Things I HATED About Blue Apron - picture of someone using cutting board with produce and tablet next to them
Frugal Living

6 Things I HATED About Blue Apron

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If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I rarely do product reviews. This is mostly because I almost never try new products. I mean, I would actually have to buy something to try something, right? Most of the time, that’s not happening.

Still, I felt compelled to try recipe delivery service, Blue Apron, right away. This is partly because I know so many people who’ve tried it and absolutely love it. The idea of having fresh food delivered to my doorstep also sounded heavenly. Even so, the pricing structure seemed like a terrible value. Was there something I was missing? Regardless, I thought writing an unpaid Blue Apron review would be fun and something you would all be interested in reading. So, I soldiered on.

To get to the bottom of things, I signed up for Blue Apron delivery with a $25 coupon. That meant the 3 meal/week plan for two people came out to around $35 (instead of $59.94). I could live with that, I thought, considering the after-coupon price per meal worked out to around $5.83.

6 Reasons I Absolutely Hated Blue Apron

But, when the big day came, I fell out of love with the idea in a hurry. Blue Apron is hands-down not for me; nor is it for people who think like I do. I’ve got a billion reasons why (OK, more like six…but who’s counting?), and I’m about to break them down for you – Club Thrifty style. If you’re chewing over Blue Apron, consider these downsides before you pull the trigger.

Reason #1: Blue Apron is expensive!

Paying around $35 for a weekly Blue Apron subscription is one thing, but paying $60 is absolutely nuts. At $60 for three, two-person meals, that’s $10 per plate you’re forking over. $10 per plate!  At that price point, you might as well head to Applebee’s and get curbside takeaway instead. You won’t have to cook it or deal with the clean-up, yet it will cost about the same.

If you did the grocery shopping yourself and cooked these same meals, you would save big. Like, real big. One meal I created, Spiced Cauliflower with Jasmine Rice and Cilantro-Yogurt sauce, cost less than $2 per serving when I priced out the ingredients at the grocery store. When you added up the price of cauliflower, the Jasmine rice, cilantro, and the herbs and spices, it was literally less than $4.00 for more than two servings at my local grocery store, Meijer. That’s a savings of $16 per meal. Multiply that by three and you’re saving $48 a week!!! Just to be clear, you’re saving roughly $192 a month…or $2,496 a year just for going to the grocery store!!!

To put that in perspective, if your family makes $80,000 a year (a very nice living, BTW) and you use Blue Apron’s 3 meal a week plan, there goes that 3% raise you received this year… plus some. Yeah, no thanks.

If you really need a meal planning program, I’d use something like The $5 Meal Plan instead. The meal planning problem is solved plus you save money! Each meal costs about $2 a person. Just head to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients. Learn more here.

Reason #2: Their recipes require sooooooooo many dishes.

Blue Apron is perfect for people who love doing dishes.
Blue Apron is perfect for people who love doing dishes.

Part of the allure of Blue Apron is that they send so many complex and unique dishes. While this is a good thing in some ways, more ingredients also means a lot more prep.

When I made the first two Blue Apron dinners we received, I couldn’t believe the huge mess I created in the process. I needed like five different bowls to prep veggies and sauces, then at least three pots and pans to cook the various ingredients.

As someone who likes to cook and eat simply, I say “no bueno.” I don’t need to wash, dry, and put away a giant sink of dishes every night.

Reason #3: Blue Apron creates a ridiculous amount of waste.

trash
If you love trash, you’ll love Blue Apron.

I expected a certain amount of waste with any type of meal delivery service, but the trash Blue Apron meals creates is absolutely absurd. Not only do you get a giant box with packaging materials in the mail, but you get a few giant freezer packs as well. They appear to be reusable, but they would add up quickly if you were receiving a box or two every week. What on Earth are you supposed to do with them?

Beyond that, every ingredient you handle comes in its own plastic packaging. I swear, a tiny sprig of an herb will come in its own plastic baggie. Even when you need to add two teaspoons of vinegar or a tiny dash of wine, it comes in a tiny plastic bottle or bag. Add this up over several meals, and the waste is absolutely insane.

