Five things I've learned from Blue Apron & plans for this week

Monday's lunch: a fridge clean out special!
Fried egg, roasted brussel sprouts with red onions and bacon,
 couscous, tzatziki, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette

This past week has kicked my butt. My baby, who has been a better than average sleeper since he was born, has suddenly started waking up on a newborn schedule again! This is really throwing me off because this is the age when my older child started sleeping well for the first time. I've been a zombie for the past couple weeks, to be honest. Last night, he actually let me get two blocks of sleep that were around four hours each, so I feel like a rock star again.

Unfortunately, it's horribly cold outside today. Windchills are as low as -50F today, with air temperatures around -10F. We are hunkered down for the duration of this weather. I'm not even walking across the street to get our mail today! However, I did have to get bundled up to retrieve our Hello Fresh order this morning - the delivery service chose to leave it at the very, very end of our porch, meaning I couldn't run out in my slippers and clothes like I normally do. 

I am a huge fan of the meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. We have only used Blue Apron so far, but I found a great deal for new customers of Hello Fresh, so we are trying them out over the next few weeks. 

Today, I'm sharing a few of my favorite tricks that I've learned in the six months that we have been using Blue Apron for our dinners.

The Best Tips I've Learned from Blue Apron Meals

1) A microplane grater works better for garlic than a mincer.

It creates a really fine paste, and it doesn't get stuck inside like it does in our mincer. I just need to give the microplane a little scrape to get everything off. Much less of the clove is wasted this way, too. 

2) Fried eggs are an easy protein for just about any meal.

We've made a few recipes from Blue Apron that combined a lot of ingredients we wouldn't normally consider, topped with a fried egg. Japanese, Korean, Mediterrean, and even Mexican inspired bowls have all been topped with a fried egg. I've used this trick a couple times on bowls I've made from food we had on hand, like in the photo up above. 

3) Seasoning makes all the difference.

A lot of the recipes we have made aren't that different from how I usually cook: a pan fried or baked chicken breast with a vegetable and a starch. However, the recipe calls for a unique seasoning or interesting dressing combination for the vegetables, elevating the entire meal to something I couldn't have invented on my own. I've started collecting Penzey's Spices seasoning blends so I can try to be a little more inventive in the meals I need to plan on my own. 

4) Soft cheeses make mashed potatoes amazing.

We have made mashed potatoes a few times using a cheese called "bel pase" from Blue Apron. It's very similar to Laughing Cow wedges, so we have used those as a copycat to replicate the Blue Apron mashed potatoes. Cream cheese and goat cheese also make cream mashed potatoes, too.

5) Only having what I need in my fridge brings me peace.

I've found that I am buying a lot less when I grocery shop because I really only need to worry about lunch for the family when we are doing Blue Apron. My fridge is often bare in a glorious way. There's a lot less wasted food when I am not planning for dinners I'll end up deciding are too complicated or it's too late to start cooking. We always make sure we cook our Blue Apron meals so they don't go to waste, and there's usually not anything left over (except garlic cloves). 

So, there's no real meal plan for this week. I made a pasta bake last night that will get us through to tomorrow, and then we will do Hello Fresh through Friday night. My husband has another long stretch off again, so we are hoping to tackle a lot.

Last week, I accomplished almost nothing from my list, so I am just going to carry those goals forward and add on more as I accomplish these things. I did manage to schedule a few fun activities for us: Hurricane and I went to see The Little Mermaid at a local movie theater, and a friend of ours asked us to join his table of 12 for restaurant week next month. That meant hiring a babysitter, so I'm really excited for that night out in a few weeks!

Have a great week, and stay warm!


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