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Blue Apron vs. Grocery Store Price Comparison Review

(Note: This post was sponsored by Blue Apron and contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Want to try Blue Apron, but worried it's not budget-friendly? Check out this price comparison to decide if it's worth it!

After my latest Blue Apron unboxing, many of you asked me how I think the prices compare to just shopping for the ingredients yourself. Truthfully, I have been really curious about this myself!

Because let’s be honest…most of us probably sign up for a meal delivery service like Blue Apron to save us time, not money. It’s convenient, and it can save a busy mama’s sanity during those weeks when you struggle to get a meal on the table.

Is Blue Apron grocery budget-friendly, though? That’s what I wanted to set out and discover for myself — and ultimately for all of you, my frugal-minded readers!

Blue Apron has many great things going for it:

  • The ingredients are very, very fresh. The ingredients were delivered in a refrigerated box and I was impressed with how fresh they were for being sent by UPS!
  • You get a choice in the kinds of recipes you want to receive (meat, fish, vegetarian, etc.)
  • There’s a fun variety of recipes and an opportunity to try new foods. Some of the ingredients that we’ve received in our boxes have been outside our usual fare. If you like to try new things, this is a great way to keep your meals fresh and varied!
  • There is no wasted food. They send you the exact amount of everything you need to make the recipe — so you don’t end up throwing out the extra food because you don’t have another recipe that calls for that ingredient before it goes bad!
  • They offer a large selection of different recipes — all that are between 500 and 800 calories each. They are always adding new recipes to their line-up and do not repeat any of the same recipes for at least a year.
  • All of the recipes can be made in 40 minutes or less. This seems like it’s pretty much right on.
  • They offer two types of plans — the 2-Person Plan and the Family Plan.
  • You can choose which day of the week your food is delivered to you.
  • There’s no long-term commitment once you sign up for Blue Apron. You can cancel your subscription or skip weeks at any time.
  • They are working to develop a sustainable food system and use high quality ingredients.

In my opinion, though, one of the biggest drawbacks of Blue Apron — especially coming from a frugal background — is that the prices seem really, really expensive.

If your family loves to buy expensive and unique ingredients or you typically go out to dinner multiple times per week, Blue Apron will probably be guaranteed to save you money and help your family eat more healthfully. {And I’m cheering you on, because I’m all about doing what’s best for your family in your unique season of life!}

But I had a gut feeling that since we usually cook from scratch and make simple meals in our home, I could probably save more money buying all of the ingredients myself. So I did a price comparison…

I made the Chicken Schnitzel with Fingerling Potato Salad and Marinated Napa Cabbage. (I accidentally showed the pork for the other meal in the photo above, instead of the chicken needed for this recipe!)

Here are the price of the meal ingredients if I were to purchase them at Kroger (these are regular prices, not sale prices):

  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts — $15.58 for 2 packages of Free-Range Organic Natural Chicken Breasts or $6.99 for a 3-pound bag of Kroger frozen chicken breasts (not at all as high of quality meat, but it would work) — in both cases, these would be a little bit more chicken than what they gave in the box
  • 1 cage-free farm egg — $0.23 (1 dozen Simple Truth Cage Free Eggs are $2.79)
  • 1 gala apple — $0.84
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs — $1.49 for a box of Private Selection Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 lb. fingerling potatoes — $2.99 (Kroger only had a 1.5 pound bag of Fingerling Potatoes for $3.99)
  • 1/2 pound red Napa cabbage — $2.99 (Kroger only had green Napa cabbage and it was $1.99 per pound, but you had to buy a head for $2.99)
  • 1 bunch chives — $2.29
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar — $1.69 per bottle
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds — $3.99 per jar (You may already have this in your cupboard.)
  • 1/4 cup mayo — $1.99 per container (You probably already have this in your fridge.)
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard — $1.19 per bottle (You probably already have this in your fridge.)

Total cost: Possibly as high as $32.98 + tax

Blue Apron Price for the same meal with ingredients shipped to your door: $35.96

Note: I’m not including the flour or olive oil in the price since you would more than likely have these in your pantry. Since you would more than likely use the eggs for something else, I only included the cost of the actual egg. And you likely already have the mayo and mustard and possibly the caraway seeds on hand, so you could remove that from the total.

