Meal service can make us all look like master chefs

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I am sorry, Mom, but I am not a good cook. My grandmother served us Dairy Queen steak fingers, rolled-up lunch meat and mac and cheese when we were kids, and I think I’ve taken after her rather than my own mother.

My body started changing a few years ago and my clothes fit funny and my face got puffy. I was spending too much money eating lunch at restaurants or fast-food joints during the work week and decided it was time to get it together.

But then it became Hamburger Helper, pizza delivery and processed Lean Cuisine.

The idea of having fresh ingredients delivered to your home with step by step recipes appealed to me. For $30 I could get a box each week that contained the ingredients for soy glazed chicken thighs, beef dumplings or spicy shrimp pasta. The recipe cards even have pictures of the ingredients and you get a little swag bag to go with each recipe that might contain spices, a little vial of apple cider vinegar or an onion. You have to use your own olive oil, salt and pepper but everything else is provided – even eggs, tomato sauce, coconut milk, etc.

The cardboard box in which the items arrive is insulated – basically it’s in a cooler – so your pork tenderloin can sit on the front porch for a few hours and it’s gonna be OK as long as your neighbors aren’t hungry.

I had cauliflower rice for the first time – delicious. Tastes exactly like real rice.

I made some pretty decent meatballs, some spicy shrimp and some well-seasoned chicken. I’ve never cooked with sweet peppers or fresh garlic or goat cheese before, and Blue Apron makes it easy because Lord knows I wouldn’t even know where to find those items at the grocery store.

There are a couple of drawbacks. My jasmine rice was a little crunchy and there have been a couple of items that end up in the garbage can. “Why do they keep sending us cucumbers?” Blayne asks me as he tosses the vegetables in the trash.

Also, the biggest drawback is that $30 per week fee lasted just for three weeks. It’s now $60 a week, but I figure that before Blue Apron I spent $100 at the grocery store every week.

The plan I have chooses three recipes and ingredients enough to serve a family of two, but you can alter the plan to get more or fewer items. They pick the meals for you but you can go to the website and change them. Once they figure out that you love burgers and hate curry, their picks are pretty spot-on. I get my ingredient boxes on Saturdays, but you can change that up or put it on hold if you’re going to be out of town for a while or just aren’t using them.

I think it’s totally worth the money if you’re trying to change the way you do dinner. Most meals can be cooked in 30 minutes and it’s easy enough with the walk-through instructions that you don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to pull some chicken and rice together.

I give it two thumbs up but would love to know what other meal plan services are being used and what you think of them. Email your thoughts to editor@sealynews.com.

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