Unless you’ve got a passion for cooking, whipping up dinner after a long, exhausting day at the office feels more like a chore than a good time. But a slew of subscription meal delivery services—from Blue Apron to Plated to Hello Fresh—have come to the rescue, offering a variety of easy-to-prepare, healthy meals that take the guesswork out of that annoying question: “What’s for dinner tonight?”

SPECIAL OFFER: Get Your First 2 Blue Apron Meals for Free!

So when I was offered the opportunity to test out some meals from Blue Apron, I leapt at the chance. After signing up and picking my proteins, such as poultry (there’s also a vegetarian option), I eventually received a box at my home, filled with everything I’d need to prepare the meals: recipes with step-by-step instructions and photos, along with all of the pre-measured ingredients (except for salt and pepper—you can’t expect them to do everything, right?).

Photo: Rachel Grumman Bender

The three recipes they sent were Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup, Beef Bolognese, and Pulled Chicken Tacos. While it would be nice to handpick the recipes yourself, having Blue Apron do it for you also gets you to try dishes and spices outside of your comfort zone.

Each meal required several steps of prep work—from shredding carrots to zesting lemons—and took longer than the estimated 25-35 minutes listed on the recipe card. But, in fairness, that could also be because I was frequently interrupted by my children who wanted to know what mommy was cooking. I also quickly learned that meal prep went faster with the proper tools, including a zester and a garlic press.

Even though I cook most nights of the week, sometimes there’s a lurking fear that I’m going to undercook the chicken or overcook the casserole. With Blue Apron, the recipe instructions were straightforward and clear, and it was refreshing to feel like I couldn’t really mess things up. Every single Blue Apron dish came out just right, which was a nice confidence boost.

I was also impressed with the high-quality ingredients, from the fresh vegetables to the meat and seafood. I felt like I was putting good food in our bellies.

The dishes looked good, too. Normally, when I make a recipe from a cookbook, the end result looks nothing like the perfectly-stylized image on the page. But every single Blue Apron meal I cooked mirrored the photos in the recipe cards. Another win.

Photo: Rachel Grumman Bender
Photo: Rachel Grumman Bender

In the end, I found every meal was worth the effort, resulting in tasty dishes, and in some cases, leftovers to boot. Sure, some recipes were better than others, but it was still fun to expand our cooking horizons with different spices and herbs.

Cut to several months later: I found myself stuck in a recipe rut, cooking variations on the same theme. I mentioned to my best friend from college that I was feeling uninspired meal-wise, and she instantly suggested Blue Apron. How could I have forgotten? I signed right back up and subscribed to the two-person plan with three meals delivered each week like clockwork. The cost for the two-person, 3-meal plan is $59.94 per week, which comes to about $10 per person (or $139.84 per week for a 4-person family plan, which comes to $8.74 per person)—much cheaper than dining out.

Going back to Blue Apron turned out to be a fantastic suggestion. Instead of dragging myself into the kitchen to make dinner, I now get excited when my box of food arrives so I can whip out my kitchen tools and create what I know will be a delicious, healthy meal each and every time.

Want to try Blue Apron? Get your first two meals free with this special offer for YouBeauty readers!

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