Food Delivery: Savory Savings at Your Doorstep

June 9, 2016

We’ve all been there.  Driving home from work, it’s getting late, and you’re still trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  Even if you’re the kind of person who’s generally pretty good about meal planning ahead of time and buying all the necessary ingredients on Sunday afternoon (not me), it’s easy to get in a “food rut”—making the same tried and true recipes over and over again.  Other times, life gets busy and the nearest carry-out place seems like the best route (good luck getting the whole family to agree on something).

Luckily, meal delivery services have been gaining popularity recently. These include Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Gobble, and the local Supper Bell (Denver delivery area), among others.

After hearing about Blue Apron from friends and coworkers I thought I’d give it a try.  The idea of a box simply showing up at my door, with all the necessary ingredients for a delicious home-cooked dinner pre-measured, pre-packaged and ready to go sounded pretty good. There was no need to research menus or buy unusual ingredients I’d only end up using once or twice.  Blue Apron lets you select the specific meal that you’d like to try, so there are no unnecessary surprises. You can select the two-person plan with three recipes per week or the Family Plan with either two or four recipes per week. The plan is fairly flexible, as you can skip weeks or cancel outright without a penalty.

After trying Blue Apron for a few weeks, I can honestly say that it’s a great idea—with a few caveats.

Expanding your palate

Sure, it’s easy to go online and research new recipes to try.  But when faced with the prospect of making a brand new meal with unfamiliar ingredients, particularly when the recipe calls for six new ingredients that now have to be found and purchased at the grocery store, we tend to shy away from trying new things. Blue Apron does allow you to select the specific menu you’d liken so if your family won’t eat fish, you won’t find it in your box. However, the recipes offered are complex and geared toward the developed palate. If you have picky eaters, you may run into a situation where you’ve just spent an hour making a meal just for yourself.

Cost

A two-person plan, consisting of three weekly recipes costs $59.94 per week. Blue Apron breaks down that cost to a price of $9.99 per serving. The Family plan is geared toward four servings per meal. You can choose between either two weekly recipes at a weekly cost of $69.92, or four weekly recipes at a weekly cost of $139.84. That cost breaks down to $8.74 per serving. If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind they give you the exact amount of any unusual (read as: expensive) ingredient you’d have to buy at the store. If you compare the cost of Blue Apron with the cost of carry-out, and especially with the cost of table service at a restaurant, Blue Apron most certainly can save you money.

Is it a time saver?

Yes and no. Blue Apron can save you planning and shopping time. You no longer have to research new recipes and spend time wandering around the aisles at the grocery store looking for the ingredients.  However, I would not say that Blue Apron saves you any time cooking. The food comes prepackaged but not prepared. If the recipe calls for a head of lettuce and five other vegetables, you still need to wash and cut that lettuce and all the other vegetables. Part of the experience is getting to try new recipes and new ways of cooking, including the prep work and actual cooking time. This could be fun or it could be frustrating depending on your time limitations and cooking experience.

Overall, if you enjoy cooking and trying new foods, and if you have time in the evenings for preparing a home-cooked meal from scratch, Blue Apron may be for you. Interested? You may be able to try Blue Apron at a discount for your first delivery.  Check their site, as well as discount sites like Groupon and Retailmenot for deals. With the variety of meal delivery services available, shopping around may also make sense. For example, Hello Fresh boasts an average of $8.75 - $9.08 per meal. If cooking isn’t your thing, but you’re still looking for fresh gourmet meals delivered (and you live or work in Denver), local Supper Bell lets you order for same day delivery from a menu of dinners cooked by chefs. Order by 3:00 P.M. to enjoy a fresh meal from scratch that same evening.

There’s a lot to like about this new trend in food delivery, are you up to the culinary challenge? Leave your thoughts in the comments.