quality ingredients = better dinner

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Balance, Food & Fitness20 Comments

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.  As always, all words and opinions shares are honest and my own.  And, you might want to stick around, because there is a special offer for my readers!

It’s always a happy day when a Blue Apron box arrives at my door.  Even though I selected the meals, I know the box is full of chef secrets – techniques and flavor combinations that I’m about to learn.  It’s not just a box of ingredients.  It’s not just a reprieve from the weekly dinner routine.  It’s a hands-on, independent-learning culinary school delivered to my door.  And, as someone who loves to learn and nurture a variety of interests, that is right up my alley.

I’ve shared about Blue Apron a couple of times before, so what can I share that is new? I’ve already said how much I like learning new recipes and tips for making good restaurant-quality food.  I like discovering new ingredients and ways to prepare them.  As a foodie and a homebody and the mom of a type one diabetic (who is hard to leave at home with a babysitter), it’s a way for me to get a “chef experience” in my own kitchen.

When I’ve shared about Blue Apron in the past, I’ve been asked a lot about how healthy and diet-friendly the meals are.  So, in this post, I’m going to speak to that and also share about their commitment to sourcing quality ingredients and building a better food system.

To give you an idea of their offerings, here is a sampling of the Blue Apron menu for next week…

As you can see, there are a variety of options that can appeal to a wide range of eating styles and all of their meals stay within the 500-800 calorie range.  And, of course, you can control your portions on things that are higher in calories or carbs or whatever it is you’re trying to limit.  The calories as well as the time it takes to prepare the meal are listed on each meal detail screen, so you know exactly what you’re ordering.

I am a big-time pasta lover, so I selected Creamy Cavatelli with Zucchini and Romaine & Orange Salad as one of our meals.

All of the ingredients are always fresh and “real food”.  Blue Apron really pays attention to quality, which does make a difference.

You can follow all of the steps, but if the zucchini is bitter or the orange is dried out, it’s just not going to be as yummy as it can be.  Ingredients matter and they stand behind the ingredients.  If anything is disappointing or unusable, they will make it right.

In addition to being ripe and ready, all of the ingredients are non-GMO, the meats are antibiotic and hormone-free, and the seafood is sustainable.

Blue Apron says this about their ingredients…

“At the grocery store, it can be hard to tell whether food is high quality and sustainably grown. We are partnering with the foremost sustainability experts to create better standards for growing food and raising animals. This means better outcomes for our environment, guaranteed markets for our farmers and higher quality ingredients for our home chefs.”

As someone who was a vegetarian for years, partly due to a disappointment in meat industry, I really appreciate their efforts.  I started eating meat again, because quality meats were more readily available and that is due to the fact that, collectively, the American people and businesses in the food industry, like Blue Apron, have asked for better.

I realize I’m treading into dangerous territory, because food can be strangely polarizing and even political, but I don’t mean to go in that direction at all.  I have no wish to spark a food debate!  I think we can all agree that we want to eat good food.  That’s my only point.

The meal I made was simple and quick, but so good and had several new-to-me ingredients and flavors that I was excited to try.  It’s funny, because I’m not a very adventurous eater.  But, if a chef says, “These things go great together.  Try it.  Trust me.”  I’ll do it.

Pasta is one of my favorite things, but I don’t eat it very often, so this was a real treat.  And, it was fresh pasta at that!

I boiled the pasta and sautéd the zucchini while I mixed up the dressing for the orange and romaine salad.

As I’ve shared in other Blue Apron posts, I love making sauces!  Americans buy so many sauces and dressings in bottles and packets, but they are really simple to whip up!  This dressing was made with olive oil, dried Italian seasoning, quark cheese (which I’ve never even heard of before), red wine vinegar, and salt & pepper.  Simple, but so tasty.

Once everything on the stove was cooked, it all went into one pan…

…with some starchy “pasta water” and Crema Bel Paese cheese.  And that was the sauce!  Again, it seems like it would involve more, but that’s really it.  A little garlic, salt, pepper, pasta water, and cheese.

Our meal was made for two, but we were able to easily feed three of us with it.  (The fourth member of the Parsons’ family is super picky and opted for cereal.)  I have found the portions are generous and I can stretch them out further by adding some more vegetables that I already have on hand (zucchini, in this case.)

The salad was the most surprising part of the meal.  I haven’t had a salad quite like it with the cheesy, creamy dressing and the bright note from the orange sections.

Jeff isn’t one to eat just a big bowl of pasta for dinner, so I added a chicken breast to his cavatelli.  Even he admitted that the pasta was pretty darn tasty, though.

We all enjoyed dinner together at the end of a relaxing weekend. And our plates were cleaned, although a few noodles were reserved for Sebastian and added to his dinner, much to his delight.

I have two more recipes to make this week – Coconut Chicken & Garlic Rice and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches (The pasta was for me and the cheesesteaks are for Jeff!  The coconut chicken looked like something interesting to try.)  Dinner can sometimes be a point of stress for me, so it’s nice to know that I don’t even have to think about two dinners this week.  All of the fresh ingredients are at the ready in the fridge.

A few other things I like about Blue Apron

  • Because the ingredients are perfectly measured out, there isn’t any waste.  I’m not left with a container of quark cheese that is 80% full and now I have to figure out how to use it, so it doesn’t go to waste.
  • There are 8 recipes to choose from each week and meal plans available for 2 people or a family
  • There is no commitment.  You can skip or cancel your service at any time.

Are you interested in giving Blue Apron a try?

