Get Cooking and Turn Up the Heat on Your Date Nights


Blue Apron makes it easy to spend time together

by Kate Levy, Marketing Coordinator

APW + Blue Apronmeal planning from blue apron
Since we got married last fall, a lot has shifted in our lives and relationship. My wife, Karyne, and I both started new jobs, which came with new commute schedules; our weekly commitments have increased; and the flexibility we once had during the week to spend time together has definitely declined. When we are home together, we try to squeeze in a workout, take the dogs for a walk, and get dinner together, and before we know it, it’s basically time to head to bed—well after getting at least an episode of Chopped or Survivor in there.

It helps that I love to cook—okay, fine, maybe I just love buying cookbooks and pinning recipes—but I find myself to be rather terrible at meal planning (seriously, give me your tips!). So what’s a girl to do? Up until recently, our go-to has been ordering in sushi or poke bowls, thanks to on-demand delivery apps making this WAY too easy. So I decided to check out our friends at Blue Apron, an APW fave and Maddie’s ride or die, and ever since, we’ve been able to turn those ordering-in nights into cooking together nights. Plus, we’re well aware that life will only continue to get busier as our family grows. So how do we build in solid relationship habits now, so we’re a little more prepared down the line?

meal prep ingredients and tools from blue apron

If you’re new here, Blue Apron sends a box of pre-portioned, farm fresh recipe ingredients to your house each week (enough for three meals including everything except salt, pepper, and oil), and then you just do the prepping and cooking part. They give you options for couples or families, so you can get exactly how much you need. The portions are fairly generous, too, so if you’re like me and leftovers for lunch is something you’re into, you definitely can make it work with a little supplementing here and there.

meal prep options from blue apron

Since we get home at different times, I’m able to start the prep work, which is actually my fave. Then by the time Karyne is home, we’re ready to get cooking together. Blue Apron’s recipes are easy and clear to follow, so folks who aren’t as confident in the kitchen can get through them with ease. Pro tip: Like any recipe, always read it all the way through before you start. And since most meals can be completed in under forty minutes, you’ll be sitting down to eat in no time. Better yet, you can start and stop your shipments whenever you want for no fees. Going out of town one week? No problem. Feel like cooking on your own? You got it! Just let them know which weeks you want to skip and you’re all set!

 a woman in a pink sweater preparing dinner with supplies from blue apron

I love the fact that Blue Apron recipes, while simple, involve some pretty sophisticated cooking techniques, like the quick pickling we did. This builds confidence in the kitchen and also helps to expand your palate. Most of their recipes use common kitchen tools, but it helps to get yourself equipped with a few extras, such as a microplane and handheld press. Otherwise, a good chef’s knife, cutting boards, and standard pots and pans will get you through. If you don’t have what you need, Blue Apron also has a great marketplace that carries everything from a basic prep tool bundle to cast iron skillets, and they even have knives and wine glasses.

a woman cooking dinner from blue apron

One of the things we were most excited about was Blue Apron’s incredible wine delivery. Because yes, wine delivered to our doorstep is amazing. You get six bottles a month of delicious wine. Blue Apron works with vineyards to produce wines that pair with their recipes. They’re also sized to serve exactly two people.

a couple prepping a meal from blue apron

Blue Apron also puts all of their recipes online once the week is done. So when we find one that we really love, we’re able to get it online instead of saving all the recipe cards. We incorporate these recipes into our rotation for nights we don’t have meals. And it’s a great way to try out recipes when we’re feeling more adventurous!

a couple eating a meal from blue apron

I love not having to play the “what’s for dinner” game every night, and with all the extra time we save, we’re able to sit down and actually enjoy our meal. We now look forward to getting our box every week and picking which night we’ll be cooking together. It’s given us healthy, fast options, as well as a great way to reconnect during busy weeks.

Now, instead of using our precious free time chatting about what’s on the menu—or worse, running to the store because we forgot we’re out of EVERYTHING—we use that time to explore our neighborhood or just relax on the patio. How do you guys spend your free time during the week and reconnect as a couple?

Blue Apron wants to you to have more time with your partner and family so they’re giving away 3 free meals to the first 50 APW readers on their first order. Click here to get your free meals! 

Blue_Apron_Company_Logo

This post was sponsored by Blue Apron. Blue Apron simplifies mealtimes by delivering fresh ingredients straight to your door. Blue Apron’s recipes help support local farmers and utilize fresh, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. If you’ve been thinking of trying out Blue Apron, the first 50 to sign up with a new account will get three free meals with their first delivery. Click here to sign up!

Kate Levy

Kate is APW’s Marketing Coordinator. This Bay Area native built her own business as a wedding hair and makeup artist, before shifting gears to work in marketing. She’s an avid iPhone photographer, loves all forms of social media (especially Instagram, #katesskylog), and makes a mean chocolate chip cookie. When not obsessing over the latest home design or wedding trends, Kate can be found hanging on the Peninsula with her wife, 3 cats and 2 dogs. Ask her about her spoon collection.

