Tiny brown beads sizzle in my non-stick pan, slowly enlarging. I stick my nose closer to get a whiff of the mustard seeds I’m pickling for the first time…ever. Until this Monday eve, I’ve put pickling anything into the category of too difficult/advanced for the type of cook that I am. I tend to the seeds like they are infants, watching over them, stirring them, inspecting each for its unique shape. Finally, I pop a small spoonful in my mouth to ascertain their doneness.
It’s a week before the Bachelorette premiere’s and two months before I go back to work. [Insert “oh shit” emoji]. Over the past twelve months, I’ve cooked and cooked and cooked, having had the freedom to go to the grocery store when a last-minute idea comes to mind. However, those days of leisurely planning our menus are coming to an end and as usual panic is my next logically step. After a short panic-stricken conversation with N, I convinced him aka told him that we should try Blue Apron. It’ll be a great way for us to transition from me doing all the meal planning, shopping, and cooking to sharing the load again.
Two of my friends use it and have told me over and over again that I should try and how much they learned and how easy it has made life and how they eat differently now because of Blue Apron. As a self-righteous foodie who’s been cooking for over a decade–self-taught no less. I easily turned my nose up at them, behind their backs, thinking I’m a foodie, I know how to cook, I don’t need others teaching me how, I already do it–regularly! I glanced at my bookshelf filled with cookbooks and refused to join over and over again.
Every time I looked through the website and watched the video, I’d say to myself you already do all those things what’s the difference really. Well, let me tell you! As a person who grocery shops every Sunday and meal plans every Sunday morning and then cooks two-three times a week and meal preps for all her lunches, Blue Apron has changed my life!
My life is suddenly easier and calmer. I spend less time thinking about what to cook and more time eating, yes eating! The food comes perfectly portion-sized and all the ingredients come in the exact amount you need them, allowing you to never feel wasteful. Additionally, I don’t have to purchase something I may never use again in an odd size, which I used to do regularly because I am an adventurous cook and eater. Over the past months, I’ve tried them all: Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and even Sun Basket. I’m here to tell you that for the price and quality, I like Blue Apron. However, Hello Fresh has a larger variety of dinners and the portion sizes tend to be a little larger too. Sun Basket was okay, but didn’t compare to either Blue Apron or Hello Fresh in flavor. The only down side is the packaging can feel wasteful. Although it’s all recyclable, it’s so much material that needs to be recycled. Still, in a bind, when you need dinner on the table with high quality ingredients and freshly made at that, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh have changed my life. Most of their meals take me 30 minutes from start to finish!
Now, I’ve been cooking for myself and for N since 2004 and it would be only on special occasions that I ever thought about plating the food in an attractive way for serving. It makes a difference. Plating makes a difference! Not only because it’s pretty and you feel confident like “I did that”, but also because it feels like you are eating out without eating out. Since starting Blue Apron, N and I have eaten at our dinner table so much more than ever before. We used to cook and eat in front of the tv regularly, but when I plate the food the way it is photographed, suddenly, the meal has more importance. So we respect it with quality time.
As I start my fourth week back as a full-time teacher, we’ve found a balance of weeks when we know we have to default to our old ways and weeks when Hello Fresh or Blue Apron are our go-to’s. Dinners at home have become special again and I can’t say that I’m mad at it. I made my first pizza with Blue Apron. I made my first ramen dinner with BP as well. I made my first Thai stir fry with Hello Fresh. I even baked my first biscuit! So yes, I was an experienced cook, but still stayed away from certain foods out of fear or laziness or both. I’ve learned two vital skills thanks to both HF and BP: 1. When dressing greens, a good olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper dressing can be perfection. 2. No matter how much you think you cook, there’s still something you haven’t made.
Finally, both companies have allowed me to fall back in love with the culinary arts!