Getting out of the weeknight dinner rut.

Getting out of the weeknight dinner rut.

Will and I are adventurous eaters. Our kids are too, for the most part. And we all love to cook.

So why are weeknight dinners so hard?

My kids will try anything in a restaurant, especially if we’re on the road. But if I make dinner at home, the response lately has been along the lines of I don’t want to eat that, or I don’t like that anymore. Even if it used to be a favorite.

It’s maddening.

My first inclination was to go to twice-a-week pizza night, or to start dipping into the freezer section at Trader Joe’s, which is full of dinners everyone will eat, even if they’re not the kind of dinners I want my family eating on a regular basis.

Blue Apron April 2016 cooking with kids

But we stumbled upon another quick fix by accident with a well-timed Blue Apron delivery. They deliver all the ingredients you need, in exactly the right proportions, to make a chef-designed recipe at home.

I have friends who get Blue Apron deliveries every week. They say they’d end up at Panera or Chipotle otherwise, but instead they can cook better food at home for a little less money. We’re more special occasion customers: my kids love to cook Blue Apron every once in a while because they say it feels like cooking lessons, and it’s been great for getting us out of the dinner rut we fall into every few months.

The other night my girls and I (the boys cook too, but they were at baseball) unpacked our Blue Apron delivery and made fish and chips at home in less than an hour, and everybody ate it. The kids even ate the salad (radishes, sugar snaps and romaine) that went with it, and everyone’s asking to have it again soon.

Blue Apron April 2016 cooking with kids-2

We learned a new-to-us cooking technique when we made the fish and chips, which happens more often than not with Blue Apron recipes. This time we learned how to make a simple batter out of lightly seasoned rice flour and water. In our other Blue Apron meal from this shipment, we learned how to prepare bok choy and cook with miso paste, two ingredients that have intimidated me in the past. To get a feel for Blue Apron’s recipes (or to try them yourself!) browse their full selection right here.

Adults can knock out a Blue Apron recipe in 40 minutes or less, but parents will understand why it takes a little longer with “help.” When my kids make a Blue Apron recipe all by themselves, it takes 60-80 minutes.

Blue Apron April 2016 cooking with kids-5

Blue Apron offers two types of plans, the 2-person plan and family plan. Right now, the family plan still works great for our family of six (two adults, and four kids ages 6-13).

Blue Apron recipes are delivered in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if you’re not at home when your package arrives. I’m in the habit of reusing the Blue Apron packaging for lunches on the go, and the ice packs for my next Costco run, but if you don’t have those needs, Blue Apron now offers a recycling program! You can use the recycling locator to find recycling options in your community or return your packaging for free to Blue Apron via USPS.

Blue Apron April 2016 cooking with kids-3

There’s no commitment: you can skip or cancel the service at any time.

First 50 readers will get two free meals on their first Blue Apron order! Click here to get started.

P.S. Your go-to weeknight dinners, and cooking lessons in a box.

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. 

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20 comments | Comment

20 comments

  1. Colleen says:

    I LOVE that you have fiestaware! I, too, went for all the colors instead of choosing a 3-4 color pattern! Hooray for the color lovers (in a world where neutrals have become all the rage ?)

  2. Julie R says:

    I’d love to try this, but my husband can’t eat wheat. Any idea how well this would work for someone on a gluten-free diet?

    • Anne says:

      It depends. The two meals we got this shipment were 99% fine. (We would have had to swap out the soy glaze in one recipe for the trusty gluten-free soy sauce we keep on hand, and I’m not sure that miso paste is okay.)

      You can choose which meals you get and I suspect that will make a big difference as to what will and won’t work for your family. I would contact them directly (they have solid customer service) and ask specific questions based on his dietary restraints.

    • Nichole says:

      If you do Green Chef, you can choose your plan based on dietary restrictions. We do the Paleo plan. Organic ingredients, hormone free meat, wild caught fish. Been great so far.

  3. Heather says:

    We’ve tried Plated and Hello Fresh but we haven’t tried Blue Apron yet. I keep hearing about it though. I’m glad you like it!

  4. Christine says:

    We have done Blue Apron for one month. I am not a good cook and I was able to execute all the meals without issue. I will say I probably fell into the takes as much time as your kids category. We are going to do Green Chef for the next four weeks then two other companies for a month each. We will decide who to stick with after that.

  5. Dana Qualls says:

    I signed up to try Blue Apron. It looks wonderful and may work well for my family of four. Thanks for the suggestion. Let me also say that I love Modern Mrs. Darcy. This is the only list I read on a regular basis and it never fails to give me something new to read or try or think about. Thanks so much for all you do here.

  6. Dawn F says:

    Would love to try it! – When my kids were little, I got sooooo tired of them complaining about dinner! It got so much better after I instigated a rule – come to dinner and complain about what’s on your plate – you have to eat it ALL. Come to dinner and be polite (not complain!) and you only have to try everything and eat what you want. Worked like a charm!

  7. Elaine Cook says:

    I keep hearing about Blue Apron and would love to try it. I fancy myself a pretty good cook, but my choices get predictable and I would love to mix things up. Also, my son likes to cook and this would allow him to prepare a meal himself and learn some technique while he’s at it.

    The fish and chips–which I’ve never made–looks amazing!

  8. Sarah k says:

    I always read Blue Apron blog posts with longing. Alas, I have two kids with serious food allergies (the Epi-pen-carrying kind) and it’s a no-go for us. If someone comes up with a customizable allergy-friendly service like this, though…I would sign up so fast!

  9. Ana says:

    I’ve been thinking about trying one of these services. The recycling thing is great to know because one thing that bothered me was the waste with all the packaging. I love that your kids use it like cooking lessons!

  10. Sarabeth says:

    I just finished my second week of Blue Apron. For us, it is a once in a while type of thing to mix up our dinner routines. However, I considered using their recipes but buying our own ingredients. I read on a previous post of yours that you tried that with your daughter. Did that work out well? Did you find it to be easy or difficult because of so many ingredients? Thanks. Love the website and podcast.

    • Anne says:

      My kids definitely don’t think that’s as fun, but they WILL do it. I think Blue Apron feels like Kiwi Crate to them, but with food. If the ingredients come out of a grocery store bag it’s not quite the same for them. All in all, it’s not harder to prep ingredients for Blue Apron (unless the ingredients are difficult to source) than it is for most other meals. If that comes easily to you, it won’t be harder with BA recipes. If it doesn’t come easy, it’s not going to be any easier with BA recipes. Hope that helps!

  11. Vanessa says:

    Thanks to Anne, we’ve been using Blue Apron for about a year now. Typically we have it every other week or so as long as it looks tasty in the pictues. My older son will eat everything but my youngest, who is now 13 and not that young, rejects it as a matter of course. Tonight he had cereal while we had roast pork, carrots and a faro spinich salad. I’m paleo-ish, but am ok with a few bites of grains so that is what I do. We really like it.

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