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Blue Apron vs Gourmet Station

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BLUE APRON

Blue Apron wants "to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone." With more than 8 million meals prepared by customers each month, this company's farm-fresh ingredients and unique recipes are definitely making that happen.

As you create your account, you'll begin by selecting your dietary preference: omnivore, pescatarian, or vegetarian. Every Prepared Meal will then be selected to fit your choice. You'll also be able to let Blue Apron know if you don't want a specific meat - fish, beef, shellfish, lamb, pork, or poultry - in any of the recipes they send. Also, all of the ingredients you receive will be pre-measured, whether that's paprika or peppers. All meals are best suited for lunch or dinner, so you won't see any recipes geared towards breakfasts, desserts, or side dishes.

Blue Apron keeps your taste buds guessing by never repeating a recipe within a calendar year. However, other than indicating your preferences like we described, you won't be able to select the recipes they send. Love it or hate it, you'll get it in your delivery. That's a slight disadvantage compared with similar providers of Prepared Meals.

You'll see a similar limitation with Blue Apron's serving sizes: 2 or 4 per meal. This might leave you with leftovers for a smaller family - or still-hungry people at your table if your family is larger.

On a positive note, Blue Apron has addressed what used to be their most commonly-received complaint: their pricing. Since our last review, Blue Apron has dropped their prices to keep up with the competition:

  • Two-Serving Plan: you can choose between two ($47.95) or three ($59.94) 2-serving recipes per week. Shipping is included.
  • Four-Serving Plan: you can choose among two ($71.92), three ($95.88), or four ($119.84) 4-serving recipes per week. Shipping is included.

Sometimes, Blue Apron offers discounts. On our most recent visit, we got a pop-up offer after browsing the site for a while: "Get $50 off your next two orders if you order within the next 30 minutes." While we don't necessarily like that kind of time pressure, we definitely appreciate the savings.

As with most businesses offering Prepared Meals, Blue Apron doesn't require a contract to sign up. You can skip any deliveries you like - maybe you're heading out of town or just want to take a break - and there's no penalty for canceling the service. You can also request a new delivery date at any time.

Blue Apron does a good job of selecting top-notch ingredients and recipes. In our first delivery, we loved the attention to quality: everything we received was high-end, nothing generic or cheap, from the fresh shallots to the canned tomatoes. All of their recipes make the effort to include in-season ingredients, which naturally lead to a better-tasting final product. All of the recipes we got were easy to follow, and every ingredient was clearly labeled (which was helpful for one of our more novice "chefs", who couldn't recognize a few things by sight alone). We liked what we got enough to want to make it a second time!

However, for people who want to choose the Prepared Meals they receive - not just getting whatever is selected according to their dietary preferences - or who don't have access to a full kitchen, Blue Apron isn't going to be their first choice.

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GOURMET STATION

For more than 15 years, Gourmet Station's Prepared Meals have been delivered to over 100,000 customers. Their primary focus is gift-giving, especially for employers looking to give incentives to workers or holiday gifts to clients. But, everything that Gourmet Station sells can just as conveniently be purchased for a personal special occasion, such as an anniversary or birthday.

To see your options, start by choosing a category: Soup & Appetizers, Monthly Clubs, Gift Certificates, Meal Plans, Occasion Dinners, or Dinner Gifts. Of all the possibilities, the last one has the most impressive options:

  • Occasion Dinners for Two - priced at $109.99, this package comes with a card, white cloth dinner napkins, a floating candle and complimentary gift packaging. Besides your choice of four-course meals (Americana, Parisian, Tuscan), you'll select the bread, soup, entree, and dessert, plus a coffee or tea and candy.
  • Four-Course Gourmet Dinners for Two - for $99.99, you can choose among Parisian, Tuscan, or Americana options (just like the previous package, without the extra gift items such as the candle).
  • Three-Course Gourmet Dinners for Two - priced at $89.99, you'll decide on an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert.
  • Gourmet Dinners for Two - if you just want entrees, you'll pay $79.99. Choices include Chicken Cordon Bleu, Lemon Dill Salmon, Mushroom Ravioli and more.