Reason #4: I have to cook this?

I realized I would have to do the cooking when I signed up for this, but hear me out. How on Earth is this a good deal – or a time-saver – when you have to spend at least a half an hour prepping, a half an hour cooking, and a half an hour cleaning up? Why not pack up the kid, head to your local buffet, and skip the hassle altogether? Why not just throw some scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit on a plate and call it good?

When I was making our Blue Apron selections, I couldn’t help but think this was yet another way we complicate our lives. I mean, it’s almost like we aren’t happy with all the ways we’re wasting time and money already – we need more ways to be wasteful and unintentional every day!

Reason #5: Some of the meals were gross.

pastaYou know what’s worse than paying $10 per meal, creating a bunch of trash, then cooking and cleaning up yourself? Doing all of that and thinking the food is gross. While we enjoyed a few of the meals we received from Blue Apron, several were not good at all.

This crazy pasta dish, for example, was pretty strange. I followed the recipe to the “T,” (it’s pretty hard to mess up when all of the ingredients are portioned out), yet it was runny, bland, and mostly inedible. When you’re living within a strict grocery budget, it’s crucial to buy things your family will actually eat and enjoy. But, with Blue Apron, you may or may not get something you like every time.

Remember, food down the drain is money down the drain, too.

Reason #6: Blue Apron has entirely too many steps.

I totally get what they’re trying to do as a company. By sending us innovative meals with some snazzy ingredients, they’re making it easy for us to try flavor combinations, and perhaps even foods we’ve never tasted before. But for me, it was all too much. Maybe I’m not experimental enough in real life, but I don’t like it when a new recipe requires 20-30 different steps.

During a few of the recipes, I had a pot on every single one of my burners going. Four pots!?!?! And for what? To have a few toasted pine nuts on top of one recipe, and three different sauces in another? In the end, none of it tasted that great, either.

My Blue Apron Review: The Verdict

If you’re thinking of trying Blue Apron or a similar service, don’t let my thoughts deter you. I know several people who think I’m totally wrong and use Blue Apron or a similar service faithfully. At the end of the day, to each their own. One person’s torture is another person’s idea of fun, and it always has been.

On the other hand, if you’re frugal and hate waste like I do, you should really brace yourself before you try it. The giant piles of trash might make you as uncomfortable as the sinks full of dishes you’ll create. And in the end, you might find the service only marginally helpful and way too expensive like I did.

The bottom line: If I’m paying $40 per meal for a family of four, we’re going out to dinner and skipping the trash, the cooking, and the clean-up.

20 Delicious Slow Cooker Meals Under $8 Each – Learn More Here.

 

Have you ever tried Blue Apron or a similar service? What did you think about it?

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53 Comments

  1. I’m with you, Holly. For $10 per plate, I’d much rather order takeout. In fact, I could probably find ways to order Postmates for less. Plus, I’m just too busy for complicated cooking right now. Maybe in the future that will change. But right now, it’s just not happening.

    1. Seriously! Pick up some Chinese takeout for less than $10 per person and call it good. Heck, Jimmy John’s delivers!

  2. Never tried Blue Aprod, I’ve read several good reviews but watching pics I always thought that was better do a good meal planning with local and seasonal ingredients and do a better grocery shopping:P

  3. I tried Hello Fresh (another service similar to Blue Apron) and like you I didn’t care for some of the dishes, other dishes were tasty though. It was a mixed bag for me. It was nice having groceries delivered.

    I didn’t have as many steps to follow. I ended my subscription. I had like half of your trash though. I paid for mine for like a month.

    Anyway here in Omaha, NE they recently opened up a new organic grocery store for the middle-class, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, so I prefer that right now over a meal subscription service.

