What We're Loving: Blue Apron
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The delivery service brings fresh ingredients and recipes to your door
With all the little obligations of everyday life — going to work, dragging yourself to the gym, paying the bills — often the last thing you want to do when you get home is open up a cookbook and prepare a gourmet meal for yourself. Takeout seems a lot easier, right?
Well, not anymore. Blue Apron is a delivery company that provides you with all the ingredients you need to make three fresh, healthy meals per week. Delivery is free, and once you subscribe you can cancel any time before the weekly cutoff (so no pressure!). But if you love the service, you can sign up for another three meals the following week.
All of Blue Apron’s recipes are designed to be prepared in 35 minutes or less and contain between 500 and 700 calories each for a well-balanced meal (they even have a vegetarian plan as well!). Customers are provided with the ingredients to create recipes such as Pulled Chicken Sliders with Homemade Pickles and Mexican-Style Corn, Grilled Shrimp Cocktail with Asparagus and Eggplant, and Steak and Summer Squash Kabobs with Blue Cheese Potato Salad. Sounds a lot better than a Lean Cuisine and a bag of popcorn…
Blue Apron would be the perfect option for an intimate dinner party as well, as it eliminates all the hassles of going to the store and assembling a menu for party guests.
Named after the tradition of new French chefs wearing blue aprons while they master the art of cooking, the Blue Apron service will give you all the ingredients and directions you need to pull off your very own masterpieces in the kitchen.
Blue Apron Love
First things first, I think we need to talk about last night’s dinner.
Oh my gosh, I am loving Blue Apron meals. They are so ridiculously delicious and Ryan and I have yet to make one we haven’t enjoyed. This was one heck of a good Christmas present from my husband, that’s for sure!
When we know we’re going to take the time to prepare a Blue Apron meal, Ryan and I really look forward to cooking together and eating what we know will be a fantastic dinner.
Last night we made Bangaladumpa Upma Koora, a Nepalese dish centered around asafoetida, a spice cultivated from the sap of a plant in the fennel and carrot family.
On a base of small white creamer potatoes, we poured a hot and flavorful mong dal and tomato paste base enhanced with curry leaves, onion, ginger, red chilies, lime and more.
We opted for the vegetarian Blue Apron meal option since I am already comfortable making meals centered around meat or fish. I wanted to explore vegetarian cooking and love the flavors of the Blue Apron meals. Each meal is so different and still 100 percent delicious and filling. YUM.
Today began a lot like yesterday, mainly because I felt so darn good after drinking my green smoothie in the morning. It set my day in motion in the best way and I felt more energetic than usual at work.
So today I figured I’d begin my day in a similar way!
Today’s smoothie was nearly identical to yesterday’s green smoothie, but I added chia seeds to the mix and sprinkled some on top as well.
I copied yesterday’s breakfast even further when I ate some Brazil nuts and a hard boiled egg on the side. Whatever works!
Before breakfast, Ryan and I drove to the gym for a 5:15 a.m. workout.
After a 10 minute warm up, I used my phone to complete another Nike Training Club app workout. On the agenda for today was the 45-minute advanced Fast and Furious workout that incorporated a lot of squats, lunges and core work.
I am beginning to wonder if I will ever think one of the NTC workouts are easy because so far they are kicking my butt in the best way.
How Blue Apron Helps KathEats Cook Balanced Meals Full of Love
Welcome to On the Table, Blue Apron’s spotlight on home cooks. This column is all about the challenges and joys of cooking. We’re exploring how busy, food-loving families get dinner on the table every day. This month we’re talking with Kath from KathEats. Kath is a registered dietician, a blogger, and a mother of two young boys. Here’s how she uses Blue Apron as part of her healthful and balanced lifestyle.
Blue Apron: What does a typical weeknight dinner look like for you?
KathEats: I have two kids ages 2 and 8, a husband, and a dog who is always in the kitchen. Dinnertime can be quite chaotic, which is why I try to do as much prep as I can during school and nap time. My husband and I both cook, and we often divide up the prep and active cooking steps so we split up the meal. Luckily we make a great team.
BA: How did you end up working in the world of health and wellness?
When I graduated from college I started shopping and cooking for myself, and I started losing the college weight I had put on. Through cooking for myself, I started to learn more about nutrition, and decided to go back to school to become a registered dietician. Meanwhile, I had started my blog in Sept of 2007 as a hobby. Before I knew it, it started bringing in ad revenue! When I graduated from RD school, it made more sense for me to focus on my blog full-time than to go get a job in dietetics.
