A year or so ago around Valentine’s Day, my husband gifted me a Blue Apron box to try out. He loves to gift me experiences, so this was right up my alley since I love to cook and try new recipes! The following holiday season he gifted me a couple cooking classes, which I enjoyed so much that I actually found another class to attend with a friend!
The concept of the meal delivery service has intrigued me since I tried out my first Blue Apron box. I really like the convenience-aspect of meal delivery – having a box of meals dropped at your doorstep is pretty great! I also really like how the ingredients are portioned out based on each recipe, so concerns over food waste are lessened ! I can’t tell you how many times I have purchased fresh herbs at the grocery store for a recipe and I end up using less than a quarter of the bunch before they go bad (I am getting better about this – drying and freezing more now…). I also really like how this meal service option has encouraged my husband and me to try out new recipes and new ingredients! I love beets but I usually don’t cook with them because they are messy and stain everything they touch. However, we received a Blue Apron recipe that included beets. I persevered and it gave me a new approach to cleaning and cooking beets – a confidence booster for me to continue to try new, healthier ingredients with my cooking.
There are so many options these days for meal delivery services, how do you even decide where to start? Because these types of services have become so popular, recommendations and ratings for each service are all over the Internet, but since I have tried three different meal delivery services, I thought it may be interesting to think about the pros and cons I experienced with each box.
The three meal delivery services that I have tried over the last year or so include, in order of me trying them: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated. Below is a list of pros and cons, in my opinion, for each service.
Please note: These opinions are my own. Also, different meal service options and characteristics matter to different participants in meal delivery services, so my pro and con list caters to my priorities – the amount of waste per box, organic options, locally sourced options, cooking time and ease of recipe.
Blue Apron – As I mentioned above, my husband sent me a Blue Apron initially as a gift, so our intention was to try out the first box and see what we thought before continuing the service . My favorite thing about Blue Apron was the unique ingredients included in every recipe! I cooked several things for the first time with Blue Apron, including freekah and rutabaga, both of which I loved! The cook time was sometimes a little long for a busy weeknight; I preferred the 30-40 minute recipes, but the meal sizes were always quite generous.
- Pros: Local, organic ingredients, nutrition information listed on each recipe.
- Cons: Price ($65+ for 3 meals, 2 people per week – without the discount code for the first two weeks).
Hello Fresh – My sister sent me a discount code to try Hello Fresh free for a week, so we tried it out, of course! The recipes were very friendly to busy weeknight cooking, usually ranging from 20-30 minute meals. While the meals were tasty, they did not have the nutrition information as visible as Blue Apron (at least not during the time we tried it). Additionally, the ingredients did not seem to be sustainable or sent from local sources.
- Pros: Cook time was well-suited for busy weeknight cooking.
- Cons: Price (the price is not spelled out as clearly as Blue Apron. The price information on the website is listed as per serving, per person instead of total cost per box or week). Ingredients are not sourced locally as much as Blue Apron, or at least not identified as such on packaging.
Plated – My husband I just started trying out Plated two weeks ago (we are on our second week of meal delivery now). Again, we received a discount code from a friend and we got our first box for free! So far, we have really liked the meals! Initially, the recipes seemed pretty simple and I was worried they would not have much flavor, but the meals from our first box last week were great. We tried two vegetarian options and one fish option – all were reasonable in portion and cook time.
- Pros: Cook time is well-suited for busy work weeks and the price is very reasonable. The waste is minimal and nearly all packaging can be recycled.
- Cons: The ingredients are pretty simple, so not as many unique preparations or ingredients. Also, Plated did not offer as many locally-sourced, sustainable options, but still more than Hello Fresh.
All in all, I am a proponent of these services, as long as they fit your schedule, nutrition goals and budget. My husband and I have used these services on and off, so you can always try them out and skip weeks of delivery or cancel all together. I would recommend checking out each service’s website (links included in this post) before trying out a free box, just in case you have any food allergies or nutritional goals you need to follow.
Post by Sarah