    1. We recently got a Fresh Thyme Market too, but I’ve never been! One of these days!

    2. Hy-Vee delivers groceries and the prices are reasonable.

  4. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    I agree 100% on your thoughts! I was lucky that I received my 3 meals as a gift so I paid nothing. When I placed my order, I found it frustrating that I was just going to get what they had. You can’t really choose what you want. The first meal I made was ok. Hubby liked the flavor, however, he has a big appetite. One serving was not enough for him (it was one chicken thigh). Luckily, I wasn’t all that impressed (the meal used bone in chicken thighs…I tried it even knowing that I’m not a fan of bone in chicken, especially dark meat) so he got to eat my serving as well. I never even made the other two meals. The ingredients got used up in other meals so they weren’t wasted.
    Now that my Walmart (I still get the bulk of my groceries there) has curbside pickup my meal planning and shopping is not using up much of my time. As soon as the pickup service comes to Kroger I will be set!!

    1. Yes! Our Kroger just started offering curbside pickup. I haven’t done it yet, but I can see it happening in the future!

  5. Yeah meal planning is on my things I hate list. Save money and instead do a recipe exchange like I do at work. Sure I still have to cook but I’ll know what to tweak based on real people suggestions.

  6. I’ve never been interested in a service where I end up having to cook anyway. A quick trip to the grocery store and I have ingratiates to cook with-that sound a hell of a lot cheaper. Now if the meals were prepared….hmmm?

    1. Yes, cooked meal delivery I get. If you cook it and plate it up, then it might be worth $10.

  7. Completely agreed Holly. We tried them once and thought the idea, on paper, was a good one but found many of the same things to be true. We also ran into a problem in the meals are really meant for a family of four and we’re five so that posed some problems. We have some family members that swear by the service or other similar ones, but it just doesn’t add up in my opinion.

  8. If I had to do all that, I’d prefer take out also. I’ve never tried meal delivery service other than ordering pizza! And that is pre cooked. So I appreciate you’ve review. I’ve seen the ads on TV and wonder how on earth they keep the tomatoes from being sauce on delivery.

    1. Yeah, I have no idea. Our ingredients did arrive fairly fresh, so at least there’s that!

  9. That’s a shame you didn’t like Blue Apron, especially with one of the meals you didn’t really care for.

    My wife and I have been using BA for over a year now and we like it. We get a delivery every month or so. We enjoy trying new meals and ingredients and have enjoyed most all the meals we’ve made. We also like the time in the kitchen cooking together and find it relaxing and pleasant. While pricey, we don’t consider it too bad for the occasional delivery. There are a few downsides though (the meals with chicken thighs…no thanks).

    I appreciate the honest review!

  10. I’ve had friends send me an invite to BA. I clicked over, intrigued, but I didn’t want to fork over the money. I really prefer simple, quick meals. And really, once you have a few quick, tasty meals the whole family likes, creating a rotation of those meals doesn’t take much thought or work, for that matter.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Confirms exactly what I suspected.

  11. It’s refreshing to read something like this. I wouldn’t have even thought about the waste. I have been getting really good deals on groceries this year and have been given some food gifts also. I have been feeding our family for about $75 a week. That’s just my husband and me and our 22-year-old son but he doesn’t eat 100% of his meals at home. That is like $25 a person a week! So in comparison, something like Blue Apron would be VERY expensive.

  12. I’m with you Holly, it always seemed so expensive to me. I suppose if you were to use BA INSTEAD of going out to eat, then maaaaybe you would save money, but I’d rather just go out to eat less often.

    For us, with kids at home, it’s all about affordable, fast and easy to clean-up (e.g. few dishes).

    With all of the raving reviews I’ve seen for them, I always figured they must just have a great affiliate program!

  13. $10 a person is too much. I can generally put together a meal for all 7 of us for $10. Sometimes Mr. Mt likes to cook something special. But when we are shopping anyways, it’s not that hard to pick up a few different ingredients. I would opt for pre-made convenience food. Costco’s pot pie is amazing!

  14. I tried Blue Apron last year and it just seemed like a lot of waste. Luckily, we were in an Airbnb when we used it, but I couldn’t imagine needing so many dishes and having so much trash if we would have made the meal in our RV instead.

