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Blue Apron Meal Kits vs. Buying the Same Groceries Yourself: Here's Which One Is Cheaper in 2024

I priced out three meal kits from the popular subscription service. Here's how much you'll spend (or save) by signing up for a meal delivery service.

David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or tinkering with a toaster. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
Expertise Kitchen tools | Appliances | Food science | Subscriptions | Meal kits
David Watsky
5 min read
ingredients for steak meal kit on table

Meal kits make life easy, but could they also trim your monthly budget?

David Watsky/CNET

Convenient as they may be, meal kits have never been thought of as a money-saving hack. As someone who's been covering the meal kit category closely, I noticed that the weeknight dinner kits were appearing more and more affordable. Food bought at the supermarket in 2024 is still expensive, despite cooling inflation, but I noticed that meal kit prices never rose as sharply as grocery store prices. Likely because meal kit services can't risk having customers cancel due to subscription spikes.

That all had me wondering: Are meal kits a better deal than grocery shopping in 2024? I decided to find out by pricing three Blue Apron recipes against the cost of buying those same groceries to make the meals myself.

Blue Apron, one of the original meal kit services, is also one of the more budget-friendly ones -- though it's not the cheapest, since EveryPlate holds that title. Despite having meal plans as wallet-friendly as $8 per serving, Blue Apron includes premium recipes featuring steak and seafood in its weekly menus. That's one of the reasons Blue Apron holds steady as my favorite meal kit service in 2024.

To see how good of a deal Blue Apron is, I compared the cost of three Blue Apron meal kit recipes from the basic plan -- one steak, one seafood and one chicken -- with the cost of buying the same groceries to make these exact recipes.

We Do the Math badge

The results varied by recipe, but two of the three Blue Apron meals were cheaper if you bought them through Blue Apron via the brand's largest subscription plan (five meal kits per week that make four servings each) than if you shopped for the groceries at a midrange grocery store.

Here's how I got the results and a closer look at the potential value of meal delivery in 2024.

But first...

How much do Blue Apron meal kits cost?

blue apron meals on table

If you choose steak and seafood recipes from your meal kit menu, you could be saving money versus making a trip to the grocery store.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron has a few different meal plan options and the more meals and servings per week you order, the cheaper it becomes. For families requiring four-serving meals and ordering four meals per week, the price per serving is $8. If you order smaller two-serving meals only twice per week, the price jumps to $12 a serving. Blue Apron also charges a flat $10 per shipping for each box.

Below is a snapshot of how much Blue Apron costs per serving for all of the company's plans. I included the flat $10 shipping cost and spread it out across the number of servings included in each plan. 

Blue Apron pricing

Recipes per weekMeals for twoMeals for four
2 $14.50$10.74
3 $11.60$9.32
4 $10.74$8.62
*price per serving

*includes shipping cost

How much do Blue Apron recipes cost to make from scratch?

mexican steak meal

I priced out the cost of three Blue Apron meal kits if you were to buy the groceries yourself.

Blue Apron

Trout with feta, couscous and vegetables

2 skin-on steelhead trout filets $11.50
½ cup pearl couscous $2
4 oz. grape tomatoes $1.25
1 red onion $1.29
¼ tsp crushed pepper flakes $0.10
1½ oz. feta cheese $2
1 tbsp spice blend $0.25
6 oz. green beans $3
2 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds $0.50
1 oz. pitted niçoise olives $0.64
Cost per serving$11.26
Steak dinner

Save your steaks for the grill or skillet.

David Watsky/CNET

Mexican-style steak with green beans and sweet potatoes

2 sirloin steaks (5.5 oz. each) $7
⅓ cup guajillo chile pepper sauce $1
1 lime $0.50
2 tbsp raw pepitas $0.59
2 tbsp cotija cheese $0.60
1 lb. sweet potatoes $3
6 oz. green beans $3
1 tbsp smoky spice blend $0.25
2 cloves garlic $0.15
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.46
Total cost$16.55
Price per serving $8.23
blue apron chicken thigh in thai curry dish

Blue Apron portions are plentiful and the price per meal is competitive when compared with other services.

