I paid $60 to feel like a master chef

Photo by Casey Gomez

In the age of millennials, we see less buying of things and more subscribing to things. On the business side, it is a way to reel you in as customer. As a customer, it’s a way to tell yourself you do not have to waste time managing whatever it is you are subscribing to; it is automatically done. I am already a subscriber to Netflix, online cloud storage systems, photography apps and resources and probably more services than I am even aware of. So last fall, I decided to subscribe to one of the things I love the most: food.

If you have not heard of it, Blue Apron is a food and recipe delivery service that saves you a trip to the grocery store and spares you of the burden of deciding what to cook for the week. The box includes pre-measured quantities of ingredients required for the week’s recipes, except for pantry essentials, like olive oil, salt and pepper.

The most popular option is the two-person, three meals per week plan. For the Atlanta area, this will cost $59.94 per week. One can either choose a two-person or a four-person portion, between 2-4 meals per week.

The customer can also customize the meal offerings with dietary restrictions from meat or fish. A choice is available from the selection of eight recipes that the Blue Apron team plans out for the week.

My brother had subscribed to Blue Apron, and he sent me a coupon to try a week’s worth of meals for free. So, I did it. I gave my name, email address, credit card information, my soul … to Blue Apron. I opened my first box containing ingredients for gouda and mushroom flatbread, Tex-Mex chicken and rice, and spicy beef curry. I decided to make the curry and enlisted the help of a friend. The recipe card said it would take twenty-five to thirty-five minutes, but, even between two people, it took us at least 40 minutes to make.

I carried the subscription on for the next few months, but I found myself throwing out at least one, sometimes two uncooked meals by the time the next delivery came around. I just didn’t have the time to spend an hour cooking a meal while taking a full load of classes and working three part-time jobs.

I was throwing money away. And food. And packaging. Blue Apron claims that they’re building a better food system by reducing food waste. I suppose these would be true if I actually had time to cook the meals. But since their ingredients are farm-to-table, most of the produce would go bad within four days of receiving the box. Half of the plastics provided are not accepted by curbside recycling programs and require you to drop them off at a recycling facility. The ice pack is water-based but cannot be dumped in the sink. This was not something I had the time for.

So why did I do it? I moved off campus for my second year, and exclusively either made pasta with canned tomato sauce or spent money at Moe’s or Chick-fil-A. By the time my third year rolled around, I realized it was time to learn how to actually cook and eat healthier food. Blue Apron definitely helped me with that — I learned the fundamentals of cooking, like the best temperatures to bake vegetables in the oven and how long to cook chicken for on the stove. I felt empowered and proud of myself for eating a colorful meal (my previous home-cooked meals were horribly devoid of the vegetable color spectrum), and I truly did feel like an adult capable of making decent and creative meals for myself and my friends.

I’ve been considering unsubscribing to my meals, and last week, I neglected to postpone my Blue Apron order. I felt betrayed and forced into spending a total of three or more hours with individually wrapped produce items and seasoning with salt and pepper “to taste”. Then, I knew it was time for me to unsubscribe.

Here’s the bottom line — If you like to eat out for the tasty food but need to cut back on the budget, consider trying Blue Apron. It’s essentially $10 per meal serving, which is less than what you might pay for a dinner out in Atlanta. You might even get to try it for free, if you can get a friend to send you a coupon. But it takes time to cook the meals, and the effort is not worth the price.

If you’re having trouble with cooking or you’re getting tired of cereal for dinner, just look up some recipes on the internet. At least it’s free.