  15. I tried it a couple years ago after getting two free meals, and I hated it for all the same reasons. We eat a lot of vegetarian dishes, and that wasn’t one of the meal options. The best I could do was say “no fish” and we had a pretty myeh kind of Chinese meatball dish sent to us and a chicken dish with the most bland quinoa side dish ever.

    Now, my director at work loves it. She works 70+ hours a week, all her kids are grown,and she and her husband had no time to eat, plan, or shop. They ate out constantly. They actually spent less and ate healthier with Blue Apron. They have WAY more disposable income than us, so it was a good deal for them.

  16. Interesting insight. I’ve heard commercials for them all over the place but was always wary of the price — I guess I was right to be! I suppose I will continue to abstain.

  17. We’ve seen the beautiful commercials and were intrigued, too…until we saw the pricetag. Nope!

    We trust your reviews so this just seals the deal. We’ll bike or drive the quarter mile to the grocery store and, oh I don’t know, use this new “internet” thing to look up delicious recipes, instead. 🙂

  18. Haha I’m with you, Holly! We cooked a Blue Apron meal once with some friends who had a subscription and once when someone gave us their already-delivered meal that they couldn’t use. I was surprised by the packaging and complexity, too! And the meal we cooked ourselves didn’t turn out very well – not proportioned properly, as you said. The meal we cooked with our friends was fine because we had 4 adults contributing at once, but it’s a lot to do on your own! Our friends who have the service like it though because it pushes them to try new dishes, and then they keep the recipes they like to repeat on their own. That seems like a good purpose for having the service, even if it is a bit expensive.

  19. I am in complete disagreement. I’ve been doing BA for 6 months now and it is a dinner miracle. My hubby and I both work full time so having meals already planned and shopped for is wonderful. I also like to cook and find it relaxing, so the multiple pots dont bother me. I also find the price pretty cheap! We would spend $120 on groceries every 2 weeks, so it’s about the same. Granted, we live in a city, but still. I just like that I’m not making the same rotation of lasagna, tacos, and chicken every week. It has definitely made us more adventurous eaters, plus, all that packaging is recycled! ?

  20. This service is a total waste of money in MHO. I’m sorry , but I guess there are those out there that have more money than time. I could feed three people for an entire week with $60!!!

    1. Jeeze, where do you live? 60$ is less than one meal out here in d.c. It’s not that I have more money than time, but it’s hard to plan, shop for, and cook interesting meals and work a full-time job and be a wife and mother. If there are people that can do all that without this, more power to them!

    2. Think long term says:

      Right but you’d be eating cereal for breakfast, a pb&j for lunch and hot dogs for dinner. I agree that it’s expensive and a lot of steps. It’s not something I subscribe to because I meal plan and cook every night. But I don’t think people are giving it enough credit for the health benefits. Small portions of home cooked meals with unprocessed ingredients are a good thing! Yeah you could eat take out, but think of yourself in 30 years when you have hypertension high cholesterol type 2 diabetes and are 40lbs overweight and have no idea how you got there.

  21. Glad to read this — I get targeted all the time for “meal delivery” that’s actually just ingredient delivery. I’ve actually been having my meals delivered for about three months now, and I love it — no planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, and very minimal cleaning! I used Veestro first, and the cost with coupons for each meal on a monthly subscription was less than $6.50. Now I’m using a service here in Florida called Catered Fit, which is a bit more expensive at $9 per meal, but the meals are fresher, bigger, and the packaging is recyclable. They deliver three fresh meals per day. The food is soooo delicious. I save so much time and for $27 a day, it’s worth it 😀 It also takes all the guess work out of weight loss and portions, which I love.

  22. Maybe try a Farm Co-op with delivery! I have one called Produce Box which delivers local farm veggies and fruits weekly with recipe suggestions.

  23. Great review! I’ve often wondered about this but had only read glowing sponsored reviews. Of all the steps in cooking, shopping, chopping, and measuring are not the parts I dislike (especially with how easy it is to get prechopped stuff at the grocery store these days). Though reading this I kind of feel like we should eat out more since most of our favorite local places come in under $40 for the four of us, with leftovers!

