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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dinners: Venturing into new territory

Do you ever get in a food rut? Over the past few years, ninety percent of the time we made pasta, and the other ten percent of the time we made tacos. (Or at least it felt that way.) It's so easy to fall into a cooking routine—and get stuck there. But now that we've been using Blue Apron, the meal subscription service that delivers a box every week with fresh ingredients for three meals, we've been shaking it up! Here are a few out-of-the-ordinary meals we've tried recently...
First off, we made this beautiful spring tart with asparagus, spring onion and gruyere, along with an arugula salad. It's the kind of thing we would never typically venture to make—I mean, you make the crust from scratch—but it was absolutely delicious to try, and fun to learn how quickly you can pull something like this off.

Other Blue Apron recipes lately include: Kung Pao chicken tacos, Swedish meatballs with braised kale, mushroom stroganoff, French onion soup in a sourdough bread bowl, coconut curry salmon steaks, short-rib burgers on pretzel buns, chicken potstickers, eggplant shawarma, pan-roasted bratwurst, fresh turnip green cacio e pepe pasta...(We stuck with vegetarian, but the meat/fish options sound wonderful!)

It's great to enjoy so many flavors and make different cuisines. (Not that I don't love tacos and spaghetti, but still!) Here are photos of past recipes, if you'd like to see—and here are the recipes for this week (YUM).
What do you typically cook? Do you get into ruts, or do you have a larger repertoire? Would you try Blue Apron? It's such a fresh and delicious service, and it would also make a great wedding present for at-home date nights.

Bonus for all readers: Blue Apron is offering two free meals to the first 250 readers who click through and get a box.

Thank you so much!

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Cup of Jo possible.)

51 comments:

Joy Acoustics said...

These look delicious and really fresh/healthy . It's a pity I am from Romania and can't experiment with this.

MeghanTopjian said...

Yum! I Canada so we don't have this… I wonder if we have something similar… hmm..

Elisabeth said...

This looks fantastic! I'm curious to know how many servings the meals usually make? Do you ever have any leftovers?

Joanna Goddard said...

elisabeth, we order the plan for two people, although you can order four people, etc. we generally eat everything and don't have leftovers, but we're big dinner eaters ha! other people might have leftovers :)

Joanna Goddard said...

(it's definitely really satisfying)

Rachael King said...

i compulsively buy cookbooks and try to make a variety of things but it's so easy to slip into what you know works.

Tonight for instance I'm going to have a store bought pizza because it has been a L-O-N-G day!

I'm vegetarian during the week - I find that helps me think outside the box with meals

EllaY said...

YUM! What a great gift idea! I love this.

Abbie said...

Joanna thank you so much for featuring this company. I'm a mama of two little ones and my husband and I love food and I love to cook but putting together a nice meal (and even just picking a recipe that isn't like you said, pasta or tacos) is SO exhausting some times. I ordered Blue Apron a few weeks ago and we were thrilled with the results. The one complaint was that they completely forgot to include one of my proteins but I emailed them and they immediately credited by account for a full meal. So thank you for turning me on to this service!!

districtandmore said...

I love to read blogs for cooking inspiration. I also joined a CSA this spring. It forces me to think outside of the box when it comes to cooking and introduces me to new, local veggies. I just learned what sorrel is! When all else fails, I flip through my favorite cook books or make something that reminds me of home. My mom’s carrot ginger soup always makes me happy and is so easy to make.

http://districtandmore.com/2014/03/03/carrot-ginger-soup/

Jesse said...

we are in the worst food rut, especially with dinners. i need some new ideas!

http://semiweeklyeats.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-creek.html

pancakesandpoodles said...

After your post about this the other week, I actually downloaded like 10 recipes from Blue Apron. Such great vegetarian recipes! And everything we've tried has been totally delicious and so easy (the Halloumi sandwiches were a big hit).
For a while to try and get out of a food rut, my boyfriend and I had a category of food for each day of the week (Monday was Italian, Tuesday Mexican, Wednesday "something new" night, etc). That worked pretty well until life got in the way.

Seems like you're well on your way to getting out of your rut though!

-Emma

Grace O'Neal said...

I don't think it gave me a discount?Any ideas?

A said...

That menu sounds great! I feel like I'm constantly trying to expand our regular rotation. My kids are great eaters (4 and 1)' though the little one understandably still has some limitations on what she can feed herself easily!

Joanna, do your boys share the meals with you two? Or do you tend to feed them first and eat just grown-ups later? I'm always curious as to how every family handles dinner time with little ones around...

wanderlustywriter said...

Yes I love this idea, but I need them to start doing vegan meals! Their response has been, "just throw out the dairy parts" which I would never do, too wasteful. Maybe someday...

Brittany said...

How long have you found it takes to prepare a Blue Apron meal? We were super excited to try it and did so during the winter. I loved the idea, and the recipes were pretty good, but we found the vegetarian recipes took FOREVER to make!! Because I had gotten a deal to try I think three weeks' worth, it became a bit of a running joke how it was a huge chore to make the meals! I'm wondering if we just hit some harder recipes or what. I'd love to try it or a similar service again as I do love the concept.

