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Cooking is My Constant

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This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.

If I may brag a little, just for a moment (lolololol), I am pretty proud that in spite of all the bonkers-level craziness of the past month, I've managed to keep life fairly stable and predictable for the kids. True, we weren't able to spring for a ton of camps or trips to the beach this summer, but we had lots of playtime and fun in the backyard, bubbles and running through the sprinkler and making the most out of a $10 inflatable kiddie pool. And family dinners out on the back deck every single night, without fail.

Of course you know I had some help with that last part:

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What's always been a convenience turned into a godsend for us this summer. If I'd been left to menu plan (while my brain short-circuited over all the moving crap) and grocery shop (with all three kids in tow) on my own, I am pretty sure this summer would have been all about lousy delivery pizza  and nugget-based food forms and stress-eating on the couch. 

Instead it's been more like:

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I will cop to making everybody eat off paper plates for a few days there to keep the kitchen mess under control, but since Blue Apron meals usually only require one or two pots/pans total (and no measuring cups/spoons/spillage) and take less than 40 minutes to make, I never felt like cooking dinner was a big hassle or threat to our temporary illusion of a spotless, show-ready house. 

Our food arrives every week on Monday. (We typically go for two boxes on the two-person plan, though we now have the ability to switch back and forth between that and the 4-person family plan, so we have even more recipes to choose from!)  I tend to customize our menus on the website or phone app a few weeks in advance, so it's always like opening something fun I forgot I even ordered. You know, because you got a little tipsy and decided to shop for shoes or go on Etsy for awhile. No judgment.

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Ezra always goes right for the recipe cards so he can pick which meal we'll make first.

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(He's also a big fan of pairing plaid with plaid. Also no judgment.)

This week Vietnamese Chicken Wings (with lemongrass brown rice and romaine hearts) was our winner. (I was personally rooting for the shrimp with squid ink linguine and cherry tomatoes, but we'll get to that one soon enough.)

And so the mini-scavenger hunt for the ingredients commenced.

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(That sobering moment when you realize your kids have no idea what uncooked rice looks like.)

(But at least now they can recognize a stalk of lemongrass!)

We have an extra fridge in our basement, so we unload the rest of the food there. 

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Confession time: While Blue Apron has our food waste situation immeasurably, we end up with TON of extra garlic and onions. Garlic because you get a whole head every week even if you just need a couple cloves, and onions because surprise! After spending my whole life thinking I was just overly sensitive (or being a big baby), turns I'm actually mildly allergic. But that's a fun throat-closing story for another post, so someone remind me to tell it sometime. 

In the meantime, we drastically cut back on onions in most recipes (I can tolerate some cooked, zero raw), so we end up with leftovers. Jason pickles them because he loves pickled onions on things which gag gag gag gag. I either roast the extra garlic whole or confit it to spread on toasted bread or eat with funky cheeses which is totally not gross at all except for probably my breath.

ANYWAY. 

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I'm hungry now. Let's get cooking. 

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I think I was technically supposed to walk you through a recipe this time, but this one was so simple this post would be like: Chop some stuff. Roast the wings. Sauce the wings (soy glaze + sambal oelek + Worcestershire). Cook the rice. Drink some wine. Make your spouse mix up a salad dressing so the shallots don't murder you and/or mess up your eye makeup. 

Eat. Enjoy. 

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Bask in preschooler approval because "it's chicken with rice" is all the information he requires.

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Drink more wine and reminisce about the days when your kids would freak out at the sight of green things or swear a single grain of black pepper was "too spicy," and now they just ate romaine hearts and chili-glazed chicken and didn't pick the cilantro out of the rice.

Then make them unload/load the dishwasher for you. Hooray for another successful family dinner! 

Thanks Blue Apron, for sponsoring yet another post and just being awesome in general. Still haven't given Blue Apron a try? Here's two free meals off your first order.  (First 100 readers only.) They now deliver to most of the country, since launching a new distribution center in Texas.

(You know I triple-checked delivery zones before we decided to move.)

Comments

Allison

I'm not sure if you will get a chance to answer this or not. My husband and I have been doing Plated.com for a while now. We love it for all the reasons you note - less waste, forced rounded out meals, etc. We wanted to do Blue Apron but they only recently started delivering to TX. On the Two person plan BA has six options. My question (finally....) do you get to pick which of the six you wish to have delivered? Do they pick based on you answering questions? We are by no means vegetarians but I like a meatless dish occasionally, etc so I'm hoping I can customize???? Thanks so much!

Lori

I love Blue Apron, thanks to you. And thanks to you, and Blue Aprons steady supply of friend invites for free meals, I've converted about 40% of my friends (and co-workers, complete strangers) to the service. It just makes life so much better.

Courtney

We started Blue Apron on your recommendation a few months ago and love it. My sister and brother now subscribe too! Sponsor money well spent Blue Apron!

Nicole P.

These posts make me so jealous. Wish they'd start delivering in South Dakota soon!

