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  #1  
Old 02-18-2015, 12:48 PM
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We got a coupon for Blue Apron when we moved in October and gave it a shot. We've been using it about once a month since and really enjoy it. It's a great alternative to going out to eat and it's fun to share with each other.

It's introduced us to new variants on dishes we like, side dishes that hadn't occurred to us but are easy to make and a few entirely new foods (neither of us had had a sunchoke before this, for example). Having exactly what we need and the exact amounts we need is great, there are several things I wouldn't have tried without this because I would have had to buy a large amount at the grocery store and wouldn't be comfortable doing so.

Here are the recipes we've gotten so far with some notes:

Flank Steaks & Creamed Kale with Sunchokes Two Ways As said above, we'd never had sunchokes. They're really good! The steak was great and the creamed kale was still really light, I loved this one.

Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Capers & Garlic Breadcrumbs Not a combination I would have thought of and I haven't seen purple cauliflower before or since. Really tasty.

Beef on Weck Sandwiches with Heirloom Potato Salad I expected this one to be really boring but it there were a lot of great flavors in the sandwich. The salad was surprisingly good too!

Chicken Schnitzel with Watercress, Apple, Beet & Red Walnut Salad I've never seen watercress for sale here but if I did I would buy it to make this salad again. So good.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Maple-Glazed Carrots This was good, but definitely the least interesting meal.

Thai Chicken Meatballs with Red Coconut Curry, Bok Choy & Rice Noodles This is a lot of stuff I'm not a fan of so I thought it was just okay, but Lumber loved it and would make it again.

Crispy Salmon & Barley-Fennel "Risotto" with Fresh Herb & Walnut Salad Probably our least favorite. I just can't get into barley unless it's in beer. Not a fan of the texture and taste.

Pasta e Fagioli with Cannelini Beans & Tuscan Kale This was a wonderful upgrade to white bean/kale soup which is one of our winter staples. The garlic chips are easy and add a lot to the dish.

Southern Beef & Collard Green Stew with Cheddar Grits I expected to hate this one. Instead I polished it off and was hugely disappointed there wasn't more. Absolutely not something I would have tried on my own.

Chicken & Wild Mushroom Casserole with Porcini Béchamel Sauce Neither of us like mushrooms so we modified this one a bit but it was still filling without them. Liked this much more than I expected.

Steak & Miso-Roasted Vegetable Salad with Ponzu Dipping Sauce: This is the most recent one we've had and it was freaking amazing.

Anyway, Lifehacker did a great job of comparing Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Plated recently, I'd recommend reading that if you're curious.
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:07 PM
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This looks really interesting but I don't know when I'd ever have a full hour to cook for the next few years until the babies are older. Sucks to have to be on a time-crunch meal plan and you're making me super jealous.
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  #3  
Old 02-18-2015, 01:12 PM
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This looks really interesting but I don't know when I'd ever have a full hour to cook for the next few years until the babies are older. Sucks to have to be on a time-crunch meal plan and you're making me super jealous.
We do longer meals like this on weekends, but yeah, during the week it's all stuff that can be made in 30 minutes or less. We should start another thread with our go-to weekday recipes.

I had never heard about the idea of meal kit delivery prior to this. None of the fun delivery services exist in Canada, but I'd be tempted to try one out if they did. How much does one of these meals cost?
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:16 PM
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I've known someone who was doing this for awhile. It's a cool idea and it's nice that you only get a meal portion of stuff that would otherwise sit in your pantry/fridge until it goes bad. The downside is that it's still generally more expensive than going out and getting groceries for meals for two. If I were single, I'd be much more likely to do it.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by TheSL View Post
This looks really interesting but I don't know when I'd ever have a full hour to cook for the next few years until the babies are older. Sucks to have to be on a time-crunch meal plan and you're making me super jealous.
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Originally Posted by MCBanjoMike View Post
We do longer meals like this on weekends, but yeah, during the week it's all stuff that can be made in 30 minutes or less. We should start another thread with our go-to weekday recipes.

I had never heard about the idea of meal kit delivery prior to this. None of the fun delivery services exist in Canada, but I'd be tempted to try one out if they did. How much does one of these meals cost?
Most of these are 30-45 minutes, I think the only time it took longer than an hour was when I wanted the meat more done than the recipe called for. Having all the stuff there and pre-portioned saves a ton of cooking time.

