I decided long before the holidays arrived that I really wanted to clean up my eating way before January 1st this year. Right after the boys’ birthdays, after weeks of cupcakes and celebrations and sugar in every direction, I talked with Casey over dinner one night and we recommitted to really putting in the time and effort to be our best selves. And for us that meant regular exercise (more on that coming soon!), mindful eating, and tangible goals.
Now I don’t think we were really eating all that badly in the first place, but convenience and carbs/sugar were winning out more often than they should. I did a big grocery run to stock back up on things like nuts and seeds, pantry goods like quinoa and millet, and loaded up the fridge with as many veggies as I could fit.
I’ve actually been really happy with how we’ve done, and the change has been quite noticeable, physically – but also in my energy levels, which is where I needed it most. I’ve made cooking and meal prep a high priority during my days, rather than something stressful that happens at 5:30pm with two hungry kids whining at my feet (okay that still happens, but far less often now!). It feels really good to be able to sit down with my kids and know that all of us are getting a nice variety of colorful, nutritious food.
And I’ve had a lot of fun cooking! It’s something that has been such a big part of my life for so long, but has really suffered (understandably!) in recent years, as the time and energy has just simply not existed. Last week, I planned ahead (for once!), and at 6pm – as soon as Casey walked in the door – our whole family sat down to homemade mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, cranberry orange lentil quinoa loaf, and roasted brussels sprouts.
It was tasty and hearty, even if it wasn’t the prettiest plate. This is how most of our dinners look – three components dolloped onto the plate together in a hurry. And while I don’t think plate presentation, especially with a one and three-year old are really all that important, it is nice to occasionally eat a meal that looks a bit more composed. Something like – THIS! Thank you, Blue Apron!
I tried out Blue Apron for the first time over the summer, as part of a brand partnership (you can see my intro post on Blue Apron here!). I ended up really liking it, and have continued to use it (paying with our own $$) in the months that have followed. First up, for those who are new – let me give you a quick intro into how the service works.
These are not ready-to-go freezer meals! Blue Apron provides fresh ingredients and creative recipes to guide you through all you need in order to make delicious, quality meals at home. Everything you need for a recipe is included – from the main proteins to the teaspoons of spices and seasonings. They offer standard (meat and fish) and vegetarian meals, and you can choose from two, four, and six servings each week. There is one flat price – $9.99 per person, per meal – and there is free delivery in refrigerated boxes to ensure freshness!
First up, one thing I have noticed now that I’ve been using the service for several months – the packaging has changed considerably. I know use of packaging is something that has concerned some users (and readers), and I can tell it is an area that Blue Apron is really invested in improving. The refrigerated box is about half the size it was when I first started using the service, and it seems like there is less packaging overall. I always love seeing a company that responds to feedback!
For our family, I’ve found that the best fit for our schedules and lifestyle is to use the service once or twice each month. I know some people are scared off by the idea that it’s a weekly service, but you are able to skip as many weeks as are needed (within the online dashboard). I typically skip weeks where Casey is traveling, if we have someone visiting from out of town, or even just weeks where our calendar feels very full – times when I know I’ll probably have less time to focus on cooking.
So once or twice a month, it’s really fun to look forward to a box on my doorstep full of fresh, delicious food and recipes already tested and selected for me. I feed the kids leftovers or things like roasted veggies and lentils prepped during nap time, and then after bedtime is over and the house is quiet again, I start cooking a nice meal for me and Casey.
I’m actually surprised at how much I enjoy cooking our Blue Apron meals. Even though I don’t start them until 7:30pm, and we often don’t end up eating until close to an hour later, it is time in my day where I can enjoy the quiet and focus on doing something I love with no interruptions. There is something bizarrely comforting about carefully mincing garlic and thinly slicing onions. Just me?
I pour a cold kombucha in my favorite stemless wine class, crank the Christmas music, and chat with Casey while our food simmers and sizzles. And then the two of us sit down to a beautiful, healthy (and filling!) meal and catch up on our days (or watch House of Cards!).
Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, I’ve also found that I’m getting faster at cooking. I’ve learned to do all my prep first, and then to clean the kitchen up as I go while I wait for things to cook. At the end of our dinners we are usually left with one pan to rinse, and a few bowls to toss into the dishwasher – no big deal. This week, in addition to two other tasty meals, we tried the BBQ Tofu & Sorghum-Glazed Heirloom Carrots with Creamy Collard Greens and Millet Pilaf.
It was seriously awesome and the portions were huge! I love being able to try little bits of something like sorghum syrup or a southern spice blend without having to buy more than what I need.
The other thing I’ve taken away from Blue Apron cooking is some good recipe and meal ideas that I’ve remade and reworked for our family. I have good cooking technique and kitchen skills, but at the end of the day my brain is usually way too fried to come up with anything more than our usual meal lineup. I’ve made kale calzones and a lentil dal for our family several times, and both were inspired by Blue Apron meals I’d made previously for me and Casey.
For those who are interested in trying Blue Apron themselves, they are offering the first 100 readers who sign up two free meals on their first order! You can click here to sign up!
I’ll continue to show you some of our Blue Apron meals in the future, both here and on Instagram! Happy cooking!
This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. Thanks for your continued support of Daily Garnish!