The night before I met Ben I made several New Year’s resolutions that exemplified my single hood. One was that I wouldn’t date anyone who didn’t live in 78704 (to save on gas money) and the other was that I wasn’t going to cook at all during 2013. At this point of my life I was mainly eating Cheerios for dinner or getting takeout from one of the many amazing restaurants in my new hood around South Lamar and these resolutions, while stupid, felt right at the time.
Fortunately, I met Ben the next day on our blind date and my resolutions fell out the window. Ben lived in north Austin, a very long way from my south Austin duplex, and we started “commuting” back and forth. I also started cooking. As it turned out, cooking for two was actually a worthwhile use of time and kind of enjoyable. Now that we’re married I cook all the time and find it relaxing after a long day of work.
Almost three years later I needed some inspiration for our weekly meal planning to keep myself from heating up frozen pizza more than a few nights a month. One of my favorite bloggers, Peanut Butter Fingers, recently posted about Blue Apron and shared a discount code for her readers. Since I was interested in trying the service, but knew Ben would balk at the $60 full price for three meals, I took advantage of the discount and ordered our first round.
We’re getting better and better about meal planning and cooking, but some weeks it seems impossible (painful) to make it to the store to pick out ingredients and then go home and spend an hour cooking. First world problems, much? Sometimes the barrier to entry is just that we were out of town over the weekend and that interfered with our typical Sunday grocery store trips, but a lot of times I just don’t want to go to HEB, deal with people and stand in line for 30 minutes. I’m in awe with my mom for going to the store every week for herself and my dad AND my nana, doubling the length of time she spends shopping. You rock, mom!
In my ideal neighborhood, we’d have a small grocery store down the street from our house and I’d walk a few blocks, pick up my groceries for dinner each night and go home to cook, non-stressed from the hellish HEB experience that occurs on any weeknight or Sunday afternoon.
Because we don’t live in Europe, I’m always looking for ways to make the grocery shopping/cooking experience less miserable. We tried Instacart a few times and while I LOVED it, I couldn’t talk myself into spending the extra money to only save about an hour of time. It seems like a great solution for people with kids who have very limited time, but I can’t justify it at this stage of life.
Enter Blue Apron. I was VERY excited for our first delivery and loved unpacking all of the ingredients once everything arrived. We received three sets of ingredients for Cajun catfish, turkey chili and a pan-seared steak dish along with a few foreign veggies and spices.Pros:
- Easy and hassle-free. Everything showed up at our doorstep and was ready to go without a trip to the store.
- Interesting ingredients. I’m not a huge fan of fish, so we don’t eat many varieties other than Salmon. I also tend to stick with broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots and other staples when it comes to veggies. They sent us catfish, purple potatoes and other fun things I typically avoid and the new ingredients expanded my cooking horizons.
- Crazy flavor profiles. When I stick to similar ingredients, our food tends to taste fairly similar from meal to meal. Some of these dishes rocked my taste buds for the better and I plan to incorporate some of the unique spices in other dishes.
- Step-by-step instructions. I’m not an awesome cook and Pinterest recipes leave me filled with shame, frustration and remorse because they never look or taste anything like they’re supposed to. Blue Apron includes detailed instructions all the way from how to peel a beet to how hot the water should be for the rice.
- Pricey. Without the discount, the meals come out to $10 per person per meal. We could eat out for less than that since we typically share a plate at restaurants, so in the long run this isn’t worth it unless we are really busy and have no time to meal plan and shop.
- Time consuming. Because each dish is full of so many new flavors, they incorporate several veggie elements which require a lot of chopping. I might consider paying $10 per person if the vegetables came chopped. This part of dinner takes me forever and is typically where I end up slicing a finger.
- High in calories. Each dish ranged from 600-700 calories which is about 200 more calories than we typically consume for a home cooked meal. If the dishes made enough for leftovers, that would be one thing, but these did not.
Warning: The food photography you are about to see is not superb and I highly recommend you look at Blue Apron’s website if you want to really see what’s possible.All in all, we’ll probably purchase Blue Apron again if the meals look delicious and I need some motivation to make it to the kitchen. This week we went with round two of Blue Apron deliveries and the Za’atar Chicken & Farro Salad was my favorite so far. How do you battle the HEB grind on a weekly basis? What keeps you cooking?