July 07, 2017

Blue Apron (Trial Week)

PSA: Blue Apron currently delivers to the 48 contiguous states in United States of America only.

Seared Chicken and Saffron Couscous; meat, veggies, and couscous provided by Blue Apron

One of the challenges when shopping for groceries here in the US is how to avoid buying more than what you need. Even if you're not buying in bulk, the portions of produce being sold in the supermarkets are HUGE. One onion here is as big as four onions in the Philippines (and the Pinoy-sized onions here are called shallots); green leafy vegetables are being sold by the bouquet. For a household of two, such huge amounts of produce would easily spoil by the following week.



Enter Blue Apron, a subscription-based service that delivers raw ingredients right to your doorstep. The idea behind this service is that the subscriber chooses a weekly plan (i.e. 2-Person/ 4-Person Plan; 2/ 3/ 4 recipes per week), where recipes are chosen on the Blue Apron Website. The subscriber also gets to choose which day of the week to receive the delivery (in case a holiday happens on the scheduled day, the delivery will be rescheduled to the next non-holiday), with an option to skip a week or cancel the subscription entirely. Each ingredients for a particular recipe comes perfectly portioned, so there is no wastage of produce.

New Subscriber Perks

New subscribers can get to up to 15 USD off their first week, add to that the free trial week given by a friend (after paying for 2 weeks, the subscriber is eligible to send free trials to other people). This discount is enough to get me a 4-Person Plan with 2 recipes a week. This way I am essentially getting 8 meals' worth of groceries (with each meal worth 9 to 10 USD).

Level of Difficulty

Looking at the sample recipes (which you can actually download to a PDF file), only basic cooking skills are needed (i.e. slicing, chopping, searing, boiling). The website also has a Tips & Tricks Section so you can learn how to properly do the cooking technique required for the ingredients.

Admittedly, the Prep Time indicated in the recipe is a bit too aggressive--at my skill, Prep Time of 15 minutes actually took an hour (because of all the chopping and slicing of vegetables).

Ingredients Provided

Above are the ingredients for the Seared Chicken and Saffron Couscous

Above are the ingredients for the Seared Steak and Soft Boiled Eggs

Almost all of the ingredients listed in the recipes are provided, except for the (olive) oil needed for searing, and the salt and pepper for seasoning. All other spices and ingredients are provided, and any special seasoning (i.e. vinegar, sesame oil, etc) are measured specifically for the recipe.

This means that if you enjoyed the meal and would like to make it again (outside of Blue Apron), then you have to buy the ingredients yourself.

Prep and Cooking Effort

Seared Chicken and Couscous: The chicken came pre-cut already, which could've saved prep time, if not for my lousy chopping skills.

Seared Steaks and Soft Boiled Egg: The recipe came with ingredients for Kimchi; prep effort was way easier. The steak cut was good, too.

The recipes provided were fairly easy to follow; I particularly liked how it stated to "do this" first and then "do that" while Step N-1 is marinating. This is especially useful since I had to prepare several different components--starch, then sides, then protein to be incorporated with the vegetables. I'm really impressed with the efficiency of the recipes.

Just one criticism on my box: The recipes that were provided were only for the Seared Steaks and Soft Boiled Egg (duplicate). The Seared Chicken and Couscous was not provided; I had to download and view using my mobile device (which may have contributed to the long prep time).

So, Did I Like It?

Seared Steaks and Soft Boiled Eggs, with Sides of Kimchi and Rice; meat, veggies, egg and rice provided by Blue Apron 

I have to say, I liked all of the food except for the kimchi. Its recipe called for ginger... which I may have chopped a little to roughly. I'm not really a fan of ginger (except when it's made to salabat), so chewing into ginger bits while eating kimchi isn't a fun experience.

The More Important Question: Will I Continue My Subscription?

Right now I have opted to skip the weeks following my Trial Week, Being new to the US, I still have this tendency to convert the prices to PHP, and right now I'm not willing to shell out 3,000 PHP a week for 6-8 meals (which would last for only 3-4 days). Granted that the per-meal price is significantly cheaper than a restaurant meal, buying from the grocery is still the cheapest option (even if you have to risk spoilage of unused produce).

Maybe if I'm feeling fancy, but don't want to dine out, will I consider subscribing for the week. Maybe make it a quarterly thing... but most definitely not weekly.

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