Trying new recipes — it’s a pain in the butt, right? You have to pore over a cookbook, schlep to the grocery store, and then spend a small fortune on full jars of saffron and garam masala when all you really need is a single tablespoon of each. The whole process is also really time consuming, especially if — like me — you work till 6 p.m. and then have to commute back to Queens before you can even think about preparing food.
That’s why I was compelled to test out Blue Apron, an online service that delivers fresh, perfectly portioned-out ingredients with accompanying recipes directly to your door. For $9.99 per person per meal, customers can subscribe to receive the ingredients for three meals per week, each catering to their personal tastes and — as much as possible — dietary restrictions. (To my dismay, Blue Apron hasn’t started intentionally making gluten-free meals, but I did find some that were naturally gluten-free, or that could be tweaked, slightly, to accommodate my allergy.)
At the end of March, Blue Apron — which was founded in New York in 2012 — announced it’s now serving 500,000 meals per month to homes in 85 percent of the country. Betabeat spoke with cofounder Matt Salzberg about why the product has become so popular.
“[It’s] significantly cheaper than restaurants,” he said. “[It’s] even a lot of cheaper than if you went to the grocery store and bought the same ingredients on your own.”
On a less material level, Mr. Salzberg also said cooking with Blue Apron helps bring people together.
“People literally change their lives around our product,” he said. “There was one couple that cooked together all the time, they loved it. The boy, when he was going to propose, Blue Apron was such a special thing to them, he cooked a Blue Apron meal and proposed over the meal to his girlfriend. We didn’t know these people at all, but they sent us an email and photo of the dish, with the ring.”
While we didn’t expect to get an engagement ring from the process, we did feel like switching up our nightly routine of, “Should I do pasta, stir fry or Seamless?” Check out our adventure in preparing a Blue Apron meal: roasted butternut squash over stewed beans, with a Brussels sprout salad on top.
Step 1: Assemble Ingredients
All the produce was really fresh, and conveniently portioned in little baggies. It was definitely more convenient and cost-effective than buying an entire bundle of parsley, when I really only needed one sprig. In other news, "sprig" is a pretty funny word.
Step 2: Chop Stuff Up
Following the directions provided by Blue Apron, I sliced and diced my ingredients. Dicing carrots is hard, and probably great for character-building.
Step 3: Roast the Squash
I seasoned the butternut squash and popped it in the ol' oven.
Step 4: Start Preparing the Other Stuff
I started cooking the onion and carrots, which would form the base of the stewed beans. Blue Apron packaged the spices in these cute little bags.
Step 5: Stew the Beans
I put the white beans in the pan with the onions and carrots. I also added some chickpeas, because #YOLO.
Step 6: Make the Gremolata
According to the recipe, the gremolata was supposed to have a paste-like texture. Mine was a little more... rugged. But you know what they say about gremolatas — everyone's first time is a little awkward!
Step 7: Take the Squash Out of the Oven
Doesn't it look toasty and crispy and delicious?
Step 8: Put Everything Together
Hi, I'm basically a professional chef now (tbh Blue Apron also gave me the idea for plating).
Step 9: Instagram It
Imagine all the impressive Instagramming you'll be able to do.