  24. It sucks to hear that you had a bad experience with Blue Apron but you made some very valid points and at least you got a discount on your first order. I’ve seen the commercials and I’m not going to lie, I was pretty interested in giving it a try but I like a lot of flavor in my food and I’m afraid some of the recipes might be bland. Plus, like to cook and bake but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen each day.

  25. Thanks for the review. I considered trying this but figured it was more expensive than buying our own groceries. I thought it might be nice to try different recipes and assumed it would be simple since everything is laid out for you. But it still seems like a lot of work…maybe if we didn’t have little mouths to feed. I’m gonna stick with simple recipes and shop on my own.

  26. Wow, sounds like I would hate this too. Not that I was really considering it. With an ALDI just 2 miles from me, there’s no excuse not to get my own discounted groceries. I also abhor recipes with too many steps and that dirty too many dishes. I can’t imagine why they’d price it equally with take-out if they want to stay in business.

  27. I already decided that Blue Apron wasn’t for us before ever trying it. I knew my family didn’t want those fancy shmancy meals and I knew I didn’t want to cook it. And for the cost I also knew we could spend much less grocery shopping on our own.

  28. Great review, Holly. I couldn’t agree with you more about the ridiculous expense, wasted time, unnecessary amount of dishes and excess waste. Thanks for your insightful review.

  29. Thank you very much, Holly! You have answered a lot of unanswered questions that I had about this. At first I thought it would be a great idea for date night, but when I thought of the costs, I figured the hubby could run out and get two steak dinners from outback curbside for the price you pay for this and I wouldn’t have to cook it! I’m glad someone thinks like me, sheesh! lol:)

  30. I agree with this posting plus a few other points. I am diabetic and allergic to shrimp. I either get meals that are 90% carbohydrates or a dish that I am allergic to. There is literally nothing in between and all options May risk a hospital visit if I am not vigilant. The pesto grilled cheese sandwiches with “tomato soup” was 79 g carbs. My budget keeping my glucose levels under control is 60 g max.

    The sandwiches seemed to be pretty well thought out, but the soup seemed like a second thought and half assed.

    The cost for everything on the shopping list added up to about $30 at my local grocer. 36 if I went fully organic. By no means does the cost add up.

    Then there are the dang dishes. I counted the dishes I was supposed to use vs the dishes I actually used in reading ahead and knowing that I can just dump half of what I was chopping into a pot and call it a day.

    Why they didn’t have us carmelize onions for the soup? No idea, but it ended up being a better pasta sauce on a pizza the next day than a soup.

    I cancelled right away. This is ridiculous and I can literally fart out a better meal plan.

    I mean, between the two of us, we spend maybe 60-100 every week and a half on all our food prep, 3 meals a day. Absolutely no call for $60/week!

  31. Great review! It gets old reading reviews that are obvious affiliate fluff. I have not tried this service or any other like it, but everything you said is pretty much how I thought it would be. It probably is suitable for some but if I’m going to pay that much for a meal, I’m going to choose what I eat and someone else is going to cook and clean up.

  32. I just cancelled Blue Apron for the same reason. My family won’t eat it, it takes too long to prepare, and the cleanup is out of control. It’s just way too much work. After a long day, spending an hour and half slaving in the kitchen is not my idea of convenience.

    I also tried Home Chef for about 2-3 months. The meals and ingredients are less strange. It’s more meat and potatoes kinda grub, but the prep time is also off the charts.

  33. We were pretty happy with Blue Apron … for a while. We even upgraded to four meals a week. Then, there was a noticeable drop in reliability: Several times, the recipe cards were not packed with the box. We had to cook with an open laptop on the kitchen counter to have access to the many steps necessary for each meal. Greasy screen and keyboard. Yuck. What was worse: when I complained online, the response email did not include any sort of apology. They promised to send the missing cards, and never did. They didn’t feel it necessary to respond to a case of broken eggs, either. No apology, no replacement, just a vaguely worded PR text about their “always fresh guarantee”, or whatever they call their useless policy. Blue Apron is a cleverly designed product that makes you feel you’re dealing with a small, artisanal local provider. Instead, they’re a soulless (apparently hugely successful) corporation like so many others. Most of the produce was of good quality, in my estimation, but the fish is ALWAYS awful. They make many recipes with “Catfish”, a wobbly, loose, watery and tasteless mess, and their salmon is leathery, dry and also pretty much void of flavor. I’m done with them.