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  • penguin

    We tried Blue Apron for the first time last week! I liked it a lot more than I thought we would. I love to cook too, and we’re pretty good about keeping the kitchen stocked, except for produce. Meal planning is always our big downfall. We either plan too many things (and then make none of them), or plan not enough and then we order out anyway.

    We’ve gotten Blue Apron for two weeks now, and I’m glad we tried it. I think we’ll start using Blue Apron recipes from the website, and do the shopping ourselves. The recipes have been really good so far, although I’d double the protein if you want to have leftovers for lunch. We always end up with sides leftover. The recipes are a good level of complexity for us – easy enough to cook on a weeknight, but just complicated/detailed enough that we feel like we actually did something. If we’re going to have a crazy hectic week then we can order the actual box for that week. Also, their customer service was great. They accidentally left a cucumber out of our box, and when I let them know they credited our account $19.98!

    • I’m exactly the same when it comes to planning! I buy it all and then don’t want to make it when the time comes 😂 I love the variety. And yes to great customer service!!

    • Lisa

      My husband and I tried several different meal delivery services with all of the free codes going around, but Blue Apron was by far and away the best. They always had the freshest-looking produce, and their customer service is on point. (Our shipment got delayed by a day due to a snowstorm, and they credited us for the full box.)

      We ended up cancelling the service after 1.5 years because of the expense and because we started using a meal planning service that had been given to us as a gift by my MIL. However, I credit Blue Apron with getting us more comfortable in the kitchen and instilling the habit of cooking even on the busiest of weeknights.

      • Violet

        Can I ask a question to find out if I’m just that lazy or if my schedule really is that bad? I feel like I’m deficient for not cooking during the week, but I regularly get home around 7:30 or 8:00. By that time, I’m famished and just wanna EAT; not cook for 45 mins. When you say cook on a busy weeknight, what time are you usually getting home?

        • penguin

          Ah that’s rough – I get home by 6 (7 if I go to the gym), and my fiancé gets home earlier. One thing that works for us is to have a snack when we start cooking, so we’re not ravenous. In your situation I’d probably bulk cook ahead of time so you’d have leftovers ready when you got home.

          • Violet

            Thanks- this is what I do on the weeks when I get to the grocery store on the weekend- cook a batch of something on Sunday and eat off it for the week. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something!

        • Lisa

          I get off work at 4:30 most days, and since I’m hourly, that doesn’t typically waiver. 6-7 is probably the latest I get home, and my husband usually does the cooking so we typically eat between 7-8. We’ve had nights where we sit down to dinner 8:30-9, but those are outliers.

          If I was regularly getting home 7:30-8, I’d probably be doing more meal prep on the weekends or have reeeeally easy meals planned (like sautee chicken with some salad) ready to go so that I/we didn’t have to do much.

          • Violet

            Okay, that’s what I thought, thanks! I wanted to try Blue Apron, but the lowest package they had at the time I checked it out was three meals a week. And unless I was gonna cook all three on a weekend, that was a little overboard for me. If they had a 1x/week option so I could ease into it, that would be ideal for me.

          • Lisa

            I think there is a competitor service that allows you to choose how many meals you want per week, but it’s been a while since we looked at that option so I can’t remember which one it was. We tried it as part of our experiment with the meal delivery options but found that it was a bit more expensive than BA, the quality of produce wasn’t as good (we had to replace some of it out of pocket), and the customer service was not interested in helping us.

          • Lexipedia

            Plated does this. It is a bit more expensive, but we’ve appreciated having more options with no blackouts.

          • Lisa

            You are right that it was Plated. We soured after getting several pieces of inedible produce, and when we contacted them about the repeated problems, they basically said, “Well, what do you want us to do about it?” We liked the recipes, but the customer service left something to be desired.

        • Amy March

          That’s also me. I love to cook but when I get home at 8, that means reheating something I cooked over the weekend, an omelette, a quick stir fry, or salad. Blue Apron doesn’t work for me because if I had 45 minutes to cook I wouldn’t need the help!

          • Violet

            So I’m at least an omelette’s worth of lazy, because I’d still grab to-go from somewhere on my way home over making an omelette, which I definitely know how to do. ; )

          • G.

            My lazy dinner is steamed broccoli. I only recently moved to a city that has extensive order-in options, so that’s not (yet) a habit, which means I’ll pull from my fridge/freezer for something. But it’s hard — when I get home from work (between 6.30-7.30, then walk the dog, so realistically not thinking about dinner until 7-8), I rarely want to put in a lot of effort to make things. Hence the broccoli.

          • Violet

            You mean, broccoli as your whole dinner? Or as your go-to side?