Blue Apron comes out to about $10/person/meal. The lifehacker writeup has a good breakdown.

Bummer about Canada, but I'm sure shipping produce would be a huge headache. Wonder if there's an equivalent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Hedgehog View Post
I've known someone who was doing this for awhile. It's a cool idea and it's nice that you only get a meal portion of stuff that would otherwise sit in your pantry/fridge until it goes bad. The downside is that it's still generally more expensive than going out and getting groceries for meals for two. If I were single, I'd be much more likely to do it.
It's absolutely a restaurant replacement for us rather than a grocery replacement. Instead of one nice $60 meal for both of us we get three, and we absolutely enjoy them more than we would that one meal. Depends on why you go out to eat, for us it's usually a treat to try new things, and we generally only go out once a month anyway.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:45 PM
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Cooking for one person is basically the worst thing as far as portions and shopping and whatnot, so I may have to try this out.
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  #7  
Old 02-18-2015, 04:46 PM
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one of my friends is a food blogger (as a hobby). She loves good food and loves to cook, and she basically praises Blue Apron to the skies for weeknight meal solutions. the produce that comes in is perfectly portioned and in great shape, and she's learned all sorts of new stuff from making the meals.

i'd be tempted to give it a shot myself but p. sure that Blue Apron meals don't fit the macronutrient profile of my current diet.
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Old 02-19-2015, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Violentvixen View Post
It's absolutely a restaurant replacement for us rather than a grocery replacement. Instead of one nice $60 meal for both of us we get three, and we absolutely enjoy them more than we would that one meal. Depends on why you go out to eat, for us it's usually a treat to try new things, and we generally only go out once a month anyway.
Fair enough. Living in New York, we wouldn't want to give up our 1-2 times a week restaurant outings since we make it a point to go to places serving things we can't make or it would be hard to make ourselves.
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Old 02-19-2015, 06:34 AM
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I've always been interested in services like these, but A) I'm in Canada and I don't think Blue Apron even ships there, and B) I'm in a remote, northern part of Canada so even if they do chances are I'm still out of luck.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:19 PM
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We've been talking about trying this out, but haven't just yet. It sounds like aneat idea though.
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  #11  
Old 02-19-2015, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Destil View Post
Cooking for one person is basically the worst thing as far as portions and shopping and whatnot, so I may have to try this out.
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  #12  
Old 02-20-2015, 04:34 AM
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I've never had too much trouble cooking for one, but I rely heavily on leftovers and freezing them. Any recipe that makes too much for me to finish in a few days I'd only make if it freezes well.
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Old 06-28-2016, 05:03 PM
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Bump! Hito's the chef, but my parents got me 4 free meals through Blue Apron to encourage me to do something nice for my husband and also help me learn how to cook, and I've had a great time with it so far! It's still $10/person/meal, which is very competitive for how we usually end up eating around here. Since all my culinary expertise before this started and ended with boiling pasta, I've been learning a whole lot, and been really pleased with the results! In chronological order:

Spicy miso glazed chicken wings with purple rice zucchini salad: I undercooked the rice; I think I lowered the heat too much after boiling, so it didn't simmer so much as sit in warm water? The miso paste in the chicken wing glaze is a stroke of genius, makes it just thick enough that the glaze sticks to the wings, they turned out great. Even with undercooked rice, the side salad is exactly my favorite kind of side dish. I made this one for myself for a trial run as Hito was out of town, and was very careful not to chop my fingers off or burn the place down in his absence. Lesson learned from this one: Allow a little extra time for the recipe to account for the fact that my knife skills are nonexistent, so it takes me somewhat longer to chop and dice than the recipe expects. It's okay, I'll get better.

Seared steak & spiced potatoes with sauteed sugar snap peas and tarragon labneh sauce: This strongly resembles one of my favorite meals growing up! (flank steak + asparagus + potatoes). Except the labneh (basically a sour yogurt?) sauce with fresh tarragon made it really special; I'd never worked with fresh herbs before, heh. This seems like a fantastic application of the Blue Apron service, taking simple familiar meals and adding very minor modifications to them that elevate the meal to the next level, while making it not that much more difficult or expensive.