  34. Glad I’m not alone with my opinion of them. I’ve wanted to post on my blog, but since the meals we have gotten were all free from friends who were out of town when they delivered I feel like I have to keep my mouth shut. But honestly, 5 meals in and I haven’t had a single one we liked and would make again. I throw away the leftovers every time.

  35. So BaSIC! says:

    “Blue Apron costs more than just picking things up at the grocery store and preparing everything yourself”

    Gee, you think?

    “I guess there are those out there that have more money than time.”

    What? You’re kidding me? Somebody should design a service that cuts down shopping time for busy people, I bet they could charge $10 per person and make a killing off of it.

    1. So BaSIC! says:

      Next, I suppose you are going to tell me that UPS charges out the nose and I could just deliver my own parcels in my truck.

      Uber costs money. I could save a ton by walking where I need to get.

      Why go to see a movie, ya dingus? You can sit right there at home and pretend for free!

      For your health.

      1. Wow… I guess you really enjoy your tasteless, overpriced, and over-packaged Blue Apron. Enjoy!

  36. sam smiles says:

    i can’t trust something delivered to the door when it comes to produce, bad enough it’s questionable at the grocer.
    the rest is too obvious.

  37. Jeb Bushmeister says:

    What I dislike most is, it makes the assumption that this stuff is better than the healthy meals I make just because it has ingredients some might consider exotic. To me, that is the epitome of poor taste

  38. Bunch of lazy bums. Spend some time eating decent food. I don’t see why cooking needs to be a chore. Make a meal plan and rotate it weekly. Exotic foods are a pleasure and leave that to the experts at the restaurant. Blue Apron and all other food prep services are a charade and coax you into spending more than its worth. I hate it when people act like cooking is a burden. What are your big fat husbands doing? Whatever happened to division of labor.

    You are ready to pay $10 for something cooked and plated. Why not ask them to put it into your mouth for another $2. Jeez.

  39. jenna brooks says:

    The irony of the author is abysmal. You are ready to spend more money and you are writing an article on club thrifty.

  40. I think everyone’s response to these meal subscriptions is personal, so it’s good to read numerous reviews online before you decide. I use BA, and thought I would point out where I disagree with some of your comments:
    1) meals are weird: taste is personal, of course….but you do have options to pick from….good idea to pick meals you like
    2) BA is NOT trying to compete with straight up home cooking, price-wise. The best comparison IS to take out or Applebee’s, and on that comparison, it does fair. But of course a service that does all the planning, shopping, shipping and most of the prep is NEVER to be thrifty. Home cooking is always the best financial deal. I don’t think it’s fair to bash it for that. It’s like complaining that valet service costs more than parking yourself. Also, although I like vegetarian food, I never pick the pasta or veggies meals, the comparison price is just not worth it. I you choose the meat based meals it’s a slightly better deal, most of the time.
    3) “Mess”…Here I think you are just wrong; in fact BA recipes out of the way to keep the mess to a minimum: reusing the same pain, no vegetable waste, etc. You can choose not to use prep bowls if you want, just make little piles. IF I put dishes in the dishwasher as I go, usually only end up with 2 plates and cooking pan to clean. IN fact, low mess is one of my favorite parts of this.
    4) time: if you are taking 30 mins prep, 30 mins cook and 30 mins clean up, you are just doing it wrong. 90% of the time, for me, time from start to 1st bite of food is LESS than 30 mins; then < 10 mins clean up as I said before. I think cooking is just not for you.
    5) waste: oh, boy, and how. This is the reason I often think about cancelling. There is just no way around it….and it's gotten worse over time… the 'fixins' bag used to at least be paper. I do remind myself that at least there is no FOOD waste, which is also terrible for environment, but packaging is really a waste.

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