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Somewhere between college and my late 20s, I learned how to cook. As someone who once lived off of takeout, weird stir-fry dishes and the finest of the Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle, actually learning how to cook an edible meal was quite a revelation for me. My meals tasted better and I saved money. Best of all, I felt really good after living in a haze of processed food for far too long.
When I first started hearing about meal-delivery kits like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, I rolled my eyes a little bit. How lazy were people that they couldn’t find recipes they liked in a cookbook and then spend half an hour at the grocery store? It seemed like a waste of money, and a way to make people who didn’t know how to cook feel like they were cooking. Shouldn’t cooking be a skill thoughtfully learned, not hacked?
“It seemed like a waste of money, and a way to make people who didn’t know how to cook feel like they were cooking. Shouldn’t cooking be a skill thoughtfully learned, not hacked?”
But when a particularly hectic few months left me relying on Seamless deliveries and grab-and-go sandwich shops more often than I’d care to admit, I was reminded of my pre-cooking life: My credit card bill was higher than usual and I was just feeling kind of gross. Still, I couldn’t manage to get my act together and make a grocery list, much less actually trek to the grocery store. So after listening to a particularly convincing podcast advertisement one day, I decided to bite the bullet and try Blue Apron. I’d always thought these meal-delivery kits were outrageously expensive, but I was wrong: At $60 a week for three meals meant for two people, that came out to $10 a meal for me and my husband. Plus, people seemed to swear by Blue Apron. It couldn’t hurt to try, right?
When that first Blue Apron delivery arrived at my apartment building, my life was easier almost instantly. I hadn’t had to plan a single meal, nor did I have to set foot in a New York City grocery store ― a challenge even on the best of days. Once I opened the box, I realized that Blue Apron had solved another problem for me: By providing me with the exact amount of ingredients I needed for each meal, I wouldn’t have to deal with the guilt of how much food I tend to waste when I cook. I’m not crazy about the packaging — in addition to the box, many of the ingredients come in plastic wrappers and containers — but nearly everything is recyclable, so that’s something.
Blue Apron also opened a door for me that I didn’t realize needed opening: Although I like meat and it gives me a ton of energy, I’ve always been a little squeamish around the process of cooking it. I’ve also been left wondering if I’m buying the most high-quality chicken, beef and fish that I can find, or if I’m cooking it well enough. Thanks to a combination of thorough instructions and a promise that all the meat I receive is grass-fed, sustainable and farm-raised, cooking meat has become much less intimidating for me.
There are, however, plenty of meatless Blue Apron options for vegans and vegetarians — most recently the brand announced it’s rolling out meal kits with plant-based Beyond Meat in mid-August — so there’s something for every kind of eater.
Is Blue Apron (or any other meal-delivery kit) for everyone? Probably not. And truth be told, once my life calms down a bit and I get a little more organized, I probably won’t use it quite as much, if at all. After all, I love the process of cooking from start to finish! But for now, this is working out perfectly: I’m saving money by ordering less takeout, my stress levels around what to eat are lower, and as a nice bonus I’m learning a lot about cooking meat along the way.