The first 50 readers who sign up will get $40 off their first two weeks of meals!  So, it’s a good time to give it a try and see if you like Blue Apron as much as I do.

Just click HERE to sign up and get that special deal!

 

quality ingredients = better dinner

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20 Comments on “quality ingredients = better dinner”

  1. Quark cheese. Now I’m beyond curious. I’ve been in a total cooking rut of late (though I had a successful foray into spoon bread recently). I’ve always been tempted to try a boxed meal service but wondered about food issues and, frankly, whether or not my kids (who can only be described as having the refined palates appreciative of white foods) would get on board. Perhaps it’s time to try. Also, your pictures make me want to eat that good, which is no small success!

    1. Yeah, I had never even heard of quark cheese! It has a interesting tang.

      My kids don’t always eat the meals, but they will usually eat parts of it, so I can pull together a completely dinner for everyone around the Blue Apron meal.

      1. I lived in Germany for years and Quark is popular/common there. I’ve always thought of it as cottage cheese without the curds. The Germans make a great Quarkkuchen (type of cheesecake — lower in calories/fat than cheesecake made with cream cheese) with it. It is not available in my small town, but can be made at home (if one has the proper culture).

      2. Quark cheese is actually quite easy to make as it’s more or less a fresh cheese. I made it with my boys a time or two when they were young as a science “experiment” when we were home schooling. If you are interested I can send you the recipe.

  2. We are empty nesters and have been using another food delivery service (Home Chef) for 1 and 1/2 years…three meals a week. I have been cooking for my family for 35 years….I have learned new techniques and have learned to love new foods and flavors! It has impacted my way of cooking the rest of the week! Having just started a diet and having a daughter in law with serious food restrictions, this service is a God sent! AND it is three meals a week I don’t have to plan or shop for and it is HEAVEN! We love it!

    1. Yeah, I have enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would! I’ve learned a lot as well (and I was already pretty knowledgeable about cooking, because I used to watch Food Network a lot and ready cookbooks, etc.) I have picked dishes that are new to me and might be more challenging just for that reason.

      Anyway, so glad to hear you’re enjoying it!

  3. When you first posted about Blue Apron, I was willing to give it a try. I enjoy cooking, but with working and a long commute, it wasn’t my favorite thing to do when I got home, but this has changed all of that. I save the 25-30 prep meals for commuting days. This is probably the very best thing I have tried in a long time. I LOVE IT. Of course we have had meals, where well, we looked at each other and said, nope not trying that again, but others that we said, OH THIS IS A HIT….last week was such a week of meals….the pork meatloaf, highly rated, we will be making it on our own tomorrow. I have learned techniques that make meal prep faster and easier. Its been a WIN WIN! Thanks to you!!!

    1. Oh, so glad to hear! Yeah, I’ve had a few that weren’t my thing, but it was good to try. I’ve discovered some new things that I didn’t even know I liked!

  4. We have used Home Chef, Blue Apron, and Hello Fresh! They have really changed our lives! I too am trying new meals, and I LOVE not having to spend a fortune in the grocery stores!

  5. We’ve subscribed to Blue Apron for about two years now. I used to get the package every week, but have learned to take the time to review the recipes beforehand, which keeps me from getting something we might not want, or that one of us won’t/can’t eat. They have recently expanded their repertoire, which helps me get three meals I want. I compared other services, and Blue Apron costs less and has the most possibilities, considering I cannot have beef or pork. If I want to order a beef or pork entree for my husband’s sake, (and prepare something else for myself) I can do it! I’ve only had a couple of issues with delivery or missing ingredients in all of that time, Blue Apron made it right, so, I can say it’s a good deal. I work full time and don’t have hours to spend shopping or meal planning, so this makes the price a bargain for me. If you are on the fence, try it for a few weeks and see for yourself.

  6. Marian
    I noticed your oven and have to ask you a question. I want a dual fuel kitchenaide oven I notice from your past post that your oven is regular and not aqua clean. Are you happy with the oven and can you tell me the width. Thank you
    Btw I too am on a health food adventure must avoid. Process foods and additives. Buying good fresh organic food is difficult. I will give the blue apron deal a try

    1. It’s a standard 30″ width range. No, I don’t have the aqua clean, but it does self-clean and all of the cast iron pieces lift off the cooktop for cleaning as well. I love it.

  7. Not happy with BLUE APRON as there is too much chop and prep, prefer Hello Fresh. Agree it gives more ideas to to ad to regular cooking options.

  8. We have been using Blue Apron for about 6 months. Love the variety, fresh ingredients and amazing end result meal. Most have been restaurant quality meals! I let my husband do the ordering and most of the meal making. He loves it! Delivery day is like Christmas for him.

    Hey, if it makes him happy then I’m all for it. After 35 years of taking care of most of the meals, I am thrilled that he found Blue Apron! He even cleans up the kitchen afterward!

  9. I am also a huge Blue Apron fan. We have done it for about 2 years and have some outstanding meals. Love the different choices available, as I am not a steak person, and can always find a tasty alternate.
    We have tried so many spices and combinations of flavors that we would never have made on our own. I enjoy the easy-prep meals, but also love when my husband dons his apron and helps me stir!

  10. Heart-Healthy Foods. Eating for a healthy heart means filling your plate with heart-healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, paying attention to fiber, eating fish a couple times a week, eating healthy fats and limiting unhealthy fats like trans fats, as well as salt. So always prefer to have the best supplement for bodybuilding. Its totally natural and does not cause any harm to the body.

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