        • Her Lindsayship

          I don’t think you’re lazy. My fiancé gets home between 8 and 8:30, I get home more like 5-5:30, and sometimes *I* don’t have the energy to cook simply because I’d have to do it by myself! I mean, I still do cook, because I do have the time and it’s great when we can have dinner together right when he gets home, but god am I whiny about it.

          • Violet

            Haha, thanks for the sympathy!

        • Laura

          My husband and I routinely get home at 7:30-8:00. We typically don’t eat until 9:00. What saves us from hangriness is what I call my “after school snack,” which I eat around 5-6:00ish to save myself from being starving when I get home.

          A big salad is my go-to lazy meal. I started washing and chopping lettuce immediately after coming back from my weekend grocery run. That way, I can grab a handful of lettuce and dump whatever toppings I can find…usually some combination of canned chickpeas, canned tuna or smoked fish, olives, blue or feta cheese if I have it, a hard-boiled egg, random veggies from my fridge. It’s healthy but still filling.

          • Violet

            Sounds like a healthy and filling “lazy” option. Now, if I could become the kind of person who had random food lying around… I’ve noticed I’m very all-or-nothing with food prep. I either plan out a meal or two, buy those ingredients, and schedule time to cook them all… or get take out. Growing up, my mom was always like how you describe- had food around and could make anything out of anything. It’s seriously impressive to me.

          • jem

            What about grocery store “cheats”? A pack of lunchmeat, cans of beans, jars of olives, bags of shredded cheese, etc means there’s food around to make the kind of salad she describes, but doesn’t require YOU to prep. Lots of grocery stores are also selling prepped veggies and prewashes greens. We often boil a dozen hard boiled eggs at the beginning of the week (usually when we’re doing something else in he kitchen- making dinner, doing dishes) and pop them right back in the carton to pull out later for salads or quick breakfasts.

          • Violet

            I love all of these suggestions because they pretty much won’t go bad even if I don’t get to them right away (lunch meat being the one exception). So instead of picking up something to go, I could pick up a bag of pre-washed greens and then add in the mixin’s. Thanks!

          • Mer

            One of my favorite lazy meals is: turkey lunchmeat, hummus, roasted red peppers or grape tomatoes, olives or cheese, artichokes, hummus, avocado and some crackers or bread… almost anything works here. I put it all on a plate in little sections and it’s 0 cooking, super fast and delicious.

          • Laura

            You know, making something out of anything is a skill that I’ve developed over time. Starting with maybe one easy, one-pot meal per week is a good way to get in the habit of cooking on weeknights, and then you can work your way up from there. Pretty soon, you’ll see ingredients lying around and just know how to make them into something delicious.

            I’ve got the opposite problem as you. If I have pantry space (and I do), I will become a borderline food hoarder. We’re moving across the country in 6 weeks so I’ve been trying to eat down all of the random cans of beans, a bajillion different varieties of rice, a freezer full of who knows what, etc.

          • Violet

            Thanks for the reassurance!

          • penguin

            I do this too!

        • Mer

          I’m with you. Recently I’ve been getting home at either 7:25 or 8:15 and I’m not in the mood to cook anything. I cook a boatload on the weekend and then on Wednesday, I cook for the Thursday and Friday. The thing about my Wednesday cooking is 1) it is barely cooking (I had an already marinated pork tenderloin and some green beans that I put in the oven) and 2) it’s after I already had dinner on Wednesday so I’m not Hangry and frustrated about not having food to eat RIGHT NOW.

          • Violet

            Blah, late nights are the worst!

        • emilyg25

          I’ve found it helpful to perfect a couple really quick and easy dishes: grilled cheese, quesadillas, pasta with shrimp or sausage and greens, pan fried boneless pork chops or fish filets, big salad. I don’t really like to eat leftovers, so meal prep in advance doesn’t work.

          • Violet

            See, this is where I come down on the side of I must be lazy. I just fork over $8 for to-go so I can eat immediately and have no clean up over making even something as basic as a grilled cheese. (Which would require me to have bread, butter, cheese on hand, plus dirty a frying pan. Soooo lazy…)

          • penguin

            Huevos rancheros is our go-to last minute dinner. Everything in it stays good for a long time so we pretty much always have the ingredients on hand. Also a lemon/garlic/yogurt pasta dish. The original recipe called for sour cream, we swapped in greek yogurt 1-to-1.

        • jem

          So we also often get home at 7:30/8 just wanting to EAT. If two people help out prepping & cooking, most blue apron meals can be made in maybe 20 min (depending on the recipe, obv.). But we also usually have a giant bag of tortilla chips out while we prep & cook… not the healthiest option, but hey. Usually there aren’t too many dishes, either (usually just one pan), if you sip putting the ingredients in individual little bowls while prepping…

          • Violet

            My partner and I are never really home at the same time, so we don’t tend to do dinner together. That might change when we move in a month, but I doubt it. I actually kind of love your tortilla chips thing… sometimes I’ve cut a vegetable I’ll need first, like a red pepper, then snack on it while making the rest.

