Meal Plans and a delivery service

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I’m more of a baker than a cook. I like to follow instructions and make the kind of messes where everyone clamors to lick the bowl. Aron is actually the better cook: A dash of this, a measure of that: he can wing it—and fast. I like direction.

I’ve been hearing about Blue Apron—a weekly meal service—a lot over the past couple of years. I distinctly recall one of our parents’ friends singing its praises and asking if I’d tried it; I knew then that the concept had really spread.

You choose a menu each week, and then they deliver recipes and fresh ingredients. Basically, they take care of the meal planning and grocery shopping and you just have to do the food prep to get dinner on the table. I’d considered trying it, but would tell myself that all I needed to do was go through my cookbooks, pick out some recipes, and make a meal plan on Sunday to have a similar experience. I’d do the grocery shopping for the week and that would be that. And it’s true. I know plenty of families who have mastered this—usually they have that talent of seeing how one night’s dinner is the base for the next’s. For my part, I haven’t really nailed it. I need direction.

For example, after a few days, I end up making the same meals. And the new ones seem to take far longer than I anticipated—worth it for a dinner party or brunch, not so worth it for Tuesday night when you’ve got ten minutes after soccer. We also usually eat out—at a restaurant or a friend’s house—a few nights each week, so if I over-plan, there’s waste. Maybe it’s our New York habits holding strong, but we love getting take-out.

So when Blue Apron reached out to see if I wanted to try the service, I said yes. What could I learn?

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We opted for the Family Plan, which can be two or four recipes per week, designed to be served family-style: First came Steak Sandwiches with a side of Roasted Carrots, then a Miso-Honey Glazed Chicken dish with sweet potatoes and bok choy (find the recipes here). Both were delicious, but the steak sandwiches really a huge hit. It was so simple, and yet for some reason I would have never thought to make those at home. There were little things—like caramelizing onions, whipping up an aioli (just mayo, lemon, and garlic)—that just aren’t in my usual rotation, but made all the difference.

I was concerned about packaging, but they’ve apparently gone to great lengths to cut down on packaging and incorporate recycling options. You can use the recycling locator to find recycling options in your community or return your packaging for free to Blue Apron via USPS. I thought it was perhaps less than some take-out would bring in and comparable to a grocery run if you use the plastic produce bags.

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Blue Apron

I involved Hudson in making the second meal, and it was especially satisfying—particularly because we got to skip the grocery store part where I inevitably let him snack while we shop and everyone’s appetite is ruined. I handed him the recipe cards (where each step is illustrated), and asked him to tell me what to do. Most of the prep involved is chopping and mixing—perfect for doing together.

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There were some flavors we don’t include routinely—ginger and bok choy and miso are more likely to show up on our plates at restaurants than at home—another bonus. We showed him how spicy the ginger can be straight and then used some to make ginger-ale while the chicken was browning. When his attention wained, it wasn’t long ’til dinner (each meal takes around 40 minutes from start to finish).

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The takeaway for me: this is a fantastic option for people looking to prepare fresh meals at home with the convenience of having the planning and shopping done for you. I think there’s a real value to seeing how things are made and what goes into your food that is hard to get with take-out, and yet if cooking and meal planning isn’t second nature, or isn’t feasible for you, that often feels like the best option. I felt like this offered the best of both worlds for a few nights during the week and has already given me a few new dishes I’ll be keeping in rotation.

Have you tried a meal delivery service? Would you like to?

If you would, Blue Apron is offering that the first 50 readers to visit will get two free meals on their first Blue Apron order! Check it out.

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This post is sponsored by Blue Apron; all opinions are mine. Blue Apron is a weekly subscription service with no commitment—you can skip a week or cancel at anytime with a week’s notice, and delivery is always free. Blue Apron is working to develop a sustainable food system and use high quality ingredients. Check out their mission page

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