SmartPoints with Blue Apron WW Freestyle Menu
We have tried and reviewed many different kinds of home meal kits over the years, but we always seem to come back to Blue Apron. We’ve been Blue Apron customers since January 2015 and their meals and prices have consistent quality and flavor, week after week.
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As we’ve tried other services, we’ve also come to enjoy Martha & Marley Spoon, so lately we have been bouncing back and forth between the two based on menu and our schedule.
Both companies have great recipes and the prices are pretty similar. Martha & Marley Spoon recently started charging a delivery fee on every box, though they reduced the per-portion price at the same time, so it is just a few dollars more than a two-portion, three-meal box from Blue Apron with free shipping. The meal kit business is hyper-competitive right now but it feels like the number of new entrants has really slowed down since Amazon bought Whole Foods in June 2017.
One thing we have noticed as we have tried all the different kits is that the number of calories per meal (and not surprisingly, the portion size) has really creeped up in the past few years. When we first started getting Blue Apron meals, we remember them being in the 400-700 calorie range, but now we regularly see meals that have as many as 1100 calories for one portion. Sure, it’s delicious, but that is way more than we should be eating for a regular home cooked meal. We could be more disciplined and save leftovers to cut back, but not all of these dishes lend themselves to eating the next day, and well, as we said, they are delicious.
So we were pleased when we learned about Blue Apron’s partnership with Weight Watchers for the WW Freestyle Menu. The two companies have worked together to create six weekly options that use the Weight Watchers SmartPoints system and integrate directly with the popular weight loss app. We don’t use Weight Watchers, but we are still interested in consuming less calories but still having delicious fresh food we can cook at home.
So far we have tried a dozen different WW Freestyle meals:
- Coconut Chicken & Bok Choy Curry
- Foil Packet Cod
- One-Pan Pork Chops & Sauteed Cabbage
- Seared Chicken & Creamy Farro
- Seared Barramundi & Caper Relish
- Dukkah-Spiced Pork Chops
- Lemon-Caper Tilapia
- Blackened Pork Chops & Spicy Orange Salsa
- Orange Chicken Stir-Fry
- Oregano Chicken & Olive Tapenade
- Seared Salmon & Garlic-Scallion Rice
- Mexican-Style Chicken & Vegetable Skillet
All of our meals we have tried have been delicious – with the ultimate compliment from Mark, “I didn’t know these were diet meals.” There is no skimping on the quality of ingredients or portion size. There are noticeably more vegetables, but there is also rice, pasta, sauces and oils.
The meals we’ve had have ranged from about 380 to 640 calories cooked, reasonable for a weeknight meal. It makes it much easier and guilt-free to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. Of all the “low-calorie” meal offerings we have tried, Blue Apron definitely wins in terms of taste.
Each WW Freestyle meal has a point score, ranging from about 4 to 15 SmartPoints per meal depending on the entree, to make it easy for Weight Watchers members to plan their meals for the day. Each menu card includes a barcode to make it easier for members to track their SmartPoints within the WW App. We do not follow the Weight Watchers plan, but we do use the LoseIt app to track meals, and the barcode works in that app as well for easy tracking.
The only problem we have found with the Blue Apron WW Freestyle menu is the lack of flexibility week by week. In your account, you are either on the WW Freestyle plan or the Signature plan, and you cannot mix and match meals between the two. This seems silly, sometimes you may want meals from both plans depending on the weekly selections.
Upon closer inspection, we noticed there is often overlap between Blue Apron’s Signature menu and the WW Freestyle menu. For instance, for the week of July 11, there are three meals that overlap – the same recipes with slightly different names. For example, the Spiced Chicken & Saffron Rice meal on the Signature menu has the same ingredients and calorie count as the Ras El Hanout Chicken on the WW Freestyle Menu.
Both menus have identical pricing, so the only difference seems to be the branding and the SmartPoint values included with the WW Freestyle meals. It would be smart for Blue Apron to identify these lower calorie options more clearly on their Signature menu to make it easier for folks like us who may want to eat healthier more often, but aren’t committed to a specific plan.
The other two companies we’ve used lately, Sun Basket and Martha & Marley Spoon, offer all the choices every week, so you can mix up Paleo, low-fat, Carb-Conscious, and all kinds of meals without restrictions, with many more choices compared to Blue Apron. Next week, Sun Basket has 22 meals available, and Martha & Marley Spoon has 20, compared to Blue Apron’s 11. We understand that more choices doesn’t always mean better meals; often the very best restaurants have small menus, but in this competitive market, we think Blue Apron would be better served to have as much flexibility as possible.
If you are looking for a meal-kit to help you keep on track with your diet, we would definitely recommend the Blue Apron WW Freestyle plan. If you are using the Weight Watchers app already, run, don’t walk to your computer and order it now. It will take so much guesswork out of your weekly meal planning and you will be delighted with the fresh and fun-to-prepare meals. Even if you aren’t using Weight Watchers, you will love the flavor and portion size of these healthy options.