About two years ago, Trevor and I started using Blue Apron’s meal delivery service. I heard about it through a Pinterest advertisement, and it seemed like a cool concept, so we tried it. I fell in love with its variety, convenience, and the sheer novelty of having fresh food delivered to my house. As much as I love going to the grocery store (I really do!), it’s nice to know that I can forget to go shopping and still have ingredients to cook with. I’ve learned a lot from the recipes they send, and from the way they structure meal plans. It’s good stuff, so I’m going to pass it on.
First of all, if you’re not familiar with Blue Apron, it’s a pretty cool service. They offer three different weekly meal options: 3 meals for two people, or family plans with 2 or 4 meals for 4 people. We go with the 3 meals for two people, which is $59.99 per week. Each week they send you the meal plan for several weeks out and you can make changes to your menu or even opt out if you’re not interested in that delivery. They even have vegetarian options if you prefer to go meatless, and will let you customize your meals to not include certain meats if you know your family doesn’t like them. You also get to choose your delivery day of the week so you can make sure you’re there when your refrigerated box is delivered, and their super easy to use app keeps track of your recipes and upcoming meals.
So, yeah it’s pretty awesome. But anyway, on with my bits of wisdom.
You can make crazy good meals with very few ingredients. I’m always surprised when I look at the ingredients list for Blue Apron recipes. They really do focus more on giving you quality spices, veggies, and meats that pack great flavor. A good example of this was a meal we got a few weeks ago that was for a shrimp spaghetti dish that was so delicious. Seriously it might have been my favorite dish yet. The ingredient list was simply, shrimp, spaghetti, garlic, broccoli, lemon,butter, pepper flakes, and quark (a type of cheese).
You can definitely apply this philosophy of using fewer ingredients in your regular, everyday cooking. Many of the lighter sauces used in Blue Apron are made from simply using the fond (those tasty bits left behind after you’ve sautéed something), a bit of something acidic, like white wine vinegar, butter, and some aromatics. Most of their tomato based sauces are just freshly diced tomatoes, onion, and garlic. I know it seems like there wouldn’t be a lot of flavor in a 3 ingredient sauce, but trust me, with a healthy dose of salt and pepper it’s tastier than any store bought brand.
Portioning Your Ingredients Will Save You Money and Time. The geniuses at Blue Apron only send you enough ingredients to make exactly enough for whatever size meal plan you need. It cuts down on food waste, and saves them money. If there is a week that burgers are on the menu, you will get exactly 2 potato buns, 8 oz beef, and whatever sundries your knick-knack pack comes with.
Personally, I like that there is no waste. It’s true that you oftentimes don’t have enough for leftovers, but lets be honest I forget about leftovers. I always have good intentions of taking them for lunch the next day and then I don’t. They then sit around in the fridge for a week before getting tossed.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I always make too much food, and I like to think that it’s not my fault. Oftentimes pre-packaged grains and veggies come in quantities that will easily feed 4, so unless you’re meticulously measuring out your ingredients you end up with lots of food leftover.
Since starting Blue Apron, I portion out my bags of pasta, rice, legumes, and even meats into portions appropriate for a 2 person meal. The extra prep time is well worth the cost savings. I’ve got a post coming up soon about how I divide everything up and store it. Maybe not the most exciting topic, but it’s super useful.
And the last lesson from Blue Apron…
Don’t Be Afraid To Add New Flavors to Existing Recipes You Love. Get Creative! One of the things I love most about Blue Apron is that oftentimes the Recipes are not overly difficult or exotic. One thing most of them have in common though, is they are a variation on a tried and true favorite. For example, adding saffron to a rather traditional tomato sauce and substituting yellow tomatoes for red ones, takes a rather basic staple in most recipe books and turns it into something deliciously new. Last week, there was a spiced chicken chili, that instead of using traditional beans and chili powder, used chickpeas and Ras-al-Hanout and a few other Middle Eastern spices. It was an amazing flavor profile that I never would have put together myself.
I’ve found that since I’ve been getting Blue Apron recipes, I’ll often refer back to my recipe cards for flavor recommendations, if not for the actual recipe itself. Oftentimes, the flavors can be used with different cuts of meat or varietal veggies to make something totally new. I love the creativity that comes with learning how to mix flavors, it’s fun!
Well, there you go folks, that’s what I’ve learned from Blue Apron, and why, I still subscribe to their service. If anyone is interested in trying it out, let me know and I can send you a referral for a free meal box (you do have to give Blue Apron your credit card info, but remember you can skip meals or just cancel completely if you end up hating it…but you won’t!)