You could also buy the less expensive chicken or find some of the items on sale, though I tried to go with store brands or the least expensive options in the prices shown above.

In addition, as you well know, I’m a big fan of planning meals based upon what is on sale at the store, what you have on hand, and what ingredients are regularly inexpensive. So I probably wouldn’t normally cook some of the Blue Apron meals because they require specialty ingredients that are expensive.

However, for some people, that also is what makes Blue Apron so fun — because you get to try new recipes, you get to cook with specialty ingredients that you might otherwise not ever buy, and you don’t have to mess with shopping for them or buying a big container of something only to use 2 Tablespoons!

In all honesty, I was surprised that the difference in price between buying the ingredients at the store and getting them shipped to your door from Blue Apron could be as little as only a few dollars difference. I would have expected the savings to be a lot more since you would are doing the work of planning and shopping yourself!

So if you are looking for convenience (having ingredients shipped to your door!), don’t want to mess with planning meals, you love trying new recipes and dishes, would rather eat at home than go out, and you have some wiggle room in your food budget, Blue Apron could be a great option to try out. And don’t forget to use the promo code below to save even more on your first order!

After your first Blue Apron order, there’s no long-term commitment. You can cancel your subscription or skip weeks at any time!

Have you tried Blue Apron before? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

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40 Comments

  • Amanda says:

    I just tried Hello Fresh and was really pleased with their service, so I was curious about Blue Apron. I’m like you though, I love the ease of the service, just not the price that comes with it. Maybe just a few times a year as a splurge and to try new recipes!

  • Veronica says:

    We’re vegetarians, and the math on these kinds of meals makes absolutely zero sense if the protein you’re buying is canned beans, which is what many of these services send! I haven’t tried Blue Apron in particular.

  • Rosie says:

    But it seems that you would have left over ingredients … you couldn’t only buy a partial box of panko crumbs, so the next time you make this you would already have that in your pantry. Also, I would never spend that much for 4 people to eat for only one meal! Wow. Or, maybe I would, but would balance it out with spaghetti and simplier meals. Perhaps I am spoiled by shopping sale prices?

    • Lynn says:

      I agree. The rice vinegar, caraway seeds, and panko crumbs, in addition to the mayo and mustard, are all items that you only use a bit of for this recipe and will stay good for use in another recipe. Including their shelf price does not make for a fair comparison. To make at home based on the given prices would be around $7 cheaper if you take that into account, let alone waiting for sale prices on the chicken and other ingredients.

      I think it’s fine to do sponsored posts (with affiliate kickbacks), and that was clearly indicated, but I believe the comparison is a bit misleading.

      • I personally rarely have rice vinegar or panko crumbs on hand, though some people might! I thought about divvying up the price to only include exactly how much you would use, but since you may have to buy the full thing to make the recipe and you might not readily have another recipe available to use it in, I decided to include the full prices of those items. However, like I mentioned in the post, the price might vary based upon what you have on hand!

        Oh and just to clarify, I don’t get affiliate kickbacks on these posts (meaning, I don’t get paid if people click through and order). They pay a flat fee for my time, but then I get to write the post in my own voice and share how I want to share. They didn’t have any say over the prices or how I did the post. I’ve gotten so many questions about Blue Apron over the past two years, that I thought this type of post might be helpful to some people and might help people think through whether or not it’s worth trying out. I just thought I should clarify on that in case you were wondering!

        • Jessica says:

          Panko is great! Use it instead of regular breadcrumbs for a super crispy crust. It’s a must have in our house 🙂

        • Rosie T says:

          I had not used Panko crumbs either, till my husband bought them (at the expensive store I might say … hence I usually save the most money by him staying home on shopping day). I liked them, great texture and they added a flavor I could not quite place. However, I could not see paying that much for “bread crumbs”, even though they aren’t really bread crumbs.

          Then I saw them at Aldi! Now they are always at our house. (I can’t remember if they are seasonal, but a box tends to last us a while as we do not use them every week.)

        • Lynn says:

          Thank you for clarifying that you only got paid to write this post.

          FYI, rice vinegar is great in light salad dressings, to liven up a stir fry and many other things, so for many folks the purchase of the whole bottle wouldn’t be wasted (and it is very shelf stable). And as another person commented, Panko is a pantry staple for many, keeps for a while (like a container of bread crumbs), and has many uses. We may just have to disagree that the cost is as close as stated in this post ?