  • Amy March

    I’ve been trying to get better about meal planning, and this one recipe is my salvation. Easy to make on Sunday night, flexible leftover for the week:

    https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017161-oven-roasted-chicken-shawarma

  • Abby

    I LOVE blue apron – my fiance and I have so much fun cooking together.

    Just my opinion but while I found that their was plenty of food for dinner, I did not find that there was ever enough for lunch leftovers. (I.e., Cod sandwiches came with two buns and two pieces of cod)

    But otherwise I absolutely loved the experience. Everything was fresh and delicious, we definitely got better at cooking.

    My only other complaint was the sheer amount of waste that came in each box. (Tiny plastic containers for sesame oil, the plastic wrapping around produce that would have been fine just sitting in the box, etc.) I actually emailed blue apron about it and they responded immediately which was nice. They said they were always looking at ways to make their boxes more environmentally friendly.

    So for $60 you get three easy/fresh/fun meals to prepare. It’s a great date in a box and it definitely saves us on takeout costs.

    • penguin

      Right, the amount of waste is one thing I’m not a fan of. I wish there was a way to re-use the ice packs at least! Like, mail them back to be used again? I hate throwing them out, along with 1 billion little plastic bottles/tubs/bags.

  • SarahRose472

    One of the hard things with getting meal-planning/cooking done is that me and my partner are both very moody when it comes to cooking and food — sometimes one or both of us will get really excited and make all kinds of ambitious recipes or spend Sunday cooking up a storm so we have leftovers for days…and then there are weeks like this one, where we’ve just been pulling together the most basic of meals out of the freezer as fast as possible (fry up some frozen fish, defrost creamed spinach, steam some cauliflower).

    On the other end of the spectrum my boss’s family eats the same sequence of meals every single week…he has this setup so he can grocery shop the exact same things each week and his wife does the cooking. It sounds very practical/efficient but I would get so bored…even when we find some good, easy recipes I find myself getting tired of them easily and wanting something new.

    I got a food box delivery for a while (not Blue Apron; I don’t live in the US) but found that did swing a little more towards that I needed to necessarily be on the motivated side of my spectrum in a given week to enjoy it (I think they were worse about estimating the recipe times than Blue Apron though — they always said 30-40 mins and often it would be an hour or more).

    Anyone have good tips for how to balance routine/efficiency with swings in motivation/cravings for cooking?

    • Lisa

      For us, this has been using a meal planning service that I mentioned in another comment. The service suggests four new recipes each week, and we can customize the type of recipe (“original,” vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo) and serving size (2-8). We then add the recipes to our shopping list and mark off any ingredients we already have. If we don’t like the recipes that are offered for the week, we can go back through a list of favorites and add them to the routine. This takes the effort out of finding new recipes weekly but keeps us within a routine of shopping. My husband is like you and needs to constantly be trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen so the meal planning service has been important for us.

      We also keep a stash of frozen food (pizzas, Trader Joe’s orange chicken) and easy boxes (pasta, macaroni & cheese) on hand for nights when the cooking isn’t going to happen.

      • Eenie

        Hey Lisa, what service are you using? We’ve used prep dish previously and we just hit a food rut (happens annually apparently).

        • Lisa

          It’s called Cook Smarts. An annual subscription is about $75 for the year, and we’ve found we spend $50-60/week on the groceries for 3-4 meals of 4 servings/each. I love their interface and the facility with which I can navigate and change things up!

          • Eenie

            Thank you Lisa! We didn’t use it this week, but I’m using their free meal plans for next week to give it a try :)

          • Lisa

            Awesome! You’ll have to let me know how you like it. I’m looking forward to using up some of our CSA greens and strawberries in this week’s salad. :)

    • Sara

      Oh I am SO moody with food. I have a problem with taking out stuff to defrost in the morning and not being in the mood for it by the time I get home. I try to buy small quantities of vegetables so they don’t go bad or I’m not wasting too much money if I don’t eat it. I do grocery shop at least twice – I buy all my meat at a specific grocery store near a place I volunteer once a week (I usually pop in just to see what’s on sale), and then the rest I supplement it with whatever I need from a bigger chain grocery store. But the grocery store is on my way home from work, so its an easy pop in and grab a couple things.

      I know a lot of people hate grocery shopping though, so I guess that’s not a valid plan for a lot of people :)

    • Diamondminek

      Essentially when I feel motivated, I fill the freezer with various cooked meat – curry, chicken dishes, burgers etc. That’s way when there’s less motivation/ time/ health I just pull out what ever. I always have frozen potato – mash or fritters – and veg or ricentre and noodles. I have basic meals that take minimal prep and basic cooking – chuck something in the slow cooker, beans on toast,omlette.
      I guess that doesn’t help with the regular box ordering… but part of routine is doing it anyway – even if you don’t feel motivated or can’t be bothered, cooking this meal is rewarding, will save waste or what ever is important to you. For me, I find value making sure my partner gets a decent meal – that gets me off the sofa more than thinking about just me!

