How to Be a Master Chef for $19.98 a Meal

I just cooked one of the best meals of my life… and you get all the credit, Doc…”

Recently, I asked one of our researchers here at Retirement Millionaire Daily to try out a new pre-packaged cooking service called Blue Apron. About a year ago, one of my coworkers recommended I try it out and since then, I’ve encouraged others to try it as well.

The service is simple…

You choose a set number of meals per week, and Blue Apron sends you all the ingredients in the correct portions along with easy-to-follow recipes. It all comes in a giant blue-and-gray box, mailed right to your door. When you open it up, you’re greeted with fresh, delicious ingredients like prime cuts of tender, grass-fed beef… delicate handmade linguini… Castelvetrano olives… and fresh, crisp fennel.

Here’s a look inside the Blue Apron box…


Blue Apron’s gourmet recipes and easy instructions (complete with photos) make anyone feel like a master chef.

That feeling is one of the top three reasons why the subscription service shines…

1. Education. The detailed instructions for each meal are clear and easy-to-follow. Even better, the website has videos to learn specific kitchen practices (like a great way to slice fennel). You can access the full cookbook here, complete with instructions and videos.

2. Little commitment. Blue Apron is a subscription-based service, so you do commit to getting a certain number of meals every week. But you can cancel at any time, and there is an easy option to skip a week for delivery, which comes in handy when you’re traveling.

But more than that, I love that you don’t have to commit to a food if you hate it. Sometimes, with stranger ingredients and spices, I have no idea whether or not I’ll like what I’m making. But I can order a meal on Blue Apron and try it out. Why spend the money for an expensive container of a spice only to find out you don’t like it?

3. Time. One of the benefits of Blue Apron – and any subscription service – is the time factor. Imagine coming home from work, and instead of arguing about what to make for dinner or trekking back out to the store to buy food, you can just pop open your box and get to work.

Several of my coworkers use Blue Apron for the same reason: Planning and shopping for meals takes up too much time. One even pointed out that he and his wife cook together… and the ease of using Blue Apron means they skip talking about what to make and instead have more quality conversations.

Blue Apron Might Not Be for Everyone

The biggest downside to using Blue Apron is the price. A three-meal-a-week plan for two people costs $59.94 each week… and a two-meal-a-week plan for a family of four costs $69.92. That means you’re paying $9.99 per person for dinner (for two people) or $8.74 per person (for a family of four). And although that’s cheaper than eating out, it’s still not cheap.

Since we love crunching numbers here at Retirement Millionaire Daily, we took three recipes from Blue Apron’s cookbook and calculated how much it would cost to make these at home. We used average prices from three grocery chains near our headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, then made two different comparisons…

First, the upfront price – what you’d spend if you bought all the ingredients to make a meal from scratch. That means if you need just a pinch of coriander, you still have to buy a bottle of it, which costs more upfront.

Then we broke down price per measurement (a teaspoon, a half-cup, etc.) according to the recipe. That gave us the equivalent price per Blue Apron meal.

Meal
Upfront Price

Price per Meal
(two servings)

Linguini with fennel (no meat)
$24.83
$9.80
Sirloin steak with potatoes 
$37.17
$17.57
Cod with rice and mint – heavily seasoned
$53.83
$14.14
Average:
$38.61
$13.84

In comparison, Blue Apron costs $19.98 per meal (two servings). So it’s nearly 50% cheaper than the upfront price if you don’t already have any of the ingredients… but it’s about 44% more expensive based on the amount of spices and specialty ingredients actually used.

And there are some more points to consider concerning price…

The first is that Blue Apron uses ingredients that may not be in your local supermarket.

For example, in our comparison above, only two of the stores carried ghee… and none of them carried the fenugreek or nigella in the cod recipe. That means to duplicate the recipe, you’d have to find a specialty store in your area. Depending on where you live, that might be an expensive option.

The second thing to consider is the quality of the food. Although we could duplicate these recipes, we couldn’t guarantee the quality of all the ingredients. The cuts of beef I received from Blue Apron, for example, were exceptionally good.

So if you enjoy cooking… and for the quality of ingredients, educational tips, and time-saving value it provides… Blue Apron is worth a try.

If you’d like to try it out, we’ve contacted the company for a special offer for Retirement Millionaire Daily readers – click here to sign up for two free meals.

What We’re Reading…

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Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
Baltimore, Maryland
December 18, 2015