Also, in the Dinner Gift category, you'll find Steak Dinner Gifts, Dinner of the Month, and Wagyu (Kobe) Steaks.

The Dinner of the Month option is also found as part of Gourmet Station's Monthly Clubs. If you'd like to spread your gift-giving over several deliveries - for yourself or for a lucky recipient of your generosity - your options include Soup or Dessert of the Month or even full dinners with 2, 3, or 4 courses.

But, most customers looking for Prepared Meals want something they can eat during a typical week. In that case, Gourmet Station's Meal Plans are the best option. Each package provides five meals a week for one person; cuisine choices include Americana, International, Parisian, Cajun, and Tuscan, with five entrees and side vegetables. You'll select Pasta, Beef, Pork, Seafood, and Poultry meals within each of those menu choices; the vegetable is determined automatically by the entree you choose. For example, the Tuscan menu may come with Oven-Roasted Veggies, or the International entree is accompanied by Creamy Spinach & Artichokes.

Every Prepared Meal delivered by Gourmet Station should be refrigerated that day and eaten within 3 days; otherwise, you should freeze it for later reheating. Meals are also expected to be reheated in a traditional oven, not the microwave. This isn't as convenient as some of the TV dinner-style Prepared Meals plans in our review, but it helps your gourmet food stay tasting - well, gourmet!

Your delivery options are limited to arrivals on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Although you can schedule your packages to arrive several months in advance, for a special occasion or other event, you'll still have to choose one of those three days because of UPS' delivery requirements.

Gourmet Station makes it incredibly easy to deliver a five-star restaurant-quality meal to your doorstep (or to someone else's), needing just a 30-minute reheating in the oven for some items. On the other hand, if you're trying to lose weight or you're looking for the most economical Prepared Meals plan on the market, this probably isn't the service you'll choose.

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Best Prepared Meals

To help you find the Best Prepared Meals, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Blue Apron and Gourmet Station.

Who has the best Prepared Meals? How many times have you come home after a long day and stared blankly at your refrigerator or pantry, trying to figure out what to eat? Or stopped at the drive-thru for fast food because the thought of coming up with something for dinner was just too much?

You're not alone. For people who'd like the convenience of fast food with the benefits of home cooking, Prepared Meals are the answer. For every imaginable palate and preference, there's a prepared meal service that can help. Several of today's most popular services send you high-quality, often organic ingredients - including fresh produce like shallots and herbs - saving you the hassle of planning your meals and going to the store.

If you have a loved one that needs to start eating a special diet for diabetes or other medical issues, you can choose a prepared meals company that offers ready-to-reheat meals packaged similarly to a TV dinner and that have been carefully created by nutritionists specifically for that condition.

On the other hand, maybe you've been tasked with bringing a mind-blowing main course to an important company function, but your skills in the kitchen are limited to boiling water and burning toast. No problem: just choose a Prepared Meals service that focuses on gourmet-level, special occasion entrees like chicken cordon bleu or even surf-and-turf.

When deciding which company is a good fit for your delivery of Prepared Meals, you'll soon notice that there's a wide variety to choose from. How do you select the one that's best for you? Here are some things to consider as you look at each service:

  • Menu. What does the provider offer? Can you choose from many different plans, like Vegetarian or Mediterranean? If you're trying to meet a special dietary need, like gluten-free or keto-friendly, will there be options for you? Does the type of Prepared Meals they send - reheat-and-eat vs. some cooking required - work for your situation?
  • Price. What will it cost to get your Prepared Meals? Can you choose to buy specific entrees a la carte, or do you have to buy a package?
  • Amount of Food. If you have a large family, is there a plan that will satisfy everyone? Are the serving sizes enough to fill you up?
  • Customer Service and Reputation. What have other people said about the experience of buying Prepared Meals from this business? Are packages delivered on time, with ingredients that are still fresh and properly refrigerated? If not, does the company's customer service department respond appropriately with a refund or credit?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Prepared Meals Delivery Companies available today. We hope these reviews help you find the right company to deliver the kind of meals you want, directly to your doorstep!



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