Spicy hoisin turkey meatballs with sauteed zucchini brown rice: The meatballs turned out great! This recipe used the same Sambal Oelek hot pepper paste that the chicken wings used, and I'm a big fan. Really tasty stuff. The rice was raw again I think I made the same mistake as I did with the previous rice, lowering the heat too much. help how do I rice???

Black garlic shoyu ramen with green beans and shiitake mushrooms: What the hell, homemade ramen? I still can't believe I actually made this; this was a bit trickier than all the other recipes so far, as I had to boil+peel eggs, peel+mince ginger and black garlic, slice mushrooms, chop scallions, slice green beans lengthwise (which is a pain in the ASS), sautee the mushrooms+ginger+garlic to make the broth (homemade ramen broth!), blanch the green beans, boil the noodles, and put everything together at the end. My arm is still a bit sore after all that prep work, which is a bit embarrassing. The results were fantastic, though! I'm a big fan of ramen, and there are several great ramen restaurants in the area, so making really good ramen myself felt like a great accomplishment. I was also surprised that the recipe was entirely vegetarian aside from the eggs; I had never tried vegetarian ramen before.

So yeah, this is great for me because I'm eating like an Adult while also learning how to cook! Well worth the reasonable price. I'm only getting shipments every other week so as to not overdo it in terms of cost and work, so my next shipment comes two weeks from now. Hooray cooking!
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  #14  
Old 06-28-2016, 05:10 PM
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Rice can be a little finnicky until you figure out your stove. Let it boil for about a minute, uncovered, then cover it and reduce the heat (but not as far as you've been doing), then when the time is up, turn off the heat but let it set there on the burner, covered, for five or so minutes before you take the lid off.
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Old 06-28-2016, 06:55 PM
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Turnip's got the right of it. letting the rice steam is how my grandmother taught me to cook rice too.
i'm really tempted to try this!
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:33 PM
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If you cook rice often enough to justify it, you can also buy a good Japanese rice cooker like a Zojirushi.

Put in the right amount of rice and water, wash the rice, press cook, and forget about it. It cooks perfectly and stays warm and ready for hours.

If you don't do a lot of rice it's obviously not worth it, but in our home it's one of the most frequently used kitchen devices.
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by estragon View Post
If you cook rice often enough to justify it, you can also buy a good Japanese rice cooker like a Zojirushi.
[...]
If you don't do a lot of rice it's obviously not worth it, but in our home it's one of the most frequently used kitchen devices.
I've heard that you can cook other things in rice cookers but I can't vouch for the process.
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:42 PM
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yeah, i use my rice cooker every two days, but there are some things that i still want the stove for, like various pulaos.
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Old 06-28-2016, 10:41 PM
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I've heard that you can cook other things in rice cookers but I can't vouch for the process.
You can make huge pancakes.

We use it for steel cut oatmeal, it's wonderful. Lumber had to spend a lot of time convincing me to get the rice cooker since I don't like rice much but it's been quite convenient.

Also if someone is interested in trying Blue Apron I think we have a coupon code or something, I'll ask Lumber.
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Old 06-28-2016, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by estragon View Post
If you cook rice often enough to justify it, you can also buy a good Japanese rice cooker like a Zojirushi.

Put in the right amount of rice and water, wash the rice, press cook, and forget about it. It cooks perfectly and stays warm and ready for hours.

If you don't do a lot of rice it's obviously not worth it, but in our home it's one of the most frequently used kitchen devices.
We have a nice Zojirushi rice cooker (that we never use, as I never cook and Hito prefers doing it without gadgets), and I did use a rice cooker very often back in college, but I wanted to learn how to cook it on the stove anyway, just as part of the whole learning experience.

