A new trend that I’ve noticed popping over the past year or so, here in NYC (and likely elsewhere) is the increase of companies offering ready-to-cook meals. I’m not talking about dinners that are already prepared & require re-heating. These companies are delivering all the ingredients you need to cook dinner, typically in under 40 minutes, right to your doorstep. No deciding what to make for dinner. No trip to the grocery store. Everything you need, is delivered right to you.
Image via Blue Apron
The New York Times also picked up on this trend, earlier this year.
Needless to when Blue Apron contacted me a few weeks ago about sampling their dinners, it took me about 0.1 seconds to answer with a big fact YES!
How does it work?
* Select the type of plan you want – meat/fish or vegetarian – and the number of people
* New menus are posted in advance
* Free delivery via FedEx (afternoon delivery) or courier (evening delivery)
* You’ll get all the fresh ingredients you’ll need to make 3 meals
* The only things you’ll need are salt, pepper, olive oil and basic cooking equipment
* No commitment – you can cancel anytime before the weekly cutoff
Unfortunately, Blue Apron isn’t available nationwide just yet, but it looks like they’re expanding. Here’s a list of their current delivery zones, which covers a good part of the Eastern U.S.
It was a tough choice, but I went with the meat/fish option (the vegetarian meals also looked really delicious!) and opted for courier delivery in the evening. I didn’t totally know what to expect, and was so excited to see what was inside my box! I was given a 4 hour window in which to expect my deilvery, and it arrived, all neatly packaged in an insulated cooler box with cold packs, within the first hour.
Each dinner came with a large recipe card that included some interesting info on the recipe, a list of all ingredients and detailed, step by step cooking instructions. I’m a visual person, so I loved that the recipe cards had photos of the raw ingredients, photos of each step of the cooking process and a photo of the finished plate.
I found the recipes really easy to follow, and everything was explained really well. You really don’t have to be a skilled cook to make any of these meals. As long as you know some kitchen basics, you’re good to go. All of Blue Apron’s recipes are designed to be cooked in 35 minutes or less. I found this to be accurate for all of my dinners (they were on the table in 30-35 minutes). Who doesn’t love a meal that comes together quick!
I have to be honest, when I first unpacked all of the ingredients I really questioned whether the meals would provide a solid dinner for two people, let alone two hungry runners. It didn’t look like a lot of food, but that was because everything was already portioned! There was one dinner that L would have liked a little more to eat, but for me, all the dinners were just the right size. And, it wasn’t surprising that fresh, great quality ingredients made for really delicious dinners!
All three of these meals were absolutely delicious! I was most surprised by the Salmon Roll Sandwich. At first L wasn’t sure he would like it, which got me thinking I may not like it. And, we didn’t like it, we LOVED it, and we’re still talking about it!
Just when I thought my week of Blue Apron dinners were finished, another box arrived at my apartment! It felt a little bit like Christmas morning. Our second week of dinners included:
* Chili-Rubbed Porgy with Lime Butter & Vegetable Quinoa
* Moussaka with Lemony Parsley Salad
* Lemon-Thyme Turkey Cutlets with New Jersey Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts & Crispy Fingerlings
I really loved my two weeks of dinners from Blue Apron! For starters, the convenience factor is huge! I didn’t have to think about what to cook for dinner and I got a reprieve from battling the post-work crowds at the grocery store. Life has been really busy lately, so not having to put much thought into dinner and still eating a healthy, balanced, tasty meal was really great.
One of the big highlights was that it got me cooking some different things (like, porgy and moussaka) that I normally wouldn’t think to cook during the week. On busy nights it felt great to go into the kitchen having limited prep to do and knowing I’d have a meal (read, not delivery, a bowl of pasta or cereal) on the table in just over 30 minutes. I think this is also a terrific option if you’re cooking for one!
As far as cost ($9.99 per person, per meal), Blue Apron is really reasonable. It’s probably slightly more than if you were to do your own grocery shopping, but definitely less than a restaurant meal.
Want to try it for yourself?! The nice folks at Blue Apron are offering a 20% discount to Corner Kitchen readers! Put away your grocery list and stop thinking about what to make for dinner…head over to www.blueapron.com/cornerkitchen and let them take care of the hard stuff!
I’d love to hear what you get delivered in your next box!