Jun. 27th, 2017

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Recently I got a chance to try out Blue Apron, one of those meal subscription services that has become popular recently. Basically I got sent a box with three meal's worth as a free sample that Bernie, who also tried out the service, was allowed to send to somebody. It's an interesting idea-- they send you the raw ingredients plus recipes for chef-designed meals to cook in your own kitchen. You can choose what gets sent to you from a number of recipes offered each week, and you can personalize a little according to your dietary habits, such as vegetarianism or not eating pork.

I tried it for the first time at Bernie's house, when he had received his own free samples from his brother. The food is very high-quality; everything they send you is fresh and even mostly organic, and just the right amount for the recipe. The plates are clearly designed by creative and talented cooks, who put a lot of thought into flavor combination and ingredient use. Each plate is fairly balanced too, with a protein, vegetables, and a starch. The recipes are clear and well-written; you don't have to be a good or experienced cook to follow them, and none of the techniques are difficult to execute. The results are really good meals, particularly if you like a lot of variety and combination in what you're eating.

They had some downsides, though. While not exorbitant, each meal is not cheap-- they work out to about ten dollars a portion, which if you order out a lot is low, but if you're used to doing your own grocery shopping to cook, like I do, that seems excessive. None of the cooking is difficult, exactly, but because the recipes favor lots of ingredients and many-step dishes, they always took me a fair bit of time to prepare. Finally, there is a LOT of plastic packaging for the individually-portioned ingredients, which seems wasteful. I think most of it is recyclable, but still. And I'm annoyed with the fact that despite the three-meal sample being free, they basically immediately sign you up for another three-meal delivery which they don't give you a chance to cancel.

Ultimately, I am not going to continue using it. It's too expensive for me, especially since I cook pretty regularly already, by doing my own much-cheaper grocery shopping. I also generally prefer to eat a little simpler than this style, with fewer ingredients, fewer sauces, fewer starches, that sort of thing. It's a very good product though, and if you want an easier way to get into cooking restaurant-style meals, it's probably worth it for ten bucks a plate.

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