Blue Apron is the classiest of the meal-planning-type companies. You pay them to surprise you with mystery recipes, perfectly-portioned ingredients, and the promise to repeat next week. They use new and unusual ingredients often, and all their packaging is recyclable.
When you're on the website, you'll see there aren't a lot of options. You can pick 2- or 4-person meals. With the 2-person plan, you get 3 meals, and with the 4-person plan, you can choose either 2 or 4 meals.
From there, they ask if you are vegetarian, and then ask you to list (from their limited options) the things you don't eat (which are all meats). I found that a little strange. There were no options for dairy, gluten, nut allergies, that kind of thing. For example, Sam is allergic to mint, and 2 of the 3 meals they sent us contained mint! Fortunately, we could just omit it and move on with our lives, and were lucky an allergen didn't play a more central part to the dish. It would be better if you were allowed to be more specific about dietary restrictions (like legitimate ones, not like "I think X is icky").
After ordering, we waited til delivery day, and it arrived (an hour before dinner time, cutting it close) in a refrigerated box.
The instructions said to cook any seafood dishes first, for optimal freshness, so we did the hake that night. Oh, we said we were not vegetarian, and I did leave all the meats except I think shellfish, lamb, and maybe one other, so they sent us one fish dish, one turkey dish, and one vegetarian dish. I was glad, because I was worried all 3 would be meat and I can't do meat that often.
So, Night One:
Rice-Flake Crusted Hake with Sautéed Daikon Radish & Yuzu-Soy Sauce
Yeah. First of all, hake is basically cod. It was a good fish, not a really fishy fish, and our apartment didn't smell like fried fish after (I don't think). Also, Sam and I both hate mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms were basically the most prominent ingredient after the fish. We ended up eating some of them though (the flavor was good but the texture was too gummy), and I think we both deserve major points for that. The radish was interesting, I actually liked it. There was yu choy in there too, and it also was pretty good. The rice flakes though seemed like a good idea in theory, but they fried up hard and crunchy in a not-good way, and that was again a texture mistake. And the yuzu sauce was tasty, but the soy a little too much.
Right off the bat here, I have to say a couple of things. First of all, Blue Apron claims that all their meals (or at least the ones we got) can be done in half an hour. This is a big fat lie. With two of us working feverishly on each meal, we were still never done in under an hour, while the recipes claimed the would take 25-30 minutes or 15-25. Ha!
Second of all, the portions were all over the place, while claiming to be just right for two. In the first one, we had tons of fish and hardly any vegetables. Also, there was no way a toddler was going to eat mushrooms for dinner. She had macaroni and cheese that night. The second meal was right on for portion size (we even made a bit extra for Ros), and the last meal had tons extra. I'm ok with extra if it's good, but when I think about how many mushrooms... Anyway.
So! Back to to the hake! All in all, a good-ish meal, but it took way longer to make than advertised, and Ros was starving and I realized halfway through she wouldn't eat anything, so I started making her that Mac and cheese too, and accidentally shattered a plate. We have a tiny kitchen and will often use the unused stove burners as extra counter space, so I had the plate of cooked veg next to the pan I was frying the fish in, and had turned on the burner for the noodles to cook, and, well...it was the wrong burner. We discovered this a few minutes later when the veg plate exploded, I screamed, the baby cried, and tra la la.
Onto Night Two:
Turkey Kibbeh with Cucumber Salad & Mint-Yogurt Sauce (sans mint, actually I added some to mine and it was good)
This is the only dish of the three that we both agreed it was something we would make again. The pine nuts and dried apricots were delicious additions to the little meat patties. And while I don't much care for cucumbers (though earlier this year I decided I could tolerate them on occasion), the salad was pretty good and a great compliment to the meat.
This meal still took twice as long as advertised, but the portions were really almost perfect for the 2.5 of us, and we all enjoyed it (even Ros, but she likes anything in a patty).
Orecchiette Pasta with English Peas, Pecorino Cheese & Mint (sans mint)
This one was the one that was supposed to be 15 minutes, but it took 15 minutes just to shell the peas, which was actually fun, but, was it necessary...?
Also, the recipe included ricotta to make lemon-ricotta, which is the base for the sauce, but I feel like they put in the wrong cheese, because I have never seen ricotta be dry and crumbly... It still tasted fine though.
This was a tasty dish, but it included "pea tips" which is basically leaves and stems from the pea plant. Those were a little strange. The flavor was fine but it was kind of stringy and weird, so after trying it, neither of us ate those.
In any case, Blue Apron was fun and kind of exciting (mystery recipes and all that), but I don't think I'll do it again, especially not at the regular price. There's a different, similar service I'm going to try, since I got a gift card for it somewhere. Perhaps we will like that one better. I will let you guys know when we do that one how it goes!