Cooking Domestic Stuff

Head To Head: Meal Delivery Services

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  • April 12, 2017

If I’ve ever cooked a meal for you, then you already know: I’m not a cook. It’s not something that comes naturally to me – most of the time,  I can find a way to screw up even the simplest recipe. But in an effort to not feed my family #allthefastfood, I try my best to cook meals at home when I can. However, there are only so many times you can have spaghetti, chicken tacos, and hamburgers before you start to lose it a little. So when I got a coupon for Blue Apron in the mail, I decided it might be nice to test the waters of the meal delivery service world. We ended up trying out 3 different options, so I thought I’d compare those 3 head to head for anyone that’s looking to spice up their cooking routine!

Blue Apron

  • Price: $59.94
  • Number of Meals: 3
  • Serving Size: 2 people

First up is Blue Apron. This is probably the first company that pops to mind when you think about these kinds of services. Also, I should mention that I had a $30 off coupon for our first delivery, so we actually only paid $29.94. When this box got delivered, we were in the middle of a specific fast so we chose the 3 vegetarian meal options. I am by no means a vegetarian, but I actually really enjoy trying to eat vegetarian for at least a couple meals a week, so this was an awesome way to try out some new recipes. The 3 meals we received were: Mushroom & Spinach Stromboli, Fresh Fettucine, and Creamy Ricotta & Lacinato Kale Strata. Sounds fancy, right??

I started with the Stromboli because it was the least intimidating. The instructions were all spelled out on the back:

The estimated time for this recipe was 15 minutes prep and 35-45 minutes cook time. Seeing as I’m #notachef, prep took me more like 25 minutes. Chopping stuff is hard, guys. But other than that, the recipe went fairly smoothly. Except for the dough part. Working with bread dough is not for amateurs and by the time I had all my filling stuffed in there, it looked like a murder scene. Luckily, that didn’t effect the taste.

It was REALLY yummy. Both hubby and I devoured ours, leaving no shred of that delicious ricotta behind. We had similar experiences with the other two recipes as well. Slightly intensive prep, really delicious, flavorful recipe.

So here’s my breakdown for Blue Apron:

  • Price: With the coupon we had it was a great deal, but $60 for 3 meals is a little extravagant for us on a weekly basis.
  • Portion Size: All of our meals were intended for 2 people, but the portion sizes were generous so you could definitely sneak in a small child or have a little bit leftover for the following day.
  • Difficulty: The prep was labor intensive for these, probably partly due to the fact that they were all vegetarian (lots of veggie chopping, duh). We used lots of ingredients that I wouldn’t use on a normal basis, but that was kind of a nice change-up. The instructions were easy to follow, though, so really my only complaint is prep/cook time. On average, these meals took me 50-60 minutes to cook from start to finish.
  • Taste: I’m not an adventurous eater, so the ‘fanciness’ of these recipes kind of made me give them side eye. But all the recipes we tried were really flavorful and delicious. Even Everly went stinkin’ crazy over the beet fettuccine. So, I’m happy that these recipes pushed me a little outside of my comfort zone!
  • Ingredient Quality: All of our ingredients were very fresh on arrival. We got our box on a Tuesday – I cooked the first meal that night, the second meal on Thursday, and the last meal the following Monday. I will say that the ingredients for the meal I cooked on Monday were starting to look a little rough. It would probably be best if you could cook all meals within the first 3-4 days after receiving the box!
  • Kid-Friendly: The fanciness of these recipes was kind of fun for JP and I, but not so much for the kids. Based on looks alone, the kids pretty much turned up their noses. In my opinion, unless you have non-picky kids (which, if so, please tell me your secrets), these meals probably won’t go over super well with them.
  • Overall Impression: We really enjoyed our meals from Blue Apron, and I’m sure the more I got practice, the easier the prep part would become. I think the things that would keep us from doing this on a regular basis would be the price and the fact that the meals aren’t a huge hit with my kids.

Hello Fresh

  • Price: $59.94
  • Number of Meals: 3
  • Serving Size: 2 people

After Blue Apron, we went to Hello Fresh. Again, I had a coupon code so we ended up paying around $30 for our first shipment. Our first 3 meals from them were: Melty Monterey Jack Burger, Lean Mean Chicken & Greens, and Pork DIY Dumplings.