Thanks for the suggestions though guys, I'll keep that in mind next time I try. Actually, we have some rice on hand, I might try just cooking it by itself for practice before it shows up in a recipe again.
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Old 06-29-2016, 07:33 AM
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krel, I'm glad you're enjoying your adventures in Cookington!

another great use for rice cookers: you can use them as good steamers with the provided tray. I use our rice cooker every week to steam myself a bunch of medium-boiled eggs for snacks as part of my weekly meal prep. It's the best method I've come across for consistently getting them the doneness I prefer.
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Old 06-29-2016, 08:16 AM
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Can you elaborate on those eggs, UUDD? Cooking time/setting? Also how much water to you need to put in?
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:37 AM
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This makes me want to Blue Apron again! Last time I did it, I loved it but food still went to waste b/c I'd have weeks where I literally didn't have time to do any cooking. If I could manage a schedule better, I think it'd be nice to get in on this again!
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Old 06-29-2016, 10:05 AM
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This makes me want to Blue Apron again! Last time I did it, I loved it but food still went to waste b/c I'd have weeks where I literally didn't have time to do any cooking. If I could manage a schedule better, I think it'd be nice to get in on this again!
I'm not sure if any of this has changed recently, but canceling (or changing; you get to choose 3 from 6 options) any upcoming shipment for free is really easy now, just three clicks on either their phone app or their website, just need to do it at least 6 days in advance. And I haven't experimented with this too much (as I've been too excited to cook to let the meals sit in the fridge uncooked for long) but my coworker who subscribes says that sometimes he'll get a shipment but not feel like cooking for a few days and everything lasts just fine in the fridge for up to a week. So as long as you can anticipate week-long crunch times at least a week in advance, the chances of food going to waste should be pretty low, at least in theory.

I was also worried about scheduling meals and food/money going to waste (as I am almost too lazy to breathe, and I have never kept any calendar but the one in my head) but I feel pretty good about this, we'll see how it works out.
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Old 06-29-2016, 10:16 AM
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Can you elaborate on those eggs, UUDD? Cooking time/setting? Also how much water to you need to put in?
You need to experiment with your own rice cooker. Mine has a "steam" setting. I put about an inch and a half of water in the pot, put the rinsed eggs into the steamer tray, and then set the steaming timer for 6 minutes. the timer doesn't start counting down until it reaches Full Steam (Ahead) status.

At the end of the 6 minutes, I take out the tray, rinse the eggs under cold water for like a minute, then immediately refrigerate. The yolks are still golden and very moist - slightly liquid in the center. this is my preferred texture! If I wanted hard-boiled I'd do 8 or 9 minutes I think.

if you just have a regular one button steamer, I'd experiment and try an egg out for about 11-12 minutes total to start with.
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Old 06-29-2016, 03:08 PM
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So as long as you can anticipate week-long crunch times at least a week in advance, the chances of food going to waste should be pretty low, at least in theory..
Unfortunately, this sentence is the problem. Like, the first time I started, I had a month where on a day-to-day basis I worked 16 hour days.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:07 PM
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Unfortunately, this sentence is the problem. Like, the first time I started, I had a month where on a day-to-day basis I worked 16 hour days.
Canceling for a whole month is easy! It lets you set which deliveries you want to get or skip up to 6 weeks in advance. My biggest gripe (and it's a very minor gripe) is that it doesn't let you set a non-weekly cadence entirely automatically; it defaults to one delivery per week, so if you want deliveries any less frequently than that, it does require visiting the website to configure that at least once every 6 weeks forever until you unsubscribe. But the phone app and website are nice enough that I decided that was an acceptable drawback.

In other words, the service can still work totally fine with month-long crunch times, or even longer (as long as you babysit the website at least once every 6 weeks). The only time you'll really have a delivery go to waste is if a surprise crunch time (lasting longer than a week) coinciding with a delivery occurs with less than 6 days notice ahead of time.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:14 PM
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The important part was day-to-day; I reasonably assumed that after each individual hellday I'd get some sort of respite, hopefully enough overall to cook my food.

I was so, so wrong.

I cancelled once I realized there was unlikely to be light at the end of that tunnel soon.
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Old 06-30-2016, 05:53 AM
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#lawproblemz :c
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Old 07-02-2016, 05:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Violentvixen View Post
You can make huge pancakes.
I tried this with our simple "cook"/"warm" toggle mode rice cooker, using the "1 cup of powder mix" recipe on the back of a box of Aunt Jemima Complete Buttermilk, and only got a dense normal-sized pancake that was brown on the bottom and pale on top. The cooker kept switching out of "cook" mode after only a few minutes.

Not sure if I need more batter or my cooker just doesn't believe in itself enough to keep it up.
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