          • I think it would totally depend upon your kitchen and pantry and cooking. You might actually have most of the items needed for this recipe on hand — which would make it a much better deal to make it yourself. Or you might have none of the ingredients. And each recipe is different! 🙂

            There was no way for me to make it a perfect number for everyone, which is why I broke it down like I did with each ingredient cost listed, so you could get an idea of what the cost difference would be for your family for this recipe.

        • GEORGE says:

          WOW, I can’t believe you would lie like that. If you weren’t being paid per order, why are you using a tracking link? Blue Apron posts their affiliate commission on the website and indeed every blogger IS paid a fee for every order—makes sense why I see so many bloggers pushing this service on their sites. The FTC says you must disclose when you’re being paid or it’s considered deceptive marketing.

          • Actually no, the tracking link is from MediaKix (the company who serves as the go-between with Blue Apron and bloggers) and it is for their own internal tracking. They only pay a flat fee for the post. The affiliate program is a separate program with a different tracking link.

            You can email MediaKix to ask them or we’re happy to show you our contract with them if you have any questions. It’s very important to me to fully disclose everything, so thank you so much for asking so I could clarify!

    • Yes, definitely. See my note at the end of the post where I talk about this. 🙂

  • Jen says:

    So interesting, thanks!! My husband LOVES to try out new recipes with interesting ingredients…sort of drives me crazy when he plans a meal like this and goes shopping. Really, a $35 trip for one meal?! But, if he’s cooking…. ? I wish I could use it for a meal here or there instead of all or nothing. Will keep it in mind!

  • Jane says:

    Interesting! I’ve always wanted to try Blue Apron to learn new recipes. Yes, it’s not cheaper than cooking the same old food at home, but I think it’s an excellent treat to learn new recipes and taste new flavors without paying resturant prices. Plus, when I get into a recipe rut, we always end up doing take out more. It’s a good way to spice up the menu once and a while!

  • Nicole says:

    Woah, that seems high for a meal – but maybe it’s because I’m used to cooking for two ? I’ve tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh on great promos and loved the novelty and meal planning process it removed – but I couldn’t justify the full-price cost on a regular basis. Especially since if I’m able to watch sales etc. I can get it down to less than $3 a serving when I do my own planning and shopping (and if I do a good job at that, there is little waste). There’s no denying, it’s a sweet idea though and maybe some day it’ll fit to be a regular part of our life!

    • Yes, like I said in the post, I’m so used to shopping sales and only making meals with inexpensive ingredients, that these prices are WAY higher than what I typically spend on our meals! But it was an interesting experiment to do for people who are considering the service!

  • Sally says:

    Thank you for doing all the math! I subscribed for our twenty-something-year-old daughter who lives several states away in order to encourage her to eat more healthy meals and to learn about cooking. I tell her to pick one week a month for a delivery. She is a fairly picky eater, so sometimes she cannot find a week she likes in a given month, but overall Blue Apron has served to improve her diet and teach her more about cooking, because the instructions are so clear and the ingredients are all included. Given that success, I thought I would give my 83-year-old mother a gift certificate for a week of meals for Mother’s Day, in order to give her a break from meal planning and grocery shopping. She loved the food, and she said the instructions were indeed easy-to-follow. However, she did struggle with timing all of the steps for a given meal because she moves more slowly than she used to, which made it somewhat stressful for her, which was rather the opposite of my intention, so the gift was not entirely a success. Another thing to keep in mind is the old adage that “time is money.” In addition, transportation to the grocery store needs to be factored in. This year the IRS reimbursement is set for 53.4 cents per mile, to cover gas and wear and tear on your car, so that needs to be included in the cost of the Kroger version of the meal I think. Again, thank you for the detailed comparison to get us thinking!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts! What great input!

    • Lynn says:

      Great idea for getting your young adult, long-distance daughter to try cooking! That is one of the few valid reasons I have heard for this service. I personally wouldn’t include the mileage in the Kroger comparison though, unless one never went to the store for other items like breakfast and lunch ingredients, milk, fruit, tp, etc.

