Meal Delivery Showdown: HelloFresh vs Blue Apron

April 12th, 2017

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, my love for meal delivery services is well documented. Although there are a lot to choose from and several I’m tempted to try, HelloFresh vs Blue Apron seems to be the most common comparison and most popular choices. I’m currently subscribed to both services, and have been using them for several months so I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good sample size to make recommendations.

hellofresh vs blue apron

First, I’ll do a quick overview of how it works and what it costs. Both services ship food to your house in big cardboard boxes lined with insulation with fresh ingredients on top and meats in the bottom under ice packs. The system works well. My meat has always arrived sufficiently cold with the ice packs still fully frozen. If something leaks, it’s contained in the insulated bag/liner and doesn’t get on the cardboard box. None of my boxes have ever been damaged. HelloFresh boxes each meal’s non-meat ingredients in their own smaller box, while Blue Apron has all the ingredients together. At first I really preferred the separate boxes system, but it means you need to either refrigerate the whole box or take out things like sour cream that need to go in the fridge. There is quite a bit of packaging involved in sending food this way, but both companies encourage recycling and send things like sauces and oils in plastic or glass bottles or jars that make it easy.

Cost Breakdown

I’m currently subscribed to the following:

HelloFresh: Classic meal plan for 4, 3 meals a week, $119.88 (breakdown: $9,99/meal)
If you do the same number of meals in the family plan vs the classic plan, it’s $8.74/meal

The ACTUAL charge that shows on my credit card is $129/week, because of taxes I guess (it’s in their small print, but not easy to find).

Blue Apron: Family plan for 4 people, 2 meals a week, $69.92 (breakdown: $8.74/meal)
Family plan is also available with 3 meals a week, but the cost breakdown is the same

The ACTUAL charge that shows on my credit card is $69.92, so Blue Apron wins for transparency.

I know that breakdown makes it sound like I’m paying $200/week for meals, but because of our schedule and their menus, I skip more weeks than I receive. They both make that VERY easy to do, since you can read the menus and make changes from their phone apps as well as the computer. This was one of my big concerns before I signed up; there are weeks where E is gone and it doesn’t make sense to cook nice meals for just me and the kids when they prefer cereal and also because E can be pretty picky. Skipping is why I am still signed up for both. My HelloFresh comes on Mondays and my BlueApron comes Fridays (but those are flexible, you can choose most days).

A few more things: HelloFresh’s recipes seem to have less prep in general (less chopping and peeling and cutting) even though they have about the same average number of ingredients. Blue Apron seems to be slightly fancier, even though I have the “family” plan.

I haven’t had any problems with my Blue Apron boxes or deliveries, which means I haven’t had to deal with their customer service yet. I have had to both call and email HelloFresh (a box got lost, a box was late, ingredients were missing, once a cucumber was squishy) and their customer service is GREAT. They offered me either partial credit or a whole free box immediately to resolve issues. After my late box showed up I emailed them to tell them I got it and they told me I could keep the full credit as an apology.

HelloFresh assumes you already have more things (like butter) in your kitchen, which Blue Apron sends almost everything. Both offer vegetarian plans. Blue Apron has an option to exclude specific proteins from your plan (lamb, fish, beef, etc) but you can avoid specific ingredients easily by customizing your menus each week, either from the app or online. My plans show 5-6 different options, and HelloFresh just started including one breakfast option, which is cool either for breakfast or as breakfast-for-dinner. Both have “farm-fresh” ingredients but Blue Apron seems to make a bigger deal about sustainability, local-ness, and working with small family farmers.

HelloFresh assumes you already have more things (like butter) in your kitchen, which Blue Apron sends almost everything. Both offer vegetarian plans. Blue Apron has an option to exclude specific proteins from your plan (lamb, fish, beef, etc) but you can avoid specific ingredients easily by customizing your menus each week, either from the app or online. My plans show 5-6 different options, and HelloFresh just started including one breakfast option, which is cool either for breakfast or as breakfast-for-dinner. Both have “farm-fresh” ingredients but Blue Apron seems to make a bigger deal about sustainability, local-ness, and working with small family farmers.

Recipe Comparison

HelloFresh: Sizzling Beef Stir-fry with Bok Choy over Jasmine Rice

hellofresh vs blue apron

Prepped:

hellofresh vs blue apron

What the kids got on their plates:

We are technically a family of 6, but Finn doesn’t really eat human food yet and my children don’t eat a grown-up sized portion of anything yet, so the 4 person boxes have always been plenty of food. The only time it becomes a problem is if we get something like burgers or sandwiches which only have 4 rolls/buns to feed 5 people.

hellofresh vs blue apron

This was really good, although the rice was a little boring because there wasn’t much of a sauce. It was very gingery, which we like.

Blue Apron: Crispy Catfish & Creamy Lemon-Caper Sauce with Broccoli & Farro Salad

hellofresh vs blue apron

Prepped:

hellofresh vs blue apron

hellofresh vs blue apron

What the kids got on their plates:

hellofresh vs blue apron

Caroline ate it. Evan and Linc tried it.

hellofresh vs blue apron

I really love capers and lemon, so I thought it was delicious.  I did get one bone in my fish, but that’s not super unusual in catfish.

My Recommendation

I like them both. If I had to pick just one forever, I would go with HelloFresh just because the recipes seem to be slightly less work and I end up with fewer pots/pans/dishes. They offer pasta more often (in my experience) than Blue Apron and my family really loves pasta.  I also think their portions are slightly bigger. But those are small, picky things, not make-or-break problems. If you don’t have any picky eaters in your family and enjoy time spent cooking as a joint activity with your partner, you might like the Blue Apron experience a little more.  I plan to continue paying real dollars for both services until our living situation changes and the Navy steals my husband for an extended period of time. I’m looking forward to more summer seasonal ingredients in the next few months and will report back with an update about who offers me a balsamic salad with strawberries first.

