Blue Apron, FreshDirect and other meal delivery boxes are taking cities and homes by storm. I feel like every time I sign on to Facebook I see another advertisement for a pre-measured, fool-proof, dinner box. These advertisements have left me skeptical because I imagine it is nearly impossible to source, properly weigh, and send along a fresh, nutritious, delicious, and fool-proof meal. Recently, my best friend had a baby and one of her shower gifts was a two-week subscription to Blue Apron. Her family loved the meal boxes, not only did they enjoy the process; it was one less thing to do think about and it tasted good. I purchased two weeks for my mother thinking this may ignite her cooking juju once again. Last week, out of the blue, Nicks co-worker offered to give him his weekly portion (two meals,) of his Blue Apron he was too busy and did not want the meals to go to waste.
I’ll admit, we were reluctant, dinner is a big deal at our house and a way for us to spend time with one another and relax after a long workday. We decided to make it a challenge for Seacoast Bites; we were going to follow every direction to a tee, add no additional spice or ingredients, and plate the dish exactly like the picture. The goal of this experiment was not only to see if the meals tasted good, but to try the ingredients, measurements, and accessibility of the meal. Blue Apron passed the test.
In the interest of time, we prepared each meal on the same night. The two meals we were given were “Spiced Beef Skewers with Roasted Squash and Garlic Rice,” and “ Cod Sandwiches with Caper Aioli and Endive Salad.” For the interest of Copyright I will not be explaining each step in detail, but rather, through pictures that we tried to copy from the recipe cards. One of the things I was concerned about was the amount of waste from plastic packaging used for each ingredient and potential food waste. The box came with both meals in it, two ice packs, and an insulated collapsible box. We unpacked the refrigerated items and set aside the dry ingredients.
We began with the Beef Skewer recipe. This meal included Ground Beef (sustainably raised), wooden skewers, brown rice, a bulb of garlic (used for both recipes), 1 lemon, 1 Shokichi Squash, Panko breadcrumbs, Ras el Hanour (North African Spice Blend), Golden Raisins, and Labneh Cheese, (similar to Greek Yogurt). This directions said to start by prepping the ingredients, cooking the rice, roasting the squash, and mixing the meat. While the three components cooked, we mixed the Labneh with lemon juice. Each of the six steps included the perfectly measured ingredients. We found that the cook time for the beef was longer than the recipe card said. The rice was delicious with a subtle toasted garlic note and a large portion for each, the skewers were flavorful with sweet pops of flavor from the raisins, and the squash was good, but insignificant in comparison to the rice and beef. I would make this meal again.
While we cooked the skewers we also made the cod sandwich. This recipe came with 2 portioned Cod Fillets, 2 Potato Buns, 1 Clove Garlic, Baby Kale, Endive, Mayo, Shallot, Capers, and Apple Cider Vinegar. We prepped the shallot and marinated in the vinegar. We mixed the mayo with capers and garlic to make an aioli or tartar sauce. We tossed endive and kale with the vinaigrette and prepped the cod and buns. The sandwich was moist with crunch from the kale and tangy creaminess from the aioli. The fish needed more seasoning and was too big of a portion making the other flavors. The endive was forgettable and more of a plate filler than essential part of the dish.
At the end of our meal we had half a shallot left and the remaining bulb of garlic. Each portion was smaller, but appropriate for a quick dinner, and left our tastebuds satisfied. While each ingredient was perfectly measured and we were left with a bunch of plastic to recycle and a lot of dishes to clean up. I would take inspiration from Blue Apron to prepare my own weeknight meals ahead of time, like my Individual Chicken Pot Pie recipe. For the busy working family Blue Apron provides a perfect (somewhat expensive) way to eat healthily and creatively.