blue apronThe Plate asks “Can Blue Apron Teach You to Cook?”

The answer is probably not.

Blue Apron is one of several companies that deliver recipe kits and ingredients to your home taking the grocery shopping and recipe sorting out of cooking. (But looking through recipes is half the fun.) They send out 3 million meals a month.

Each of the companies offers a similar promise of good-tasting meals that aren’t too fatty (they have calorie limits) and take only about 30 minutes to prepare. This commitment is—according to conversations with customers and a search of reviews and social media posts—fulfilled. Making a satisfying meal is a matter of chopping, reading, and eating. It requires only a kitchen and a kit.

But they don’t teach you why you’re using the techniques they recommend and, of course, they do the shopping for you so learning to pick out good ingredients is not part of the bargain either.

The only way these services could teach someone to cook would be if you use the recipes and ingredients to further your exploration. But if you are motivated to explore, why use Blue Apron? It’s easy enough to pick up unusual ingredients at the store and use the Internet to find out how to use them.

Of course, that might mean your results are less than stellar at first but that is how you learn. Doing the trial without the error isn’t likely to teach you much.

One satisfied customer reports

“I’ve used ingredients I would’ve never touched because I’ve never eaten them, seen them in the store or know what to do with them,” says Chris Auchterlonie, a Los Angeles-based Blue Apron customer who considered himself a pretty good cook before trying the service. Auchterlonie has expanded this to away-from-the-box cooking.

“I’ve started to incorporate some of the ingredients or modifying the recipes to fit whatever I have on-hand into non-Blue Apron days now that I’m more confident,” he says

“Aha” moments are serendipitous. No doubt some customers will find they like this cooking thing and strike out on their own. But if you lack the curiosity or confidence to do your own exploring I doubt that excellence in cooking is in your future.

This is just one more way we make efficiency a goal and hollow out the very activity at which we we want to be more efficient.