A year ago this week, we received our first box of mail order meals from Blue Apron and we have not looked back. Virginia and I decided to try out this service because we had fallen into a dinnertime rut after Sammy was born. Every week had pasta Monday, grilled chicken Tuesday, pizza Wednesday, hamburger Thursday, and dinner out Friday. We also found that so much of our food was going bad in the refrigerator and we had to keep an annoying amount of spices on hand. For a while we tried cooking for the week plans but the meals were terribly unhealthy (Like six pounds of cheese a week), and I just could not spend eight hours cooking every Sunday. With our busy schedules it seemed like mail order meals were a good idea so sixty dollars later the game was on.
I have to say that this was the best food based decision we have made in a long time. As a foodie living in Merced, where there are very few places to eat out, I was getting very food depressed and Blue Apron allowed me to bring the restaurant into our kitchen. The meals are healthy, varied, worldly, and, after you get used to them, easy to prepare. I’ve cooked dishes from twenty different countries and used ingredients I had only ever seen on Chopped… gochujang.
The biggest plus by far was that Virginia is trying new foods and has really liked a lot of what Blue Apron has to offer, except eggs. She just won’t eat them, won’t. But we just had the “Hey, there were mushrooms in the last four meals I made, so stop saying you don’t like mushrooms” conversation. With the ability to opt out of fish and seafood, and the ability to skip weeks, Blue Apron has made this mail order thing a snap. Also, their customer service is top notch; they give me credits and free boxes every time there is any sort of issue with my shipment. And customer service is almost more important to me than the food itself.
The most fun part of this whole adventure is all the people with whom I have shared this experience. Blue Apron gives me copious amounts of free boxes to send to others and so far a dozen or so friends have signed up (I should get a cut…you hear me BA?). For those of you who may sign up here are my top ten pieces of advice for success with Blue Apron:
- Read the recipes completely. Seriously. Read them before you start heating up oil. Once you turn that pan on it is go time and you are going to forget stuff. Then you burn things and have to eat toast for dinner. Toast is sad.
- Prepping the food takes longer than you think. Most of the time, the prep is what takes the longest, but you have to do it all before you start cooking. See #1 and the toast. I usually prep at night or in the morning so I can just cook after work.
- Buy a garlic press. I fought this but it is awesome. They send you so much garlic…so much…they love it. Stop mincing and start pressing. You’re welcome.
- Never use all the lemon or lime juice. Save half of what they say and add on top of the dish if needed. I have not found one dish where the juice of an entire lemon makes any sense. Unless you really like lemony food, and are just weird.
- This one is really a complaint. Stop telling me to salt and pepper to taste. Not five times in one recipe and especially not on raw meat. How the hell do I salt and pepper raw chicken to taste. Should I taste it? Do you like Salmonella, tell me Blue Apron! They never, ever give you measurements for salt and pepper so be really careful. I have ruined a few dishes this way.
- Read the recipe card again. Carefully now. Did you notice the one that says makes three servings? Yeah, I didn’t either for about four months. That sucks. Also, how do you make two sandwiches into three servings?
- Figure out that whole recycling everything thing. Then tell me how to do it. Please.
- Gochujang is really spicy. Virginia hates it. That is all.
- Take pictures of your food and Instagram away. People hate it, but your Blue Apron friends will totally comment and say, “I made that too, it was awesome”. Then you can feel like part of a super cool cooking club and turn your nose up at all the others. Tag Blue Apron in your pictures for some additional ego stroking. This may sounds like sarcasm, and it is, but I totally do this every time I rock out a beautiful dish.
- Finally, the most important advice. Complain like hell when Blue Apron gets something wrong. As I said before their customer service is great and responsive. Sixty bucks a week is expensive so every ten dollar credit is totally worth it.
Well there you have it, my Blue Apron cooking advice. We love this meal delivery thing so much, we now tacked on Plated to try for six days week. Soon our pantry will be empty except for kids stuff. Now, if only Sammy would eat more than buttered pasta every day, but that is another adventure.