My First Week of Blue Apron Meals

I recently decided to give Blue Apron a try. For those of you who don’t know, Blue Apron is similar to Hello, Fresh! and Plated. A few of my foodie friends use Blue Apron and have mixed reviews, but most have good things to say.

According to Blue Apron:

Blue Apron is a fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service that helps chefs of all levels cook incredible meals at home. We take care of the menu planning and shopping (providing you with fresh, locally sourced ingredients in pre-measured quantities), so all you have to do is cook and enjoy (please note: our Blog is full of helpful tips that will help you cook with speed and ease).

We offer 2 plan options (detailed below) with no commitments or fees. Plus, you can choose to skip your orders up to 5 weeks in advance or cancel at any time.

I have one complaint off the bat. You get 6 meals to choose from, and you pick 3. Except, once you choose 1, some of the options go away. It seems there are pre-set combinations. Wtf? Why? This makes no sense. That’s annoying and it really turned me off right away.

Anyway, the service is essentially $60 for 3 meals that each serve 2 people, so $10 a serving. That’s more than I would spend on a meal I cook myself, but the convenience factor is a bonus and these recipes are primarily things I wouldn’t try on my own. And, your first delivery is 50% off, so only $30.

For Week 1, I went with Crispy Chicken Milanese, Seared Cod & Udon Noodles, and Avocado Tempura Tortas. Chicken meal, fish meal, vegetarian meal. I like variety, but I am so uninspired and lazy when it comes to cooking that I usually eat the same thing every night for a week. And at least once a week, I am too tired from work to even cook/eat dinner.

Monday: Unboxing and Crispy Chicken Milanese

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Excuse my ugly kitchen floors. Notice the broken seal at the front of the box.

A nightmare of a day, the third of 3 so far in the past week. Rags has had 3 seizures this past week and several emergency visits to the vet. I had to drop him off at 6:30am on Monday, was in the office by 7:30am, and back to the vet to pick him up by 1pm. By the time I got home with him, it was 2pm and my delivery was waiting outside the front door to my apartment. Thankfully, no one stole it. I couldn’t carry my heavily sedated pup and the box inside, so the box waited outside for about another hour until I was comfortable leaving Rags alone for 60 seconds to run and grab it (I live on the third floor). When I finally got it, I realized how freaking heavy it was! I also noticed the tape was sliced through on 1 of 3 sides, but fortunately the other 2 were intact so no one could’ve gotten in the box.

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Menu cards on top – including an entire card about celery. Ummm, ok?

Unboxing was an adventure. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Opening the cardboard box revealed the menu cards atop a sealed foil liner that keeps everything cold and avoid potential leaks onto the cardboard box. I had to fight with the liner a bit to get it open, which is good when it’s keeping my rather expensive food safe and cold. Once I pried open the liner, it was like the clouds to heaven parted.

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What I saw upon opening the box

SO. MUCH. FOOD. I sloppily piled everything onto my counter and it felt like the food just kept coming. I did notice one casualty – no not the egg in its adorable little container. The lemon had gotten wedged between the edge of the box and the piece of cardboard that separates the food from the giant ice packs. It was sliced right through the middle and mostly dried up. Oh well. I texted my brother and had him bring me home a fresh lemon (3x the size). I wrote to Blue Apron to let them know and they gave me a $10 credit on my next delivery. Definitely was not expecting that (a lemon is not worth $10), but I appreciated their effort.

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Lemon casualty
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The most adorable (and recyclable/compostable) egg container

I decided to make the Crispy Chicken Milanese. I had brought Asian chicken lettuce wraps to work for the week, but I didn’t have a chance to eat before I had to go get Rags and now I have to be home with him all week, so I was feeling A. starving and B. like having chicken.

I am a really messy/clumsy prepper. I really could use a sous chef. Needless to say, I used about 15 prep bowls and utensils, including these ADORABLE mini prep bowls I just got for a total steal on Amazon. I left a tornado in my wake and a sink full of dirty dishes, utensils, pots and pans. Oh well. Totally worth it.

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My new prep bowls (clementine for scale)

Aside from eggs, chicken is my main source of protein. It’s hard for me to get excited about chicken, but this was really good. The star of the show, however, was the warm Brussels sprout and potato salad. I love a good potato salad but this was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The “dressing” is whole grain Dijon mustard, lemon juice, minced challot (tastes exactly like a red onion to me), shaved parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Apparently there was supposed to be extra but I used all of it. You dice a potato (unpeeled – yummmm), cook it in boiling water for 15 minutes, and peel the leaves off 4 large Brussel sprouts and thinly slice their cores. Then you dice up two stalks of celery and add it all together for create the most delicious side “salad” I’ve ever tasted. My brother agreed, and like me, he doesn’t get too excited about salads.