One thing I really liked about Hello Fresh as compared to Blue Apron was that the ingredients for each meal (aside from the meat) were packaged up in a nice little box that you could easily slide into the fridge. So when it came time to cook, there was no hunting around for the ingredients you needed.

Let’s get right to the breakdown:

  • Price: The pricing was exactly the same as Blue Apron, so no change there.
  • Portion Size: The portion sizing was not as generous as Blue Apron, so don’t count on it serving anymore than 2 people.
  • Difficulty: The directions were easy to follow and, for the most part, prep & cook time were basically what you would expect. The pork dumplings were a bit more labor intensive, but the other two were pretty straight forward. On average, these meals took me 45-50 minutes to cook from start to finish.
  • Taste: The dumplings were really tasty. I had high hopes for the burger, but it just didn’t turn out as great as I had hoped. The chicken meal was pretty bland/basic. 
  • Ingredient Quality: Everything looked pretty good when it arrived. The greens for the chicken meal were a little bit wilted, and by the time I got to cooking that one, there was a large chunk of the greens that I couldn’t use because they had gone bad. I probably should’ve cooked that one first, but I’m a rebel.
  • Kid-Friendly: I would say these were slightly more kid friendly. We were able to get our kids to try the dumplings and some of the chicken/potatoes.
  • Overall Impression: The packaging was convenient and I’m a sucker for good packaging. The recipes were a bit simpler and more straight forward, but I wasn’t as impressed with the taste. And, again, the pricing would keep me from doing this on a regular basis.

Plated

  • Price: $72
  • Number of Meals: 3
  • Serving Size: 2 people

The last meal delivery service we tried was Plated. I feel like this one is lesser known, but I had a friend that passed along a promo code for me so I used that to get a discount for our first delivery. The meals we got from them were: Cheesy Baked Rice, Chicken Bruschetta, and Brown Butter Orecchiette.

The packaging for these ingredients was somewhere in between Blue Apron (where the ingredients are basically loose, for the most part) and Hello Fresh. Each meal’s ingredients (aside from any meat) were sealed in a plastic bag. Here’s my breakdown on this one:

  • Price: This is the most expensive of the 3 we tried.
  • Portion Size: With the pasta meals (cheesy baked rice, and the orecchiette), you could probably carve out a small portion for leftovers. Not so much with the chicken since they only sent two breasts.
  • Difficulty: The prep for all these was very simple, and for the most part, I only had to dirty a couple dishes to get them cooked (huge bonus!). On average, these meals took me 35-40 minutes to cook from start to finish. Definitely the simplest prep/cook time of the 3 we tried.
  • Taste: The orecchiette was super delicious, JP loved the cheesy baked rice (I thought it was alright), and the chicken bruschetta was basically what you would expect, but nothing special.
  • Ingredient Quality: The ingredients were really fresh and stayed that way until I was ready to cook!
  • Kid-Friendly: These recipes were probably the most kid-friendly of the 3 service we tried. Our kids loved the cheesy baked rice (probably because the veggies were hidden under cheese, duh), and we even got them to eat a little of the orecchiette.
  • Overall Impression: As far as cooking goes, these were very simple to prepare, and the taste was decent overall. These are they types of meals I could see myself preparing on a regular basis, however, the price leaves a LOT to be desired.

If we were to choose on service to do on a somewhat-regular basis (maybe once a month or something), it would probably be Blue Apron. If you are single, or don’t have kids, I think these would be a nice thing to do on a more regular basis. In my opinion, though, these kinds of services are not practical for a family of four to do on a regular basis based on the cost alone. BUT! It’s definitely something fun to do every once in a while, and it’s great for pushing yourself outside of your cooking comfort zone – I collected all the recipes that we liked in a binder, so I can go back and make them for us later.

I still have some coupon codes for a couple of these services, so if you’re interested in trying them out, you can leave your e-mail in the comments for a free Blue Apron delivery (I have 5) or use the link below to get a discount on your first Hello Fresh delivery!

Hello Fresh

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