Ahh, the “joys” of cooking. Depending on your personality, you either love to cook, hate to cook, or cook just because you need to eat. I think the joy of providing a meal for others, increases the likeliness of wanting to cook, but when you are in a situation living by yourself, it might not be as fun. Whatever you cook, you are stuck eating it for 4 meals, unless you decided to make “just enough,” which is never as cost effective. Regardless of your motivation, we all have to eat, and eating out all the time is not healthy on your body or your wallet. So whether you are an expert chef or a wannabe, there are a lot of interesting things out there to try to spice up your menus and add some changes.
I recently started trying Blue Apron, after a friend gave me a free trial. If you are not familiar with Blue Apron, the concept is very simple: They are equipping you with the food and instructions to make several tasty dishes. When you sign up you can select a box with a 2-person set of meals; or a 4-person set for a family. For the 2-person set, you get 3 meals of 2 servings each, with all the raw ingredients inside. That’s right, everything you need (aside from Olive Oil and Salt) is inside the box. You just wash everything from it’s individually vacuum-sealed bag or container, cut or dice per the instructions, and then start cooking!!
I will admit, I did feel like a little Emeril that first time, and even still today. “BAMmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!” as I roast the garlic and “Whazaa” as I sprinkle the scallion on top for aesthetic appeal. I have mastered the plate and place setting I want for my pictures and I even bought myself an apron (you might as well look the part while doing so). In the privacy of your own home there is no judgement. You can chop that fairytale eggplant, that you would have no idea where to find in the supermarket, and look up how to chop an eggplant, without feeling dumb. I’ve learned how to create zest with the lemon rind and made General Tso’s chicken using soy sauce and ketchup!! Really? I have been paying $8 for some ketchup? There a variety of meals that will be sent and you can specify which meats you don’t eat or if you don’t eat meat.
The downsides aren’t even that bad – yes, the cost is not cheap, but it’s cheaper than eating out if you divide the price by the 6 meals you get. If you don’t eat out a lot, and are good at finding new recipes and trying them on your own, then it’s probably not the thing for you. But if you hate having to ask someone what a “shallot” is or where you can find a vegetable/fruit/item you’ve never heard of, then it’s worth a free trial at least. After a while one box a week becomes too frequent if you travel on the weekends or are out and about, so every other week is a good way to try it. You are limited to what they send you so if you want something specific, you would end up making it on the off days. And you can tell them what meats you don’t eat, but if you have an aversion to mushrooms, there’s really no way to avoid them in the recipes. The vegetables and sides are going to be seasonal. A number of my friends would agree that the meals are not necessarily nutritionally balanced. I feel like I get a lot of carbs (and salt; the recipes always tell you to salt to taste), but I don’t always get vegetables. Of course it’s tough finding local farms with the same vegetables throughout the country, so that is probably why. You are better off making sure you eat a balanced meal by incorporating some healthier options on your own. Do not confuse Blue Apron with Weight Watchers. Blue Apron is all about getting you in the kitchen and learning to cook some new things. It is not going to help you lose 20 lbs. So try it for a month and get in the habit of cooking more regularly, and then when you are done you can research the foods you like and cook healthier meals.
In our busy lives it’s very easy not to have time or motivation to cook, so I think with this program, it makes you see that you can make things as tasty at the restaurants. It is, at the very least, a good motivator and kickstarter to better habits. I think Blue Apron, and programs like it, are good to try for a little bit. They promote local farms and produce, the packaging materials are all recyclable, and you end up with a lot of well-designed recipes that you can make later on your own.
Have you tried Blue Apron or another program? Post a picture of one of your meals. What did you think?