In my seemingly never ending quest to survive testing season with my brain somewhat intact I keep trying new things. I’ve added my 15 minutes of yoga back in each morning (and try to get in a half hour each night) not because it does a ton to get me in shape, but it makes me feel better; less stressed and not as irritable. I try to eat during the day even it if it a few snacks and walk Jessie in the evening. I’ve got a book to read (new neurscience book with a focus on how the brain learns) to read and I am in a better place this year than I was last year. I do attribute some of this to my having taken care of dinner with my boxes.
Right before testing started this month I decided to add to my Hello Fresh boxes with a box from Blue Apron for a few weeks. This way, I have six meals each week taken care of without having to eat out or plan and shop. I also wanted to compare these two services and I think I have enough information now to make a pretty fair comparison.
Before I get to the actual food, there are some differences in the picking and getting your meals. The Blue Apron website is easier to navigate and see what each week’s meals are; Hello Fresh use to be pretty each when I first started, but they did a site redesign a month or so ago and it is much more difficult now. Blue Apron also lets you pick your delivery date (for me, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday) whereas Hello Fresh has one day (Wednesday) for delivery. However, Hello Fresh does let me pick my actual meals. Since I get the classic box I can choose three of five recipes. There is usually one fish dish that we swap out for a vegetarian or other meat dish. I can also change to a full vegetarian week if I want to, but again, the choice of what those meals are is cumbersome to find. Blue Apron does not give me a choice. They have six meals each week and they decide what they are sending you based on the proteins you eat. However, if you take out two of the meats that week, you get a full vegetarian selection even if you don’t want it. In reality there isn’t a big difference in the number of choices you have, but Hello Fresh feels like there is more choice and more control.
Customer service is also a big thing. In this department Hello Fresh has Blue Apron beat by a mile. I have spoken (via email) to each a few times and I always come away from the conversations from Hello Fresh with a positive vibe. They want customers to be happy and are clearly a growing business. They are extremely helpful and and I honestly can’t think of a company as responsive. Yes, I am gushing about them because their customer service department is that good. Blue Apron on the other hand makes me feel frustrated. It feels like they do not care if you are happy or not, or if you stay a customer or not. I felt dismissed when I dealt with their customer service department, not helped. This is also not to say that Hello Fresh has always been able to do exactly what I wanted, but their explanations were more customer friendly than a simple no.
Cost for each is roughly equal. Hello Fresh is a little more each week if you go for the classic box, a little less with the veggie box. Blue Apron is one price no matter what you get each week. The packaging is the same – cardboard box with biodegradable (they say) insulation and ice packs and everything is in the box that you need for three full meals except salt, pepper, olive oil and hardware. Everything.
The first real difference is how things are put together. Hello Fresh has great bundles. Ingredients are bagged per meal and labeled with which recipe they belong to.
Blue Apron has all of the ingredients labeled, but there is no identification as to which recipe each belongs. In the case of some things like garlic and lemons, they may belong to more than one recipe so sorting is more difficult. We are taking about five minutes to unpack and put away the Hello Fresh vs. 25 minutes for the Blue Apron, which isn’t a huge deal, but like the meal choices, it feels like a big difference, especially when your brain is totally fried after work.
But the most important thing is the food and cooking the food. Hello Fresh is exactly what they advertise. They are good quality, fresh ingredients that do last all week. They are pretty simple to put together and the recipes are written for a novice cook. Yes, you need to know the difference between dice and chop, but beyond that little skill is needed. Blue Apron recipes are a little more complex and you should have a little more kitchen skills to follow them. There are more pieces to juggle in the Blue Apron recipes and timing becomes more important. Both take between 30 and 45 minutes to put together and … did I mention they send you everything you need to make these? No more forgetting to get something at the grocery or thinking it is in the pantry when it isn’t. I can successfully cook an entire meal after a full day of testing.
In both cases the food is really good and Bob and I have been enjoying trying different things. Some of the meals from each are basic and some are very different, but they are all well balanced and tasty. While there have been a few meals that we liked but didn’t love, there has not been any that we would not eat again. I will admit that Blue Apron hit it out of the park with a butternut squash, curried chickpea recipe, but overall I am still happier with Hello Fresh. Yes, for what we tend to eat they are a little more each week, but to me it is money well spent. I am thrilled with the quality of the ingredients and the ease of use from picking meals to unpacking to actual cooking. Hello Fresh also sends me a survey each week wanting to know how I liked each recipe. It isn’t invasive and it is a simple rate the dish and would you like to make any comments survey. But it goes along with making you feel like they are a responsive company and they want to grow and improve. I think that is the biggest difference. Blue Apron feels like a well established company that has a solid base of customers and knows it. Hello Fresh feels (pardon the pun) hungrier for customers and wants them to be happy. For me, they succeeded and I look forward to my Hello Fresh boxes each week. I may give Blue Apron another try here and there, but for the most part, I’ve made my choice.