Recently, I have started using Blue Apron, a meal kit service which aims to help people get more experience cooking. Each week, a box of ingredients arrives, and we use the recipes found in the app to create new and exciting meals. Read more about the process below.
Blue Apron is probably the most famous of the meal kit services. If you listen to any podcast in 2020, you will likely have heard advertisements for it. It is marketed as a service for people who are inexperienced cooks who want to learn to make more elaborate meals. It provides a range of recipes, from southern comfort food to recipes from all over the world. It has a number of parameters for dietary guidelines and number of people, so that you can get recipes you are more likely to like. Additionally, the deliveries are very flexible— you are able to cancel delivery for a week or two, and choose from a number of recipes per week. Pricing is listed as around 10 dollars per person per meal. There are subscriptions for 1 or 2 meals per week, with households of 2 or 4 people. Our household has 3 people, and we chose the 4 person option. We get 2 meals a week, for a cost of around 80 dollars. Blue Apron also guarantees a variety of recipes, claiming at least a year between repeat recipes.
Managing your recipes
After signing up and choosing any dietary preferences, you can manage your week’s recipes inside the app. First, click on the week you are managing. Click on the name of your plan , for example, signature for 4, to select from the available recipes for the week. Double tap on manage recipes. It is often necessary to use a combination of swiping and explore by touch to navigate the Blue Apron app. You can choose to substitute a signature recipe, add an additional recipe to your box, or select a premium recipe to include either instead of or in addition to your expected recipes, for a small up-charge. If you wish to replace recipes, make sure that you click the remove button beside a default recipe, otherwise a new recipe will be presumed to be added to your box, rather than substituting an existing recipe.
receiving a box
On the scheduled day, you will receive a box of pre-portioned ingredients. The boxes contain frozen jell packs, keeping your food cold and making it possible to retrieve your box after work, for example, rather than right away. It is still recommended that you get your box inside and sorted as soon as possible, but some time outside will not damage your meals.
Upon opening the box, you will see an inner lining of protective wrap. The first layer of food will include 2 bags of nick nacks, which contain spice packets, sauce bottles, butter, and other small ingredient components for your meal. Both packets will be labeled with their appropriate meal, and must be kept refrigerated. It is sometimes possible to identify these packets by scanning. Below the bags, you will find any fresh produce required for either meal. This includes garlic, onions, peppers, squash, corn, etc. You will also find any dry ingredients, such as rice or pasta, on this level, as well as any cans such as tomato sauce.
On the second level, separated by a layer of cardboard, you will find the ice packs as well as any components which should be kept colder, such as meats. Remove the meats from the box and either refrigerate, if you plan to make the meal soon, or freeze, if you intend to wait more than a few days. Unfortunately, the hardest part of the Blue Apron experience is simply that all meals are packaged together, so that it is necessary to manually sort ingredients by meal. It is sometimes possible to do this by scanning packaging, but other times, it is necessary to receive sighted help with the sorting. I have never found that this took more than 5 minutes, and was able to use Aira reliably to sort the ingredients, but it is worth noting that this lack of separation can cause some difficulty for blind and visually impaired customers.
cooking the meal
One of the reasons I chose Blue Apron over many of the other meal kit apps is that blue apron provides instructions in a clear and concise way without presuming much in the way of prior cooking knowledge. Blue apron does assume that you’ll have all or most of the following in order to best make use of its recipes:
- common spices, such as salt and pepper
- olive oil
- a large pot and pan for boiling and sautéing
- A cutting board and knives
- A Can opener
- (optional) a microwave
Once you have these minor items, blue apron recipes are incredibly descriptive and easy to follow. to access the recipes in the app, double tap the name of the recipe, select headings in the rotor, and swipe down to the first heading, which will be something like “step 1: prepare the ingredients.” swipe right from there to read the step-by-step instructions. Swipe left to view the ingredient list. The instructions provide very precise steps, including temperature, measurements, and duration. Below, you will see an example recipe.
In addition to your weekly recipes, The blue apron app also contains a “recipes “tab, which allows you to browse all of the recipes blue apron offers. You can sort by cuisine, ingredient, season, and more.
This is the first recipe I received from Blue Apron. It has since become one of my favorites.
Pork Pasta with Romesco Sauce and Spinach
1 Prepare the ingredients:
Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way up with salted water; cover and heat to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the stems of the peppers; remove the cores, then thinly slice into rings. Peel and roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic.
2 Cook the pasta:
Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Turn off the heat. Reserving 1?1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly and return to the pot.
3 Cook the pork:
Meanwhile, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pork, half the spice blend (you will have extra), and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the sliced peppers and chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the peppers are softened.
4 Make the sauce:
Add the tomato paste to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. Add 1/2 cup of water (carefully, as the liquid may splatter); season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened and the pork is cooked through. Turn off the heat.
5 Finish the pasta & serve your dish:
To the pot of cooked pasta, add the cooked pork and sauce, spinach, and half the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the spinach is slightly wilted. Turn off the heat. Stir in the mascarpone and romesco sauce until thoroughly combined and the pasta is coated (if necessary, gradually add the remaining cooking water to ensure the pasta is thoroughly coated). Taste, then season with salt and pepper
As you can see, the recipe is easy to follow. The app allows you to navigate by headings a shown here, and the recipe is separated by step. In addition to describing the steps, an estimate of how long each step should take and its intended result is shown. This makes it much easier to work with unfamiliar ingredients and recipes.
In summary, all aspects of the Blue Apron experience are doable as a blind or visually impaired person, though some elements, such as navigating the app and sorting the ingredients, could be made easier. The meals have almost without exception been very good and, as advertised, easy to follow. Blue Apron provides a wide variety of recipes and ingredients, and is a fantastic way to learn some kitchen fundamentals, which will be helpful with recipes in and outside the Blue Apron platform.Category: News
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Tangela Mahaffey is a barely reformed English Major currently residing in Colorado. She reads entirely too many fantasy books and takes almost nothing seriously, including herself. She loves technology, music, writing, puns, and cats. She can be reached on twitter @tmmahaff