I always wanted to help others realize how fun and delicious healthy eating can be. Now, I feel like I’m doing it in a unique way—through blogging.
BA: What does being healthy mean to you?
KathEats: My blog title began as “Kath Eats Real Food.” The book Superfoods HealthStyle was a big lightbulb moment for me. It helped me realize that nutrition wasn’t about deprivation, but it was about nourishing your body with healthy food. I have no food rules except to focus on real food and how you feel.
BA: What is your strategy for eating to support health?
KathEats: I don’t believe in diet restriction, or eliminating food groups unless you have a medical reason to do so. I eat everything. I think diversity is super important in a diet, so I like to think about eating a rainbow of foods. Often this means fruit, protein, and grains at breakfast, salad or leftovers for lunch, and lots of different dinners. I try to choose humanely raised meats and veggies at each dinner.
BA: Aside from healthful eating, what are some things you do to support your health?
KathEats: For me, it’s essential to get enough sleep and exercise. I exercise every day. I also try to make time to read, relax, and connect with family and friends. Those things really help my brain reset. I’ve started trying to mediate with my kids. It’s not something we do every night, but when we remember we’ll go do a meditation together. There’s one that we do on YouTube that’s designed for kids, and it’s like, “Now you’re walking in your tree house, and you feel so warm, and safe, and happy, and you have no worries in the world. And what are you going to put on your tree house wall?” It’s a perfect kid one. We did another one, and they didn’t respond as well to it. I think they really liked the tree house.
BA: How often do you cook with Blue Apron?
KathEats: I’ve been using it on and off since 2014. I’ve learned so many good techniques from Blue Apron recipes, and I’ve really enjoyed trying new spices. I love that I don’t end up with any food waste, or extra jars of spices that don’t get used.
During quarantine we haven’t been going out to dinner, so much so our Blue Apron meals are our special ones.
BA: On the nights you’re not cooking with Blue Apron, how does your cooking routine change?
KathEats: Our meals are definitely not as delicious! When we’re left to our own devices I think we tend to take more shortcuts.
My kids love all the classic kid foods: Pizza, mac and cheese, quesadillas. I think my best tip for kids is to deconstruct the meals. A couple of weeks ago we had steak with a mushroom herb sauce on top. For my son, I cut his up into little pieces with no mushroom sauce, and then the grown-up version had all the sauce and everything. So I can get them to eat deconstructed noodles here and steak here, pull the chicken out, that kind of thing. Overall, if we had pizza every single night, they would be super happy.
BA: What would you make on a night when you felt too tired to cook, but needed to get something on the table?
KathEats: If we’re in a hurry, sometimes I’ll just make a big dinner salad with a protein from the freezer. It’s easy and healthy. Sometimes we’ll turn to spaghetti. We always have ground beef in the freezer and noodles and sauce in the pantry. We’ll usually add baby spinach or frozen mushrooms to the sauce to get a vegetable in there.
BA: How does cooking with Blue Apron make you feel?KathEats: Blue Apron makes me feel like someone else is cooking for me. I’ve always said that I think food made by other people tastes better than my food, because I really do believe in that sprinkle of love, the magic. When I’m making a Blue Apron recipe, because I’m following someone else’s steps to a T, when the meal is ready, it really does kind of feel like someone else made it for me. And I think it tastes better because of that.
If you’re craving homemade meals created with balance in mind, explore Blue Apron’s new signature wellness menu here.
I knew the concept of Blue Apron a meal delivery service that delivers fresh ingredients along with killer recipes to your door, and all you do is cook. I’ve been through the website, read reviews and menus and heard nothing but great things from my cousin who uses it regularly. But for some reason the $50 off promo card sat on my desk for weeks. I guess I felt there could be a better time to use it, a week it would be hard to get to the grocery, or didn’t feel like planning dinner.
Last week the opportunity finally presented itself. Wednesday my husband and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary, and decided instead of going out dinner, we would cook something different together at home, using Blue Apron!