    • Amy March

      Honestly I just had to force myself to get over it. Indulging my food whims and fancies resulted in too much waste, expense, and calories. I eat what I really really want on weekends. On weekdays I really try to eat what I planned even if I’m not in the mood.

      • Her Lindsayship

        This was basically my answer too. It may not sound helpful, but at some point I had to think of it in terms of balance. I craved variety and interesting meals, yes, but if I didn’t want to spend a lot of time looking up recipes every single week and making extra grocery runs because suddenly my mood changed, something had to give. This change became pretty easy to make when I moved from an apartment with a grocery store across the street to one where the closest was a mile away and I didn’t have a car. I did not care what I ‘felt like’ eating anymore, whatever I had and didn’t have to walk a mile to get was better!

      • emilyg25

        I might swap some meals or make something different with the same ingredients, but yeah, I pretty much stick to the plan.

      • RNLindsay

        Yep! I view it as a part of “adulting”. Suck it up and eat some food that isn’t necessarily the most amazing thing ever but is efficient and healthy for a weeknight! Save amazing food for the weekend

    • theteenygirl

      Getting into the habit of meal planning for the week takes a lot of the stress out of getting home and trying to figure out what I feel like eating. I don’t eat the same thing every week, I maybe rotate recipes every month or two. I find that if I know what I’m going to eat ahead of time, I get excited for it. Although, sometimes this backfires and I think I want chili for lunch and I make a big batch and then I go to eat it on the Monday and I realize I don’t want it at all and I end up force feeding myself chili for a week. And yeah, I will even meal plan for lazy weeks. Sometimes the meal plan is just “cereal for breakfast”, “soup for lunch”, “naan bread pizza for dinner M/W/F and veggie pasta T/T”. I also always plan for at least one insanely easy dinner in my meal plan each week, or plan to make enough of something on Monday when I know I’m feeling energetic that I don’t have to cook Thursday when I’m in a slump.

    • I wouldn’t describe myself as a moody eater, but as a kid I went through phases of eating the same dish so often I couldn’t touch it ever again (I still really struggle to eat sandwiches due to years of packed school lunches) so I’m very wary of over-regulating meal planning in case I ruin something for myself. Recipe boxes don’t work for me for several reasons, but I’ve found ‘food group’ boxes work better – I used to get a veg box regularly, and I’m currently looking into a meat subscription. Combining a subscription box with a solid store cupboard selection means we can usually throw together something relatively quickly but have to option to do something long winded and fancy when we want to.

      When we moved, our ‘set up’ shopping list was tinned tomatoes, various tinned pulses, coconut milk, olive oil, sesame oil, vegetable oil, red and white wine vinegar, fish sauce, a jar of minced ginger, rice, pasta and noodles. Most commonly used spices are pimenton, cumin, coriander, curry leaves, mustard powder, and a some mixed dry herbs (we have a lot more than that, but there’s definitely stuff that only gets touched when we’re feeling fancy). We can usually muster something British, French, Spanish, Italian, India or Thai without having to do much top up shopping.

  • Sara

    I like Blue Apron and their customer service is great! I had a few pieces of vegetables that were a little gross looking and I just snapped a picture to them. They gave me money off my next shipment almost immediately!

    I ended up having to cancel for 2 reasons – one is that the only place to leave deliveries at my condo is directly in the hot sun, so I was feeling squeamish when I opened it. The other reason is that I ended up with so much garbage and felt bad throwing out the ice packs – I ended up with a freezer full of them. I didn’t know what to do with them. I used a couple for a beach trip and the rest are still in the freezer…

    • Lisa

      I gave my mother several of the ice packs and freezer bags, and now she uses them to send food home with me and my sisters after family get-togethers! Otherwise, yes, I feel you on the freezer full of ice packs.

      • jem

        Um this is genius.

  • Her Lindsayship

    I just placed my first order with the APW code. :) We’ve never tried it before because I’ve heard from several people that their recipes can be extremely complicated, but the ones on my first order don’t look bad at all. Excited to try it out!

    We used to like cooking together, but since my fiancé switched jobs a few months ago to work in an office instead of at home, a lot more of the meal planning/prep falls to me. We make a weekly meal plan together and grocery shop together, but on the day of, I typically decide what we’re having and prep some or all of it myself. Because cooking by myself is way less fun and starts to feel a little grudging, we’ve started to make a couple of really big recipes per week that can provide leftovers. This is generally a good compromise – we’re not eating too much takeout, I’m not spending every weeknight getting more annoyed at him for working long hours, and he does pretty much all the dishes to make up for not doing as much cooking. However. The menu is getting really boring. I think this will be a good way to get us to try new things without having to search out the recipes and ingredients ourselves. I guess I’ll still do a lot of solo prep before he gets home, but I’m thinking the novelty of it will make it more fun. If not, I appreciate that they let you cancel at anytime so it’s not too much of a commitment!

