Monday, June 29, 2015

The Great Meal Delivery Experiment

Howdy Ya'll!  I know a few of you have been anxiously awaiting the results of my 3 weeks of experimentation with 3 different meal delivery services.  So here is my take on all three companies (btw I was not compensated for any of my reviews but some of the companies offer discounts off your first week and some offer discounts for referrals, check each website for details.)

Blue Apron--(cost $59.94 for 3 meals for 2 people)

Shipping and Packing-The smallest box and probably the most carefully shipped.  But I had two ingredients missing (some capers and some white wine) and one pack of cilantro that was way past its prime.  Would have been a frustrating trip to the store at the last minute if I hadn't checked for all items right away.

Customer Service-They credited me $12 towards a future order when I emailed about the missing ingredients.  (Which was fine with me since I had wine and cilantro and only had to buy the capers.)  Very quick response.

Meals-Salmon Burgers with Potato Salad, Arepas de Carne Molida and Chicken Piccata.  (photos of the Arepas and Chicken Piccata)  Both the Arepas and the Salmon Burgers were something totally new to us and though skeptical both were great!  The food overall was tasty but the portions were the smallest of all three companies.  I added some black beans on the side of the Arepas and a salad to the Chicken to round it out. 
Other Info-The recipe cards included were bright, easy to follow and they had the best Facebook support page as far as tips from other buyers who had made the same recipes.  I enjoyed looking over each one before I made it for extra tips and tricks.  Blue Apron only offers 3 ea. meals with meat or 3  vegetarian meals each week.  You can sub a veg meal for one of the meat meals if something doesn't strike your fancy but I thought it was the most limited of all of the companies as far as choice each week.  It is easy to try for a week and then suspend delivery though so if a week didn't look great to you you could just skip it.

Plated--(cost $72 a week for 3 meals for 2 people-but this was the only plan where you could order less or more meals based on choices for the week-the cost would go up or down accordingly.)

Shipping and Packing-By far the worst packing of the bunch and it showed (see photo of box on my porch.)  Box was way too big and the food got crushed in process by the ice packs inside.   I had a head of lettuce that was half brown and a broken small plastic bottle of wine that had spilled in the box.  I did go online and found that many people had the same problem that week and most said this was not-usual for the company.
Customer Service-After an email about the box and few damaged items they also credited my account with the cost of one meal.  Quick response.

Meals-Chicken Under a Brick with Roasted Veggies, Sambal and Miso Roasted Fish with Coconut Noodle Salad, and Caesar Steak Lettuce Cups with Lemon Potatoes (photos of all three.)  Portion size was good.  I didn't need to add anything and we were full (mostly-see next statements.)  The Chicken cooking technique was a first for me and it was fantastic and I'd try it again for sure.  The Fish with the cold noodle salad was just...odd.  The fish had good flavor but just didn't seem to go with the cold noodles to us.  We ate it but I wouldn't fix it again (cold noodles and fish???.)  The Caesar steak cups were inherently flawed.  The concept was good but the little tub of anchovy paste for the dressing (which I poured all over the cups) was WAY too strong.  I love Caesar salad and I even like anchovies fine but this overpowered the dish.  I ate most of mine but DBF gave up after one lettuce cup and said it tasted like rotten fish (it really did.)  A shame really.


Other Info-Again the recipe cards were pretty and helpful.  I didn't find as much online support as far as other users go but plenty of company/website support.  Most flexible as far as number of meals ordered per week and number of choices of meals but they charge shipping if you buy less than $50 worth in one week.  Again easy to stop and start when you would like.  They also offer dessert for $4 per portion and they also offer fancier dishes each week (like filet mignon for an upcharge.)


Hello Fresh--(cost $64.50 for 3 meals for 2 people)

Shipping and Packing-The best of the bunch.  Perfectly sized, well packaged box.  Nothing was damaged.  Food lasted well for the 4-5 days until I fixed all meals.

Customer Service-Ironically for the box that had the best packing of the food I was sent the recipe cards for the vegetarian meals instead of the carnivore meals.  A quick email and literally in less than 5 mins I had downloadable links for all the cards.

Meals-Chipolte Rubbed Chicken Salad with Pico and Avacado, Warm Farro and Shrimp Bowl, and Serrano Steak with Mango Slaw and Cilantro Rice (Chicken Salad and Flank Steak meal pictured.)  I thought all of these meals were very good with pretty large portions.  I had leftover farro salad and leftover mango slaw and rice.

Other Info-Easy to follow and possibly the simplest meals to prepare in the bunch.  Again helpful Facebook page with user reviews and tips.  Pretty recipe cards and they included the nutritional information in great detail.  You got to choose three meals out of 5 for the week (1 option was vegetarian.)  Easy to stop and start.

Link-  use referral code CMRZ33 for $40 off your first box (which is a pretty darn good for trying it out.)

Some overall thoughts about this whole process...

I think this is a great idea for busy couples and families.  It would also be very helpful for new moms or inexperienced cooks new to the kitchen who want to learn.  One thing that was off-putting to me though was the amount of waste from the boxes, ice packs and packaging.  I tried to think of how much waste I would have if I had purchased the items from the store though and I guess it wasn't bad.  The ice packs can be re-used at home (or sometimes donated to your local meals on wheels.)  The boxes collapse into the recycling and most of the inner packaging was recyclable.

The pricing is more than I would probably spend on our normal meals at home but less obviously than going out.  Each plan had good and bad points.  I missed leftovers yet at the same time didn't miss the leftovers from cooking for two (if that makes sense to you guys-cooking for two is hard for me.)

The cooking times for me varied, it did take me longer than the time listed on the recipe card but I had each meal on the table in less than an hour. 

Final disclaimer-If you have a picky eater in your household this probably isn't for you.  Leslie did fine for some meals but by meal #8 (the Farro salad with the shimp) he just flat out didn't eat anything but the shrimp and I just skipped serving him the steak with mango slaw all together (he has a thing about meat and fruit).  He was just burned out on trying new things and it was becoming a dinnertime battle.  I personally love trying things and I'm not very picky so for me it was great.  But if you have a picky one or a meat and potatoes person this just isn't going to work for you.

I think if you are interested in the process though you should try one of the companies at least one time and see how you like it.  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions and I plan on trying each of the companies at least one more time (after I give Leslie some time to eat some meat and potatoes!)


  1. Very interesting information. Thanks for being "guinea pig" for the rest of us and reporting back. I wondered how these worked, and now I know more about it. Thanks!

  2. Loved reading about this, Janet! You strike me as someone who manages just fine on your own in the kitchen and I look forward to dining at your fine establishment in the future.

  3. I have often wondered about these meal deliveries too. Thanks for the thorough reviews of all 3 choices.