We struggle with getting healthy, balanced meals on the table for dinner every night. After long days in the office, it’s hard to come home to more work in the kitchen. To make meals more exciting, regain some semblance of portion control, and introduce vegetables into my husband’s meat and potatoes diet, I challenged myself to see how cheaply I could get a week’s worth of dinner from four of the most popular meal delivery services. Here’s how I did:
Cost: Regular price is $59.94 for the two person, three meals per week plan. Through Ebates I was able to redeem a $30 off coupon and a $7.50 cash back rebate, for an adjusted total cost of $22.44 or incredible $3.74 per meal.
Delivery dates available: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (residential only)
Meal choices: Blue Apron’s two-person plan includes three meals per week. (For a family of four, you have the choice of receiving two or four meals per week.) There are six meal options from which to choose every week when on the two-person plan. However, you aren’t given complete freedom when it comes to choosing your menu. Based on your initial selection some options may be blocked, which I assume is to keep the customer from choosing the three meals with the costliest ingredients.
Packaging and ingredients: All the meat and produce received was fresh and delicious. It was kept cold thanks to an insulated liner inside the box and two large ice packs. The proteins were located on the bottom of the box and the produce, “knick knacks” like sauces, spices and starches for all three of the dishes were intermingled but separated from the meat by one of the two ice packs.
The box is recyclable, but I kept the insulated bag for summer Costco trips and put the ice packs in my deep freeze for future road trips and tailgates. Knowing the shrimp should be the first to be used, I made that dish the same evening the box arrived. When I went to cook them, the shrimp were still somewhat frozen.
Recipes and instructions: The choices I made for the week were Spicy Shrimp and Korean Rice Cakes, Guacamole Burgers, and Seared Chicken and Couscous. All were delicious and the recipe instructions easy to follow. Even my husband, who during the course of our marriage has refused to eat anything containing chlorophyll, ate and enjoyed the shrimp dish which contained a healthy amount of cabbage and several other ingredients he considers “exotic.”
Level of difficulty: All three of the meals were quick to prepare and easy to make. They would have been even easier if I had a non-stick skillet. Using the stainless-steel cookware set I bought just after college meant I had to keep a closer eye on the temperature and amount of oil in the pan. While I made do with a standard cheese grater, another tool I wished I had was a zester, as I’ve encountered multiple meal delivery service dishes during this challenge that call for lemon zest.
Ease of cancellation: I was very easily able to stop any additional shipments by logging-in to my Blue Apron online account the day after my first box was received. Shortly after adjusting my account settings, I received an email confirmation indicating my subscription had been cancelled with a link to restart my deliveries should I choose.
Overall impression: I was very pleased with the introductory cost, which was one of the lowest I encountered, as well as the freshness and quality of the ingredients, the simplicity of preparation, and the ease of cancellation. Compared to several of the other meal delivery services I tried during this challenge, I would have appreciated more meal choices and options on the date of delivery (I get why Monday is out, but Tuesday would be better than Wednesday).
Follow-up: Shortly after cancellation, I received an email coupon offering me $30 off if I reactivated my Blue Apron account. I elected to redeem that great deal, taking a gamble by signing-up through Ebates again to try and redeem that stellar $7.50 rebate. It’s yet to post, but once it does – or doesn’t – I’ll report back to confirm whether it’s only available for first time orders. Otherwise, you could try for 550 Southwest Rapid Reward or 400 United miles.
This is the first post in a series offering reviews of the top meal delivery services, and tips and tricks on how to get these shipped straight to your kitchen for a fraction of the advertised price. Other posts include A Low Price for Plated, How to Hack Hello Fresh, and Home Chef Coupons and Cash Back.