While I love to cook, I don’t always love taking the time to cook.
Sure, on the weekend, I use to happily spend 10-12 hours flitting in and out of the kitchen fussing over the same pot of chicken broth (it’s totally worth it, of course -and it smells go good!). But during the week, I really just can’t be bothered. Or rather, I guess I don’t want to be bothered with planning meals, shopping for them, and having everything ready to go at 6pm in the evening.
I get it, some people thrive on that. Some people make all their meals on the weekend and then either freeze them or parcel them out during the week. This is also not an option for me, as my weekends are now mostly spent caring for my grandmother, and I just don’t have time to do things like that for us here at home. So during the week, after work – and yeah, I work from home but I’m on the phone 90% of the time and working from home is not all binging on Downton Abbey all day like some people think it is – all I really want to do is order a pizza or make a Chipotle run or something. But that’s not sustainable; you can’t do that every day and still feel good about yourself and still fit into your clothes.
A few months ago a good friend of mine mentioned that she had started using Blue Apron, which is basically a delivery service that sends you a box of pre-portioned meal ingredients, with recipes. It’s about $60 for the fixings to make three, two-person meals, and I think there are options for larger, family sized meals, but it’s just me and my Viking, so we don’t really need more than that.
You peek at the upcoming menu for the week (they have both vegetarian and meat-eater options), decide if you like the recipes, and then either opt in or skip that week’s delivery. So far, we have gone the vegetarian route and usually schedule a delivery every other week; I don’t have time to cook every day, and if we had one of these boxes arriving every single week, there would be a lot of food that would never get cooked!
The box arrives packed with recipe cards with clear instructions and lots of photos, and ingredients which are already portioned and measured: if a curry recipe calls for a teaspoon of cumin, there it is, neatly labeled, in its own little cup. Two tablespoons of olive oil arrive in a tiny screw-top jar; six sprigs of cilantro, in a zipped plastic bag. Of course you still must chop and dice and mince and cook and simmer (and clean up afterward, ugh) but everything is already there for you to get started.
Is it cost effective? Well, I don’t know. If you’re the type who doesn’t mind paying for convenience, then absolutely. What I love about it most though, is that all of the recipes are seasonal and call for seasonal ingredients, and while so far there’s been nothing really crazy-unusual, more than half of these I definitely would not have thought to make on my own. Acorn squash tempura tacos? Never would have come up with that in a million years. But I am here to tell you that they were amazing.
A few tips to keep in mind:
Those foil cooling packs that they include to keep the food from spoiling? The ingredients are water soluble, so just snip one end, dump the contents down the drain, and recycle the rest. Speaking of recycling, some folks have issues with all the little containers and cartons and packing that Blue Apron includes for all the knick knacks – the oils and spices and various & sundry tiny ingredients. It looks like they are trying to address this with a recycling program
These are not exactly low calorie meals. While I think that they are, for the most part, healthful and nutritious, each meal runs you around 700 calories, according to the portions on the recipe cards. You can probably get around this by using less oil than is called for here and there, and maybe portioning things out into smaller sized dishes, but Weight Watchers this is not.
So far there are only vegetarian and carnivore options – no gluten free or dairy free meals or anything like that. I don’t know if that is something they are adding, but I have to imagine that there is a niche for this type of service and someone else is already providing it? If not, someone needs to run with that idea!
The recipes are on the site for free, so you don’t even have to sign up and pay for the service if you want to make any of the things I’ve mentioned here! For your convenience, I have linked to all of the recipes below, with the favorites being starred.
Would I recommend this? I think I would. I’m not even getting any affiliate perks by saying so, as they don’t seem to have a program for that yet. And for what it’s worth…out of all of those ridiculous subscription boxes I’ve been signing up for and canceling over the past year? I think this one is probably my favorite. Well, this one and the wine subscription – Bright Cellars – because, you know. Wine. I’ve not mentioned that here before, so here’s a mini-review:
BEST THING EVER. WINE DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR.
- Ponzu-Tahini Soba Noodle Salad with Yellow Beet, Cabbage & Chard*
- Acorn Squash Tempura Tacos with Smoked Paprika-Lime Sauce*
- Queso & Pepper Arepas with Kale-Avocado Salad & Chimichurri*
- Crispy Ricotta Pierogi with Warm Apple-Cabbage Salad & Browned Butter
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad w/ Homemade Garlic Croutons & Sunny-Side Up Eggs
- Spinach & Fresh Mozzarella Pizza with Lemon & Chile Honey