    • Lisa

      Even though we cancelled our service, we still make several of the BA recipes. (The beet and barley risotto is a summer favorite!)

      I will say that I found their cook times to be underestimated and that we used most of our prep bowls every night we made their recipes. However, I don’t know if the cook times are supposed to be meant for two people or one; typically only one of us is cooking/prepping, and the other does clean up. If two people were cooking, the prep time would probably be shorter.

    • penguin

      I think Blue Apron is great for something like that – we were kind of in a rut too, and this forced us to cook and eat with some variety.

      • jem

        Yessss I love the variety and being forced to try new recipes! I actually keep the recipe cards sometime and make them again…. the way they time the steps for the recipes is just SO CLEVER sometimes.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    We’ve done Blue Apron! In general, we really like it. The produce they send is always beautiful and perfect. We’ve been challenged to try things that we never would have thought of on our own. Some recipes we loved, some we liked, some were ok, nothing was a dud. No complaints on taste.I have a few thoughts, in no particular order:1) You can probably still try it for free if the APW codes are all used up. They send regular customers codes that they can share with friends who have never tried the service, good for a first free box. Ask around, somebody probably has one, or will soon. You’ll need to enter your credit card number to cash in the code, but they won’t charge it until the next week’s order, assuming you don’t cancel.2) Be prepared for the system to send you a box every week, by default, come hell or high water. If you try that first free box, they WILL send you another the next week, unless you manually tell them not to. You can pull up the calendar and de-select the weeks you do not want delivery, but only about 5 weeks in advance. If you forget to go in again a few weeks later and de-select the next few, it will automatically sign you up for the next available week.3) The only way to cancel all future orders is to deactivate your account. It involves sending an email to a robot and clicking a link. The next time you log in, however, it’ll probably reactivate your subscription.4) There’s a Blue Apron smart phone app for Apple phones, and I’m told it makes scheduling a lot simpler. There is not currently one for Android.5) The kits come with a ton of packaging. You can save a lot of it and mail it back to the company for recycling, if you receive multiple orders. There’s info about that on their website.7) Their recipes are available for free on their website, to everybody. You do need to have an active membership to print them as a tidy PDF, but you can check out and try their recipes on your own if you want. This is also a great place to find a recipe for, say, the pretty little fingerling potatoes you bought at the farmer’s market.8) They always take me longer to prepare than the recipe predicts. A lot of that time goes into prep work.9) It helps to have a lot of little bowls to put your prepped ingredients into.10) They’ll tell you to add salt and pepper on just about every step. This builds layers of flavor! Just remember that if, at every step, you add as much pepper as you are used to adding once at the end, your food will be waaaaaay over seasoned. Use a light hand.

    • Katharine Parker

      I would largely agree with these thoughts. My other caveat would be to pick your delivery day based on the days that you will be most likely to cook, and plan when you cook which meals around how long they’ll stay good. I had some issues with certain box items (usually tomatoes) that would have been fine on the day they arrived going bad by day three.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Agreed! They actually recommend cooking any fish first, if there’s a seafood recipe in the box. And we switched from 3 two-person recipes to 2 four-person recipes, because we just couldn’t block out three nights every week to cook for an hour or more.Oh, also, delivery is delegated to a number of different delivery companies. I had asked in Delivery Instructions for them to place the box on my back porch, and they’ve never, ever done it. I’ve heard other people note that their special delivery instructions were similarly ignored, but that’s UPS or whomever, not BA. So, maybe schedule it to be delivered on a day you’ll be home.

  • theteenygirl

    I love love meal planning. Every weekend I sit down with recipe books and Pinterest and make a plan for what I’m eating for breakfast (one thing I eat every day for a week), lunch (again, one thing I eat every day for a week), and dinner each night (usually something different each night, or two or three recipes that we alternate). I use my points app on my phone (PC points in Canada), as well as the store flyer, and what I need to eat up in the freezer/fridge/pantry to determine the meals. Our grocery bill is typical $80-$100 each week.

    When we first started dating, my fiance couldn’t even make rice. He ate out every single meal. He didn’t eat vegetables (except for edamame at sushi). He exclusively ate pizza, sushi, hamburgers, sausage, and cheese and crackers. This was a big strain on our relationship because of my mostly vegetarian diet, love of food and cooking, and adventurous palate. Luckily, we lived long distance so we didn’t fight about it a lot! What I have to say though, is that it is AMAZING what cooking together can do. I started with saying okay, I’ll cook and you have to promise me you’ll at least try everything. And he did. And he realized, hey vegetables aren’t that icky?? And then he started cooking one night per week and he figured out that 1) cooking isn’t so hard, 2) it’s actually pretty fun and 3) he can make yummy and healthy food!

