Have you ever tried a meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Plated? I’ve mentioned on my Facebook page a few times that meal delivery services are great for someone who is just getting started with cooking and needs some inspiration for what to cook, along with really clear instructions on how to prepare a meal from start to finish. It seems like just about everyone has tried at least one of these - they have totally blown up in the past few years. I think they can also be helpful for the person who has zero interest in spending time meal planning or grocery shopping but still wants to learn to cook or eat home-cooked food as much as possible. Interestingly enough, I actually hadn’t tried one until last week. I wanted to give a little recap of my experience for anyone who might be considering trying it.
This whole thing started when my friend sent me an offer for the company called Green Chef. The deal was that I could get four free meals my first week which basically equated to three dinners for two people all for around $25. At the very least, it saved me some money on my grocery bill. Best case scenario, I would love the food and be introduced to some new vegetables and fun ingredients along the way. After signing up for GC and realizing my first delivery wasn’t coming for a couple of weeks, I decided to sign up for Blue Apron and get their first time customer discount too. I got a similar deal with them and have been reading reviews about their meals forever, so figured it was time to give it a go.
My first Blue Apron box arrived on a Tuesday during the day and I wasn’t able to open the box until 7:00pm. As the website stated, everything was still cold and fresh inside which I was really impressed with. Supposedly this is true until 10:00pm on the day your box is delivered, by the way.
The three meals that I had on the menu for the week included:
- Spicy Lemongrass Salmon with Herbed Rice and Green Beans
- Chilled Hiyashi Chuka Ramen
- Fairytale Eggplant and Mozzarella Pizza
I wasn’t initially wowed by the menu selections and it took me awhile to settle on these three (FYI: you have the option to switch things around and choose between eight different meals each week) but once I saw all of the ingredients in my box I got a little bit more excited.
First up was the salmon. Jacob and I tag-teamed this one and it took about 30 minutes from start to finish. We both agreed that this meal was good, but nothing special and that our favorite go-to salmon "recipes" are better. The green bean side was also a little weird – it had green bell pepper mixed in and the sauce kind-of went everywhere on the plate making for a so-so presentation. I will say that it was fun to cook with lemongrass since I’ve never done that before, nor did I know what it looked like or how to prepare it. It was obvious that the salmon was really great quality, and Blue Apron notes that they take steps to source sustainable seafood (and other great quality ingredients) so that was a also a plus.
The next night we both had things going on after work and I got home around 7:30 with plans to make the ramen dish. Unfortunately when I started getting the ingredients out, I realized that they had sent quinoa instead of the ramen noodles. #fail
I was borderline hangry at this point so instead of trying to get creative, I made egg tacos instead and called it good. In response to my email, Blue Apron apologized and graciously credited my account with some money towards a future box. In all of the reviews I’ve read by other bloggers, I have never heard of this happening so I am assuming this was a really rare occurrence. Either way, it was a bummer because I really wanted to try that ramen!
We purposely saved the eggplant pizza meal for Friday since we were having friends over for appetizers and figured it would make a perfect little finger food. This was totally delicious and both Jacob and I commented several times that we really liked it. Plus it was something I would never normally gravitate toward (i.e. I never buy eggplant). The pizza is pictured below, right next to the broccoli salad.
In the end I thought the experience of receiving all of the food was fun, and I also really liked trying a couple of new ingredients. I actually enjoy meal planning and recipe searching though so I don’t think I would pay full price for this on a routine basis unless I was in a pinch for time on a particular week. The nice thing is that you can skip any week that you would not receive a box (and of course you aren't charged). Then if you run into a busier week, you can leave that one on schedule. My Green Chef delivery is coming next week so I’ll be sure to report back on my thoughts about that one after we work our way through the meals!
p.s. this post isn't sponsored, I paid for the service with my own money and wrote about it because I wanted to! Just wanted to clarify that because a lot of bloggers have partnerships with these companies and I didn't want that to be confusing.