Blue Apron

What’s For Dinner?

I am an Air Traffic Controller by profession.  As such I literally make thousands of decisions every day.  Believe it or not, the decision that gives me the most agita is what we are having for dinner.  A daily phone conversation between My Beautiful Wife and I, “What do you want to do for dinner?”, “I don’t know, what do you want to do for dinner?”, “I don’t know….”.  You get the picture.

Last week we received in the mail a $30 gift card (coupon) for Blue Apron , one of the many meal delivery services available as of late.  We decided to give it a try, and see if it was worth doing the meal plan.  Our first delivery came on Friday of last week.  I haven’t had to make a decision about dinner all weekend.  We have four meals, all of the ingredients required for those meals, and very, very detailed recipes for those meals.  That makes the decision process a whole lot easier.

Recipe Cards
The first thing I want to say is, and maybe it’s just me, but the day the packages came it was like Christmas morning!  “The Blue Apron is here!”  I know, I do get a little excited about food, about cooking, and about the prospect of preparing something new.  And this excitement was well warranted.  When we opened the boxes, and peeled open the cold bags, the ingredients were laid out like the gifts beneath the tree.
Items boxed in cold bags
The Menu

Za'atar Spiced Chicken and Bulgur
The menu is what it is.  Blue Apron accommodates dietary restrictions such as gluten free or vegetarian, etc., but aside from choosing your dietary needs, likes and dislikes, the meals are selected by the plan you choose, which is one of the things I like most about the plan.  I have to decide from 4 dinners what to make rather than trying to decide from a limitless ocean of food.  Each dinner is accompanied by a recipe card which provides detailed instructions for preparing the entire meal.  I cook every day so I don’t believe I need that level of instruction, but I followed the instructions as written just to see how it might be for a novice cook.  I believe it would be pretty difficult to not make a great meal if you follow the recipe card. 

Spinach and Mozzarella Gnocchi
The box contained exactly what was needed to prepare the meal, nothing more, nothing less.  That means that leftovers were at a minimum.  If you like leftovers this isn’t the plan for you, unless of course you order more than you need.  The meals were sufficient in quantity and quite delicious.  I have prepared two meals so far, The Spinach and Mozzarella Gnocchi and The Crispy Cod Sandwiches with Salsa Verde.  Both meals were easy to prepare, I had fun following the recipe cards, and the instruction and technique advice was very helpful. 

The cards list in order the steps to prepare the meal so that everything is done at the same time.  If you follow the cards exactly, everything hit the table hot.  A few things I think might be helpful; When making the cod, or any fish, take it out of the package early.  It has to be dry, not just on the outside, but as much moisture from fish should be eliminated.  If not the fish becomes rubbery when cooked, so take it out of the package where it is sitting in water.  Also, when you slice the potatoes for the chips, if you are going to have them sit after cutting them, put the sliced potatoes in water so they don’t turn brown.  You can even cut them ahead of time and soak them and it reduces the starch in the potato which makes them crisp up better.  When you are ready to cook the potatoes, dry them on a paper towel.

The Verdict

My initial feeling about the Blue Apron meal plan was skepticism.  I like to shop for my own food because I’m very picky, especially when it come to my produce.  When I opened the box, I was happy to see very fresh, individually packaged produce.  While everything is individually packaged, nothing is prepackaged food.  That is to say each fresh item is in its own labeled package, but still fresh.  It is my firm belief that prepared meals should be prepared fresh at home and not throw something from a box into the microwave.  Blue Apron accomplishes that, and gives cooks of all experience levels a chance to accomplish that.  I am looking forward to next week’s selection already.


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