Valerie

I just got my first Blue Apron delivery yesterday (I live in Texas) and made the linguine, it was super tasty!

jodi

We have our first blue apron order coming this week and to say I'm crazy excited would not be putting it mildly.

Erin

Ooh, I have the chicken wings and squid ink linguine coming on Friday. Nice to get a little preview of the deliciousness! Thanks for mentioning that you roast the extra garlic. I never use my garlic and I don't know WHY it didn't occur to me to do something else with it. Especially because I can't eat raw kale, so I make baked kale chips every time they send me kale.

Also: putting pickled onions on things makes life worth living, high five Jason! Also, also: Blue Apron taught me how to pickle things. High five Blue Apron!

Jenny

I started Blue Apron because of you a ways back and then had to put it on hold for a while, but a couple weeks ago I reactivated, and my box (including the Vietnamese chicken wings and the squid ink pasta!!!) arrives today and I am SO READY. We recently invested in a Big Green Egg and so there's been a LOT of very heavy, meaty things this summer and I'm really excited to intersperse that with some lighter, more adventurous stuff that I know we'll love.

Cheri

My 12 year old loves to cook but we live in a small town so "official" cooking classes are not an option. We use Blue Apron (thanks to your recommendation!) as her class. The recipes are written so that she can make about 95% of them herself. Usually takes her waaaaaaay longer than the time frame they say, though ;) We still get stupid excited about delivery day every time.

Dona

@Allison We've been getting BA for several months now (thanks to this blog) and I think I can answer your question. For the two person box you check off boxes of what you will eat (lamb, beef, pork, seafood, poultry). The meals suggested for you are based on that. I usually get a beef or pork meal, a poultry meal and a seafood meal. You can slightly change the menu but only some combinations work. You can leave off one animal based protein meal and substitute the first choice vegetarian meal but not any of the others. (choices are shown in a 3 photo by 2 photo pattern with the top three being the animal based protein and the bottom three being vegetarian). It would be nice to have more choices, and they keep saying they are going to implement that sometime, but have not done so yet. I hope that answered your question. Perhaps someone else can add to that.

Erin

P.S. @Allison waaay up there at the top of the comments: They pick your meals based on the preferences you set, but you can change those and select what you want. However, some combinations of meals are not available, so it can be a little limiting.

For example, sometimes I really really really want a certain vegetarian dish in addition to my two meat dishes, but that vegetarian dish is not available with the meat dishes. It's only available with the other two vegetarian options. I'm mostly so happy with what they send me that this doesn't bother me, but I can see how it might irritate some people. FYI, since you asked!

Kathi

I work full time and am a widowed parent. I have a picky high school aged daughter and a food-adventurous, ravenous son home from college for the summer. My son was greeting me daily with "what's for dinner?" Blue Apron to the rescue. Good food, great recipes (which my kids can make if I'm late or out for the evening) and real dollar savings to boot, since I don't run to the grocery store all the time and make impulse purchases. We've eaten healthier and AT HOME (so more $$ savings). I love to cook, but hate to shop and plan so this has just been perfect for us. Blue Apron for the win!!

Kathi

Oh, and Amy, thanks for the tip about what to do with all the extra garlic. I'll be roasting it this weekend!!

Amy L

Every time you post these Blue Apron talks I get so mad because they don't deliver to us in ND! Please, please!! We need you up here!

Whitney

Sooooo stupid question - what the heck do you do with all the huge ice packs? Will Blue Apron recycle them? I'm on box #2 & want to marry Blue Apron, but have no idea of what to do with alllll the ice packs.

Dona

@Whitney -- I put a message for "free ice packs available" on my neighborhood email list and got several responses -- so many I had to take names for my next shipment.

Alison

The squid ink pasta was delish!! :-)

Heather

ack! I am so bummed. I literally just signed up for Blue Apron LAST NIGHT after all your raving and my frustration with meal planning. Wish I had waited until this morning so i could click through the sponsored post. :(

Melinda Michelle

OMG I'M ALLERGIC TO ONIONS, TOO!

Donna P

Imma let you blog about Blue Apron again, but what I really want to know about is whether you found a house? Update please!

Shannon

How do you guys get 2 boxes? Did you have to sign up two separate accounts?

Bee

I loooooved my Blue Apron subscription - I picked up one of your earlier sponsored post specials. My kids are older (high school and college) but were pretty good about both helping cook and with eating new things. My husband rebelled to the point of picking up fast food on the way home, then teenager started wanting that too ... DH has always ben funny about food. For now we are back to home cooking familiar but boring foods. Wish I could make it work while maintaining family civility.

Melissa V

I signed up for BA from one of your posts and man, its been awesome! I have loved everything so far but confess to giving the squid ink pasta the side eye this week. Glad to hear in the comments it was good.

Barb

Oh why doesn't Blue Apron deliver to Canada? I would be so all over those recipes!!! Those meals look delicious and we're sooo lazy when it comes to cooking...