  • This is very helpful! I have wondered about Blue Apron and how the costs compare. I agree that this is more than I would normally spend for dinner, because we shop sales and plan simple meals. I have found that when I occasionally decide to try a fancy recipe because it sounds good, I end up spending a fortune on the groceries for it! So this could be a better option for an occasional nicer meal.

  • Jessica says:

    I’ve tried 3 meal services (gifts or super cheap offers), and wasn’t impressed by any of them :/
    Barring the price argument, my ingredients all had freshness issues. The companies offered credit on my next purchase, but I wasn’t going to purchase again so bad produce just meant I was short for that meal and had to add in my own stuff

  • Kristin says:

    I hate to be a naysayer, but I think this company is ridiculous. They save you a trip to an expensive grocery store is all. Their customer service is awful. Preparing the meals is very time consuming and tedious and I cook A LOT! One meal came with a broken egg, but because I had already cancelled my membership, there was no recourse, so I had to go to the store to complete the recipe and nothing was refunded. The tone of their email was that they really didn’t care since I wasn’t going to be a customer anymore. The food was tasty, though, but am not impressed with this company at all. It is WAY too expensive. If it came already chopped, diced and ready to throw the ingredients in the pan, then maybe I could see how a busy person might benefit from this. But I honestly see no benefit to it at all.

    • I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience! 🙁 Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts!

    • Maria says:

      I had a horrible experience with Hello Fresh. I had cancelled my subscription but they sent me a box anyway. I refused the box and requested my money to be returned. They claimed they would return it and then claimed they couldn’t because my credit card wouldn’t let them. So I called the credit card company and they said they would allow it. After about 6 more times around and around I was told “Sorry we can’t refund it, we can give you credit” and I never got any credit. 🙁 I feel like its a scam. Some of the recipes we got were quesadillas and chili. You can make those for cents on the dollar. You don’t need to be paying $10/person for chili or a Quesadilla!! I would rather go out to eat or order take out at a restaurant like Applebees for $10/person. Blue Apron seemed to have better food options not as simple and cheap as Hello Fresh. After what Hello Fresh did (stole $124 from me) I would never recommend them.

  • Rose says:

    We tried a similar program called “Home Chef” and the main problem I ended up having was that I just happened to get REALLY sick that week, so ended up not making all the meals : ( Also, we really only like one of the ones we were able to try : ( Was definitely not worth it in my opinion!!

  • Dara says:

    I haven’t tried Blue Apron yet (waiting on a week with 3 recipes I want to try) but I have tried Plated, Home Chef, and Green Chef. So far, I’ve been the most pleased with Home Chef, mainly for the price and the recipes. I’ve had an easier time picking enough recipes that we would want to try. I liked Plated’s recipes as well, but they are only 2 meals for the same price as 3 (~$25) from Home Chef or Green Chef (with credits anyway). I also like that you can refer people with Home Chef and they get credit for their first box and you also receive credit.

    Green Chef has been the one I’m least impressed with. I didn’t intend to get a box since I haven’t been able to find 3 meals I wanted to try in a week, but forgot to push it back so I got one. I didn’t like how the meals were packaged in the box and I don’t think the packing materials did as well insulating/keeping cool.

    • Thanks SO much for sharing your personal experience! Super helpful!

    • Anne says:

      I’ve only tried Home Chef because I have checked the recipes on the other sites only to be dissatisfied with them, making it unlikely I would like them. Home Chef, while I don’t get meals every week, has provided some excellent meals that are just enough outside my comfort zone that they have expanded my repertoire.

  • Letty says:

    What a timely post! I just for my first Blue Apron book today! I used one of their offers as well to try it. Honestly, it was not as flavorful as I was hoping for, but I liked the convenience of the premeasured ingredients. My basil leaves were wilted and they sent me the wrong recipe card for one of my meals which was disappointing (I can still look it up though on their website). The concept does make cooking fun since grocery shopping can be such a chore! I do wish their Family Plan contained more than 4 servings. I haven’t decided if I will keep my subscription or not. I appreciated your honest review!

  • Brooke says:

    Caraway seeds could also be purchased in the bulk spice section for pennies to get the small amount you need. No need to but a large container of a spice you may only use once.

