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Blue Apron® Accessibility Review

Blue Apron® is a gourmet home meal delivery service.  I was so excited to try my first Blue Apron® meal and create new dishes in the kitchen.  At the same time, I wanted to see how accessible these meal delivery services were and how they can be adapted for individuals with disabilities to use.  I am looking forward to trying other home meal delivery services in the future.

There is a certain sense of pride one can gain from cooking a delicious meal.  Blue Apron® gives you step by step directions to make this feeling happen.  Whether you are new to the kitchen and have no cooking skills or are stuck in a culinary rut, Blue Apron® is a great way to expand your cooking skills and try new recipes.

Overall, I found that Blue Apron® is a great option if you would like to try new recipes and experiment with new foods and flavor.  There are a few tweaks I would make for improvement to maximize independence and accessibility with the meal preparation process.

How It Works

Before receiving your Blue Apron® box, you have the option of selecting either two or three meals you would like delivered for the week.  There is also an option for families to deliver bigger portions to feed your family of up to four people. My boyfriend and I chose to have three meals delivered for the first week for two people.  We selected our top three meal choices for the assigned week of our delivery out of 8 different options.  If you have any dietary needs, such as gluten free or vegetarian, you can specify this option in your profile to receive meals that suit your needs.  However, you may not have as many options to chose from.  It is fun to explore the different recipes and try something new.

I was so excited to return home from work on Monday afternoon to the big Blue Apron® box at my front door.  The box was opened as soon as I got inside my apartment and I started pulling out all the well-packaged ingredients.  Almost all of the ingredients I needed for each meal were conveniently included in the box.  Olive oil, salt and pepper were the only ingredients not included although they were needed for each recipe.  These 3 items are staples in most households but be sure to stock up if you are running low.

I received three recipe cards with well-detailed instructions and pictures.  It is important to make sure you read all of the steps of the recipe before getting started.  I will admit that I did not do this step for one of the recipes.  Although it did not make a huger difference, I wish I read the directions beforehand.

The ingredients are all labeled for each recipe so you do not mix them up, especially if you ordered more than one meal for the week.  Some items such as produce and meat required refrigeration after opening the package and other ingredients are ok on the countertop.

When preparing to cook each meal, I made sure to read the entire recipe card (after my first mistake) and collect all necessary ingredients.  I placed all the ingredients on the counter and then picked out the tools that I needed.  This eliminated stress in trying to organize everything during the cooking task.

Included Meals in Our Box

Stovetop Chicken Parmesan with pasta and zucchini

Parmesan-crusted steak with mashed potatoes and zucchini

Harissa-glazed chicken drumsticks with seasoned potato wedges and zucchini

Adaptive Equipment

Garlic peeler

Garlic mincer

Vegetable chopper

Electronic can opener

Pan stabilizer

One-handed cutting board

Dycem®

The first step of each meal was to prepare all the ingredients by chopping, dicing, etc.  Although it was convenient having each ingredient in front of you, preparing these ingredients may be more challenging for individuals with disabilities.  In order to reduce time and effort, pre-cut vegetables may be a better solution.  It is also important to note that each recipe requires use of the stove, oven or both.

I used my vegetable chopper to make this process simpler. If you do not have access to a vegetable chopper, place a piece of dycem® underneath a cutting board for a safe non-skid surface.  All of the recipes called for garlic, so I used my garlic peeler and garlic press to ease this step.  Another quick tip is to use an oil dispenser to drizzle the olive oil on pans or as needed.  I did not have a pan stabilizer at the time I was preparing my meals, but this is another great tool to maximize safety and independence with meal preparation.

Energy Conservation Techniques

I found it was a lot easier to prepare these meals with someone else.  So grab your significant other, friend or family member and split up responsibilities.  For someone with a condition such as COPD or arthritis, it is a good idea to have assistance to conserve energy and protect joints.   In my household, I am typically head chef and my sous chef is my boyfriend.  In addition to conserving energy, it is more fun to prepare meals with others and also great for bonding.

After gathering all ingredients, try sitting down while mixing and chopping if standing is too difficulty.  Once again, it is essential to have all ingredients ready so you do not have to make multiple trips transporting items.  Placing a raised bar stool with a seat back between a sink an counter top will eliminate amount of physical exertion used.

Safe Cooking Tips

In order to ensure you or your loved one follows safety guidelines while preparing a Blue Apron® meal,  there are some simple steps you can follow.  First, keep track of time by setting a timer for each food item.  It is also important to ensure sufficient lighting, especially while cutting and chopping ingredients.

Another safe cooking tip is to make sure you are dressed properly.  Make sure to wear clothing that is appropriate.  Long or loose fitted clothing is not recommended, especially when working near a stove top or oven.  If you have longer hair, it is best to pin your hair back. An apron is also a helpful solution to avoid spilling on your clothing.

For more safe cooking tips, check out my post on my 6 Tips for Cooking with Low Vision.

Preparing a Blue Apron® Meal

Below are pictures I took while preparing the stove top chicken Parmesan.  This one was definitely one of our favorites for the week.  View my comments for tips and recommendations for simpler meal preparation.

Recommended Equipment:  Vegetable chopper, Dycem, One-handed cutting boardPan Stabilizer

Recommended Equipment: Pan Stabilizer

Tip: use task lighting to ensure you do not overfill the pot or water does not boil over

Tip:  Cooking tongs are easier and safer to use when turning meats over while cooking on the stove top.  Using a  pan stabilizer will offer greater stability, especially when cooking with one hand or limited hand function.

Recommended Equipment: Hands free electronic can opener (although this particular can has a pull tab, if you or your loved one has arthritis, it may be difficult to manipulate)

Tip: Do not turn the stove on right away.  First, ensure the pot is positioned correctly on the burner before turning the stove on. Make sure to turn the burner off before removing the pan.

Recommended Equipment: Garlic peeler, Garlic press


Tip: Use plates that contrast with your food.  Plate dark food on lighter plates and light food on darker plates.

Conclusion

Overall, I truly enjoyed my Blue Apron® experience. Using this meal delivery service allows you to have fun in the kitchen and try recipes you wouldn’t ordinarily make yourself.   I believe individuals with disabilities are capable of using this meal delivery service with my suggested tips and adaptive equipment.

Meal delivery services are useful for individuals who have difficulty getting to a grocery store.  The box of ingredients are delivered straight to your door for your convenience.  If you or your loved one do not have regular accessibility to a grocery store, meal delivery services are a great option.  There are numerous other meal delivery services I would like to test for accessibility in future posts.

This post was not sponsored by Blue Apron®.  All opinions are my own.  If you would like to win 1 of 3 free weeks worth of meals, follow me on twitter @trutherapykitch, share this post, and I will select three winners to send a week of meals to.  Thank you 🙂

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