Hata Trbonja said...

We have been in a rut for sure lately. But I am determined to break out!
Tonight we are having udon noodles in miso soup. salmon and broccoli sauteed in teriyaki sauce.
Super simple and veggie!
The pics are fantastic on your site!
Hata

GiltTrip said...

We started up with Blue Apron a few weeks ago after I read one of your previous posts. We love it! I am not a cook but I find it's so easy to throw together dinner when everything is delivered to your doorstep. I do wish we could remove vegetarian from our options as my hubby doesn't feel like it's dinner without meat but other than that it's been a game-changer for us.

Paper Becomes You said...

My sister just gave me a subscription as a gift. I can't wait to start it! Down with Food Ruts!

Making it Anywhere said...

Dang middle of the country livin' they don't deliver to me. I feel like we are in a constant dinner rut! I went to culinary school but find myself making dino- shaped chicken nuggets a few too many times a week. This post has inspired me to set aside a specific night for random new recipes!

darknight said...

I signed up for Blue Apron after the last special you ran and have been extremely impressed with the service. I signed up for the pescetarian menu (although I'm a meat-eater always) for some variation and I'm obsessed! Thanks for always featuring such great companies!

okorolev said...

We try to eat at home at least 5 days a week. Although for the past two weeks we've been cleaning out our fridge and pantry (feels like an episode of chopped) and didnt go out. I love to cook at home and we eat dinner relatively early. I love pizza so we have homemade pizza every week. my hubby is mexican, so we have authentic mexican (enchiladas, tacos, or tostadas) at least once a week too. Then we eat a lot of sandwiches (chicken salad, egg salad), usually have an easy italian meal and a "whatever" night.
Also, since i have to pack 2 lunches, i have to make at least 4 servings per night.

Kodi Jensen said...

I love cooking, but I tend to enjoy eating in ruts! I like to try new things, but when it comes to day-to-day I enjoy the same foods. Thankfully my husband likes variety so I can have more fun cooking for him!

meandbabye.com said...

I've heard lots of good things about Blue Apron. I like your idea of using it to get out a food rut! It is a bit pricey from my understanding, but compared to take out it's a good deal. My sister and others like her who have been transplanted in suburbia from NYC/Boston/etc love this service since the take out there tends to be less than great and hiring a personal chef is a bit overboard! Great review, I will pass on to clients who I help meal plan for as an option.

macaca grava-por-cima said...

You have to come to Portugal! I'll cook for you guys!!! We cook dinner with fresh products ever single day. My son eats vegetable home made soup every single meal...

That quiche looks delicious, I absolutly love aspargus!

Even with a great variaty, we tend to fall in a cooking routine, it's inevitable for mums who have to cook every day after coming home from 9 hours of work... Frozen pizza is my friend, sometimes, i have to say!!!

But here are some ideas: different kinds of salads and vegetable soups, fritatta, quiche, fish in the oven, steak and fries, chilli, meat and fish stews, meatballs...

did you know that in Portugal we have 1001 ways of cooking dry/salty codfish?

kidsuserguide.com said...

what a great idea! maybe someday they'll come to park city :)

Gina said...

I totally get into ruts, since I'm 90% vegetarian and I have no time to cook... quinoa, rice, salad, veggies, tofu, quinoa, rice, salad, veggies, tofu...

Sarah said...

I tried to take advantage of this offer, but when I signed up, I didn't see any discount. Bummer!

Smaller Than Tears said...

The food is wonderful! We have an 11 year old and 6 year old and they have learned to eat good food from Blue Apron. There is just enough to satisfy an active adult. Usually, there is salad or veggies left over because they kids don't eat as much. Joanna, I'm curious why you don't order enough for four people and feed your oldest from the meals? If that is all there is available to eat, he will become a good eater rather than a picky one. Our kids eat shrimp, fish, chicken, pork, etc. Even a little bit of salad!

macaca grava-por-cima said...

we go shopping for our fresh products every saturday morning (weekly)in a local market, near our house: lettuce, tomatoes, cabage, aspargus, aubergine, radish, onions, potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, mushrooms,all kinds of fruit (it's almost time for watermelons!!! wich i love)...

bread, meat and fish (it's almost time for sardines!!! wish I adore!)

Meadow said...

Sure, we get into food ruts. I think most people do. I love to cook, but life does sometimes get in the way and I end up making quick meals that get quite repetitive. I don't think I would try a food service like this, but every now and then I do make an effort to try one new recipe a week or do something different. I think once we move and I have a bigger kitchen and can take most of my cooking stuff out of storage, I will be more inclined to cook more. I have been working on a list I can keep handy to give me cooking ideas, as well. We also try to plan our meals for the week so we shop with a list and buy the right things... which helps, but yes, we still can be repetitive.

Ann Cundy said...