20161003_181015The chicken is a pretty basic flour, egg dip, Panko bread crumb chicken. I had to rinse some slime off my chicken and trim some fat, which I wasn’t expecting to have to do. And even though we have gas for cooking, the chicken did not get 100% cooked in the center, even though I covered it and let it cook several minutes longer than the recipe called for. I freaking hate cooking meat on the stove or on a grill – I feel like it’s either raw in the middle or charred on the outside. Fortunately, the chicken was only very slightly pink in the very middle part of the breast. The breading was actually really tasty!

All in all, this was a solid meal. I’m tempted to rate it on a scale of 1-10 but I really don’t have a benchmark for Blue Apron meals yet, so I’m going to say I would definitely make the chicken again sometime, but I will 100% have the salad all the time. It’s my new favorite!

On second thought, after Wednesday’s meal, I am giving this an 8 out of 10. If I was rating the salad only, 10 out of 10.

Wednesday: Avocado Tempura Tortas

Avocado Tempura Tortas

A little nervous about the “spicy” mention for the side dish and the chipotle pepper that I received in the Knick Knack bag. Seriously adorable – your sauces/seasonings (or your shallot, in the case of the Crispy Chicken Milanese) come in a little brown paper bag. I’ve never cored a cabbage so I had to look up a video on how to do that. The instructions for zesting a lime were incredibly complicated when all you really to do is…zest the dang lime. Why the heck would I peel the rind and then mince the rind when I could just zest it? Strange…

I love the combination of lime and dairy, so the lime crema was right up my alley.

Then it came time to prepare the tempura mix for the avocado. Um, where is it? Nowhere. That’s right – I did not receive tempura mix. I was so disappointed, because I freaking love tempura. I attempted to use bread crumbs instead, but that was an epic failure. Once I realized this, I stopped trying. I mean, I dipped the avocado in this disgusting bread crumb and water mix, and threw the slices into the pan of hot oil.

Anyone who has added avocado to a sandwich knows that it makes everything above and below it slide around. I’m sure that wasn’t supposed to happen because the avocado was supposed to be fried, but mine wouldn’t fry in Trader Joe’s organic bread crumbs. So when I slapped everything on the tortas and tried to cook the bread (grilled cheese-style), it all slid around and I made a huge mess. I truly wanted to open the window and toss everything out, pan too. But I was starving and had wasted 30 minutes, so I sat at the table and forced the torta down as I gave it dirty looks. I took one bite of the “salad” and was totally turned off and ended up leaving the rest of it in the mixing bowl all night, and throwing it away the next morning when I could finally face it again. I didn’t even want to take a photo but I did to prove I suffered through this.

I give this meal a 2 out of 10. The two stars are because the bread and lime crema were really good. I saved the extras – so I’m going to have some of that for a snack tomorrow to carb-load. I emailed Blue Apron to let them know I did not receive the tempura mix and thus the entire meal was doomed to fail, but as of this post, I haven’t heard back from them. Too bad…

Seared Cod & Udon Noodles

Seared Cod & Udon Noodles

Aside from gingerbread, I do not like anything with ginger in it or a ginger taste. So I was a tad hesitant about this one as it called for an entire 1-inch piece of ginger (half in the cucumber marinade, half in the broth).

Cod is cod. I was raised in New England, so I will eat anything from the ocean. OK, except dolphins, whales, manatees, etc. My point is that I love seafood and shellfish. Cod is pretty tasteless on its own so it’s all about the preparation. In fact, I had a delicious dinner at The Abbey in Brookline this past weekend – roasted cod, potato scallion pancake, and shallot cream sauce. Obviously this Blue Apron meal is a Japanese-inspired dish, so completely different than the meal I had at The Abbey.

My delivery arrived on Monday, and by Thursday, the cucumber for this meal was totally bad. Thankfully, I had mini cucumbers in the fridge so I was able to substitute one of those. The radishes smelled a little weird but I’ve only smelled radishes maybe one other time so who knows.

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This meal was totally underwhelming. The cucumber salad had way too much oil. I love sesame oil but it’s now 16 hours later and my apartment still smells like sesame oil (and the kitchen is spotless – thanks to my brother’s willingness to do the dishes/clean the counters when I cook). All in all, I felt like a lot of work went into a meal that I ended up dumping into a bowl (I love my wide soup bowls from World Market – I’ve had these and the rest of the White Coupe Collection for years).

I’ll give this 5 out of 10.

The Final Verdict

If my math serves me correctly, which it usually doesn’t, that’s a 15 out of 30 for the week. Worth $30? Possibly. Worth that $60 that I will be paying normally? Definitely not. I already chose to skip next week, but here’s what I chose for the following week:

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Once again, I don’t understand the combination restrictions. I really wanted to do the pork burgers, catfish, and fettuccine but it wouldn’t let me. What the heck, Blue Apron?! These meals all look pretty uninspired and very “fall” so we’ll see how they actually turn out.

 

 

 

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