Catherine

Thank you so much for turning me onto Blue Apron! Because of you and the great discount for our first week my boyfriend and I have been completely converted. I love knowing how to cook now - before, we were literally so hopeless that we could only make like 3 things, including cereal.

I have to ask you though - you keep saying that it's so easy to put these together. Is that because you had more experience cooking before starting BA? For me, while I love love that the concept of chopping veggies and "whipping up" a salad and sauteeing steaks or breaded chicken is now something that I feel completely capable of doing, I still feel like the prep just takes FOREVER. The cooking part is easy (yay!) - but even with a mandoline, it usually takes over an hour to prep a typical meal (small dice onion+thinly slice garlic+zest, quarter, and deseed a lemon+tear herb leaves off stems and finely chop+scrub and medium dice potatoes+cut tomatoes into wedges+etc etc). Do you have any tricks or tips for how to make the prep work feel less exhausting and time consuming?

Cimorene

We tried BA and Plated and really enjoyed the food. I agree with Catherine above though that the prep took longer than 30-40 minutes but that didn't bother me too much. What I want to know is how Amy prepped in only a bowl or two. I felt like there were so many different components we ended up with 3x as many dishes as usual. And while we may have wasted less food, I love leftovers and there weren't any. But the packaging waste was the killer for me -- have people found a way to re-use all the little boxes and containers and bags? I just could not get past that and is the main reason we haven't re-ordered. I really, really want to love these services but I am afraid they're just not for me.

Amalah

@Catherine very excellent point. Jason and I have fairly average knife skills. But we are doing it together, which saves time. Our first couple weeks were awkward/sloppy but we have figured out the flow.

Amalah

@cimorene We recycle all the packaging.

https://support.blueapron.com/hc/en-us/articles/202510818-How-do-I-recycle-my-Blue-Apron-packaging-

Mary

We're loving Blue Apron, thanks to you! We had the barley risotto last night and it was delicious. It took a little practice to get better at chopping and organizing and such, but now it's all good. Except for when I grate my thumb, that is.

Annie

I don't want to be the Debbie Downer of the comments, but we signed up for Blue Apron after the last sponsored post and I've been disappointed. First, as commenters noted above, prep work was taking me a LONG time (and I'm at least average in knife skills). And the packaging, oh gosh, the packaging - it's SO MUCH. They sent us a tomato in a box made just for a single tomato (think Big Mac box). We recycle, but even then, it felt wasteful. The final straw was the meal of hotdogs and green beans (?) - I just couldn't justify spending $35 for a meal I could have made for less than $15. Generally the food tasted good, but YMMV with the service itself.

Ashley

I just signed up using your promo--thanks! Due to our delivery date I have to wait almost two weeks before our first box arrives. It can't come soon enough!

Kristen

Pro tip: you can caramelize onions in a crock pot. We do 8 to 10 at a time for 8 hours on low and then use throughout the week on basically everything. You can also freeze them after they are cooked.

As for the garlic, slice off the top and roast them all at once. Spread on bread or eat plain.

Em

I've been trying to buy all of my produce locally when I can, but I would love to give this a shot. Then I looked and realized they don't deliver to Minneapolis/St. Paul, so I can't! Sad.

Lindsay

I'd love to know how you get two boxes a week too!

Rebecca

Ha ha ha ha - how did you get in my house to take that photo of the leftover BA garlic and onions?!? I have no patience for chopping garlic, and usually don't want to resort to pulling out my scuba mask to chop onions, so we always have minced garlic and diced onions on hand, which means lots of extra whole onions and cloves of garlic. And Howard County accepts all of the packaging for recycling (hint, hint).

Elizabeth

Every time you post about Blue Apron I get excited and want to try it. Then I go to the website and remember that they don't handle food allergies very well. My son has celiac disease and while the rest of us can eat gluten I can't risk the contamination. I've sent emails but just get the "we're not there yet" response. Any chance you could put in a good word to them on behalf of those of us struggling with food allergies? I'd sign up in a heartbeat if it was safe.

Jen

Thanks for turning us on to Blue Apron! The squid ink linguine is delish. We just had it for dinner tonight and even the toddler was all over it.

Allyson

I honestly thought I was the only one that was allergic to onions. Turns out we're not uncommon. Who knew? And they are in EVERYTHING.

KImtoo

Wow, I am so relieved to read all these comments. Because Amy was totally confusing me with the customizing orders thing, and put me in the this-takes-a long-time corner. So nice to know I'm not alone in that.
We are on the 2-meals for 4 people plan. My kids are still in the not-a-single-grain-of-pepper phase, but my oldest has gotten a few bites of salmon and pork chop down her throat without gagging. We're ok with that, because leftovers for adults. It has been a game changer for us, really. I'mgetting my cooking mojo back.

Arnebya

Y'all are killing me with the allergic to onions comments! I would die (I guess not if it had always been, but trying to imagine developing one now? Nope).

I keep thinking I'm going to try Blue Apron and still haven't. Maybe one day. Can I come to the yellow house to cook it?

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