Are recipe delivery services more expensive than the grocery store?

A friend was recently telling me how her brother is really into Blue Apron and has been trying to get her family to try it, but she hasn’t wanted to spend the money. So it got me wondering – are recipe delivery services really any more expensive than going to the store and buying everything yourself?

One of the things I like about services like Blue Apron is that they only send you the exact quantity of the ingredients you’ll need (i.e., no waste), which, as you know, is not always possible when you’re doing the shopping. Unless you’re a master at using up random ingredients in the kitchen, the rest of that bunch of green onions or that bag of kale sometimes ends up going in the trash.

Is Blue Apron More Expensive Than The Grocery Store on 100 Days of #RealFood

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So for today’s sponsored post, I set out to do a little cost comparison with a meal Blue Apron recently sent us, and below are the results.

Cost Comparison

>> Steak Fajitas with Guacamole & Roasted Zucchini Rounds

Blue Apron Price for 4 people Grocery Store Price for 4 people
$34.96 TOTAL (shipping is free) $51.65 TOTAL ($33.36 with spices excluded)

Are recipe delivery services more expensive than the grocery store? on 100 Days of #RealFood

I priced out the grocery store portion for this meal at the health food store where I usually do my shopping each week. I realize these prices might not be exactly the same as your store (some will find cheaper prices at mainstream stores and some will find higher prices where the cost of living is higher than in Charlotte), but just for comparison sake, the following is a breakdown of the prices I collected:

>>Steak Fajitas with Guacamole & Roasted Zucchini Rounds – Grocery Store Price Breakdown

Food Item Price
1 Pound Stir-Fry Cut Beef $8.99
Corn Tortillas (pack of 12) $3.69
2 Green Bell Peppers $4.00
2 Zucchinis $3.00
1 Avocado $1.25
1 Lime $0.60
1 Onion $2.00
1 Large Bunch Cilantro $2.00
Queso Fresco $5.99
Tomato Paste $1.19
Chili Powder* $5.99
Cumin* $3.98
Oregano* $3.98
Garlic Powder* $3.98
GRAND TOTAL (includes 2% food tax) $51.65*

*Since some people already have a variety of spices on hand, I also wanted so show an alternate total without purchasing the four spices listed: $33.36 (includes 2% food tax).

Is Blue Apron More Expensive Than The Grocery Store on 100 Days of #RealFood

Conclusion & Special Deal!

So as you can see, even if you just bought the fresh ingredients and already had the spices on hand, the Blue Apron meal cost is still pretty competitive when compared to my grocery store. And the nice thing about their spices is that they’re already measured out and mixed together in a little bag for you. Not that measuring and mixing spices is a hard job, but some days every minute counts. :)

Of course, there are many other aspects of meal delivery service aside from price that we could compare, but the moral of the story here is that if price is the only thing in your way, then it’s time to reconsider. While these types of services are not for everyone, I think if it gets more people in the kitchen cooking from scratch and sharing wholesome meals around the dinner table with their family, then it’s a win-win in my book.

If you want to give Blue Apron a go you might like to know…

  • Their recipes and ingredients are delivered in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if you’re not home to receive the package.
  • You can skip weeks or cancel the service at any time.
  • All meals can be prepared in 40 minutes or less.
  • The first 100 readers that sign up will get three meals off their first Blue Apron order free!

Enjoy! :)

Is Blue Apron More Expensive Than The Grocery Store on 100 Days of #RealFood

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92 thoughts on “Are recipe delivery services more expensive than the grocery store?”

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  1. In total, the cost per meal is fine. It’s not amazing, but it’s not a ripoff either. You’re paying for food, delivery, and for freedom from the mental effort of planning meals and using up leftovers.

  2. I live north of Minneapolis, and those grocery prices seem sky high. I get a little irked by all the ads saying its cheaper than the grocery store, when I can buy the stuff for less than half the cost of their meals.
    Not really sure what the Tortillas/Zuccininis/cheese cost, but the rest of the stuff would cost me no more than about $14
    1 Pound Stir-Fry Cut Beef $5.00 (I just got a 2lb roast for $3.50/lb – depends on the cut)
    Corn Tortillas (pack of 12) ?
    2 Green Bell Peppers $2.00 (0.75 to $1.25 each)
    2 Zucchinis ?
    1 Avocado $1.00 ($.75 to $1.50 each)
    1 Lime $0.33 (lot of times 2 or 3 for a buck)
    1 Onion $0.30 (gas station sells them for $.38/lb)
    1 Large Bunch Cilantro $0.90 ($.75 to $1.50)
    Queso Fresco ?
    Tomato Paste $0.75 (Depends on brand/size. No more than $1.25 for the small can)
    Chili Powder* $1.00 (Durkee/McCormick is expensive, Spice Supreme will run you a $1/each for a standard size bottle)
    Cumin* $1.00
    Oregano* $1.00
    Garlic Powder* $1.00

  3. I like Blue Apron because I’ve been able to prepare great recipes that I never would have otherwise. However, I agree that it is a lot of food for a single person. The flexibility of skipping and coming back when you want to is a good thing. To be sure, I’ve learned to cook and acquire new tastes that I can use for future dishes, thanks to Blue Apron.

  4. i was actually pleasantly surprised when my order came (on time :) as the amount of much more than i expected. quality was excellent. i’ve only ordered twice but i am delighted with BlueApron. i would like to give a kudos to WeHomeDeliver site as this is how i found out about BA.

