Overall Score: Very Good

One of the things people like about meal delivery services is the experience of trying new cuisines and flavors. With the meal options from Blue Apron, you have plenty of chances to experiment. When we reviewed a month’s worth of menus from the five kits we tested, Blue Apron had the most recipes with an ethnic flare—about two-thirds of the dishes—and the fewest number of more traditional-style fare.

Five of six meals we tested featured Asian, Greek, or Mexican-inspired flavors. The menu included Pork Tteokbokki Asparagus and Spicy Black Bean Sauce, Crispy Cod Tacos with Chipotle-Cabbage Slaw, and Greek Pizza with Kalamata Olives, Feta, and Pea Tips. While all the dishes were tasty, our professional tasters judged them to be less impressive overall than the offerings of some of the other services.

Blue Apron was the lowest-priced service in our tests. The company offers two types of plans: A two-person plan, which costs $59.94 for three meals per week, and a family plan that serves four, which costs $69.92 for two meals and $139.84 for four meals per week.

We found slight discrepancies in the amount of ingredients listed in the recipe and the amount we actually received in a few of the Blue Apron dishes in our tests. For example, the Spring Chicken Fettuccine with Sautéed Asparagus, Kale and Rosemary called for 6 ounces of dried pasta; we got 4 ounces. And the tablespoon of Gochujang sauce for the pork dish was missing from our shipment. On the other hand, the cod tacos called for half a pound of red cabbage, but we got nearly a pound.  

Overall, four of the six recipes rated “very good” for taste and two rated “good.” The cod tacos were “fresh tasting” with “nice flavor and texture variety,” but the chicken fettuccine dish garnered a “nothing special” verdict from tasters. The dish was heavy on the rosemary and had “slightly tough kale” and “slightly dry chicken chunks.”

Nutrition-wise, Blue Apron was in the middle of the pack. Half of the week’s recipes weighed in at 30 grams of fat or more (the crispy tacos had 47 grams of fat and the pork tteokbokki 36 grams, but the spring chicken only had 15 grams). Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know this because the company only provides calorie information (it estimates 500 to 800 per portion, per meal). For our nutritional analysis, we had to calculate the amount of other nutrients in the dish using a nutrition database. That’s not so practical for the average consumer, so if you’re trying to limit your fat or sodium intake, you have to eyeball the recipe and guess whether it might measure up. The company says the nutritional content can’t be determined due to “varying sizes of produce and the amount of oil and salt” used during cooking, although the other services do provide this information to some degree, either on the recipe cards or online.

Although most of the meals more or less fell within our sodium guideline, two recipes contained more than 1,300 mg (the pizza and an udon noodle stir-fry dish)—more than half the maximum daily recommended amount of 2,300 mg. Just two of the recipes contained whole grains, although two dishes—the cod tacos and the Spiced Sweet Potato and Poblano Tostadas with Guacamole and Pickled Shallot—were high in fiber.

While the company doesn’t tell you what kinds of cookware or utensils you’ll need to use to make the recipe up front, it’s the only service we tested that provides suggested wine pairings for each meal and it even offers curated monthly wine shipments as an additional service.

How We Tested

Consumer Reports evaluated five meal kit services that deliver nationally: Blue Apron, Green Chef, HelloFresh, Plated, and Purple Carrot. Using our secret shoppers, we ordered every meal (except for one from Green Chef) available in each service’s two-person plan during a week in May, for a total of 27 meals. The weeks were chosen randomly and the type and quality of offerings were assumed to be reflective the service overall. Ingredients were examined upon arrival and weighed to compare what was received with the ingredient amounts listed in the recipe. Our food-testing team then prepared the recipes in our test kitchen without using any special equipment. A panel of professional tasters sampled every dish. Our dietitians scrutinized the nutritional content for the dishes and reviewed the available nutritional information for a month’s worth of each service’s meal options. Meals that were at or below 670 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 770 mg of sodium were considered to be healthier based on one-third of a day’s nutrition for a 2,000-calorie diet. To further assess the healthfulness of the meals, we considered portion size, whether they contained healthful ingredients such as legumes and whole grains, and roughly estimated the amount of vegetables per serving to assess the healthfulness of the meal. Overall scores are based on nutrition, taste, ease of preparation, time it takes to get the meal on the table, price, variety, and ingredient freshness.

Calories are from Blue Apron; all other nutritional values were calculated using a nutrient database. All are based on one portion of a recipe.