    He is so much more confident in the kitchen now, and willing to try new foods. One of the biggest hurdles in our relationship is now becoming something really fun for us. Plus he is really proud when he cooks for me and it’s just so darn cute.

    • stephanie

      Cooking together early on was also a great thing for us — I was a MUCH pickier eater 10 years ago.

    • Jessica

      I also love meal planning. Typically I find 3 things on pinterest I’ll be happy to eat throughout the week for lunch and dinner, and have bacon/eggs or yogurt for breakfast. I do almost all my cooking on Sunday, and love seeing a full fridge of food I picked out.

      My meals usually look like this:
      1 slow cooked meat item with a roasted vegetable or baked sweet potato
      1 sheet pan or stir fry type dinner (this one gets cooked last, since it can easily be made during the week)
      1 batch chicken breast or other protein with salad items on hand (including cheese, different kinds of dressing, some sort of fruit, candied pecans and avocados)

      My husband likes to make sandwiches out of the meat I make, and does the grilling during the summer (so gendered, but I’m ok with it). I snack on fruit and nuts, and will sometimes go through a phase of “Fancy Food Nights” where I just eat a selection of cheese, meat, fruit and nuts with wine.

      • theteenygirl

        Same! Sunday nights (although it’s starting to be more like Monday nights recently) I cook up all my lunches and portion them out to grab and go in the mornings. I get weirdly happy when I see my lunch shelf in the fridge all lined up with tupperware!!

  • Lexipedia

    Blue Apron (and the other meal delivery services we’ve tried) have DEFINITELY made our kitchen more egalitarian. I was always cook, and FI was always dishwasher,* but if I was too tired to cook then it was either a smorgasboard of random fridge items or takeaway. It wasn’t that FI was lazy, he always contributed through dishes, he just didn’t have any confidence in his ability to do something like season chicken from stuff we already had (and make sure it was cooked through). Then we tried Blue Apron, and liked making them together, but I was still “lead cook” in the process. It wasn’t until I badly sprained my ankle so I couldn’t stand up in the kitchen that he took my usual role out of necessity – and realized it was ok. Now he makes about half of them, I make half of them, and we make an occasional few together. It’s amazing to know that a crazy work night (like last night) didn’t mean we didn’t eat anything but pizza. Although we switched to another company because we liked that it had more options each week, we have pretty much stuck with a meal service every week for the past nine months.

    *I will note, he still does all the dishes without complaint – which is one of the reasons I knew I had to keep him around.

  • BSM

    Anyone have suggestions for easy, no-cook meals they love?

    We’re renovating our kitchen right now, so our temporary setup (in our living room, next to our bed 🙄) includes our fridge, a toaster oven, and a microwave. I also held onto our Vitamix and slow cooker, but I’m trying not to get too cray because cleaning dishes in our dusty bathroom sucks.

    • Ashlah

      Not sure where the line is drawn around “meal,” but I could see doing some “snack nights” if we were dealing with that. Some sort of cured meat, yummy cheese, crackers, a veggie or two for dipping in hummus (or your dip of choice). That sort of thing. You might even be able to keep your dishes to one knife and one big cutting board!

      Not no-cook per se, but is the weather nice enough for grilling?

      Sandwiches? Could toast ’em in the toaster oven.

      We would probably also be guilty of eating out a lot, but trying to get big portions we could microwave for leftovers.

      • Lisa

        Salads would be another one. You could buy pre-cut vegetables in the produce section if you can’t prep them yourselves.

        • BSM

          Yes, if we weren’t so laaaaazy lol. I just threw out some lettuce we bought last week that I’d planned on using for a salad.

      • BSM

        Snack nights have been our go to so far (avocado toast, greek yogurt, green smoothies) with some takeout and microwave meals mixed in.

        I love crackers and meat (not cheese), but I haven’t had any since getting pregnant. I think I’ve heard that high quality, freshly sliced stuff should be clear of listeria – do you have any guidelines you’ve been using for that?

        • Violet

          Listeria can appear on just about anything uncooked! I’ve just been eating lunch meat from my usual sources, given that I’ve never had a problem with them before. Same goes for raw fish. Obviously go with your comfort level.

          • BSM

            Well, raw fish is more a salmonella concern than a listeria one, but that is totally true that it can be found in anything (helloooo Blue Bunny ice cream!).

          • Violet

            Right, the pathogen (am I getting that right?) is different, but same principle overall. I read the same book Ashlah did, and it was pretty reassuring.

          • BSM

            They’re actually fairly different, if I understood what Oster was saying correctly. Getting salmonella would affect a pregnant woman the same way it would anyone – you’d get sick, and it would suck. It wouldn’t really have any additional adverse effects on the fetus unless you got a horrific strain of it (in which case, you would personally have a dangerous bacterial infection, too). On the other hand, listeria can very seriously affect the fetus because it can cross the placenta.