  • Amy Lee says:

    A friend recently gifted me 2 free meals from Home Chef. (It came at a wonderful time too, as my husband has been working very long hours, leaving me deflated with no energy to cook a decent supper) Half the people in our house are pretty picky while the other half are up for anything, so I was pretty nervous there wouldn’t be a meal offered that we would all eat. Home Chef offered a good variety to choose from and we all loved both meals (Shrimp Scampi with cheese biscuits and Farmhouse Fried Chicken with corn and roasted potatoes). While it’s not something I would consider doing on a regular basis, it was fun to try something new and discover that in the future these are meals we can make at home ourselves. No risk of buying ingredients for that would result in a Pinterest-fail! 😉

  • Thanks for the reviews, I must say you have put a lot effort for that. Nowadays I can see some apps there are at the market to compare store prices and other things as well. For shopping within a budget these are quite good really.

  • Michelle says:

    I think that a lot of people including the OP are missing a couple of huge points here, and I don’t mean to sound derogatory or insulting. #1: Meal delivery services only give you enough food to make your one meal, and that is it. There is not enough food for leftovers, nor is there anything to put back in your refrigerator or your pantry when you are finished. This is all money completely wasted IMO, as when I make dinner I always make enough to take to work the next day for lunch, which saves us money in having to go and buy lunch. #2: calculations you are making are not 100% correct. Example, the recipe calls for 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs, and the box at the store is $1.49 – well you charged the entire $1.49 into the total cost, and this is wrong. What you should have done is taken the total amt of the box and divided it by the portion that you used – so if the box you purchased had 4 cups in it total, and you only used one, well you only spent 0.37 cents – and you have enough bread crumbs to make another meal! Meal delivery services to me are a complete waste of money, so obviously I am a bit biased in my opinion, but I am looking at this strictly from a money point of view which is completely objective, and I am seeing double and triple the amount of savings from doing your own shopping than you have demonstrated in your article. I would also find it interesting for someone to calculate the amount spent on lunch as well as dinner considering the fact that if you had a meal delivery service, you’d have no extra food leftover for lunch and nothing in your pantry to make lunch!

  • Laura says:

    I was really looking forward to this. My first impression was so much packaging like you mentioned, so I tried to take it apart to separate the recyclable components. That was very difficult. Luckily my husband can ship UPS from his office daily. So that problem was solved. I don’t have to struggle taking the package apart. I loved putting it in the fridge and having space for three meals all on one shelf. I thought that if I ever lived in a tiny house again with no pantry space, this service would cut down on a lot of kitchen clutter. Then, I got to making the meal. I never shelled my own peas before, and thought this is really tedious. I could just buy a bag of frozen peas and carrots at the store. But I was pleasantly surprised I made the meal in an hour. It was soooo good. I never thought a meal could be that flavorful using all natural fresh ingredients. I thought I was sold. I loved the fact that I am not tempted to eat another 200 calories of leftovers while putting the leftovers in the fridge. The portion control was very helpful! Then, when cleaning up I found the nutrition information. I don’t think yeast extract is exactly a fresh ingredient, but a flavor enhancer. No wonder it tasted so good! Shoot, I was so excited about this service until then. I think this inspired me to cook every night with smaller portions instead of making more for leftovers because I found that helpful. I really liked the gourmet factor. But, I think I will buy a gourmet cookbook that uses all fresh ingredients and do the shopping myself. I do though wish someone sold cooking kits like this at local farmer markets. I would definitely buy them if they did because I really like the concept.

  • Mandi Godec says:

    We received Blue Apron for a couple years. We would skip weeks to only get one or two a month and it actually fit with our budget- less grocery shopping that week. We loved it, my kids did not.. So we got the two meals and I had to make separate food for them.

  • Tara says:

    Crystal, thank you for your honest post and breakdown of prices. I have been intrigued by Blue Apron and other meal prep delivery services that I’ve heard advertised.
    But, you have confirmed what I suspected for a while. It would not be a good deal for my family. I cook 2-3 meals a day (mostly from scratch). So, I have a large pantry of bulk ingredients already. We have a freezer of chicken and beef purchase from a local farmer.

    But it might be a great deal for a family that doesn’t cook as much and they would like the option to occasionally cook from scratch without the investment of all the ingredients to have on hand.

    Thank you for a wonderful blog. It has helped me become a better wife, mother and homemaker. So, I think you deserve any and all compensation you receive from sponsored posts.

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