There’s an age in a child’s life when they first gain a bit of autonomy—when they know what they like to see and do, and (in my case), they get a little sassy about ensuring that their needs and desires are met.
When I hit that age, I wanted to do nothing but watch cooking shows. My just-a-few-years-old self was absolutely mesmerized by the chopping and slicing and dicing and serving. “I bet she’ll be a chef!” my parents exclaimed.
My parents were, to say the absolute least, wrong. In my 26 years of life, I have mastered exactly two dishes: chicken pot pie (with a store-bought crust, of course) and a sweet potato gnocchi bowl using four ingredients from Trader Joe’s. Consistent, I am—but Chrissy Teigen, I am not.
Living alone in the midst of a global pandemic has been humbling for many reasons (who knew I could go this long without the touch of a man?)—but it has REALLY brought my lack of cooking prowess to light. I can follow a recipe pretty well, but I am essentially incapable of building new meals or making anything from scratch. I’m working on sticking to my budget (and therefore limiting my takeout orders to just enough to support some favorite local businesses), and I’ve hit a rut in which my classic two recipes are just not cutting it.
In short: I am the perfect candidate for Blue Apron.
Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service that helps remind you (or teach you) that you can love cooking—and that a little kitchen creativity just may be the key to staying entertained while quarantining. Each week, you choose a few recipes (from a list of 23 new offerings every week!)—then, a box filled with perfectly-portioned ingredients (and detailed instructions) arrives at your doorstep. You don’t have to shop, plan, or worry about wasting unused ingredients—everything you need is in the box, minimizing stress and prep time.
I recently heard that now is a perfect time to stop meal-prepping, and instead allow yourself to savor the experience of cooking and immediately enjoying the fruits of your labor. Since our lives are less go-go-go now that we’re staying home, there’s less of a need to prepare food well in advance. I’ve found this to be true, and I’m learning to embrace the act of lovingly preparing a meal to be consumed immediately (with leftovers for the next day, of course). Now that I’ve added Blue Apron to my quarantine life, I want to shout about it from the rooftops—so I’m sharing some details (including why it’s the perfect option for a single woman who loves delicious food but hates making plans… aka me!).
So how does it work?
I’m so glad you asked! First things first, Blue Apron is all about choices. I don’t like being told what to eat (just as I didn’t like being told what to watch on TV at a ripe young age)—so it’s essential for me to have the free will to choose what sounds good to me and to my body. Blue Apron offers 23 different recipe options every single week (with a constantly-changing variety), with choices specifically created for various diet restrictions and choices. In addition to choosing the exact meals you want, you’re also able to choose how many servings you want (either two or four) and how many different recipes you want per week (two or three).
Note: I am not a vegetarian, but there is also an all-vegetarian plan that offers a variety of recipes to choose from either twice or three times per week.
Upon signup and each week thereafter, you’re given the option to change and customize which plan you want (or even to skip a week when you need to). Once you choose, you’re not bound to commit to the plan you’ve chosen—just as your life and plans fluctuate, your meal plan can too.
As a single person quarantining in a city apartment, means of entertainment are running thin. I’ve been working to cultivate new hobbies and passions as I stay home, and cooking is the perfect way to broaden my horizons while also reaping the benefits. I personally have been choosing to add three two-serving meals from Blue Apron to my meal planning per week. Since I live alone, that’s giving me six meals per week—so my lunches and dinners are covered for most of the workweek. As a creature of habit, I don’t mind repeating meals—especially when they’re so delicious!
Great… now let’s talk about the food.
So like I said, my personal recipe repertoire is not that big—I tend to gravitate toward the same flavors over and over, meaning I don’t often branch out (even though I always like it when I do!). Once I tried Blue Apron, I was not only able to sample different types of flavors to see what I liked (Cajun dirty rice, I love you now!), but I was also able to practice some cooking skills I’d never before even attempted. Before I started cooking with Blue Apron, I had never baked an egg, or breaded chicken, or cooked fish myself (I know, embarrassing to admit, but true). Now, I comfortably know the steps and technique, thanks to the detailed written assistance of the pros. It’s been fun to practice new skills and a new hobby while also expanding my taste palate (without the fear of ordering something different when out to eat).
Once you choose your meals for the week, you’ll receive a big, beautiful box at your doorstep (on the day of your choosing, depending on your busy schedule!). Each box comes equipped with every single (pre-measured) ingredient you’ll need (except for pantry essentials like olive oil or salt and pepper), PLUS super helpful instructions detailing every step of the process. Not only did I feel like I had a professional chef teaching me how to prepare the meals (the instructions are SO detailed), but I was also treated to some stats on the dish itself (and even a wine pairing for each meal!).
Oftentimes in the past when I’ve cooked at home, I’ve felt like I’m sacrificing taste and quality (“Yes, I made this mac and cheese myself, but it tastes like cardboard.”). I’ve recently really missed dining out at restaurants and experiencing the fresh and unique flavors you get from professional chefs—and have historically felt that you can’t come close to the same experience in your own kitchen. The recipes are designed by chefs and feature specialty sauces and premium ingredients from boutique brands I wouldn’t otherwise have access to (the honey in one of my recipes, breaded hot honey chicken, was unlike any other honey I’ve ever had in my own home—I quite literally cannot stop thinking about it). My meals feel like restaurant-quality cuisine at home (plus, I’m gifted with the satisfaction that I made it myself!).
Now, I’d like to have a moment of honesty time and talk about grocery shopping. You build your list, you triple-check said list, and you carve time in your busy schedule to safely head to the store—only to discover that the ingredient you need 1 tsp. of only comes in one-gallon containers. Arguably my favorite thing about Blue Apron is the pre-packaged ingredients—meaning I don’t have to deal with the stress of planning and shopping only to be left with unused extraneous ingredients.
And while I’m on the topic of efficiency—it’s worth noting that most Blue Apron recipes are ready in 35 minutes or less and start at $7.49 per serving—so you’re not only saving that time spent on grocery store trips and that shelf space for ingredients, but you’re also saving prep time and restaurant-price cash as well. I’d easily spend $20 on a delivery that takes an hour and a half to arrive—making this the cheaper, faster, and more fun option.
To make a long article short, I’m a busy woman who has historically had little motivation to do the work that comes with cooking for myself. Now, I’m provided with so much peace of mind during the day to know that my dinner for the night is sitting ready for me to prepare—allowing me to forget about the stressful parts of cooking (like grocery shopping, measuring each ingredient, or missing important steps), and instead focus on the soothing joy that the act (and art!) of cooking can provide.
I may never be the chef my parents thought I’d be, but Blue Apron is allowing me to get one step closer—while trying new recipes and practicing new skills as I quarantine at home. Whether you’re looking to spice up date night routines, cook for your family or roommates, or simply treat yourself to a new skill and some uninterrupted alone time, I can’t recommend Blue Apron enough—you’ll never get tired of your same old recipes again!
This post was sponsored by Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.