            I’m much more concerned about listeria than salmonella based on that info, but it’s pretty tough to protect yourself from it since it can really be found in anything.

          • Violet

            Oh sorry, I meant, they’re both *somewhat* unpredictable, so trying to avoid all the foods that might have them becomes a bit of a futile effort. Yeah, outcomes very different.

          • BSM

            I suppose. I feel more comfortable not eating deli meat for now, even if it’s completely futile. To each their own.

          • Violet

            Exactly. You can look at risk one of two ways- it’s not 100%, so may as well, or it’s not 100%, so why bother? Both are perfectly valid!

        • Ashlah

          I haven’t really restricted myself much at all, to be honest! Mostly, I’ve followed the advice from Expecting Better. Not sure if you’ve had a chance to check out that book, but here’s a short blog post the author wrote on the topic. I avoid unpasteurized cheese (uncommon in the US, but I know they carry some at Trader Joe’s) and might avoid deli turkey from a place I’m not super confident is clean, but generally it seems like the Listeria risk is overblown. The CDC reports 1,600 cases a year. It seems like there’d be a similar risk of Listeria from my green smoothies (greens and frozen fruit) and the pre-made salads I sometimes eat for lunch, but nobody’s telling pregnant women to avoid fruits and veggies! It works for me, but of course you’ve got to choose what you’re comfortable with.

          • BSM

            I have read Expecting Better, but knowing that listeria can be found in anything (ice cream! spinach! cantaloupe!) doesn’t really encourage me to eat a thing that it’s historically been found in more (lunch meat), if that makes sense.

            And I actually did get awful food poisoning early on in my pregnancy from a local sandwich place (from some cooked meat there), so I am probably more leery of this than other people or than I might have otherwise been.

          • Ashlah

            Totally understandable! It’s not like you’re missing out on an important food group by cutting it out, so if avoiding lunch meat makes you less anxious, then I think it’s a fine choice. Treat yourself to a thick lunch meat sandwich when you’re no longer pregnant! ;)

          • Amy March

            Interestingly in some countries they do tell pregnant women to avoid salads because of the listeria risk.

        • Ashlah

          By the way, your snack nights sound way healthier than ours, hahah. We should steal some of your ideas (avocado toast!)

    • Sara

      My lazy eating is tuna in many forms. Open face tuna melts in the toaster oven, regular tuna salad on toasted bread, tuna pasta salad, tuna salad and crackers. Its a serious issue. I eat so much of it. My mother teases she keeps tuna at her house just in case I stop over for lunch.

      Other than that, popcorn and apple slices for dinner happens when I’m super tired and can’t think about food at all. Also! There’s a way to boil pasta in there if you need to – http://lifehacker.com/boil-microwave-pasta-by-adding-three-minutes-to-the-nor-1699281678

      • Lisa

        Popcorn is my favorite easy meal. I bought a 12 pound bag off Amazon back in January, and it’s my go-to when I’m in a hurry/don’t feel like cooking/just want a vehicle for delicious Amish butter.

        • BSM

          I LOVE stove top popcorn with nutritional yeast, and I feel like I’ve seen some info online on how to make your own microwave version without buying the prepackaged bags. I will def investigate that!

          • ART

            Just get paper lunch sacks! I have several hundred white ones left over from welcome bags at my wedding (got them from Smart and Final – it seemed rational at the time) and we use those. You can just pour popcorn into the bag (about 1/4 cup works), then press most of the air out and tightly fold over the edge a few times. I just press my popcorn button and listen for the pops to get a few seconds apart.

            Fave new version is butter, lime juice, and Tajin.

          • BSM

            Thank you! Definitely trying this this weekend.

          • Lisa

            We have an air popper, but my mother recently bought this contraption off Amazon, and it is absolutely amazing. 10/10 would recommend! I’m put one on my wishlist for the holidays this year.

      • Violet

        All of these forms sound delicious!

      • Ashlah

        And if you’re avoiding/reducing tuna due to pregnancy, you can do all of these with shredded chicken! I looove chicken salad.

        • Natalie

          Or salmon! You can buy chunks of salmon in packs similar to tuna, and sub it in the same way.

  • Nichole

    I really wish that we could cook together. I’m a solid cooker — I can figure out how to make most things without needing a recipe and based on what I have on hand. My fiance is a solid baker and does okay but not great with clear recipes. I’d love to do some cooking together to pass on some of what I know and that instinct stuff as far as when food is done.

    But our kitchen in our current apartment is tiny. Having two people in it is stressful. Having just me in the kitchen is occasionally stressful if there’s someone outside the kitchen wanting things from me. I moved into this apartment before we met, so mostly at this point it’s something to keep in mind for whenever we move next.

    • Eenie

      Small kitchens suck! We created a bad habit of putting cutting boards on the stove to cut things when we had zero counter space.

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