What makes a great meal? Well, you cooking it, obviously, but with a little help from someone like Blue Apron, it can be even better. What's more, the blueapron.com website has well over 500 recipes in its online cookbook, all with instructions, tips and techniques, offers of tools from the test kitchen and suggestions for the right wine to pair with each dish.
With this much information and such variety in the meals, you won't be short of inspiration.
This is good, as Blue Apron rarely repeats its meals, preferring to keep things fresh and new all the time. The most popular meals do find themselves repeated but only rarely and after a long while.
After all, you'd soon get bored if it was Salmon and Cilantro-Lime Rice with Peach and Corn Salsa (above) every week, wouldn't you? Actually, if your taste buds woke up and took notice as you read that, maybe you would like that recipe to come round more often. Well, it's there on the website whenever you want to try it again. So let's begin with that.
It's a good example of where Blue Apron excels: to start with, it's quick and easy to make. You can make two servings in around 20 minutes.
Blue Apron recipes are accompanied online by a video tip or technique. Here, it's How to cut corn kernels off the cob which in 21 seconds shows you the easiest way to achieve this end.
Read further down the web page and you'll find all the ingredients plus, and here's a nice touch, a button to download the recipe in PDF form. The ingredients list is accompanied by clear photographs of every item, so you know what's what. Not that you'd confuse an ear of corn for a serrano pepper, but maybe some rarer ingredients might give you pause. Keep reading, the recipe looks good.
But maybe you prefer something a bit more American-traditional, how about Seared Steak & Fingerling Potatoes with Charred Onion & Butter Lettuce Salad?
Take a look at this one, it's a good example of something Blue Apron does magnificently: the presentation photo that sits under the meal's title. The perfectly seared steak slices, the red onion glistening and the fingerling potatoes visibly crisp. Oh my, it's something to aim for.
Here the how to video is on how to slice steak against the grain. If you know what that means, it's good to watch a master at work and if you can't remember, watch this and you'll never forget it again.
Blue Apron has plenty of different cuisines to choose from, from African to Vietnamese and everywhere in between, including British. Take a staple like Fish & Chips and see how Blue Apron does it. Well part of the twist is what it comes with: Radish, Sugar Snap Pea & Romaine Salad. Oh, and it's healthier than you'd think, too, thanks to sliced potatoes that are roasted, not deep-fried and seasoned irresistibly with Chesapeake Spice Blend to taste. As usual, the recipe instructions have a useful button onscreen at the top which says, "Click for Tablet View".
Incidentally, you can combine searches for the food you're after. So you know you want something with poultry, and you think you fancy something, I don't know, Mediterranean… Well, click on those two criteria and watch what pops up. Like Chicken Marbella with Roasted Potatoes & Summer Squash which looks as appealing as the others.
If, as you read the recipes, you realise you don't have all the tools you need, like, a brilliant prep bowl or a greens stripper (seriously, you don't have a greens stripper? Who ARE you?), then scroll down the page to Tools from the Test Kitchen to find great examples of excellent hardware. By the way, just kidding about the greens stripper, I'd never heard of it, but check it out, it's pretty cool.
Finally, there's one more way to choose the food you're looking for. Seasonal recipes, it's called, and it includes items that are suited to summer, or spring, or even this week. So there's something just right about Fresh Mozzarella Pizza & Romaine Salad with Spicy Chile Dressing that is quintessential Blue Apron: it's a fresh twist on a classic that's straightforward to make and even has a handy tip in the opening description: "Be sure to hold off on topping the pixxa until just before serving to preserve the salad's crunch texture."
As with every recipe you'll find here, there's also a handy wine suggestion of what fits perfectly with the meal. This time, it's two soft fruity red wines to complement the pizza.
Honestly, they think of everything.