Universal Mentors Association

Are Blue Apron’s Meal Kits Cheaper Than Buying the Same Groceries?


Meal kits are now a part of the culinary mainstream. These handy mealtime helpers have only gotten more popular in recent years as more meal kit companies have launched offering a wide range of plans, including some awfully affordable meal kits. As one of the originators of the category, Blue Apron remains both the best overall and the most sustainable meal kit service we’ve tested (full review here). And we’ve tested all of them — more than 10 and counting. 

We Do the Math badge

Blue Apron’s meals are also comparatively cheaper than when the company launched and recipes can now be had starting at just $8 a serving. That’s certainly cheaper than most takeout and delivery, but is it cheaper than if you were to buy all the groceries yourself?

With all those convenient, ready-to-cook meal kits flying into kitchens, and competitive prices that have remained mostly inflation-resistant, I got to thinking about the real cost of Blue Apron meal kits versus cooking from scratch. To investigate the brand’s true value, I priced the cost of three Blue Apron meal kits with the cost of buying the individual groceries needed to make the exact same meals.  

Here’s what I found. 

But first…

How much do Blue Apron meal kits cost?

Blue Apron has a few different meal plan options and the more meals and servings per week you order, the cheaper it becomes. For families requiring four-serving meals and ordering four meals per week, the price per serving is $8. If you order smaller two-serving meals only twice per week, the price jumps to $12 a serving. Blue Apron also charges a flat $10 per shipping for each box.

Below is a snapshot of how much Blue Apron costs per serving for all of the company’s plans. I included the flat $10 shipping cost and spread it out across the number of servings included in each plan. 

Blue Apron Pricing

Recipes per week Meals for two Meals for four
2 $14.50 $10.74
3 $11.60 $9.32
4 $10.74 $8.62
*price per serving
*includes shipping cost

How much do Blue Apron recipes cost to make from scratch?

mexican steak meal

I priced out the cost of three Blue Apron meal kits if you were to buy the groceries yourself.

Blue Apron

Trout with feta, couscous and vegetables

Ingredient: Price:
2 skin-on steelhead trout fillets $11.50
½ cup pearl couscous $2
4 oz grape tomatoes $1.25
1 red onion $1.29
¼ tsp crushed pepper flakes $0.10
1½ oz feta cheese $2
1 tbsp spice blend $0.25
6 oz green beans $3
2 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds $0.50
1 oz pitted niçoise olives $0.64
Total $22.53
Cost per serving $11.26

Mexican-style steak with green beans and sweet potatoes

Ingredient: Price:
2 sirloin steaks (5.5 oz each) $7
⅓ cup guajillo chile pepper sauce $1
1 lime $0.50
2 tbsp raw pepitas $0.59
2 tbsp cotija cheese $0.60
1 lb sweet potatoes $3
6 oz green beans $3
1 tbsp smoky spice blend $0.25
2 cloves garlic $0.15
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.46
Total cost $16.55
Price per serving $8.23

Chicken with cream sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Ingredient: Price:
2 boneless chicken breasts $6.50
4 oz grape tomatoes $1.25
1 tbsp Dijon mustard $0.35
3/4 pound potatoes $1.00
1 tbsp Italian seasoning $0.15
1 zucchini $1.00
1/4 cup grated parmesan $2.00
1 tbsp red wine vinegar $0.50
2 tbsp marscapone cheese $0.50
2 cloves garlic $0.15
Total $13.40
Price per serving $6.70

How much is Blue Apron versus buying the groceries?

Blue Apron ingredients on table

Blue Apron is the original meal kit service.

Blue Apron

The results were interesting and differed greatly depending on which recipe I was analyzing. Blue Apron’s steelhead trout recipe, for instance, cost $11.25 per person to buy the ingredients to make at home. That’s actually more expensive than most Blue Apron meal plans, save for the two priciest.

The Blue Apron Mexican-style steak dinner cost just $8.23 per serving if you were to buy the groceries yourself. That’s right in line with Blue Apron’s cheapest meal plan (four four-serving meals per week). If you were to choose one of the mid-priced plans and included the shipping cost, Blue Apron gets the edge and becomes more expensive than the cost of buying the groceries, but only by a buck or two per serving. The chicken recipe was the cheapest to make at home, clocking in at under $7 per serving when bought at the grocery store and made from scratch. 

blue apron steak meal

Ordering steak and seafood recipes will give you the most bang for your buck.

Blue Apron

When I averaged out the per-serving cost of the three recipes, the per serving was $8.73 for Blue Apron meals when ingredients are purchased at the grocery store. That’s about 10 cents more expensive than Blue Apron’s cheapest meal plan and only 7% more expensive than Blue Apron’s middle-priced plan. If you consider the convenience provided by a meal kit, it certainly starts to feel like real value. Plus, meal kits are known to cut down on food waste which can help save even more. 

How I did the math

To see how much Blue Apron meals cost to make, I priced out the ingredients for three actual recipes — one fish, one steak and one chicken — all of which are currently included with a standard subscription. When pricing out the groceries, I used the cheapest version of the ingredient I could find from one of three grocery retailers, Target, Fresh Direct or Instacart, which pulls pricing from local grocery stores. Because Blue Apron recipes include only the amount of ingredients needed, I prorated the cost by how much you would actually use, not the full price of the bottle, jar or bag. 

Blue Apron doesn’t specify which ingredients are organic, but the service doesn’t stress the use of organic meats and produce. I also chose non-organic grocery options to calculate the totals.

And if you’re wondering if you’d need to spend more than what is listed here to make the recipes yourself, the answer is yes. You can’t really buy one ounce of sesame oil or two teaspoons of pepitas, so you’ll have to buy them in larger quantities and hope to find a use for them later. 

For this exercise, I calculated the cost for two servings. In theory, the cost of making meals at home gets cheaper since you’d be buying “in bulk,” but the jump from two to four servings doesn’t make much of a difference.

My take: Blue Apron is a pretty good deal

While most recipes aren’t necessarily cheaper to make at home, when you consider all the convenience of having pre-portioned ingredients sent to your doorstep and ready to cook, Blue Apron starts to look like a much better deal. Not to mention, you’re cutting out the potential for food waste since you won’t be buying full jars of sauces and spice blends or bags of rolls and hoping to use them before they go bad. In most cases, Blue Apron is just a dollar or two more per serving then buying the groceries yourself. In some cases and for certain recipes, Blue Apron is actually cheaper.

Take advantage of Blue Apron’s seafood recipes

blue apron salmon

Blue Apron’s seafood recipes including trout, salmon and shrimp are a very good deal.

Blue Apron

While most Blue Apron recipes are at least a smidge more expensive than buying the groceries yourself, some of them are actually cheaper than if you bought the groceries yourself. That’s particularly true for seafood recipes such as the salmon, shrimp and trout offerings. If you’re looking to add more fish to your diet, Blue Apron might not give your dinner routine a healthy boost but could also save you money over inflated grocery store and seafood market prices.

Even more money-saving intel


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *