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Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron


What I expected to be convenience turned out to be food for the soul

by Maddie Eisenhart, Digital Director & Style Editor

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

Since getting married, Michael and I have made half-assed and intermittent attempts at prioritizing homemade dinner. But you all remember my inability to say no to opportunity, right? Which means that rather than learning how to cook together, the past six years has seen dinner eaten on train rides home, or on my couch balanced alongside my laptop while I try to multitask eating, working, and spending quality time with my husband. So when APW was asked if we wanted to try a new food service called Blue Apron, which delivers pre-measured fresh chef-created recipe ingredients to your door, I volunteered to be the guinea pig. Really, I just wanted a few weeks of my life to be easier.

I’ve written about my weight gain on this site before. The funny thing about gaining weight, or being chubby, or fat, or plus sized, or whatever you want to call it, is that people always assume your food issues come from a lack of restraint. It must be all those cheeseburgers! Or the pie. In reality nobody knows more about restraint than I do. Thanks to four years of dieting college roommates, I can put together a 1200-calorie per day meal plan with my eyes closed. But dieting in our culture doesn’t put any emphasis on eating to fuel your body, or on listening to what foods make it feel good (on a physical and emotional level), or on building healthy habits just for the sake of doing good things for yourself. It’s a numbers game. So cooking? I just gave up trying to learn. Why bother to get excited about grilled chicken and steamed broccoli?

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

In my path to embracing and loving this body that I’m in, I discovered intuitive eating and the Healthy At Every Size movement, which puts emphasis on whole body health instead of size, and suddenly all the puzzle pieces came together in a way that made sense for the first time (without leaving me hangry). Now my job is just to feed myself with real food (most of the time, at least, because French Fries are still awesome), the kind that fuels your body, and then pay attention to how it responds. It’s so good, you guys. My body has never felt better, and I even get to eat real butter again.

But freeing as it’s been, putting my revelation into practice within my marriage has been a separate challenge. And this dinner thing still feels like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. There are three of us living in my house, with the responsibility of dinner prep usually falling to either my roommate or me. Which means a lot of pre-shopping conversations about what meal we can cook that we’ll all like, followed by a grocery shopping trip during which we inevitably forget something (my roommate’s philosophy is that if you can’t find something easily at the grocery store, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with). Then Michael will come home and ask what’s for dinner, at which point I exasperatedly shout I DON’T KNOW because if I have to think about it for one more second I might kill someone. Complicating this process is the fact that Michael and Joe are both just trying to not be hungry, while I’m trying to undo twenty-eight years of disordered eating habits and unlock the mythical powers of vegetables. No big deal.

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

A few weeks ago I set up my Blue Apron account, set my preferences (no chicken, please and thank you), and waited for our first delivery to arrive via FedEx (which was a bonus in and of itself, since I can hardly get a pizza delivered to my house, let alone groceries). Blue Apron assumes you have salt and pepper and oil, but otherwise, they include everything you need to prepare a complete meal, from the soy sauce in our ramen recipe to the butter we needed for our cod and quinoa meal, all with instructions that were written for novices like me. And while my new lease on life means no more calorie counting, I was pleased to see each meal is between 500 and 700 calories, and they are making a conscious effort to support sustainable practices with local farms. Which is a hell of a lot better than the 200-calorie-why-bother frozen diet food of my past.

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

So far, our dinner prep with Blue Apron has been less about convenience and more about learning. I order seafood at almost every restaurant I go to, but have been too insecure to buy it at the grocery store because I don’t know what the hell to do with it. Or how long it lasts in the fridge. Or what you pair it with. (My first Blue Apron lesson was that we do not like salmon. It upsets our New England sensibilities. But last night’s cod was a huge success.) Just last week, I had first time experiences cooking salmon, couscous, fava beans, ramen (not the kind that comes in bulk from Costco), pea shoots, and risotto. It’s been a far cry from my normal, “How many ways can we make zucchini?” method of cooking.

But perhaps the most important development is that Michael and Joe are in the kitchen right now, cooking tonight’s dinner, without me, as I write this post. Someone just shouted “Is it tender and done?!” Which I’m taking as a good sign.

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

One of the more challenging aspects of getting married young is having to grow up alongside your partner. It’s really easy to stunt our own growth and settle into the comfortable habits we developed as our teenage and college selves (it’s how we fell in love!). But I plan on being in this marriage for a long time, and I’m finally old enough to realize that this means we can’t be quite as cavalier with our minds and bodies as we used to. And while Michael and I have been working on the big, important, emotional parts of that process, changing our day-to-day habits is a stubborn task. Finding leisure activities that don’t involve movies or video games. Settling on an acceptable bedtime instead of working until three in the morning. Cleaning house out of desire instead of obligation. Eating food that isn’t pizza. Blah, adulthood, blech.

A while back, former-intern-turned-contributor Rachel wrote a post about how to teach a grown-ass adult to do stuff around the house. I remember reading it, and thinking to myself, “Dear God, that’s me!” Right now, with Michael and me, it’s a little like the blind leading the blind. But we’re slowly finding our way out of the dark. Even if it does require a little hand holding.

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

I think Blue Apron is going to end up being our go-to solution for weeks when we’ll be too busy to grocery shop, or when we want to learn how to cook new things (you can pause and restart your deliveries any time without penalty, and Michael and I are clearly not done learning in the kitchen). In the meantime, 250 APWers will get two free meals when they sign up for their first order with Blue Apron. So, if you’ve been looking for an excuse to learn your way around the kitchen, or are just tired of takeout, go sign up already.

For the rest of you, are your nightly meals a challenge, or do you have some kind of cooking secret/hack I should know about? How are you balancing health, body image, and partnership (especially if you’ve got a partner whose dietary needs are vastly different from your own, like mine)? For those of you who feel a healthy connection between your food and your body, what’s your best wisdom? And seriously, how do you make dinner easy?

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

This post was sponsored by Blue Apron. The first 250 apw readers to sign up with Blue Apron will receive two free meals on their first Blue Apron order (Click here to redeem.) Thanks Blue Apron for helping make the APW mission possible! 

Three Weeks Cooking With Blue Apron | A Practical Wedding

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.

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  • artfulword

    My secrets for making dinner? Meal plans (so boring but I made my excel spreadsheet pretty colours to spice it up a bit), making lots and eating leftovers in creative ways, going grocery shopping only once a week and SLOW COOKERS.

    Nothing is better than coming home to your dinner made and delicious.

    • Jules

      Meal plans here, too! It makes sure I only have to go to the grocery store once (at most twice…) a week, and if I don’t have a plan, frozen pizza happens FOR SURE. I cook for four, and we take it to work the next day.

      I need to bulk up my slow cooker knowledge. Any ideas?

      Maddie, thanks for the great article. I’ve gained about 15 pounds since leaving college (what?!?) a year ago, and it’s reluctant to come off. I agree that it’s more about creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, but around the chaos of work, relationships, and school, it really can be a struggle.

      • artfulword

        Here’s a great blog http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/

        And my FAVOURITE slow cooker recipe (it’s paleo, so if you’re not, substitute soy sauce for coconut aminos and apple cider vinegar for coconut vinegar) http://nomnompaleo.com/post/3762844557/slow-cooker-korean-grass-fed-short-ribs

        • Jules

          You know, my most successful period was when I was eating Paleo, and I’m weaning myself back to it. Like Maddie, I just felt….great. I even lost about 7 pounds. Then we went to France and I de-railed, since eating Paleo in France is super challenging. :/ I have to defeat every little temptation that comes up now. Yesterday it was pao de quiejo. Sigh.

          Thanks for the links! That Korean recipe looks amazing…

          • artfulword

            I’m on and off paleo too. I have noticed that when I’m completely grain free though I feel amaaaaaazing. I sleep so well!

      • ART

        We use ours at least once a week, often for taco filling (especially in the summer, when we’re not in the mood for crock pot-style stews and the like, but we don’t want to use the stove). We do chicken with taco seasonings, or my favorite: cheapest pork shoulder blade steak (like $2.50/steak), green enchilada sauce, peas, carrots, oregano. Best chile verde pork taco filling EVAR. The peas and carrots nearly melt into the sauce and make it really thick. You could make your own enchilada sauce ahead of time (freezable!) or just use a store-bought one.

        I made carnitas in it once years ago but wasn’t happy with the recipe and haven’t revisited it yet.

      • lady brett

        we use our slow cooker almost exclusively for cooking beans. it doesn’t result in a completed meal, but they’re a great ingredient to have on hand. and dry beans cooked with some onion, garlic, bay leaves add so much more flavor than canned beans – plus, cheaper and less trash (and prettier…is that weird to be on my list of reasons to use dry beans?).

        • KH_Tas

          This is basically the best advertisement for a slow cooker I’ve heard yet, thanks this may have helped my protein intake a lot. Thank you

    • Michigan Sara

      Second on the wonderfulness of a slow cooker. We use ours once a week at least for nights when we have something else going on and need a speedy meal ready to go.

  • Laura C

    I love to cook but it’s a little more of a challenge to come up with meals for me and A together than for myself alone. This is partly because we have different enough taste that a lot of the things I like to cook for myself are out for him; he never really cooked enough before to have a repertoire, but if he did, it would include a lot I didn’t like. We’ve mastered making frittata where one half has cheese and the other half has mushrooms (and the whole thing has leeks and asparagus). I’ve definitely realized that I look forward to him being gone for dinner every now and then so I can have some of my comfort foods that he wouldn’t want. Though I also look forward to nights we decide to really go for it and make a special meal together. Roast chicken is one of our favorites. Kung pao chicken is another. Leek fried rice is another.

    On nutrition, I had to relearn cooking for myself in my 20s when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Before that, I basically didn’t eat red meat and almost never cooked meat for myself at all, which means I ate a lot of pasta. And at the time, the available gluten-free pastas were not good enough that I was just going to transition over. So I started eating more meat and I started cooking chicken regularly. At the same time I found out my cholesterol was high and had to make a real push to eat more vegetables. And now I love vegetables! I will eat an entire head of roast cauliflower by myself, ideally with Mark Bittman’s Manchurian cauliflower sauce. And by the way, Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is a must-have, especially if you’re learning to cook. Tons of simple, delicious recipes with variations so you can get 10 different dishes out of one basic technique. When we’re stuck for what to cook, or have something from the farmers market we don’t know what to do with, we just flip through it.

    Anyway, the way I relate to food and eating healthily is to think about nutrients, not calories or guilt. Did I have some vegetables today? Did I stick to healthier fats like olive oil? Which … I am not good at portion control, plus I have a sweet tooth and a salty tooth. But rather than focusing on making myself feel bad about that stuff, I try to work on filling myself up with good-for-me, good-tasting food, and hope that limits the crap I eat.

    I’m also like the inverse of you, Maddie — I could eat a chicken breast every night, whereas cooking any fish but tilapia or salmon leaves me too queasy to eat it, even if it’s a kind of fish I’d happily eat in a restaurant. (Looking at you, trout and catfish.)

  • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

    We started using a similar service a few months ago, and it has been AMAZING for us! We both love cooking, but hate shopping. Plus we work a ton and have limited hours to spend together. AND we live in NYC, so we don’t really have space to store a bunch of food that we may or may not use for a future recipe. Our delivery comes every Thursday, so we’ve been trying to set aside time to cook and eat together each weekend.

    • Meg Keene

      GOD YEAH. Maybe you have to have lived in NY to be so hooked on delivery? But seriously. JUST SEND IT TO MY DOOR. We were early subscribers of Fresh Direct, and holy jesus I miss it.

      • M.

        Oh for SURE an NYC thing. I still can’t get over the fact that no one I know does their own laundry!

        • Meg Keene

          When I lived in NYC and made less than $30K (fun times, I’ll tell you what) I didn’t do my own laundry. Once I wasn’t making minimum wage… why would you? ;) I missed that right until we had our own washer and dryer, which is obviously heaven.

      • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

        Disquss just changed, and all of the sudden, all the replies to my comments are in one place. I just have to second this times a million. I am obsessed with anything that delivers. Plated/Blue Apron, Fresh Direct, Stitch Fix, Dollar Shave club, Amazon Prime- I love them all. If I can enjoy a service without having to commute to get it, shove it on subway, and carry it home, I’m loyal to it forever.

    • Violet

      Not to derail this lovely sponsored post from Blue Apron, but what’s the name of the service you use for NYC?
      Because “and I’m finally old enough to realize that this means we can’t be quite as cavalier with our minds and bodies as we used to”: DAMNIT, Maddie! You are so evolved. I’m gonna say it’s okay that I’m not “there” yet, though it sounds like a great place to be. Still doin’ a lot of the takeout thing. (Though the comments from Rachel’s post Maddie referenced as turned my partner into a 50-50 contributor when we do cook, so there’s that!)

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        Girl if we could GET takeout, the evolution would happen much more slowly. :) But as it stands, we’re lucky if we can get mediocre pizza and totally gross chinese (that we still order every once in a while because DESPERATE). Farm life downside.

        • Violet

          Hahaha, okay fair. We are making progress on this front, but sloooooowly.

      • http://www.smittenchickens.com/ Sarah Hoppes

        Hey Violet! We use Plated, which does deliveries just in NYC. Blue Apron actually is slightly cheaper though.

        • Violet

          Awesome, thanks!

  • Acres_Wild

    I love this in theory, but I’m way too cheap to spend $9.99 per meal, per person on stuff I still have to cook. I just have a couple of go-to meals that are easy to do with stuff we usually have in the house. We do a lot of protein+grain+roasted veggie or salad+protein combos in our house. Trader Joe’s frozen fish is a life saver, and couscous cooks up in a few minutes. We end up eating variations on the same meals a lot of the time, but with seasonal veggies and different seasonings and stuff it doesn’t feel too repetitive.

    • Lauren from NH

      Yes love couscous! Also having some standard salads saves time. We do an arugula salad with almonds, craisins, shredded motz cheese and olive oil that is super easy. You can also do it with Cesar salad. Chop a lettuce head into a big container, dolop some of your favorite cesar dressing in there and some parmasan cheese, put the lid on and shake! Done!

    • Lawyerette510

      Yes! Couscous and lentils with greens thrown in are one of our staple meals that cooks quickly and we nearly always have the fixins for.

    • Gina

      I love protein +grain+ veggie combos! My favorite is what my husband lovingly refers to as Stoner Couscous– sauteed onions, kale and sweet potatoes with couscous and a poached egg and parmesan on top.

      • http://andshelovesyou.com/ Lucy

        Oh my god that sounds amazing.

      • River

        Stoner Couscous sounds AH-MAH-ZING

      • Lawyerette510

        I want stoner couscous for dinner tonight!

      • Laura C

        You know what’s absurdly easy and really good? Oatmeal with a poached egg and parmesan; some greens sauteed in garlic if you’re feeling real ambitious.

        • Gina

          Ooooh good idea!

        • Erin

          See? Even oatmeal is now gourmet! Thank you, poached eggs! And I’m totally trying this

        • Kayjayoh

          Sub in brown rice for oatmeal and this is one of my CSA box go-tos. Time to use up a lot of greens? Saute them and serve them over rice with a poached of soft boiled egg! Done!

      • Acres_Wild

        YUM

      • Erin

        Ha! I know what we’re having for dinner tonight! Thank you!
        ps- poached eggs are this recent thing I just discovered (late in the game) – they seem to make EVERYTHING gourmet!

        • Lauren from NH

          Any one want to throw out some tips on how to poach an egg? You are making it sound so good, but my skills in that department are zilch.

          • Gina

            I bring water to just below boiling and add some white vinegar (2 Tbsp-1/4 cup). The vinegar helps the egg bind together better (or something). I put the eggs one by one in the water gently by first putting them in a measuring cup and then sliding them into the water. Then I just poke them gently with a spoon to see how soft the yolk is. Some of the white spreads out, but you still get most of the egg!

          • Erin

            Pretty easy – an inch of water in a sauce pan, a little salt, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar, bring to a simmer. Crack the egg into a small bowl, stir the water, drop the egg in the middle of the whirlpool, turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit 5 minutes. Take the egg out with a slotted spoon, and voila poached eggs a la Alton Brown. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/perfect-poached-eggs-recipe.html)

          • Alyssa M

            aaahhh thankyou Alton Brown. The only food network dude that actually teaches you how to cook.

          • lady brett

            no advice on poaching, because i always just replace poached eggs with a soft fried egg – so here’s my tip for a beautiful fried egg:
            cook the eggs ’till the white is mostly done, then add a tablespoon of water to the pan and cover it. it basically steams the top of the egg so it’s really pretty and however well-cooked you like, and no flipping to pop the yolk (or just mess up).

          • Erin

            Lady Brett – I mean this with no amount of sarcasm, I think you are a genius! I can’t wait to try your tip this weekend- you’ve saved brunch!

          • lady brett

            ha! i’d give credit, but i can’t even remember where i learned it. it’s been revolutionary.

          • Kayjayoh

            This is my method:

            http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/03/how-to-poach-eggs-easy-way-poached-breakfast-video.html

            (Also a bit of practice and accepting that I would ruin some eggs in the process. But the stainer thing works great.)

          • Holly

            If you just want plain poached eggs then the methods below work fine, but if I want to save a pan and i’m cooking greens or hashbrowns or veggies, about 2 minutes before the stuff in your pan is done, make a little indent in your greens/potatoes/veggies, drop in an egg, add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan, turn up the heat and cover the pan with a lid. In about 2-3 minutes it will be done and you don’t have to do extra dishes (to check if it’s done, the top of the egg should be opaque and it shouldn’t wiggle too much when you shake the pan).

          • http://peckishadventurer.blogspot.com/ Amanda

            I like to soft boil eggs in their shells, sooooo much easier! Just bring an inch of water to a boil, drop your eggs in and cover for about 6 1/2 minutes (at least on my stove), then shock the eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking and peel. Perfectly cooked white, runny yolk, no gross albumin water to clean up!

    • ART

      how do you all eat couscous without choking on it so violently that it comes out your nose?! not even exaggerating, i have to hold my breath completely to eat couscous and not get it down my windpipe. unless i coat it in something really wet/saucy. i used to love it but i can’t even now. :/

      • Acres_Wild

        I know what you’re talking about, but I’ve never had that big of a problem with it… I usually add a little more water to couscous than what it calls for, though, so it might stay a bit moister? It is definitely a weird texture though, and unpleasant if too dry. :(

      • Kayjayoh

        Smaller bites?

        (I’ve had this happen with things, and usually reducing the amount I put in my mouth helps.)

    • JDrives

      TJ’s frozen ahi is a staple in our house – my fiance loves to sear it and serve it with a Sriracha/Japanese mayo sauce. Japanese restaurant gourmet for a fraction of the price, takes almost zero effort and it is SO DAMN GOOD.

  • Becca

    Oh, Maddie. Thank you. HELL YES to intuitive eating.

    • Becca

      Ps. Juno. Gah. So cute.

  • Jules

    Nuts….I was all for the two free meals (and omg, the site design is gorg), but they don’t deliver to my area yet :'(

    Edit: BUT they do list the recipes on their site! Win.

  • Michigan Sara

    We plan our meals prior to hitting the farmers market/grocery store on the weekend. I really need to get into the habit of posting our plans on the fridge, because we often end up on Wednesday going, “What was I supposed to make tonight? Oh right. The roast that is still frozen in the freezer. ::Hello, local Chinese place?::” But, it is easier because we typically like most of the same things and both like to cook.

    The Blue Apron thing looks like a smart way to learn more about cooking, since you’ll get to know what flavors pair with what, new cooking techniques, etc. If you look at it like a cooking correspondence course, it might help justify the higher price per person until you learn enough to get the ingredients on your own at a cheaper cost.

    • M.

      I made a really simple chart for our meal planning and printed out a bunch. One box per day of the week down the left side, for name of recipe and note about which website or page of cookbook the recipe is on, and then a shopping list down the right side. I make the shopping list as I choose each recipe, making sure not to duplicate items we’re already getting, and put easier/faster meals on days we are busier. It’s helped me plan for meals that share some ingredients during the week, and grocery shopping got 1000% faster. And having the physical, hand-written chart around saves me from the, “Wait, what was I making again?” which we know all too well :) (Note: we usually do a single breakfast and take-along work lunch for the whole week, for simplicity’s sake.)

  • slmrlln

    I used to hate cooking, and it took a while for me to learn how to cook healthy food that I liked on a regular basis. So the first step (for me) was to accept that cooking is a skill, it takes time to learn, and not every dinner along the way will taste the way you imagined.

    That being said, I have figured out a few things along the way.
    1) Find two or three recipes that you can make with ingredients that you always have on hand, in case you can’t go grocery shopping. Red lentil soup is my favorite – http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lebanese-Style-Red-Lentil-Soup/
    2) Find 5-6 recipes that everyone likes and that you can cook on a regular basis. You can rotate through those favorites, and then you don’t have to experiment with new things unless you’re in the mood.
    3) Once you’ve mastered a recipe, cook for two meals rather than one. Eat the rest the following day (soups often taste better the next day anyway), or freeze it in ziploc baggies for the nights when you just can’t manage (or when you’re trying a new recipe and it fails miserably).
    4) Everyone needs a day off. My fiance and I split the cooking, three days a week for each of us, and on Friday night we eat out. This works fine 90% of the time, but during particularly stressful times we sometimes order in or one person picks up extra cooking duties. People have different ways of divving up the housework, but you shouldn’t have to cook every night if that’s a stressful chore for you.

    • Jules

      We do 1-3 pretty regularly, and just alternate whole weeks since that person is then also responsible for shopping. PLUS….

      5) We use fresh ingredients where we can, but we also plan a “blank” space in the weekly menu. Something ALWAYS comes up. This helps us reduce food waste, and if we end up eating at home that night, we use our reserves of frozen/canned.
      6) That being said, have a reserve of frozen/canned items you actually will cook and like.
      7) Along with #2, I actually have a “house menu”. This is basically a recipe box in list format. It helps when you’re planning, and you’re like, “wait…I can’t cook…”

      Like slmrlln said, learning takes time, so it’s easier if you go slowly. If you’re self-taught, mix in the new recipes/techniques with the old so you don’t burn out completely and give up. Learn how to chop. OK, now onto steaming veggies. OK, now we cook in a pan….and so on.

  • Lawyerette510

    Oh cooking is my favorite for me, and I’m fascinated by Blue Apron, especially as a solution for husband’s one designated night a week to cook dinner.

    Even though I love cooking, balancing the time needed for shopping, prep and clean up with both of us having full time jobs and my wanting to focus on meals with lots of veggies, protein and whole grains (because that’s what makes me feel good) can be challenging. Ways that we make it better:

    1. Husband has 1 night a week in which he is responsible for making dinner, he can ask me ahead of time for ideas based on what we have, but he cooks it. This means that I have a “night off” and I don’t feel like all the responsibility for feeding us at home is on me. He can’t order-out or take us out to eat unless we both agree.

    2. Batch cooking, especially veggie-heavy soups. I try to set aside a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday to cook up stuff for the week that can be combined into different meals for dinner and for lunch. Some of my favorites are rifts on a zucchini ginger soup (http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2012/11/05/silky-gingered-zucchini-soup/) or curried broccoli soup (http://nomnompaleo.com/post/2345953636/curried-cream-of-broccoli-soup) which go great having leftover meat (or meat from a grocery-store roasted chicken, or pre-cooked sausages) thrown in or on the side, having grainy bread or grilled cheese with it, etc, a meat-based chili like this http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2009/02/22/my-favorite-chili-recipe/, a big batch of beans in the slow cooker, a piece of meat roasted in the slow cooker. For the soups, beans and chili I make big batches and stash jars of extra in the freezer. I also like to saute onions, cook mushrooms, make some whole grains and roast some veggies during my big batch-cook. If I’m on a roll I’ll also make peanut sauce or tahini dipping sauce. Then during the week it’s more about “assembly” rather than cooking and I usually only have one dirty pan. For instance, I’d take brown rice, mushrooms, veggies and roasted chicken and some peanut sauce and toss it all together in a pan to heat up, and dinner is done in 15 minutes.

    3. Keeping a list on the fridge of what’s inside. This goes with the batch-cooking, but even when I’m not batch cooking, just seeing on the outside of the fridge what is in there (the list is broken down in quadrants: meat/ dairy, veggies, fruit, snacks) and each quadrant is organized by “ready” and “raw”. It helps me keep an idea of what we are low on and makes it easier to see what can go together quickly.

    4. Keeping a running shopping list. The are the frequent staples that don’t get deleted, just crossed through and then uncrossed (it’s a google doc) and then I add things I’m craving or that should be nice and fresh and if I am planning on making a recipe I paste it into the list, and then delete what I know we have. This way I know I’ve captured everything I need.

    • River

      Lawyerette for the win!! #s 3 and 4 are great ideas that I will implement as soon as le fiance and I move into our new apartment :-)

      • Lawyerette510

        It’s been the biggest change, and husband is even into it now, so that he’s much more independent when it comes to feeding himself or time to go to the farmers market or store. Now he just looks at the google doc, and when he wants something from the store or notices we’re low on something, he just adds it to it.

        • Violet

          I love these ideas! We also do a list of meals for the week on the fridge (plain piece of paper, folded into 8 boxes), so that there are no more “What was for dinner tomorrow, again?” annoying questions. We just go look at the fridge.

    • Gina

      I love love LOVE #3! That is brilliant to keep things from getting lost deep inside the fridge. Thank you :)

    • Meg Keene

      I’m really interested in it from the perspective that maybe I should have a designated dinner. I am overloaded right now, taking primary kid responsibility in some ways, and working. So dinner is his. But I’d like to learn to feed us better, and in reality, for me to do that, I need help. Like maybe in the form of help arriving at my doorstep ;)

      • Class of 1980

        Well, this Blue Apron thing certainly fills a niche by taking away the shopping and planning, which are more time-consuming than the actual cooking.

        Interesting concept for our times.

      • Lawyerette510

        Sometimes too in addition to having the help to learn to cook different things and getting the ingredients, it’s also getting the help with being inspired and overcoming the intimidation factor. I think this is a great thing all around!

        • Meg Keene

          With me, it’s mostly getting past the overwhelm. And not wanting my cook of a husband hovering over my shoulder and telling me what to do… and then trying to take over. So this is pretty perfect.

          • lady brett

            for the second, i recommend a polite “fuck off”. i say this as the more practiced cook of our partnership (who does less of the cooking) – what you describe is completely my inclination; i’ve had to put concerted effort into just doing something else, or at least limiting my cooking advice/meddling to one suggestion per meal, unless asked. and that’s totally fair to request (especially if you’re only “doing it all wrong” once a week ;).

          • ElisabethJoanne

            The last time I made a roast, I put a mat down the middle of the kitchen and told my husband, “You can’t come across the mat until I say so. Do you need anything before I begin?” But that was because I needed uninterrupted access to the stove and sink while I browned the meat and vegetables, but I think it’s a great idea to say, “Can you and the baby stay out of the kitchen for an hour while I try a new recipe?”

  • Gina

    I love this idea for learning to cook with quality ingredients!

    I have a strong belief that home-cooked meals are the best, health-wise and happiness-wise. But I also love to cook. I completely understand that 90% of people do not want to get home from a hard day of work and chop vegetables while watching The Bachelorette. (Wait, I made that sound awesome). But it’s still a learning process, and these are some of the things that work for my husband and I:

    1) Pre-plan a week’s worth of meals, and buy the ingredients for those meals in just 1 shopping trip. If you forget something, omit it or save the ingredients ’til next week. Running to the grocery store again and again isn’t good for your budget or your time.

    2) Divide the work. Our kitchen has room to stand side by side and we usually split the recipe–you make the sauce, I’ll make the pasta; you grill the steaks, I’ll make the salad.

    3) Have a stocked pantry. You’ll be shocked how cheap your weekly grocery bill is once you have certain things always on hand. We go to Costco and always have canned beans, a variety of grains and pasta, frozen meat, cheese, and spices on hand.

    • Emily

      The stocked pantry tip is unbelievably true, if you have the room for it. When I lived in a college house with 6 roommates it was easy to buy staples bulk from our co-op (i.e beans, rice, lentils, etc). Now living with just my fiance our kitchen is so small!

      • lady brett

        i think you can do the same thing in a small space, it just requires a different method. instead of an infrequent trip to get bulk goods, you just check on your staples every time you go to the grocery store, so that you’re never completely out of beans, even if “fully stocked” on beans is only one pound.

    • Sara

      The ‘stocking’ tip is something I learned quickly when I lived alone. I kinda love being able to throw together a batch of chocolate chip cookies if I need to because I keep everything on hand, or a quick pasta dish. Honestly, the first time I made a meal on a whim and I didn’t have to run to the store is the first time I felt like a real adult.

      • Gina

        Yes chocolate chip cookies!!! It’s such a luxury.

    • Teresa

      Yes, yes, yes to meal planning for the week! It has saved us so much time (the nightly what do you want for dinner? argument…) and money (buying random crap at the store, throwing a lot of it out at the end of the week when it is unused and going bad). I buy a meal planning pad on amazon, but I’m sure there are apps or you can use a dry erase board. We scope out the sales in the circular, I pin recipes on Pinterest and tear out recipes from my food mags and it makes life so much easier! It sounds daunting, but once you get used to it, it’s the best!

      • La’Marisa-Andrea

        Meal planning is a godsend. I have three weekly menus that I rotate. That way, we can get some variety but I don’t have to think super hard about it when it comes to grocery shopping for each week.

        • Lisa

          This is about the best idea I’ve ever heard of. I like the idea of meal planning, but…choosing new recipes and whatnot every week…MUUUUH. How did you decide what made it into the final rotation? Do you cook every night or do you have some off nights?

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I have four weeks worth of menus right now so I literally go in order of 1, 2, 3, 4. I do cook most nights but I plan for really easy stuff at least 3 nights and since I grocery shop for the week, the menu is subject to tweaking. I might move Thursday dinner to Wed or what not. The rotations are different but I also combine diff meals from different weeks. We do have nights where I say I’m not cooking and we do take out but we really try to limit that. Generally, each week we have some version of a pasta, a fish, chops of some kind, roast or baked chicken, a soup or chili, and then I fill with the stuff that’s always diff.

  • Helen

    For me it’s all about the make-your-own ready meals. Huge stock pot of pommadoro sauce, lentil soup, and chicken sauce bubbling away on the weekend (so homey!) and your freezed portions make a million of almost instant dinners. I always make double and freeze sauces, lasagne and curry pastes. I also keep a bag o’ prawns in the freezer, and a few slabs of vaccum sealed tofu, tinned beans and eggs lying around, for weird, but delicious insto-meals (try poaching eggs in pommodoro sauce and serve them on broccoli with Parmesan cheese. Amazing)

    • moonlitfractal

      Do you have a tip for thawing home made sauces? This always feels like the most tedious part of making pasta…

      • Helen

        What kind of pasta sauces? if you’re talking tomato sauces, give it a blast in a really hot pan – it does the job of melting it, while also reducing and caramalising it a bit. Microwave or in a pot works too. There isn’t really a short cut for cheese-based sauces – you have to just leave them in the fridge or on the bench, otherwise they split. I’d avoid freezing cream sauces altogether (they split too). What you CAN do though is freeze the sauce fixings without the cream – then you just heat it all up in the pan or pot and add cream once it’s defrosted.

        • moonlitfractal

          Tomato sauce. We’ve been trying to microwave it but it just takes so long, even with a relatively small container. Maybe we should try portioning before we freeze? Do you have a recommendation about containers?

          • lady brett

            you can freeze things in ice cube trays and then dump them into ziplock bags. helps with needing small bits and/or thawing quickly. not great on space saving or knowing exactly how much sauce you’ve got.

          • Helen

            Yeah, I totally recommend the ziplock bag trick for thicker sauces – LOVE filing my frozen food. Personally I’ve never been able to do anything but make a mess trying to freeze stuff in ice trays – it’s like cupcakes level 10. Remember too that microwaving can be sped along with aggressive poking – put it in a bigger bowl and break up the big chunks as they defrost enough. But yeah, I’m still a big fan of putting my cast iron pan on high and watching it sizzle!

          • KC

            I’m not Helen, but there’s the option of freezing things in ice cube trays (and then dumping the cubes of sauce/stock/pureed stuff into a container or freezer baggie) and then using however many of the cubes you need. Takes less time to defrost. I also know a lot of people who freeze their things in quart or gallon-sized ziploc bags, but *flat*, so it’s got a lot of surface area to defrost quickly. (Then once it’s frozen, you can stand them up and “file” them away!) The one counterpoint to these is that things frozen to maximize surface area will have a slightly shorter time-to-death-by-freezerburn than things frozen in one solid lump.

            (or, if it is possible, you can take the container out in the morning before work, put it in the fridge, and you’ll be either good to go or mostly there by the time you get home to cook it. I am bad at remembering these things, though!)

    • Lian

      Came here to say the same thing. Weekend slow cooker stuff for the win. There are a lot of recipes available. And you can make really delicious stuff that way: try Smitten Kitchen’s 3-bean-chili (does require putting stuff on the stove for a bit). This one is also a favorite: http://ohmyveggies.com/slow-cooker-corn-red-pepper-chowder/ (I do use cream instead of soy milk and I add cheese).
      Usually we do all the work and turn it on on Sunday after dinner. The only downside then is that you need to ladle the (still warm) food into containers and put them away Monday morning. For the really easy chop-throw in-turn on recipes we sometimes do all the work Monday morning before work.
      It’s (generally) cheap, it’s easy, it’s tasty… Slow cooker’s are so great.
      And on the weekend, or if we’re inspired during the week, we make more complicated things and do ‘proper cooking’, which is also a lot of fun but definitely not something I’d want to do every day!

    • Emma

      Yes! This got me through grad school. stews in serving size containers, homemade veggie burgers (actually super easy to make), and burritos were my favorites!

  • Helen

    Oh, the numero uno tip: buy a really good knife and throw all your crappy ones away. This will change cooking life (and chopping zucchini really fast makes you feel like a TV chef).

    • Bsquillo

      The nice knives we got off our registry may be my favorite wedding present.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Yes. We didn’t have a registry but my aunt bought us NICE knives and holy crap, what a GAME CHANGER.

        • Caz

          Hells yeah! And a knife sharpener. My dad bought me one when I left for university (I swear I was the only student in my halls who not only had fancy knives but a sharpener for them too…)

    • http://rabbitdarling.wordpress.com/ rabbitdarling

      Preach, sister.

    • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

      You guys, what knives do you recommend? I’m stuck in crappy-knife-land, and moving soon, so it might be time to make that investment.

      • Helen

        I like these ones: http://www.wuesthof.com

        BUT, really I’d just say go into a specialty knife shop and say “I’d like a chef’s knife for $150 please, show me your wares”. Then if you’d feeling really fancy you can say “Show me your paring knives, I shall take one that is of equivalent quality”

        Have a feel of them. They should feel nice, balanced, with a bit weight (so it does the cutting for you).

        • http://prettypicturesbydanielle.tumblr.com/ Danielle

          Thank you, Helen! Those knives look gorgeous.

      • Jules

        I was in loooooooove with the Wusthof Ikon Blackwood like (I had tried their Classic Ikon santoku) until I tried Zwilling J.A. Henckel’s Pro 8″ chef’s knife. So comfortable. Feels like an extension of my arm. Can use a real chef’s grip.

        Some people love the Shun style but this is a personal choice.

        Consider what style you want (chef’s/santoku, hollow ground or not), the size (8″ sounds scary at first, but it’s a great size for an at-home chef), the amount of care you want to put into them, and the price point. Ultimately the knife I bought was cheaper than the one I’d been eyeing.

        #1 thing is to GO TO A STORE AND TRY THEM. Williams Sonoma will let you chop up carrots with their demo knives.

  • Mrs. M

    My wife and I like to cook, so this may be different for us. But the whole planning and grocery shopping thing, is something we’ve just recently (in the past about 6 months) actually become grown-up about. Long story short about a year and a half ago we underwent a crazy trendy cleanse, which was horrid and depriving but – it actually got our bodies to start rejecting the crap (processed foods – buh-bye Lean Cuisine easy lunches and Hamburger Helper comfort food dinners).

    And then after reading a post here about actually doing the things you pin – I used my leftover chalkboard paint from my wedding to paint my pantry door into a chalkboard. So then we kinda sorta fell into adult-hood with my trying to take my pent up crafting energy domestic. With a chalkboard pantry door obviously i needed to write in beautiful flourishing cursive what we were eating this week.. which meant we actually had to plan that out. (and BTW – chalkboard paint on a door does not equal a beautifully flat surface on which to write with chalk.. let’s be honest sometimes I can barely read what I wrote)

    So we’ve fallen into this kinda adultlike routine now. Sunday mornings we go out to breakfast, and during that and our drive we decide what meals we want that week for dinner (helps that we are both totally ok with leftovers for lunch). And then I commence putting those meals into a grocery list. Now this part is the coolest, which unfortunately only WNY’ers may be able to take advantage of… our favorite grocery store Wegman’s has an amazingly brilliant app that you put your grocery list in and it arranges it by location in the store, down to the aisle # (including making some items standing on your list, cost for all, and helps me price compare before i even enter the store). Then our shopping trip is quicker, she pushes the cart while I check items off the app. And we budget groceries like it’s a game.

    Now the actual cooking part – I’ve learned that the essential thing is being honest with ourselves during the weekly meal planning. If I have a long grueling meeting Tuesday am I going to want to stand at the stove consistently stirring risotto for 30 minutes? Likely not, so maybe that day’s a crock-pot meal – or something I love so much I won’t mind cooking it no matter the effort required. And pretty much always, we cook together. With summer grilling this has come to my wife grilling the meat (I swear she’s a grill genius), and I cook the sides. During winter months its a more collaborative effort, one person takes the lead with the main and the other preps, helps with sides or gets another household chore done during the cooking. Honestly this is one of the best habits we’ve developed in our relationship. And from someone with a long history of emotional eating and not the healthiest outlook towards my body and what I put in it… the bonding we do over cooking REAL food makes a huge difference. We’re still not grownups in MANY areas (cleaning out of desire – hah!) but this one small accomplishment makes me feel better – especially because it’s helped both of us start paying attention to how food makes us feel, and created a venue for us to display creativity and pride in our work which our dayjobs aren’t always great for.

    Hope this might actually help someone else too! and THANKS Maddie for this post!!

    • Acres_Wild

      Omg, I want that app! That sounds amazing.

    • Annie

      God Wegman’s is the best. I wish I lived closer to one.

    • jashshea

      I made a shrimp risotto last week (pioneer woman). I don’t know what it is about risotto, but I’m always in a blissy/zen like state when I’m making it. That’s probably from the flavoring wine, I guess?

  • Cali

    Rawr. Food is one of the biggest deals in our new marriage – we’ve been together long distance (odd as that sounds) for eight years until I emigrated just before our marriage last fall. I love to cook, and I tend to cook vegetarian meals because I find them delicious and less troublesome than spending crazy money on meat I worry won’t turn out well. My husband is a carnivore who finds cooking extremely stressful and would rather just eat out – plus he hasn’t really had to eat the same thing, or a variation on the same thing, two days in a row for years, if ever. None of my recipes (except my insanely delicious maple chipotle vinaigrette) really interest him, although he’s willing to try… once in a while.

    I think if we didn’t have to deal with it every day, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when we eat out, I’m never really happy, and when we eat at home, he’s never really happy. Finding a balance or a system that works for us is definitely going to take more time.

    • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com/ Addie

      Meatballs. Seriously. They are really easy to make and cook, freeze well, and can be plopped into all kinds of recipes (that you can simply leave out for vegetarian versions). See also: sausage.

      • Erin

        Oh gawd I love meatballs. Anytime somebody mentions them I just start salivating.

      • Cali

        Hm! I did actually make meatballs a couple of months ago. They seemed to be a hit, just not in the format I served them (in a veggie soup). Great idea, will try to expand in this direction.

        Sausage is a contentious point with us. I like mine in sausage form, he likes his taken out of the skin and smushed up. I like mine with added spices, but since he likes his mixed in with other things he thinks the spiced ones overpower the dish.

        Ground turkey seems to be a good option sometimes, too, because he has this idea in his head that it’s healthy.

  • Ella

    How appropriate! Cooking like an adult has been my goal for a while now, and I’ve really buckled down two weeks ago.

    DH always says things like “I love cooking!” but never. ever. does. it. I get very nervous cooking around him because I do *not* like cooking, and I’m not terribly good at it. Well, I’m sucking it up for the both of us and cooking. It’s been about a week and a half, and I’ve cooked almost every night. It’s a good habit for both of us, and it encourages DH to help in other ways. If we’re not cooking, we just lounge around the whole night. I’ve found that cooking will jump start one or both of us into doing chores we’d rather just leave for tomorrow (or never). So far so good!

    Anyway, just found this to be very timely. I will welcome any/all help for cooking. I’m kind of doing Paleo/Whole30 which has been actually very helpful for keeping me on the cooking-track instead of the take out-track since there is pretty much nothing I can get that fits that food style. Good luck, Maddie! :)

    • Lawyerette510

      When we did the Whole30, I found that Clothes Make the Girl had a great series on batch cooking and menu planning for Whole30 that I took lots of ideas and inspiration from. My two biggest take-aways were the big batches of veggie-based soup and the slow-cooker roasted pork which works great for beef. I could happily eat a veggie soup with meat thrown in for a meal once a day for weeks.

      • Ella

        Yes, I love that website! I have it bookmarked! :) Super helpful especially for seasoning (I know nothing) and sauces (also, a big mystery to me). Thank you, though!

  • Sara

    I like this concept specifically because I’m terrible at meal planning. I like to cook, and I’m pretty good at remember to defrost the meat or prep. But I don’t do sides – its like one elaborate main meat (like a nice grilled chicken or steak with some sort of sauce) and some crackers or a just a steamed frozen veggie. I need to get into the habit of making a FULL meal, not just quitting when I’m done with the first part.

  • Allie Moore

    this is great for people learning to cook and for people with busy schedules (which is to say. . . everyone?).

    with all of the great conversations about how hard it is to find time to cook just had to share what we’ve found to work really well for us. On Sunday we each pick 2 meals (usually out of this amazing cookbook where all the recipes are under 45 minutes start to finish: http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Kitchen-Quick-Family-Cookbook/dp/1933615990/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406749211&sr=8-1&keywords=america%27s+test+kitchen+quick+family+cookbook) and grocery shop for those meal ingredients and vegetables/fruit/lunchmeat for snacks and cold lunches. The meals we pick serve 4-6 which means for the two of us (and the roommates we occasionally share with) our 4 meals/leftovers + sandwich materials + the 1 or 2 meals a week we eat at friend’s/family’s or a restaurant get us through. I have a crazy weekday schedule (thank you, law school) so I’ll usually make 1 or both of my recipes on Sunday & my partner makes his later in the week. Knocking the fast food out of our diet has made a huge difference in the way that I feel, is way cheaper, and now I really love cooking which was absolutely not true 2 years ago.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      In law school, I’d cook a big pot of something for myself on Saturday or Sunday, and eat that until Wednesday. Thursday and Friday evenings I always had dinner meetings, so it worked out pretty well, as I don’t care much about variety in my food.

      Your system sounds really good for 2 people.

    • Jenny

      America’s test kitchen is AMAZING!!!!! If you think a recipe sounds good, it is.

      • Allie Moore

        seriously! we’ve made probably 100 ATK/Cooks Country recipes over the past year and there was only 1 that we didn’t like. they are my go to! (also if you love cooking shows, pay the $30 for the online subscription so you can watch all 14 seasons of the show! so very worth it)

  • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com/ Addie

    I love to cook. Skully literally could not boil water until I met him. We sometimes use a food service like this one and it works semi-well. It’s sometimes not so great for an experienced cook they tend to aim for the middle ground where spice and flavor are concerned so I end up doing a LOT of modifications. But. It’s great for my non-cook beloved.

    Bonus tip for those with picky eater partners: grocery shop together. Since I do all the cooking I ultimately get dinner decision power. But since we grocery shop together, he gets ingredient veto. He hates mushrooms (and I never remember) so the easiest way to make sure no dinner ends up with mushrooms is that they don’t get put in the cart in the first place.

  • penkwin

    To really make cooking more enjoyable, we’d need a bigger kitchen, where we aren’t constantly running into each other… :/

  • Bsquillo

    I love cooking, and honestly I do 90% of the cooking in our house because my husband has almost no cooking skills. I’m trying to teach him some basics, but in the meantime, I do all our grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking, and he does all the dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher) and a lot of other household chores.

    This is what works for me, and helps me keep the fridge stocked with homemade meals on a budget:

    1) MEAL PLANNING. This is the number one thing that helps with the budget and eliminating food waste. I’ll typically plan about 7 dinners to cover two weeks, figuring that we will eat leftovers some nights, eat out occasionally, and throw something together occasionally. I write down all the ingredients for those meals and make a big grocery trip.

    2) A lot of things I cook are soups, stews, casseroles, pastas, or other one-dish meals. This helps stretch more expensive ingredients like meat, and it makes large quantities that are great for leftovers for lunch throughout the week. It’s also easier to me to focus on one recipe that includes a bunch of ingredients rather than three separate recipes for a meat, side, salad, etc.

    3) If you can make yourself plan ahead, having a crockpot is GREAT for people who work all day. Throw some stuff in there in the morning, and come home to a warm dinner that’s ready to eat.

    4) Like some previous posters said, we try and always have pantry staples around: rice, beans, pasta, cans of tomatoes, spices, etc. I also always try and have stuff on hand for “no brainer” meals, like ground beef and tortillas for tacos, or marinara sauce and noodles for spaghetti.

    • MC

      CROCKPOT! My fiance likes cooking much more than I do, but once we got a crockpot, I was allllll over that and I use it for 90% of the meals I make. A few weeks ago my fiance said something like, “I think you like crockpots because they help liberate women.” To which I replied, “Well they sure do liberate me from standing around in the kitchen!” So yes. I love our crockpot.

    • http://rabbitdarling.wordpress.com/ rabbitdarling

      Oh my g*d meal planning and how I need to do it. Both my Love and I are paleo/ancestral template people, and have varying degrees of grain sensitivity that I won’t bore you guys/gross you out about here. NomNomPaleo and an app for my iPad that stores recipes, then uploads the ingredients to a grocery list is likely to be my savior.
      Also, amazon subscriptions to things I use a cubic buttload of: coconut milk, almond butter, nuts and seeds.

      Having a well-stocked pantry and managing groceries better is a huge life goal. So is having my own Sous Vide, but like, let’s take on the manageable stuff first, n’est-ce pas?

      • Class of 1980

        I just read “Wheat Belly” and now I can’t ever look at wheat again.

        The diet is similar to Paleo I think, except cheese is encouraged.

        • Erin

          My co-worker was telling me about “Wheat Belly.” It sounds fascinating and horrifying, leaving me in a bit of dilemma about picking it up…

  • lady brett

    food is so hard for us. i’m too tired after work to want to cook, and my honey is still learning to cook so it’s kind of hit-or-miss (but thanks for feeding me!), we’re trying not to eat carbs for health reasons (and the results are really, really worth it), i prefer to eat vegetarian, my honey has “people are so fucking mean to fat kids”-related food issues, and we’re usually trying to feed toddlers (without giving them food issues). and we have wildly divergent views about the process of procuring food, from restaurants to meal planning to budgeting to grocery shopping, to whether or not there is, in fact, any food in the house.

    on the bright side, we do both like a lot of the same great foods, so i’m hoping to really get a handle on it with my new time at home.

    as far as what *does* work…basically, fuck meal planning. and no big sunday food prep, no freezing meals. all that leaves me tired and frustrated, and then doesn’t work anyway because we just aren’t that organized.

    my method is basically: keep a cash grocery budget, buy fresh stuff that you like, keep staples on hand (for us, that’s lentils, chickpeas, and beans) and a good spice/sauce cabinet, and spend all that effort on cooking skills rather than planning skills (because the former i was raised with, and the latter i’m clearly never gonna learn). plus, i simply don’t believe there is anything wrong with going to the grocery store every day. so, in my ideal world, i cook just like my dad.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I love this perspective. I’m a planner, so I’m not sure I’d ever want it for my household, but I love the self-awareness of focusing on the skills that come naturally to you.

      Also, if I spend all of Sunday afternoon preparing meals for the workweek, I feel like I’m spending my Sunday working.

    • Bsquillo

      I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with going to the grocery store every day if that works for you. You gotta do what works! The main reason I started meal planning wasn’t because I get a huge amount of joy from it (it’s definitely a chore), but because it kept me from spending WAY too much at the grocery store going “Ooooh, that expensive ingredient looks fun!” I’m a food shop-a-holic.

      I imagine that cooking and meal planning for kids is WAY harder than just two adults, also.

    • Mezza

      Thank goodness I’m not the only one. All this talk of meal planning was making me feel like the opposite of a grown-ass adult. Our planning usually consists of texting each other midafternoon about what we want for dinner, then one of us hitting the grocery store that is steps from our subway stop on the way home, then both of us chopping and/or stirring things while watching DVR’d So You Think You Can Dance.

      We have started keeping more things on hand since we’re now splitting a big-box store membership with some friends, but we pretty much have to stop at the store for something daily. This is mainly because hey, it’s NYC – I can’t carry a week’s worth of groceries home, my grocery store doesn’t have carts, and the grocery store is literally 10 steps out of my way. But the idea of being so structured about meal planning definitely makes me twitchy. I’m impressed that so many people can make it work!

  • Lauren from NH

    More on the relationship side of things, two weeks ago we instated a no week night dinners in front of the TV rule and it has been wonderful in restoring balance to our me-time vs. us-time needs. It quiets the “noise” and enforces the healthy daily check in – “how was your day?”. We can get so lost in our routines and the rush, you look up and realize your person has been home for an hour and “WHERE IS MY KISS?!”

    • Jessica

      We have a one-night-a-week thing in front of the TV when the husband is home. When it’s just the room mate and I all bets are off because we don’t kiss and stuff.

    • Lawyerette510

      I love that! A week after we were married in May, we started the Whole30 and adopted the tenant that you need to pay attention while you’re eating, so we stopped watching tv while we ate and sat at the table together. It was really great to spend the first month of our marriage having dinner together nearly every night and just looking at each other and talking.

      • http://peckishadventurer.blogspot.com/ Amanda

        On day 30 of my Whole30 here! It’s been a challenge because I live alone, so meals without company and without tv/phone/tablet/laptop have been kind of boring, but I feel great!

    • JDrives

      HA! I can picture the “WHERE IS MY KISS?!” moment so, so clearly because it’s happened in our house as well. That’s our sign that something’s off. So we turn off the TV/I close my laptop/he puts down his Kindle and we refocus.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      Omg we have to keep reinstituting this in our home. I tend not to eat in front or the tv or generally with distractions so I can enjoy the meal but it’s get really out of hand. Plus our dining room table is never clear which has been my excuse lately. I’m clearing it off this weekend and we are going back to eating dinner together as a family.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    How timely. I was just thinking a couple nights ago about how to help my husband learn to prepare full meals, not just meats or one dish at a time. Here’s our situation:

    I work long hours, and my husband is unemployed, so most chores fall on him, which we’re content with. We grocery shop together once a week. We usually pick up a meat that’s on sale and one of the few vegetables we both like. We cook together on weekends, and if we need more meat cooked mid-week, he does that. We recently cut out solid carbs (no bread, pasta, or potatoes, but we kept juice and soda so we could continuing liking each other). So far, so good.

    My issue is that my husband has executive dysfunction, and it’s really hard for him to make more than one dish at a time. It’s also really hard for him to like remember that a “meal” needs more than one dish; a pork chop is not dinner. Is there a way to learn how to set the table while waiting for the pot to boil, besides practice? Is it ok to say, “I know you already ate, but would you please steam some pea pods for me?”?

    • Lian

      Lists, lists, lists. Take the weight of having to remember everything of his shoulders. Plan food out for the week together before grocery shopping, and then print the recipes, put them in a binder or on a board in the kitchen organized by day. That way all he has to do is follow the recipes. Pick easy ones, obviously, at least until he gets more comfortable. There are a lot of good options that only require one pot, or one pot + rice. Get him in the habit of doing all the prepwork beforehand, so he does not have to multitask while the food is on the stove.

      Setting the table while waiting for the pot to boil is something I would probably let go for now. Cooking is probably quite stressful, especially once he starts making more than one dish every time, so focus on that. The table can also be set before he starts cooking. As soon as the stove goes on, he probably does not have any brain parts left for anything other than cooking.

      Good luck!

    • lady brett

      if you cook together on weekends, would it be possible to make larger portions of some sides then? especially things that would be good cold, so they really just have to be served. cold sides (or a warming drawer? i’ve never actually used one…) also might allow him to cook the meal one dish at a time, with the hot main dish last, rather than multi-tasking. (not speaking from experience with your issue, though, so i’m not sure if those things would help.)

    • jashshea

      Lists and practice. I spent so much of my youth “helping” my mom in the kitchen that meal planning is 2nd nature to me, but my husband is like yours. He’s a fantastic cook and is super creative with meal planning, but the timing is harder for him. He’ll be flipping the meat on the grill before saying “can you put the water on for the rice?”

      If we’re cooking together, I just handle the sides, because it’s easier that way. If he’s cooking entirely alone, I just make sure we have bagged veggies that can be steamed/microwaved in less than 5 minutes. I also advocate for simplicity here and say stews, chili, pastas or anything that incorporates the veggies/grains with the protein is my go-to. I recognize that’s more difficult if you’re going low-carb, of course!

    • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com/ Addie

      I don’t know if this will help but if Skully is cooking dinner I make a menu that is all timed the same. For example yesterday we had almond crusted salmon bought it already crusted), roasted broccoli w/garlic, and brown rice(par-boiled is lazy girl’s best friend). Set water to boil and preheat oven. When oven timer goes off put rice in boiled water. Vegetables and salmon in oven. everything is done approx 15 min later.

      TLDR; combine cook times and methods. If I bake/saute/grill the meat, then the vegetables get the same treatment. Add carbs, or not, as needed. Also, Kitchen timers are the best thing ever.

      • Lauren from NH

        Kitchen timers that work. Ours is sneaky and sometimes doesn’t ding :(

        • http://www.wrightremedy.blogspot.com/ Addie

          Pfft. I use the one on the oven or the microwave. It won’t stop beeping until I come and turn it off. You’d be surprised how distracted I can get in 5 minutes.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        Thanks for the tips, everyone!

        I know some of this is a summertime problem. We have more meat+veggie dishes that can all roast together than summertime foods, when we only use the stove and microwave.

        • a single sarah

          PS ElizabethJoanne, thank your for always asking and answering questions related to executive function. You start my favorite discussions (to read. Since getting rid of internet at home, commenting doesn’t happen so much.).

          • a single sarah

            ACK mispelled your name. Sorry. Habits die hard?

    • Ellen

      I second lists and add “planning”. I also really struggle with “Is it fair to ask this other person to do [whatever thing]?” (with housework generally, really) and have found that sitting down to plan the week in advance helps me feel more comfortable because we’ve already determined responsibilities and I’ve been able to see that we’re each doing our fair share.

      While I like our specific schedule/plan a lot and could talk about it in more detail, it doesn’t necessarily sound compatible with many of the things you’re trying to address (my fiance and I have very similar food desires, and we also have pretty similar schedules at this point). That said, in terms of remembering to include multiple dishes, I’d say that clear expectation-setting has been really important for us in making cooking dinner less of a fraught thing. I think it’s fine to say that, while you appreciate someone’s cooking for you, it’s important to you that you get to consume a vegetable every night (or whatever), that that’s a reasonable thing for a given night’s cook to handle, and talk about ways to facilitate that (cooking in advance, really emphasizing that it doesn’t need to be fancy, whatever). Maybe, if it’s hard for him to manage cooking two things at once, you all can have a pea course while the pork chops are cooking or vice versa.

      Table setting/generally multi-tasking seems to me to be something that you can let go for a bit. It’s hard to remember or figure out how to fit those extra things in when you’re not super-comfortable in the kitchen or with a particular recipe. Maybe he’ll pick it up on his own or maybe you’ll need to gently suggest it, but either way, later on is probably a better time. FWIW, I found that I got less antsy about this stuff when we’d assigned clear responsibilities and I felt like we had a good give and take in which some nights things would be perfect and other nights things would be late/hard/inefficient/whatever, but that this was going to play out over the longer term and that anything that was a recurring problem could be addressed later.

  • friedpod

    holy shit and fuck yes. First off, great photos. Delicious.
    I have no clue how to systematically balance decades of a disordered relationship to eating and a partnership with someone whose basic food groups are flour, beef and noodles. It’s always been difficult, as is taking into daily account that we weigh exactly the same (how a 5’11” man weighs 133 pounds and doesn’t need to be carted around in a rickshaw due to weakness is beyond me. All the beef?) The ‘what should we make?’ conversation takes an hour. But we’ve found compromise in making a bunch of the main protein or vegetable and then we split it- me over vegetables, quinoa or a salad and him over pasta. We’ve incorporated the best of my habits (more greens) and the worst of his (lots of spaghetti!) into each other’s diets, which, like, whaddayagonnado. I can roll with a little spaghetti now and then.

    • Lauren from NH

      Haha that reminds me of how my mister will listen to podcasts that are pro gluten-free diet (non-celiac) and this that and the other thing, then when we are walking around the store say “oh we shouldn’t eat that.” To which I respond “DUUUDE! Until you stop eating chips I don’t want to hear about how pasta is the devil.” So yeah the struggle is real! It’s kind of a joke that he loves the idea of a lot of these clean eating principles but if we decided to do it, I would be the one to follow it and he would cheat, go figure!

  • jashshea

    My husband just got a wild hair to digitize/index a whole bunch of recipes somewhere in the cloud (I do this for a living, technically, so it’s not that wild). I think it’s a super idea, but I’m going ahead with my idea to print out the recipes we like and put them in a binder. I’m pretty sure we need to go low tech on this for sake of simplicity.

    We don’t meal plan and need to do better. We’re juust transitioning to mostly cooking at home from mostly eating out, so I’m baby stepping. I’ve been working from home more frequently and that makes meal prep so much easier.

    I do love the Blue Apron idea, though! Especially since I’m also fish-averse at the grocery store! Cool partnership idea!

  • Alison O

    My own lessons-

    –echoing others, a stocked pantry is key to making day to day meal preparation and weekly planning and shopping less onerous. We have many kinds of grains, pasta, beans (dry and canned), oils, vinegars, and other sauces, particularly pan-Asian stuff like rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin, sweet chili sauce, etc. Baking ingredients. Spices, an onion or two, garlic. Some frozen veggies in the freezer. Also store nuts in the freezer bc with the high fat content they can go rancid.

    –when you are building your pantry and kitchen (in terms of equipment) the cost can be high upfront but ultimately it’s so worth it in time, energy, taste, etc. to me.

    –we make our own bread from this book and it is easy and awesome: http://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Bread-Five-Minutes-Revolutionizes/dp/1250018285/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406749898&sr=8-1&keywords=artisan+bread+in+five+minutes+a+day. (I recommend investing in a pizza stone.)

    –I’ve found the key to making cooking easier and more enjoyable and successful is repetition, as it is with learning anything! Once I do a recipe enough times, I don’t have to think about it so much, and shopping and cooking go much faster and I can start to improvise with what I have on hand if I’m not in the mood to go out shopping.

    –Get recommendations of staple recipes from friends & family. My mom, sister and I especially like to swap recipes for composed salads that you can make at the beginning of the week and take to work, eat for dinner, snack on, etc. for several days.

    –I’m also really big on ‘bowls’. They can be super easy and delicious. With some sort of grain, veggie, protein, sauce–you’re in business. Mexican-ish could be like rice, black beans, tomatoes, cumin, hot sauce. Asian-ish could be like rice, sesame seeds, baked tofu (prepare at beginning of week to use throughout week), hoisin sauce. Or random stuff like rice, egg, hot sauce as I did yesterday. quick and satisfying. The key is having some basic ingredients on hand–cook a big pot of rice at the beginning of the week, etc.

    –remove temptations–if we don’t buy a lot of prepared/packaged stuff, we’re forced to cook. ultimately a good thing.

    –make your cooking environment as enjoyable as possible. music, podcasts, alcohol, conversation. cooking is also a good vehicle for practicing mindfulness…notice colors, sounds, smells, etc.

    –see photo- my partner got these magnetic meal planning and shopping lists that we keep on the fridge. the list is helpful bc we can mark things in a central place as we notice we need them throughout the week. and it reminds me of things we need I would have overlooked. then I tear off the sheet and take it with me when I go shopping. On the meal planning one I just jot down basic ideas of what we could eat that week; we don’t plan each day specifically because we’re more flexible types.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      A techy version of the blue one is the KitchenSync app. It comes with a very short list, but you can easily add whatever your household uses. It’s been a help with my husband’s executive dysfunction, because asking “Do you need anything at the grocery store?” doesn’t work – he can’t remember. So we go through the list, preferably while in the kitchen before grocery shopping, so we can check.

      [The default list is hilarious. It’s like some tech bros asked each other “What do you buy at the grocery store?” and also skimmed the cover of Bon Apetite magazine. So it’s got oranges and taco kits and toilet paper, but also fennel and special kinds of peppers; but you have to add soy sauce and potatoes and steak.]

    • Lawyerette510

      I think the repetition tip is great. It really is easier once you have the process for making a dish down. Also, your handwriting is lovely!

  • Kira Rashba

    for mealplanning: mealfire.com is the BEST. It has saved me and my husband time, money and frustration for almost 3 years now. Just copy/paste or type in recipes of your own choosing, you can tag them with ‘quick meals’ or ‘salad’ or ‘holiday’ or any tag you make up. Then schedule for however long you want to shop for, and it generates a shopping list organized by grocery aisle departments. FREE!!! With your own reciepes! We now shop once a week and always know what’s for dinner so whoever is home first gets started cooking. So amazing/lifechanging.

    • lady brett

      similar (though not free): http://www.plantoeat.com/
      meal planning just isn’t my thing, so i haven’t stuck with them, but i really liked the way it was set up.

      • Kira Rashba

        Interesting about the one time fee, was not part of my registration, but that was years ago. It is run by a guy who just wrote the program for himself and decided to share it (he also wrote apps for it). A friend of mine uses anylist (app) for the same thing, although it does not have a calendar feature which I like for letting my husband know what is planned when (so he can start on it!!). I’m not sure if anylist categorizes ingredients into area of the grocery store when it makes your list.

    • kcaudad

      FYI – the website says that mealfire charges a one time fee when you register. Do you know about this?

    • JDrives

      My browser is being a jerk and I think I accidentally downvoted this when I meant to upvote! Because this sounds right up our friggin alley. Thank you for sharing this helpful resource! And apologies if the downvotes show up!

  • MC

    “Complicating this process is the fact that Michael and Joe are both just trying to not be hungry, while I’m trying to undo twenty-eight years of disordered eating habits and unlock the mythical powers of vegetables. No big deal.”

    YES. So accurate. Just had tough conversation with my fiance about this and why I am so sensitive around cooking and why helpful comments/critiques send me slightly over the edge. Lots of baggage there.

  • Kayjayoh

    M is a vegetarian who doesn’t really cook and loves to eat out. I really like to cook, but I also end up with a million things on my schedule *and* I usually have to start with cleaning the kitchen, so cooking takes forever. I am hoping some of this changes when we move: he will no longer be working from home (filling the sink with dishes all day) and we will have a dishwasher.

    The things I am working on is meal planning (rather than just cooking a thing), including proper portions for everyone who is eating (years of cooking for one!), and getting the prep down faster. Washing and cutting the CSA veggies an take up a lot of time, but I’m getting faster. Still, I might start “cooking” at 6 and serve dinner at 9, because cooking starts with washing all the dishes and cleaning the counter. (and I get distracted by things along the way.) 20 minute meals is not a thing in my world most of the time.

  • LM

    My husband and I cook together almost every night. We both enjoy cooking, and it’s nice to have that time together, although we have different cooking styles and definitely clash sometimes. I don’t always feel like cooking, but too much takeout makes me feel gross, plus I don’t like paying for things that I could cook myself, and perhaps better. I started cooking in college (thanks mostly to Mollie Katzen cookbooks) and branched off from there. Things that work for us:

    – we have a few regular meals that are pretty flexible in terms of components. Quesadillas (with sauteed greens and shredded veggies — sweet potato, beets, zucchini, cabbage…), pasta with greens and feta cheese, pasta with some kind of pesto (kale, herb plus some veggie), rice bowls. I’ll often find recipes that seem interesting and I’ll adapt them to use whatever is in the fridge (some ingredients are more flexible than others, of course).
    – Working with our schedules. Some nights one or both of us go to the gym and don’t get home until the later side. That is often the night we’ll have something we can put together really quickly.
    – One bowl/plate meals. Maybe this is also because we cook vegetarian at home, but we rarely make side dishes.

  • KC

    I found just having a list of meals we liked, categorized loosely (quick [most of which used only things we always had on hand]; regular; large group; fancy) was very, very helpful (um, especially the “quick” category; omelettes are my friend); it meant I could skim down the list, look in the freezer/fridge/cupboard and start cooking straight from work, rather than flailing for a while trying to remember what it is possible to eat other than the thing we’d eaten the night before or that one meal we don’t have the central ingredient for or whatever else that was serving as a mental block between me and the fact that grilled sandwiches or lentil curry (not as quick as omelettes, but quick) or whatever did actually exist…

  • Ariel

    We meal plan for the week on the weekend and then only go shopping once during the week. It’s a good way to A. save money, as we’re not shopping hungry every night picking up snacks, B. make sure we’re not eating like crap every night and C. I really thought I had something else but now can’t think of anything. We make sure to plan a dinner or two that my husband wants to make each week, so I can get a break from all the cooking (even though I genuinely love to cook/bake, I also like chillin on the couch while my husband does the work).

  • Jenny

    A. Make a meal plan, and one that takes what your week looks like into account.

    Before learning that last part I frequently planned long prep stuff, beef stew, or chili, or stuff on nights neither of us were planning to be home before 7, and lemme tell you, reading 4 hours of simmer at 7:30 at night doens’t lead to marital bliss (though it does lead to delicious beef stew). Now I have a better idea of what a quick/week night dinner can be, and plan the longer stuff for weekends, and plan for left overs.

    B. Have 2 or 3 recipes that you can keep stocked all the time and that take only a few minutes. Ours are 1. Home made pizza (I keep dough I’ve made in large batches in the freezer, canned sauce, pepperoni and mozz on hand always). 2. Omlets/egg sandwiches 3. Stuff for dragon noodles (http://www.budgetbytes.com/). And always have frozen veggies on hand for a quick healthy side. I keep these meals on a list on the fridge, because when I’m tired and hungry my brain usually says, there is nothing here that won’t take a million hours, let’s go out.

    That way, when you’ve had a busy day, or things didn’t go according to plans you can still make dinner at home. I’ve found the key is that these meals have to be ones that you really like and can get excited about at your tiredest and most frustrated.

    C. Check out http://www.budgetbytes.com/ Soooo good! Dragon noodles, and the black bean quesidillas are amazing!

    • Allie Moore

      we must have similar cooking taste because I LOVE budget bytes. Also B is great advice.

    • a single sarah

      So glad you recommended the dragon noodles from budget bytes. That has been my go-to “I don’t know what’s in the fridge, but you want to come over for dinner?” meal for the past few months. I usually add some veggies before frying up the egg. Everyone has asked for the recipe.

  • anon for this

    I keep coming back to the comments and just getting a little depressed – I LOVE to cook and have a magnificent collection of kitchenware. Our problem is my husband’s reluctance to eat much of anything that isn’t kraft macaroni and cheese, a hamburger, pizza, or a taco (and all of these with no veggies). Or eggs benedict if it’s before noon (but put a poached egg on anything for dinner and he’s all HELL TO THE NO). It’s been two years of me trying to slowly introduce new things into his diet and winding up eating all the stuff he won’t touch. It’s bad for both of us, and it’s one thing that can still reduce me to tears about our relationship. I used to eat and cook so many interesting things. Now I will stand in the grocery store and have literally no idea what to cook…I can’t even remember what I used to eat before I met him. And I used to cook for just myself all the time, but now if I do that it feels like a waste of time, a waste of money because he would just eat fast food or half a box of mac and cheese (and dump the last half) if we don’t eat together, and sad for our relationship if we’re not eating together. It can be hard not to get mad at him for not just *trying the fucking green beans already* or whatever it is that day. The sad thing is he learned this from his parents when he was young, and THEY’ve both become waayyy more adventurous eaters and better cooks since then. Argh.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      It’s been an ebb and flow with us in terms of whether our marriage is good for what we eat. There’s definitely ways in which it’s limiting – like, I like broccoli, but he doesn’t, so I never eat broccoli any more, for all the reasons you point out. But then there are ways it’s been helpful, like our present no-carb experiment. I never would have tried it alone.

      There’s a big unbalance of information between us. My mother’s a doctor; I used to work for her; I read lots about healthy cooking for fun. So I try to remember that he may just not know how bad a lunch of wonderbread, just wonderbread, is for him. He’s not ignoring health issues and disregarding my concern for his well-being. So I try to educate as gently as possible.

      I also, in all parts of our relationship, try to disregard convention, especially when it’s just the two of us. For example, home-cooked family dinner was big with my family growing up, but my husband and I commute together, so we have that time as a substitute. And the fact of the matter is, he and I have very different dietary needs, so if we eat totally separate foods, that’s ok, maybe even best.

      I’m not big on veggies, either. Before I met my husband, I tried a new food every day for a month. I didn’t find any I liked; I just got super-stressed. It’s a vice, but I would totally rather starve than eat foods I don’t like. There are definitely nutrients it’s hard for me to get, so I try not to feel bad about wasting produce. Like, if a packaged food is allowed to spoil in our home, I never buy it again. But if I buy a pound of pea pods we don’t get around to cooking, I shrug that off rather than eliminating one of the few vegetables we both like from the grocery list.

    • Also anon

      Yes, this! So much stress and it also reduces me to tears. We try meal planning, but basically everything I LOVE LOVE LOVE and used to cook all the time is an instant “um, how about we just get pizza?” from him. When he does agree to let me make something – such as my Grandma’s chili recipe – he often says things like “can you make that taste more like canned Dennyson’s chili?” I think a big part of it is that he has eaten canned or fast food so often that he is used to certain foods tasting a certain way because that’s the only way he’s had it. I don’t get mad over not trying the green beans… but it is so upsetting to spend five hours (unemployed right now, hah) making something special that every other person I have ever met has raved about, only to have him poke it around on his plate.

      • anon for this

        fist bump. when i do go out to dinner with friends, i make them go to the most flavorful, texture-ful restaurants around (ethiopian, vietnamese, cuban, afghan anyone?) because i never get to go to those with my husband. it IS stressful. it’s not something i’ve ever had to deal with before and i usually don’t get mad (and i know i shouldn’t), but sometimes it feels like he’s just being stubborn and his diet seems soooo unhealthy that i worry about him :(

  • http://peckishadventurer.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    Am I the only one who likes the challenge of figuring out what to make based on what looked good at the market? I love to buy stuff that looks great and in season and then get home and figure out what to do with it. To do this, I do keep a pantry and freezer stocked with staples, so that I can get creative!

    • Lauren

      Yes! I worked on a farm for a few years during college (best part time job eveeeerrr) and adopted the approach of “I’m just going to make something up based on whatever happens to be ready to pick this week” and I loved it. Often I find that when I go to the store with particular vegetables in mind for a specific recipe, the store invariably doesn’t have them in stock, or they look crappy. So, yes, spontaneous meal plans all the way!

      • http://melissariebe.wordpress.com Melissa

        My fiancé and I joined our first CSA farmshare this year, and every Monday we get a beautiful box of veggies. I plan dinner for the week around whatever we get from the farm, and it’s amazing.

  • Julie

    I’m so excited to give Blue Apron a try. Lately we’ve been eating way too much takeout, or we’ve both ended up scrounging around the kitchen exhausted after work. I feel like this might be the jump start we need to start cooking more regularly, and to get out of our pasta/omelette/salad rut. Thank you!

  • Kelly

    We have issues with food which I know are going to get worse and worse. Me: I love the grilled chicken and vegetables. I don’t like sauces or seasoning. Keep it clean and light and my body is happy.

    Him? He’ll throw a tonne of oil into the pan that it makes me shudder (and I hate anything that tastes that ‘heavy’).

    He needs twice the amount of calories I do. I’m trying to do things like cook pasta or rice for him on the side, but then he complains they’re boring and need flavoring/cheese sauce/spices. And I’m growing resentful of essentially cooking 2 meals (the stuff we both have, and then all of his extras) when it’s my turn to cook.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Why can’t he just eat twice as much of what you both like? Nothing wrong with seconds. That’s how I plan things out (when I plan them): How much would I get/make for myself? OK, triple that for the 2 of us. So, if I’m content with 1 chicken thigh with dinner, I know he’ll have 2.

      I’d suggest keeping some sauces, either store-bought or home-made, on hand, just ready to heat if appropriate. In our relationship, I’m usually the one adding sauce. It’s not as good as if the food was marinated or otherwise cooked with the sauce, but it’s good enough.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    I saw an ad for Blue Apron on FB a few weeks ago but couldn’t find anything more about it. I can cook etc. Just wondering if the price is worth the convenience for me. Hmm.

  • Teresa Janelle

    When is this coming to Canada!! I would love to have a service like that here…I adore APW but my one big disappointment with it is that it’s soooo U.S.-centric. There are about five Canadian vendors on here at all, and all the ads and promotions are for Americans. Which is great for all the Americans, but us Canadians are feeling left out! :(

  • Hannah B

    I would love this if I had a) reliable delivery (no doorman, non-consistent hours) b) a table. Right now we’re eating off TV trays in our tiny living room, which I hate, but eventually we’ll buy a dining room table. Family dinner is super important to me. Also, that salmon looks SO good.

  • macrain

    My fiance eats mostly in snacks, which makes me a little sad. I always pictured being an adult as making grown up meals together. When I see other people’s husbands in the kitchen, I’m always like WHY can’t that be me?!
    I have also been reading up about intuitive eating and it’s mind blowing (this book, specifically- http://www.amazon.com/Intuitive-Eating-Revolutionary-Program-Works/dp/0312321236). Have also been following Refinery’s “Anti-Diet Project.” Good stuff.

  • Lucy

    Have a look at theclothesmakethegirl – it’s a paleo/whole foods blog, and she’s written 2 cookbooks (well fed and well fed 2). She has a pretty amazing method for sorting out real food fast by doing a Sunday cooking blitz and then mixing up protein/veggies/flavours and sauces through the week in quick meals. Her recipes are delicious and the flavours work- her salads are my go to dishes for entertaining.!

  • Kim S

    Coming out of lurkdom to say THANK. YOU. Between work, hubby’s work, baby that doesn’t sleep the whole night yet, limited take out options, and closest grocery store slanted more towards tourists needs instead of residents needs, I sorely need a hand in the meal planning and shopping arena! This is perfect, the big hurdles for me are taken care of, I can substitute out the dairy ingredients I’m allergic to, and sauces with preservatives that give hubby migraines. And it all looks like good, healthy fuel for breastfeeding too. Can’t wait for my first delivery! You made my day APW!

  • Belle11

    I’m the cook in our little family and I love to cook, which helps us tremendously in the “eating homemade meals” front. But we were getting into trouble because I also have a very long commute. I’d get home and be exhausted and a tad envious that my husband had been home for an hour, just chilling. And then I’d be faced with the option of either (a) trudging into the kitchen to make dinner or (b) tempting him with take out. What really turned us around was when we talked about how I was feeling. Now, he takes the time to prep most of the veggies or meats before I get home. And then he’ll sit with me in the kitchen (even if he’s reading or browsing the internet) while I’m cooking. It’s wonderful to share in the dinner making process and then to have a bit of time together. Plus, it keeps us from turning to the convenient, unhealthy options as often because it takes less time to get dinner together when both of us are helping.

  • Amanda

    All of my cooking started 2 years ago when I moved in with my then-boyfriend, now husband and realized that I probably wasn’t going to be able to sustain my habit of eating a dinner that consisted of some carrot sticks, 4 bites of yogurt, a handful of chips and salsa, a spoonful of peanut butter and maybe a few slices of deli-turkey (and whatever else happened to be staring me in the face) while standing at my kitchen counter with the refrigerator open……

    To do this we focused on making small changes. First, we are committed to trying 1 new recipe a week with a focus on finding ones that are both healthy and easy. If once dinner is made it is also delicious, it stays in the rotation (for a long time we literally kept a list on the side of the fridge with the names of the meals we liked). Second, every week we make a meal plan for each day of the week — sometimes the meal plan includes turkey sandwiches! or fend for yourself night! — and a complete grocery list of just the things we need (we swear by the OurGroceries app that we have linked to one account on both of our phones to make this as easy as possible). Third, we go grocery shopping every weekend, almost without fail. We realized pretty quickly that if we didn’t go grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday we lost ALL of our momentum for the week and suddenly it was Thursday and for 3 days in a row we were eating veggie burgers in the back of our freezer or takeout.

    To find our meals we’ve relied heavily on a few blogs that seem to always post things we love (Dinner a Love Story and SkinnyTaste) and, occasionally, Pinterest. You have to be careful with Pinterest because you can end up in the land of Impossibly Time Consuming or Terribly Unhealthy pretty quickly but there are also a lot of gems out there.

    I hope this helps, I feel like I was in your exact same spot two years ago and now cooking has become something I love.

  • EF

    I am a huge, huge fan of this. I HATE grocery shopping. I HATE cooking (my partner does it all); for random snacks each week I have a box from graze.com which is basically this but for healthy snacking, not dinner. I would probably be the IDEAL customer for blue apron, but alas, wrong country. If they ever start delivering in the UK, oh, man, I’m on it.
    In the meantime, VERY jealous of you all who have the opportunity!

  • Zoe

    We’ve been doing Blue Apron for about 5 weeks off and on now. It has been amazing to get fresh foods into our house without a lot of waste since we both work 80-100 hour weeks 7 days a week, and have no time for cooking. A few things we’ve learned: Invest in a zester (or watch the fiancé go ballistic trying to faux zest;) and REDESIGN THE DIRECTIONS! God they’re AWFUL. If I’m cutting up a whole lemon and I only need the juice for flavor, please please tell me so in the prep!! We’ve averaged about 1.5 hours (1.5 HOURS!!!) per recipe. That’s because the fiancé is mostly cooking and he’s terrible at a) prep, and b) speed. When I redesigned the directions, I cut the cook time down to 45 minutes. Also, why are these recipes so high in calories? 700 cal per person per meal?! Seems a bit egregious for everyday fare. There’s a wonderful cookbook I found at williams sonoma called Healthy In A Hurry – half hour meals mostly under 500cal. THAT I can do. Now only if they’d bring those to my doorstep.