I want to start this by saying this isn’t a promoted post or anything like that, just a few thoughts that I wish I could’ve been told before I decided to try these. As I type this I’m currently laid up with an ankle injury that prevents me from doing a whole lot. One of the things that it’s kept me from doing? Grocery shopping. If you know me, you know how important cooking and planning my meals is to me – I put a lot of effort into it…spreadsheets and everything. I do this not just because I want to make sure that I’m making healthy-ish choices, but also because meal planning can be tough! If you go to the store on Sunday, you need to make sure that your later-in-the-week meals have less ingredients that might spoil before you even get to them. When suddenly I couldn’t physically go and walk around a grocery store, I knew I needed to come up with a solution.
Enter where I came across Blue Apron.
Now, I know that Blue Apron isn’t new to the market but I had been skeptical despite hearing pretty good things. Living in a city where deliveries are often mixed up and delivered to the wrong address (I really don’t know why, but boy is it annoying), I had never thought of meal delivery as an option. Just because I can’t walk around the grocery store doesn’t mean I wanted to give up and start eating only fast food so I figured I could give it a shot. Thank goodness for bar stools and being able to sit while I cook, this way I can still have a freshly cooked meal.
There’s one catch though: while there are 7 days in the week and ideally I would like to cook for 6 or 7 of those days, there are only 3 meals within each Blue Apron delivery. This is where another meal delivery service, Hello Fresh, comes in.
Hello Fresh is pretty much exactly like Blue Apron in how it works, but with the two of them scheduled to come at varying times during the week, I was able to have 3 days of fresh food at a time with no overlap meaning less spoilage and better freshness at the time of cooking. Plus, still no need to go to the grocery store! Now, having given both services a test run over the past several weeks I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on them with you.
Although packaging is like judging a book by it’s cover and good quality packaging doesn’t necessarily mean better tasting food, it’s hard not to let it sway your views on the food you’re about to make. For this category, it really comes down to your preference. Blue Apron, for example, keeps small items in bags labeled for the recipe it corresponds to but the rest of your produce and meats are just placed into the box with no real sense of organization. Hello Fresh on the other hand simply sends you 3 large paper bags each containing all ingredients for each recipe. One isn’t necessarily better than the other and since both do a great job of providing ice packs to keep your items cold on the journey to your home, it really comes down to which you prefer. Personally, I like seeing the things that are sent and tend to favor Blue Apron on this one.
My preference for PACKAGING: Blue Apron
To me, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the recipes of the two boxes. However, if pictures and double checking to make sure you’re doing things right helps you, Hello Fresh’s recipe card offers a photo for nearly every step so that you can make sure what your cooking resembles how it’s supposed to look. Blue Apron on the other hand has each step written out on it’s own line almost as if in a checklist which makes referencing what you should be doing all that much easier when moving through steps quickly. Both recipe cards offer some information including a time estimate for prep and cooking, bonus tips, and some basic nutritional information – although I often felt like the time estimates were vastly underestimated if you’re a slow chopper or you frequently are referencing the recipes.
My preference on RECIPES: Hello Fresh
In both boxes the quality of the ingredients are top notch. Fish has always been fresh and even lettuce for salads has been perfectly crisp, so actual quality of the goods are fantastic. Since there’s little to no difference there, let’s focus on cooked-meal quality. If you like a traditional meat and two sides with one of those sides usually being a side salad, slaw, or some sort of greens, then Hello Fresh is probably a good choice for you. They keep things simple and since one thing is usually not cooked/eaten raw (salad, slaw, etc), one is usually cooked in the oven, and one is cooked on the stove, it’s easy to throw them all together into a balanced meal in the end. Blue Apron, however, gets a bit more adventurous with their recipes. Creating cohesive dishes such as roasted squash tostadas or black bean and kale enchiladas, you can almost feel like you’ve created food art just as much as you have just made a meal.
My preference on FOOD QUALITY: Blue Apron
Both of these services have apps for your phone as well as pretty easy to use websites that are great for planning out what you’ll be receiving in your boxes. At least in my own case, I used the website on my laptop to really decide what I wanted in my orders but then checked on status, tips, future recipes, etc within the apps. Is one better than the other? To be honest they’re nearly identical and allow you to really do everything you need from within their tabs. If you’re the kind of person who likes this sense of availability, you likely won’t be disappointed. Perhaps my favorite feature of these apps though? Tracking the shipping of my package so I know exactly when it arrives on my doorstep.
My preference on TECHNOLOGY: Both
Overall, the differences between these two services are minute which is great if you’re using both in order to have meals for the entirety of your week. In both the portion sizes are more than enough to feed two people or eat half for dinner and have leftovers for lunch. But if you want to choose just one, which is the right choice? To me, I don’t think one is necessarily superior to the other but ultimately comes down to just choosing based on which aspects are most important to you – especially considering they’re pretty much the same price. Value adventurous recipes? Go with Blue Apron. Value having a picture in order to follow along with as you cook? Maybe try out Hello Fresh. Either way, if you’re ready to get in the kitchen and make great meals for yourself I don’t think you can go wrong with either.
If you want to try out one or both of these boxes, use these referral codes receive a discount! (Disclosure: I also receive a small discount on my future orders if you sign up.)