You may be picturing this
but in reality it was more like this
But I digress. After a deliciously successful anniversary dinner, I just had to share my experience. Here’s the rundown:
There are two main options when ordering 2-Person Plan and Family Plan. With the 2-Person Plan you receive one delivery a week with 3 different meals portioned for 2 people, while the Family Plan serves 4 people and you can select 2 or 4 recipes a week. Brett doesn’t eat seafood so I edited my meal preference to exclude seafood and shellfish. You can see the menu for the week, and unless you are getting the family plan with 4 recipes a week (which would be all the recipes) you can select which recipes you want.
I only wanted meals for that week, so I selected to skip the delivery for the following 3 weeks. More on that tactic later!
Delivery was super easy. You select which day you want your meals delivered (you can change the day or if you want to skip that week within a certain timeframe), so I selected Wednesday. I went to walk the dog and my Blue Apron box was on my doorstep! One box contained everything I needed for our 3 meals. The only items they assume you have on hand are salt, pepper, and oil.
Ice packs were placed at the bottom within the insulated bag so everything would still be fresh if I hadn’t been home to receive it. All ingredients were labeled and the recipe cards showed which items went with which recipe.
I placed the insulated bag in the fridge and waited until it was time for the fun to begin!
As of now, I have made two of our three recipes and they were delicious! I honestly don’t know which I liked more the Korean Pork Tacos or Brown Butter and Thyme Gnocchi…
But back to the recipes! Like I said, we opted out of the seafood/shellfish meals, but every recipe I viewed on the site looked delish. When you’re done with your meal, you’re left with an awesome recipe to use later, which can also be found on their website in case you don’t like saving physical recipes like I do. As a health coach, I appreciate that they include the nutritional information, and each recipe that I saw had a good balance of carbs/fat/protein.
We decided to make the Korean Pork Tacos, set out the recipe card, sorted out our ingredients, poured some wine and got to work.
Now, I enjoy cooking. I like filtering through recipes, trying new techniques and cooking styles, even grocery shopping isn’t a dread. (I will note that getting to the grocery isn’t my favorite, especially in the winter). So, while I am not particularly intimidated by cooking something new, I completely understand how out of your element it can be! These meals sound complicated, “Korean Pork Tacos with Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw”, but the recipes are not! Not only are there pictures, but you can also go to the website and see videos as well as read tips from other users.
(recipe card front and back)
I chopped items for the slaw while Brett started cooking the pork. They only send exactly what you need for each recipe, which seems funny to see only 3 radishes and 2 green onions, but you don’t have to measure and you don’t waste produce.
We took our time and were done in about a half hour.
Korean Pork Tacos with Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw
Brown Butter and Thyme Gnocchi
To be completely honest, my plan was to use the free code to get my meals, test it out and cancel my account. As I mentioned before, I love to cook, I’m not intimidated by many recipes and I have the time and patience for the grocery. However, with all of those things on my side, I sincerely plan to use Blue Apron again!
For me, these were my big takeaways:
1. It was a nice break from deciding what I wanted to cook that week. Not to search for two recipes that used only a half pound of turkey so I could use the whole pound that the grocery sells. Even as someone concerned with the ingredients and nutritional value of my meals, I didn’t feel the need to scour through each recipe because they are all realistically healthy.
2. We tried things I’ve never cooked before, and now have those items (gnocchi for example) in my repertoire and recipes saved.
3. Even if I didn’t have a discount code, the meals broke down to – at most – $10 per person/per meal. At first I thought that was kind of steep, but then I thought about how I didn’t have to go to the grocery (time and stress saver), and how no ingredients went to waste. Sure, I may spend less on what I use when I go to the store, but I’m often throwing items away because they go bad. Also, the quality of the items they send are as good or better than what I buy.
Also, If you travel, this is a great way to still cook delicious meals without stressing over when you can get to the store, or leaving town with a fridge full of food that will go bad. Intimidated by cooking? These recipes are accessible and with the support of detailed recipe cards, videos and an online community, you can comfortably learn how to cook at home.
It’s easy to skip deliveries and you can cancel your account at any time so money and food aren’t wasted. I see why people are loving Blue Apron! Have you used this or another meal delivery service? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!
Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.
Allison Hagan is a digital producer for Here & Now.
Why Blue Apron’s Wellness Recipes Get My Thumbs Up
We have been enjoying Blue Apron for the past few months, and I have a good sense of the variety of meals they offer. Plus the addition of the wellness recipes means even more healthy food to come to your kitchen!
