I’m excited to introduce my first Guest Post! This post was written by my dearest friend, Erin, who actually named this blog! She is one of the most amazing women I know and am fortunate enough to call my friend. Actually, she’s more like family. She is extraordinarily kind and thoughtful and generous and hilarious – all qualities that make her an incredible human, friend, wife, and mother. And she can cook and bake like a beast to boot! I know a few women about whom I always wonder how they do it all so gracefully – but none like this gem of a person. I love her, and I’m so excited (but not at all surprised) that she was game to write a post for me! Have you tried any of the meal prep services like Blue Apron? What’s your experience?
And now, without further ado, I present her post, We Tried Blue Apron!
Hi everyone! I’m excited to hop onto work.dinner.family.repeat to write this little guest post today. Maayan and I have been friends for literally half our lives—and her blog speaks to me, as I am also a working mom living in a busy city with very little free time on my hands who finds it important to cook and serve a family meal most nights of the week. Here’s me: I love my family. My husband and two kids always come first. I have a brand new job (with a fancy title), which makes leaving work at work difficult. I love to cook—and bake, something I hope to share with you in the future—and we cook from scratch most nights. I also have an ego—I fancy myself a fitness buff, so you may be able to imagine how two kids and a new job is leaving very little room for working out, cooking, and saying NO to chips, French fries, and other bad decisions. I’m going a little nuts, but so far, so good.
But! I digress. As a Christmas gift, a friend of ours offered us two free Blue Apron meals. Can I start by sharing my initial impressions about Blue Apron? I get it. People who usually eat out and perhaps have small kitchens want to eat in more and make it easy. That is not really my style. I’m a list maker, so I buy my groceries each week very purposefully. I’m also a lunch packer. So, I treasure the possibility of leftovers. I’m also a penny pincher, and Blue Apron is expensive, especially considering that we do not eat out much AND we have a pretty good repertoire of meals already in our rotation. I’ll give anything a shot, though. And it never hurts to play with new ideas and get inspired by new ingredients.
First meal: Honey-soy cod with coconut rice and bok choy. We selected this from a short list of perhaps six choices. We are not big cod eaters in our house, but we also didn’t want to be weenies. Let’s do this thing.
Blue Apron has great packaging. There is a lot of it—but I think it is mostly necessary in order to keep all of the food cold and fresh. We had two meals delivered at once (that’s the way they do it). Everything is very well labeled. Look at all the stickers! A coordinated mam’s dream come true!
Our usual dinner time is 6:30, and although I had already been warned that the mis en place for Blue Apron takes a while, I wanted to see if I could make this a 30 minute meal (spoiler alert: I could not). I did most of the work, while MY little sous chef (aged 5 years) helped and my husband and little guy (aged 7 years) set the table and offered as much cooking advice as one can handle.
Here is my mis en place. My brain was thinking “this is A LOT of ginger” and “wow! This is A LOT of garlic!” but I wanted to follow the Ratatouille rules of “follow the recipe.” And away we went.
The first step was to make the coconut rice. This was easy. Blue Apron does not include ingredients such as salt, pepper, and olive oil, so you have to remember to season appropriately. I say this because I think the rice could have used some more salt (the directions said to add a large pinch of salt, so I did).
Next up was preparing the bok choy. Bok choy is delicious, and we have always enjoyed it in our house. The recipe called for ALL of the ginger, sliced scallions, the bok choy, water, salt and pepper. That was easy! (Warning: the prep instructions said to rinse the bok choy. DO THIS. I have never seen vegetables as sandy at this bok choy was.)
Finally, we got to the cod. I liked that the fish was pre-portioned, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be frozen! I did not check, and the box didn’t mention it…so I’d say I was at about 65% defrosted. I don’t think it affected the final product, except there may have been a little more liquid in the pan which prevented proper browning.
We started by searing (trying to sear, in my case, since the fish was rapidly defrosting at this point) the cod and then flipping it. From there, you make the sauce in the pan while the fish finishes cooking. I was skeptical. How would it all mix without breaking up my fish? These Blue Apron people did not steer me wrong. I added the garlic, and then mixed in the honey and soy sauce. A few minutes and some careful stirring later…voila!
Then we plated everything, added the garnishes, and went for it.
Full disclosure: we used small plates. This is a trick that I use on myself to make it look like I have a HUGE HEAPING pile of food, when in fact, I have a NORMAL, RESPONSIBLE portion of food. It works every time.
Verdict: I give it a 7/10. My husband gave it a 5/10. My son ate all of his cod as well as his sister’s entire portion. This is amazing, as he usually is not excited to eat new foods. But going through the process must have inspired him to go for it!
The entire process took us about 45 minutes—not bad at all! In my opinion, the garlic and ginger WERE indeed too much, and I did not like the coconut rice. I was overruled, however, as my son and hubby loved it. My daughter opted for cereal…but she is five, and we are working on it.
Would I do Blue Apron again? Yes! It is not my personal style of receiving/shopping for food, but I liked the experience, and my children enjoyed doing it with me. It is not cost effective for the way my family works, but we decided that we will try it out once per quarter.
Final thought—I have to share the dessert I made to follow our meal. We are only eating dessert once per week in 2017. I got a new job, and I had a poopy-ish day. I am not a person to reward myself with food, but baking is my escape…so I went to my happy place and made this flourless chocolate cake. Maybe Maayan will allow me to share the recipe with you one day. Please stay tuned!