David Watsky/CNET

Chicken with cream sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Ingredient: Price:
2 boneless chicken breasts $6.50
4 oz. grape tomatoes $1.25
1 tbsp Dijon mustard $0.35
3/4 pound potatoes $1.00
1 tbsp Italian seasoning $0.15
1 zucchini $1.00
1/4 cup grated parmesan $2.00
1 tbsp red wine vinegar $0.50
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese $0.50
2 cloves garlic $0.15
Total $13.40
Price per serving$6.70

How much is Blue Apron versus buying the groceries?

Blue Apron ingredients on table

Blue Apron is the original meal kit service.

Blue Apron

The results were interesting and differed greatly depending on which recipe I was analyzing. Blue Apron's steelhead trout recipe, for instance, cost $11.25 per person to buy the ingredients to make at home. That's actually more expensive than most Blue Apron meal plans, save for the two priciest.

The Blue Apron Mexican-style steak dinner cost just $8.23 per serving if you were to buy the groceries yourself. That's right in line with Blue Apron's cheapest meal plan (four four-serving meals per week). If you were to choose one of the midpriced plans and included the shipping cost, Blue Apron gets the edge and becomes more expensive than the cost of buying the groceries, but only by a buck or two per serving. The chicken recipe was the cheapest to make at home, clocking in at under $7 per serving when bought at the grocery store and made from scratch. 

blue apron steak meal

Ordering steak and seafood recipes will give you the most bang for your buck.

Blue Apron

When I averaged the per-serving cost of the three recipes, the price per serving was $8.73 for Blue Apron meals when ingredients are purchased at the grocery store. That's about 10 cents more expensive than Blue Apron's cheapest meal plan and only 7% more expensive than Blue Apron's middle-priced plan. If you consider the convenience provided by a meal kit, it certainly starts to feel like real value. Plus, meal kits are known to cut down on food waste, which can help save even more. 

How I did the math

box of two spices

When you make recipes from scratch, you may spend more upfront to buy that full bottle of spice or bottle of sauce.

Oaktown Spice Shop

To see how much Blue Apron meals cost to make, I priced out the ingredients for three actual recipes -- one fish, one steak and one chicken -- all of which are currently included with a standard subscription. When pricing out the groceries, I used the cheapest version of the ingredient I could find from one of three grocery retailers, Target, Fresh Direct or Instacart, which pulls pricing from local grocery stores. Because Blue Apron recipes include only the amount of ingredients needed, I prorated the cost by how much you would actually use, not the full price of the bottle, jar or bag. 

Blue Apron doesn't specify which ingredients are organic, but the service doesn't stress the use of organic meats and produce. I also chose non-organic grocery options to calculate the totals.

And if you're wondering if you'll need to spend more upfront at the grocery than what is listed here to make the recipes yourself, the answer is yes. You can't typically buy one ounce of sesame oil or two teaspoons of pepitas, so you'll have to buy them in larger quantities and find a way to use them later. For me, that often includes making the same recipes a few times since I have all the supplies on hand.

For this exercise, I calculated the cost for two servings. In theory, the cost of making meals at home gets cheaper since you'd be buying "in bulk," but the jump from two to four servings doesn't make much of a difference.

My take: Blue Apron is a pretty good deal

While most recipes aren't necessarily cheaper to make at home, when you consider all the convenience of having pre-portioned ingredients sent to your doorstep and ready to cook, Blue Apron starts to look like a much better deal. Not to mention, you're cutting out the potential for food waste since you won't be buying full jars of sauces and spice blends or bags of rolls and hoping to use them before they go bad. In most cases, Blue Apron is just a dollar or two more per serving then buying the groceries yourself. In some cases and for certain recipes, Blue Apron is actually cheaper.

Take advantage of Blue Apron's steak and seafood recipes

blue apron salmon

Blue Apron's seafood recipes including trout, salmon and shrimp are a very good deal.

Blue Apron

While most Blue Apron recipes are at least a smidge more expensive than buying the groceries yourself, some of them are actually cheaper than if you bought the groceries yourself. That's particularly true for seafood recipes such as the salmon, shrimp and trout offerings. If you're looking to add more fish to your weekly routine, Blue Apron might give your diet a healthy boost and save you money over inflated grocery store and fish market prices.

Editor's note: This analysis was done in 2023. Meal kit and grocery prices may have changed since then.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.