This year my kids, especially Sarah (age 10), are obsessed with cooking.
It started over the winter when we found MasterChef Junior (thanks to your comments on this post). Our whole family loved watching it together. It even changed our dinnertime conversations: (Great “cook” on this chicken. These ingredients really work together. Your plating is gorgeous.)
My kids have logged many hours in the kitchen over the past few months, especially Sarah. When she first asked for cooking lessons, I looked into local options, then decided to order a family plan from Blue Apron, a ready-to-cook meal service that makes it easy to cook dinner at home. They deliver farm-fresh ingredients to your doorstep, in exactly the right proportions, and provide detailed step-by-step recipes so even novice cooks can make dinner from scratch, all by themselves.
To my mind, it was like cooking lessons in a box: a self-contained kit with very detailed directions that Sarah could put together herself, much like Kiwi Crate and Green Kids Crafts. (When our first delivery came, I told her it was “like Kiwi Crate, but for dinner.”)
That experience boosted her confidence, so much so that she put herself on a schedule: she now makes dinner for us every Monday and Thursday. (Don’t hate me yet: Will and I do all her dishes and they are brutal.)
When our latest Blue Apron delivery arrived last week, it became clear to me how much more at ease all my kids are in the kitchen now compared to March. Everyone could help this time, and everyone wanted to.
Our dishes were Chicken Pallairds and Fresh Linguine with Summer Squash and Cherry Tomatoes and Italian Meatball Sandwiches with Caesar-Style Romaine Salad, and they came with step-by-step, full color instructions. You can view many more Blue Apron recipes here. (No account required; they’re free and available to all. And stay tuned for info on getting your first two meals for free.)
We approach Blue Apron as a learning experience: it’s a cooking class at home, with a set menu, simplified prep, and pre-portioned ingredients, and step-by-step instructions. But compared to cooking classes, which start at $50 a person around here, Blue Apron is a deal—especially because we get family dinner out of our “classes” instead of tiny tasting portions.
The family plan costs $8.74 per serving, or just under $35 for a family dinner. (Blue Apron’s family plan contains all the ingredients needed to make two meals of four adult portions each. It also works for my family of six, because the younger kids eat smaller portions. Blue Apron also has a two-person plan.)
My kids immediately honed in on the new ingredients and techniques these recipes required. They’d never cooked with fresh pasta, fresh mozzarella, or panko breadcrumbs. They didn’t know what a paillard was, or how to make meatballs, or a simple summer vegetable sauce.
Sarah kept saying things like I could make this again, I could try this same method with pork, I’d like to try it with mushrooms next time, which made me very happy for all the Mondays and Thursdays to come. (I adore reading while she makes dinner.)
The kids enjoyed both recipes, although Will and I ate most (but not all) of the squash. We’re already plotting our next family dinners from the recipes on the Blue Apron site: the kids are eyeing the Shrimp and Pineapple Soft Tacos and Will and I want to try the Blood Orange-Roasted Salmon.
Hot tips: Blue Apron says their meals can be prepared in 40 minutes or less, but we double this time estimate when the kids are cooking. It has been true for us that when the kids make it, they’ll at least try whatever is served. And you might want to slip those pretty recipe cards in a plastic protector before you give your kids free reign of the kitchen: those cards are great for using again, but not when they’re covered in tomato sauce. (Ours isn’t, but it was a near miss.)
It’s also worth noting that my kids aren’t Blue Apron’s intended audience, not that that bothered them any. I think this would also be fun for novice cooks, newlyweds, or as a housewarming or new baby gift.
If you want to try the service, here’s your chance: the first 50 readers will get 2 meals off their first Blue Apron order free. Click here to get started.
Thanks to Blue Apron for sponsoring this post.