• Tan Nguyen

I Hate Blue Apron

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

Emile Wang Here (Sorry, Tan still can't figure out how to change authorship of the blog post!)

I Hate Blue Apron.

That’s right, I said it.  I don’t care which fiercely individualistic millennial subculture (probably all using the same IKEA kitchen furniture) I have offended.  I hate this lame, internet-based company that can’t decide if it wants to be a home delivery service for groceries or for high-end cooking.     

Oh, you thought you were going to read something inspirational?  To be fair, I probably did lure you in with some kind of "2019 Miles!  We did it!" or "Wow we hit our goal!" link.  Well, just bear with me, it'll all make sense. [since we're on the topic, you can click here to donate your pledge!]

A few months ago, Michelle and I got roped into signing up for Blue Apron. Discounted meals! Great recipes!  Ingredients delivered to our door to save us time, because there is absolutely no other reason to go to the grocery store!  And the biggest promise of all: only 30 minutes to meal prep!!


It wasn’t that easy. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know my elbow from my butthole when it comes to cooking, but Michelle is VERY kitchen-savvy.  Between the two of us, it took over an hour to make a Blue Apron meal. The end of this arduous recipe concluded with "Add salt and pepper to taste", which is the equivalent of flipping to the most appealing ending of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book and convincing ourselves that we got there based off our fantastic decision-making.

And what did this investment of $20 and 60 minutes in the kitchen get us?  An average meal that barely fed the two of us, and a livid Emile who instantly told Michelle to cancel our membership so they wouldn't get us on the auto-renewal and another month of this trash service.  Because you see, at the time I had committed to running a combined 2019 miles over 6 months (July 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018) with 5 of my friends.  I told you I'd bring us back on topic!

To hit our 2,019 mile mark, we needed to average 2 miles per day per person (or 14 miles/week/person).  The six of us liked how the goal was so objectively measurable compared to other possible group goals like “getting better together” or “helping each other see things in a positive light” (don’t get me wrong- those still are great goals).  Our measurable goal didn’t make it an easier task for any of us.  At some point, every one of us needed motivation.  One suggestion I started giving was to look at the project differently. Instead of, “How do I work 30 minutes into my life to get my miles”, look at it as "one less episode of _____ on Netflix is the time I can use to get 3 miles".

Not sure if anyone heeded my advice- BUT! We reached a grand total of 2,059 miles! This included some milestone achievements among the group:  three half marathons, intense trail-running, and even a Spartan Beast (which consists of a half marathon and an audition for the sequel to the movie 300 - AROO AROO AROO). And while these events were all incredible additions to the 2,059 mile total, the mileage gained from these activities were minuscule pieces of the whole pie.

Most of our miles were actually earned through our day-to-day commitment to this project. These include short runs on the treadmill, longer runs on the weekends, walks and nature hikes with family, and even snowshoeing excursions during vacation.  Once I developed a rhythm for running, I began to understand precisely how much time I needed in order to achieve my goal. If my goal for the day was to run 3 miles, I knew that I could do it in 30 minutes. If my goal was 2 miles walking on my "rest" day, I knew I would have to set aside 40 minutes. To know what resources I had to allocate to achieve my daily goal and to accomplish that goal on target (i.e., no additional time required) was a huge motivational boost for me to keep me going.

All six of us have experienced impactful changes from this 2019 Miles project (for the EWB faithful, a pod episode on this topic will be uploaded soon!).  For some, it was getting fitness and paying the price (credit to George again).  For others, it was being able to take a break with their life as a celebrity husband (sup Jeff!), or to prepare for life as a father (congrats to Tan and Javier!).  For myself, my newfound ability to run continuously for 13.2 miles is awesome, but a far more impactful change was my new understanding of the value of time: When we begin to measure our time with what we can accomplish with it, we begin to value time more.

Which takes me full circle back to Blue Apron. I don't mind cooking - it's a way to bond with the people we love, to save money and eat healthier, and to de-stress.  It’s also good in case we’re ever asked to make Thanksgiving dinner for people we are trying to impress (side note I have a hilarious story that resulted in me having an irrational fear that I one day would have to do it for a Caucasian family, and on top of it lead Grace. As the cool kids say these days, "DM me if you want to know more"). 

But if I'm paying a bunch of money to spend a whole hour on cooking (and then cleaning), I might as well invest an extra five minutes swinging by the appropriate grocery store aisles to pick up ingredients myself.  Then I’d be able to cook what I like efficiently, as well as give myself extra portions so I won't have to spend extra time on a future meal. And I know I can prep my own meal in 30 minutes, thus saving me 30 minutes- which is 3 miles. So take away 3 Blue Apron meals a week and substitute it for things I know how to do, and I have effectively added 9 miles into my week without sacrificing much else. Take away 2 less episodes of whatever Netflix show I'm binging, and I would be at 14 miles for the week.

So yes, I hate Blue Apron. And unless they can find a way to get me a treadmill that helps me run/walk 3 miles every time I'm adding salt and pepper to taste, I will not be using them ever again.

If you didn't make a pledge, don't worry! Feel free to donate anyways, as 100% of proceeds go to charity:water, and really have nothing to do with us running!

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