If you sign up for Hello Fresh using my link, you get $40 off your first box and I earn a credit. Blue Apron does their affiliate marketing through a program I’m too lazy to sign up for, but you can get cashback if you use Ebates when you sign up and they’re always offering $30-$40 off your first box or even first box free if you Google for a code.

Non-disclosure disclosure: I don’t have a relationship with either brand, although I think when my brother-in-law finishes school he’s going to go work for the wine division at Blue Apron. I definitely would accept some free wine for review.

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Cirkopolis at Foxwoods: GO SEE IT!

April 11th, 2017

You guys, Cirkopolis at Foxwoods was SO GOOD. We’ve seen Cirque Eloize several times now and this one was definitely the coolest. They did all my favorite stunts (the teeter board and the hoop) plus this super amazing hand-to-hand ballet where a girl did an entire dance without ever touching the floor. It was so beautiful. But I think my new favorite was the diablo, which the internet tells me might also be called a Chinese yo-yo. It was like watching a magic trick except nothing was hidden, the guy was just a gravity defying wizard.

We got into the theater to see the cast warm up with the lights on and the chance to get right up close and take some photos (and video, which is over on my Instagram!)

That thing above is a lousy picture of the diablo, but maybe now you know what I was talking about.

The show was packed and the audience was so into it, which made it more fun for everyone. Finnegan was a good baby and actually slept through the first 45 minutes. Lincoln was WORN OUT from a super busy weekend so he also took a little nap. But the big kids were both the very loudest laughers and applauders, and E and I kept looking at each other going “How is that even possible!?”

Cirque Eloize: Cirkopolis runs through April 15th at Foxwoods so get your tickets now and go see it!

After the show we promised the kids we could go to The Sugar Factory. The line for the actual restaurant looked pretty long and we had managed a zero breakdown family fun day up until that point, so we opted for some gelato from the candy store side. It was delicious.

 

 

There’s a bunch of other fun stuff going on the rest of this week and the beginning of next for Kids Week at Foxwoods, so we’ll be back for more fun (and more Sugar Factory).

Foxwoods provided me and my family tickets both to the pre-show event and the performance at no cost, but all photos and opinions are my own. And we paid for our own gelato. 

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It’s Baby Goat Season!

April 9th, 2017

I love baby goat season.

I think the only thing I love more than baby goat season is Linc feeding baby goats.

The place is Beltane Farm in Lebanon, they let you visit, tour, and taste cheese from 11-3 every Sunday in April and May.

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Spring Break Plans: Cirque Eloize at Foxwoods!

April 6th, 2017

Our spring break is next week and I’m starting to plan our schedule so that we don’t end up screaming at each other staying home the whole time. Getting out of the house during the week is both really fun AND important to our mental health when we don’t have actual vacation plans.

We are BIG fans of the Cirque Eloize shows that sometimes visit Foxwoods Casino. E and I attended one a couple years ago where we got to get up on stage during rehearsal and try our hand at some of the stunts. And then last year we took the kids to another show – Saloon – that had some of the coolest performers we’ve ever seen.

So when I got an email saying Cirque Eloize is coming back for another show during Spring Break, I jumped at the chance for tickets.

This year’s show is both kid-friendly and hands-on. They’re running a special pre-show experience to meet the cast, take pictures and maybe participate in a few activities. From the press release:

The cast of Cirque Éloize Cirkopolis is treating families to a unique and interactive experience before their seven-show run at Foxwoods. Families can enter the enchanting world of contortionists, jugglers and aerial acrobats as the cast prepares for show time! Lucky kids and parents will be invited on stage to participate in some of the crowd-favorite tricks from the show. The cast of clowns and artists will greet guests and take photos through out the show. This amazing “Behind the Scenes Family Experience” will on Tuesday, April 11 at 12:15 p.m. at Fox Theater. Tickets are required in advance and may be purchased in advance at https://www.foxwoods.com/CirqueEloize.
Besides the new Cirque show, Foxwoods has a ton of stuff going on for Kids Week during April vacation days this month. From food and arcade specials to free movies and face painting, it’s a great way to get out of the house if you’re planning a staycation. I hear they’re going to have roaming superheroes for photo ops, so Linc is DEFINITELY going to have one of the best days of his life.
The activities actually continues into the following week, after our spring break, but I plan to take Linc and Finn to the baby animal petting zoo (because, duh) at the outlets on April 17th from 1-3pm. They have tons of fun stuff going on so be sure to check out the full schedule and let me know if you’ll be there!

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Evan: Eight Years Old

April 5th, 2017

I’ve been a mother for eight years now and I’m like 75% sure I’m not doing it right. It’s unfortunate that there’s no real way to tell until I’ve really screwed up. I need a warning sign somewhere between “isn’t always happy in group settings” and “burns down the house”, but right now I’ll have to settle for “says he’s part of The Dark Side but gives really good hugs”.

I can’t even begin to sum up Evan in a post the way I do for babies, because when you are eight you are a whole human person. He understands things like reading and math and sarcasm and other important life skills. He is old enough to be trusted with important jobs and responsible enough that I can tell him the rules and I am mostly sure he will follow them. We’re getting close to being allowed to stay home alone, which might be the most real milestone I can imagine.

He can ride a bike, read a novel, carry the laundry upstairs, pay for something at the store, make his siblings breakfast in the morning, do all the dog-related chores and work all the technology in the house.

And here is Evan in his own words. Happy Birthday buddy, we love you so much!

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