When it comes to eating, Mr. FAF and I have two main options: (1) cooking at home or (2) eating out. There’s a third option which we have never tried and don’t plan to any time soon: (3) ordering from Blue Apron, Hello Fresh or similar services.
I have had my neighbor offer a code for some free meals, but I never took her up on her offer. And mind you, I LOVE free food.
I’m writing this post not to criticize or try to damage the reputation of these brands. I think whoever came up with this idea is a genius, and that the people standing and developing these services are talented. This is why capitalism thrives: new ideas that fill a niche will get recognized and make profits.
In this post, I’ll specify the four reasons why Blue Apron and similar brands are not a good choice for us. I know if I do this, they will never reach out to me for affiliate marketing (aka loss of business), but I stand by what I believe in.
For a couple, each serving is $9.99 or almost $20 a meal for two. For a week, it costs $59.94 for 3 meals. You still have 11 meals to plan for.
The company says it’s cheaper than eating at a restaurant. The problem is that $9.99 is only the cost of the materials. We still need to spend time cooking (at least 30 minutes), use our cookware, and pay for the electricity/gas/water we use to make these meals.
If the couple enjoys cooking a simple restaurant-quality meal together, that’s a perfect choice for them. For Mr. FAF and me, if we have to make an effort to cook, each serving will be much cheaper than $9.99. My monthly food expenses for March and April were less than $90.
If we don’t want to cook, we can go to an inexpensive restaurant and spend $10/each on a delicious meal, including tip, without having to deal with all the cooking and the dishes.
2) One-time meals
The servings are meant to be single meals that a person can finish in one sitting. It means there’s no economies of scale – the ability to reduce costs when a large amount of goods or services is purchased or produced. For example, when Mr. FAF and I cook, we make sure our food will last for a couple of days so that we can save time and energy.
For Blue Apron, the portions are meant for just one meal. It means the next time we want to eat something, we have to roll into the kitchen and spend at least another 30 minutes there instead of microwaving leftovers for less than 5 minutes.
It’s just neither efficient nor sustainable for us.
3) Too much packaging
I’m not an environmentalist. But when I see the amount of plastic wrapping in a Blue Apron box, I just wonder how much of the cost per meal goes toward labor to wrap all the ingredients and seasoning in those tiny plastic bags.
This is probably the main reason why I didn’t get the free Blue Apron meals from my neighbor. I just can’t bear the thought of getting a little bit of everything in heavy packaging. I know I won’t spend that much money on the service, so someone else can try that free meal and use the service afterwards instead.
4) Passive waiting
Mr. FAF and I go grocery shopping on the weekends, pick what we need, put them in the fridge, and then forget about it until we need to cook. A lot of times, those grocery shopping trips are our frugal dates.
For Blue Apron, we will need to wait for the package to arrive at the home individually in order to start cooking. I think I’d prefer knowing that everything I need is already in the fridge.
Blue Apron is a new company (active since 2012). There are a lot of thing the company can improve upon. I know it’s always easier for an outsider to point out the shortcomings of an emerging product. And I don’t plan to be that person. After all, the company must be doing something right to get to this level of popularity.
However, if Blue Apron can continue to grow and address all of the concerns I mentioned above, I will definitely consider to be one of their customers one day.
For now, Mr. FAF and I will just roll into the kitchen and cook whatever groceries we have in the fridge and microwave the leftovers the next day.