any weeks I don’t want a delivery
- Blue Apron has a really awesome company mission which you can read about here. They firmly believe in animal welfare and sustainably sourced seafood. You won’t find any added antibiotics or hormones in their meat.
- The packaging is recyclable and easily returned via existing USPS routes. I know the packaging receives a lot of criticism, but it’s easy to forget the benefits of eating a tomato sourced <100 miles from you instead of being flown in from halfway around the world. Not to mention that Blue Apron’s food model reduces food waste, which is a huge problem with the current brick and mortar system (see more on that from John Oliver here).