Are you serving this to the boys too? I love the idea, but try to follow the "French Kids Eat Everything" rule of not making different food for my 3 yo. That usually means I cook "down" a bit to his level. Maybe he'd eat a spring vegetable tart. I would! Yum.

Joanna Goddard said...

The discount link had a glitch when it first went up, but is working now!

Sarah - we're so sorry if the discount didn't work for you! Please email us at hellojoannagoddard at gmail dot com and we'll have it fixed.

Alexis said...

Just signed up, this is awesome!!!

Isabelle said...

I think everyone tends to get stuck in a meal rut sometimes. We eat at home pretty much every night and I do 90% of the cooking. I make things like pasta with homemade pesto (quick and delicious - usually I made it with kale or peas, fried rice using up whatever veggies I have in the fridge plus tofu, fried fish cakes, Indian dal, and frittatas. Lately I've been making weekly Burrito Bowls inspired by the recipe on Dinner: A Love Story. So good and easy! My husband and I were also both very inspired by Tamar Adler's book An Everlasting Meal. We've started roasting tons of veggies on the weekend and saving all our scraps. Super helpful when it comes to meal planning.

Becs said...

Great idea! Here is my current favourite easy meal: http://www.ctvnews.ca/jan-18-2012-rockin-moroccan-stew-1.755305.

I chop everything up the night before and just tip it in the pot at around 5 o'clock. Both my 14 month old son and my husband wolf it down. It's veggie but still pretty filling, especially if you serve it with rice or quinoa.

Gabriella said...

So weird--I was just about to sign up last night! I find the idea of thinking up meals and making sure I have all the ingredients to be the most taxing part of cooking. I love the idea of getting to cook and try new things without the brainstorming and shopping part. I will definitely try this!

Emily Seifert said...

This is such a wonderful idea! I hope they come to Dallas soon!!

Laura said...

Our household tried Blue Apron for two weeks, but a few things made us decide to place our account on hold for awhile. I really enjoyed the variety of dishes that they sent, but like someone else commented earlier, the vegetarian meals take forever! We're both pretty accomplished cooks with a lot of kitchen tools, so I'm used to meals taking about 30 minutes. Blue Apron had so many tedious steps (partly, I think, because they assume you don't have things like a garlic press or mandoline, which we realized early on.) And some of the recipes needed a hit of flavor—we relied heavily on our pantry for spices, vinegars and flavored oils and I usually just went for broke and added more parmesan cheese to whatever called for it. :)

On the plus side, we had a LOT of leftovers for most of the meals and enjoyed the inspiration to branch out. It definitely rekindled my love of panfried tofu! I guess I'd recommend it for people who enjoy cooking and have 30-60 minutes to cook, but who don't want to keep a lot of extra ingredients on hand.

stateandoccupation.com said...

I wish I was in the US. This looks so yummy (and amazing to not have to go out and pick up the ingredients.... I'm guilty of standing in the grocery isle googling different vegetables to find out what they look like to hunt them down hahaha)
Dakota
http://stateandoccupation.com/

Swati said...

I wish they offered plans for one person. Minimum plan is for 2 people :(

Meadow said...

@Swati: So have it over 2 nights or take some to work for lunch the next day.

Lily L-M said...

I totally get stuck in ruts! this looks delicious and totally worth trying.

x Lily
http://whilemyboyfriendsaway.blogspot.com/

Lauren S said...

this meal looks so yummy ! my mum gets stuck in a rut because i love eating veggies (different ways) so she needs interesting things to jazz dinner up !
Lauren x
Please nominate my blog for Best Lifestyle Blog and Newcomer here !
Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography - www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk

Bunnicula said...

I love reading the newsletters that come in the boxes, too! Lots of great info about techniques and recipe history. Such fun!! :)

Maggie S. said...

Ooh, my mom did something similar to this! It was called EasyMeals or something along that line. I think it may be through Kroger? Anyway, it was super convenient because it gave her a shopping list every week and sometimes even correlated with certain specials at Kroger grocery stores.

Margin and Column said...

Australia has a similar service called Hello Fresh - http://www.hellofresh.com.au - it's awesome!

Amanda said...

I made a very similar tart this week with leeks instead of green onions (big green onions). So good! But I have to admit I took the easy way out and used pre-made pie tarts for the crust.

Rudey R said...

I agree that it is fun to learn how quick you can pull together a yummy, healthy and interesting meal. I was really struggling with this. So much so that the nerd in me set out to create a system. It's only been two weeks, but it's working better than before. http://rudeysroom.com/2014/05/08/dinner-an-epic-fail/

I would love to give a company like Blue Apron a try.

Katie Aukerman said...

Ah! I get in meal ruts all of the time! I live in rural Uganda, so cooking can be a challenge, I totally know what you mean about eating too much pasta. I would looove to have try something like the Blue Apron when I get back to the state.

mohammed elgammal said...

It's delicious dishes and very beneficial to the body and health
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Humphrey Addison said...

Prepare so very fast and simple… This is so beautiful and I’m sure it’s all super delicious! Looks so pretty, so good and sounds so awesome!
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