  5. 56.00 or 34.00 for 1 meal to me seems hi,,,i can make something lot cheaper then that… when you on a budget 34.00 x30 days is a lot of money for just 1 meal.. where does your breakfast and lunch come in….. this might be good but too me its too high for my budget..

  6. I have always wanted to try this since I love to cook. I coupon and I rarely spend over $60 a week for groceries. So for me this service is very expensive for what you get. I know it is great because it saves time but for me couponing and cooking is just a better deal!

  7. I like the idea of Blue Apron, as a fill in on those days where you don’t have time to plan a meal However, due to all my food allergies, I can’t eat their meals.

  8. Jennifer La Pietra

    The prices, especially for produce are MUCH higher than at my grocery store (Michigan) at any time of year. 2 green peppers go for anywhere from $1-2 and a whole bag of yellow onions is under $1.50, just as an example. While I don’t doubt that your store may be higher where you live, Whether these delivery services are a good value will depend upon where you live and shop.

  9. I loved the Blue Apron service and food quality. It was just too much food for a single person and I was having to cook more than I wanted. I recommend it to anyone.

  10. I haven’t tried Blue Apron but am a member of Hello Fresh which is a competitor of this company. I find that the cost for these meals for gourmet cooking is competitive with grocery store prices, and the convenience of having it delivered fresh is such a bonus. I can cook cheaper from the grocery store preparing regular meals, but It’s neither gourmet or organic or delivered to my door.

  11. Seriously, you must be paid by Blue Apron. This is strictly a luxury service to make someone feel better about not eating out. My well to do empty nester SIL uses this so her and hubby can just cook and not bother with the mundane drudge work of shopping and prepping. It is not in any way shape or form cost effective. Silly of you to imply otherwise. At least she doesn’t.

    Its rather sad a grown up can’t figure out what to do with excess produce and meat and doesn’t keep spices on hand. And I recognize not everyone can afford that, but then they wouldn’t be able to afford Blue Apron either. My excess produce ends up in soups, salads, quiches, omlettes, lunches and so on. That 12 pack of tortillas would be used for mulitple fajita meals, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, pizzas.

    Really if you were making a case on cost, you failed.

    1. You order the meals that don’t have that. Or you leave it out when you prepare it. Certainly you realize that can’t send out meals that 100% accommodate everyone. You have a choice of 3 meals out of 6. Don’t choose the ones with those items.

  12. My sister is widowed, lives a distance from the commissary where she shops; lives alone, loves to cook, has found that she gets 2.5 meals from 1 meal of Blue Apron. She adds a salad, perhaps a vegie .. doesnt throw out nearly as much food as she did when tried to shop for a couple of weeks, doing fresh produce. Now, I’m not sure it would be cost effective for a family to partake in this program. I do think the learning experience for kids in cooking, measuring, et al … would be priceless! One size does not fot all. I personally like it.

  13. Hi lisa! I just wanted to let you know, I just saw this post, and the link will still give you 1 meal free! I have been wanting to try this site. I am disabled, and it is very hard for me to shop and cook. I’m excited to try it, and I will let you know what we think!!

  14. I really don’t understand this concept of delivered groceries in a kit. When I think about it I guess it makes sense because the vast majority of Americans are lazy and go out to eat more than they ever cook at home. I’m quite the opposite, I cook at home 90% of the time and go out rarely. I don’t ever order stuff that I can make it home, why bother? If you’re going out to eat or something that you don’t make it home or that is special. There’s no way the services are more economical over the long term. When you buy groceries you buy a lot of staple items like spices, onions, garlic etc. which can be used over multiple meals I’m curious to see how long the services last, if it’s just a passing fad or if they will stand the test of time.

  15. I have been using blue apron for 6 months and I love it. I get one box a month for the two of us. It may be more expensive but I learn new techniques and get to try new dishes and foods I wouldn’t have normally. I can’t believe I am making my own salad dressings, oriental foods, and indian dishes. It saves me money because I don’t have to buy a whole jar of a specialty ingredient I may never use again. The meats are excellent and the vegetables are fresh upon arrival.

  16. I believe you could put together cheaper meals yourself sometimes. When you can’t, all of the aforementioned comments and the article’s contents are right on. However, everyone’s losing sight of why this is really a home run. If it prevents you from going out to eat just one night a week you’ve made your money back. Just one. It has for me! This doesn’t need to be a seven day a week substitute for you. You might find that it’s not financially worth it to view it as that, but as a supplement for other meals you put together and a substitute for one night on the town….golden!

    1. If you plan for 7 meals a week, this is pointless. If you are allocating 40 min to cook this meal and rely on the “convenience” of not having to shop for this one meal out of 7…there is no convenience because you are already at the store for the other 6 dinners, 7 lunches and 7 breakfasts.

  17. I agree with many of the above comments. I think the price comparison that was done is not accurate, and also picks beef (which is probably the most expensive thing to buy). My pescatarian family spends about $125-175 a week on groceries (family of 4) and that covers eating dinner in 6 nights a week and all lunches, breakfasts, and snacks, and eating primarily organic. Also does not take into account that most people shop their pantry/fridge, and as others have said I can get zucchini, peppers, etc… right now for much cheaper at the local farmers’ market.

    I really enjoy this website, especially re lunches for kids and how to eat unprocessed foods, but I think generally it talks about how this is an affordable way to eat, but this comparison makes it seem unaffordable. If families spent this much on dinner each night it would lead to a grocery bill of $250 before breakfast and lunch. I don’t think many people expect to spend $300+ a week on groceries.

  18. I think you’ve gone a long way in this post to convince many people that eating real food is not affordable.