If you’re like to try some wellness recipes, sign up here for $60 off your first 3 boxes.
A few reasons why the Blue Apron wellness recipes get my thumbs up:
- Use of fresh whole food from a variety of food groups
- Focus on nutrient-dense superfood ingredients
- Commitment to small farms, humanely-raised meats and sustainable seafood
Fresh Whole Food
As many you know, I have a holistic view of nutrition that is founded in real food. (Read more about my approach to real food here.) My definition of real food is “food that is minimally processed and maintains its natural integrity.” I believe that the best diet is one that includes a rainbow of real food from a variety of food groups.
Since Blue Apron recipes come with food in its whole form plus spices and sauces used to season them, you cook everything yourself so you can control how much of everything goes into your recipes. Plus, you’re cooking from scratch and becoming a better home chef, which will serve your health for years to come.
Focus on what you DO eat, rather than what you don’t, and make sure you’re getting a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods – like the ones shown below!
When I choose my recipes each week, I most often look for recipes that have a large portion of vegetables and complement the others in my week. I’ll choose a fish, a beef, and a vegetarian recipe for variety in both flavor and nutrient profile. Nearly all of the recipes have a balance between protein, complex carbohydrates, and produce built in, plus plenty of spices for an extra dose of antioxidant power.
Some of the nutritious ingredients that came in this week’s box:
- Miso – manganese, copper, zinc, antioxidants
- Turmeric – anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk, improved cognitive function, blood sugar balance, and more
- Kale – lutein (known for eye health), fiber, vitamins K, A, and C
- Mushrooms – antioxidants (particularly selenium) plus fiber, copper, and B vitamins
- Brown rice – fiber, manganese, selenium, phytonutrients
- Cilantro – a variety of antioxidant phytonutrients
- Sweet potatoes – rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C and other antioxidants, fiber
- Garlic – an excellent source of manganese and vitamin B6 plus unique sulfur-containing compounds that support many different health systems
Sustainable Seafood and Humanely Raised Meats
I was excited to see Vital Farms eggs in our box! This is a brand I frequently choose from Whole Foods. I look for pastured-raised eggs for both the superior nutrient value and the ethical conditions for chickens to roam. Pastured eggs have been found to have higher amounts of vitamins A, E, omega 3s, and vitamin D when compared to conventional eggs. (Source)
Spotlight On: Miso Ginger Rice Bowls
This recipe is one of the wellness recipes that you’ll see more of in Blue Apron’s weekly menu choices. We loved these bowls! The miso-ginger-honey sauce for the rice was EPIC, and I learned a new technique to cook soft boiled eggs! (7 minute boil + ice cold water = perfect soft yolk!)
This bowl was packed with crunchy vegetables, plenty of flavor, fiber and nutrition, and was simple to make. It’s the definition of: real food can be super good and super good for you!
Try The Blue Apron Wellness Recipes
While I think Blue Apron’s recipes have always had good nutrition in mind, the new wellness recipes are particularly focused on vegetables, fiber, complex carbohydrates, superfood ingredients, and a little bit lighter overall.
This dish was one of the wellness recipes. If you’re focusing on your health this year and want to make the steps to cooking fresh, real food as simple as possible, consider getting a few boxes to kick start your year. I’d love to cook these with you virtually!
Meal Prep with Blue Apron
Blue Apron recipes used to take me longer when I first started using the service 6 years ago. But these days, I divide into two chunks: prep and cook. I spend 20 minutes during the day to prep the vegetables and sauces and study the recipe, and the other 10-20 minutes at dinnertime to execute the dish. It’s hard to find a couple hours to grocery shop and cook, but 20 minutes here and there – totally doable!
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Another way we maximize Blue Apron is to order the four-serving option and have it two nights in a row.
We stretch one cooking session into two night’s worth of dinners. It’s the ultimate time-saver because not only do we save on cooking time, but there are fewer dishes to clean on those nights, too. (Especially with a broken dishwasher this month!!)
I strategically plan our schedule around the longer “cook days” versus the days we know we’ll be having the leftovers. On a leftovers night we might spend 20 extra minutes at the park!
Get Cooking and Turn Up the Heat on Your Date Nights
S ince we got married last fall, a lot has shifted in our lives and relationship. My wife, Karyne, and I both started new jobs, which came with new commute schedules our weekly commitments have increased and the flexibility we once had during the week to spend time together has definitely declined. When we are home together, we try to squeeze in a workout, take the dogs for a walk, and get dinner together, and before we know it, it’s basically time to head to bed—well after getting at least an episode of Chopped or Survivor in there.
It helps that I love to cook—okay, fine, maybe I just love buying cookbooks and pinning recipes—but I find myself to be rather terrible at meal planning (seriously, give me your tips!). So what’s a girl to do? Up until recently, our go-to has been ordering in sushi or poke bowls, thanks to on-demand delivery apps making this WAY too easy. So I decided to check out our friends at Blue Apron, an APW fave and Maddie’s ride or die, and ever since, we’ve been able to turn those ordering-in nights into cooking together nights. Plus, we’re well aware that life will only continue to get busier as our family grows. So how do we build in solid relationship habits now, so we’re a little more prepared down the line?
If you’re new here, Blue Apron sends a box of pre-portioned, farm fresh recipe ingredients to your house each week (enough for three meals including everything except salt, pepper, and oil), and then you just do the prepping and cooking part. They give you options for couples or families, so you can get exactly how much you need. The portions are fairly generous, too, so if you’re like me and leftovers for lunch is something you’re into, you definitely can make it work with a little supplementing here and there.
Since we get home at different times, I’m able to start the prep work, which is actually my fave. Then by the time Karyne is home, we’re ready to get cooking together. Blue Apron’s recipes are easy and clear to follow, so folks who aren’t as confident in the kitchen can get through them with ease. Pro tip: Like any recipe, always read it all the way through before you start. And since most meals can be completed in under forty minutes, you’ll be sitting down to eat in no time. Better yet, you can start and stop your shipments whenever you want for no fees. Going out of town one week? No problem. Feel like cooking on your own? You got it! Just let them know which weeks you want to skip and you’re all set!
I love the fact that Blue Apron recipes, while simple, involve some pretty sophisticated cooking techniques, like the quick pickling we did. This builds confidence in the kitchen and also helps to expand your palate. Most of their recipes use common kitchen tools, but it helps to get yourself equipped with a few extras, such as a microplane and handheld press. Otherwise, a good chef’s knife, cutting boards, and standard pots and pans will get you through. If you don’t have what you need, Blue Apron also has a great marketplace that carries everything from a basic prep tool bundle to cast iron skillets, and they even have knives and wine glasses.
One of the things we were most excited about was Blue Apron’s incredible wine delivery. Because yes, wine delivered to our doorstep is amazing. You get six bottles a month of delicious wine. Blue Apron works with vineyards to produce wines that pair with their recipes. They’re also sized to serve exactly two people.
Blue Apron also puts all of their recipes online once the week is done. So when we find one that we really love, we’re able to get it online instead of saving all the recipe cards. We incorporate these recipes into our rotation for nights we don’t have meals. And it’s a great way to try out recipes when we’re feeling more adventurous!
I love not having to play the “what’s for dinner” game every night, and with all the extra time we save, we’re able to sit down and actually enjoy our meal. We now look forward to getting our box every week and picking which night we’ll be cooking together. It’s given us healthy, fast options, as well as a great way to reconnect during busy weeks.
Now, instead of using our precious free time chatting about what’s on the menu—or worse, running to the store because we forgot we’re out of EVERYTHING—we use that time to explore our neighborhood or just relax on the patio. How do you guys spend your free time during the week and reconnect as a couple?
Blue Apron wants to you to have more time with your partner and family so they’re giving away 3 free meals to the first 50 APW readers on their first order. Click here to get your free meals!
This post was sponsored by Blue Apron. Blue Apron simplifies mealtimes by delivering fresh ingredients straight to your door. Blue Apron’s recipes help support local farmers and utilize fresh, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. If you’ve been thinking of trying out Blue Apron, the first 50 to sign up with a new account will get three free meals with their first delivery. Click here to sign up!
This Bay Area native built her own business as a wedding hair and makeup artist, before shifting gears to work in marketing. She’s an avid iPhone photographer, loves all forms of social media (especially Instagram, #katesskylog), and makes a really mean chocolate chip cookie. Kate is a collector of spoons, enamel pins, and reusable bags she never actually brings to the store. When not getting sucked into the ASOS app or an Instagram hashtag blackhole, Kate can be found hanging on the Peninsula with her wife, 2 cats and 2 dogs.