Shaking Up Our Recipe Rut

Salmon Dinner

Like everyone else in the new year, I’ve been trying to make healthy choices. (And I’ve been trying out barre classes! But more on that later). Instead of our usual pasta bolognese and giant burritos, Alex and I have been attempting to eat more fish and vegetables. The meal delivery service Blue Apron has been amazing, with a range of seafood and fish (look at that bright red salmon!). I love how they encourage us to try out new flavors at home. It’s almost like going to a dinner party, where your meal is a surprise…

Salmon Dinner

Salmon Dinner

Salmon Dinner

Last week, we tried their seared salmon with roasted broccoli and farro salad. We would never have come up with that honey-mustard-shallots-oil-and-vinegar sauce on our own, and it was was citrusy and delicious. We also had pork chops and ricotta and spinach pasta and the BEST white turkey chili, which we’ll definitely make again.

The Blue Apron team explained that a lot of wild-caught salmon is actually shipped around the world to China to be deboned and filleted — resulting in grey, not-so-fresh fish. But Blue Apron’s salmon is wild-caught in Alaska and processed locally here in the United States, so it has a better flavor than typical store-bought varieties.

For all of their meals, Blue Apron sources only sustainable seafood; and all their protein sources are wild-caught or sustainably farmed. They work directly with ethical farmers (like our man Tyler) and ranchers, who raise animals with care and respect, without added hormones or antibiotics. (To learn more, you can see Blue Apron’s mission here.)

Blue Apron offers either the two-person plan or the family plan, which is perfect for feeding a family of four (or two adults who love leftovers). You can sign up to receive either two or four meals weekly, and can skip or cancel at any time. The price breaks down to less than $9 per person per meal, and the shipping is always free.

Salmon Dinner

Salmon Dinner

I’m looking forward to trying more new, seasonal flavors this winter. (Think: Lemon butter shrimp, smoky gruyere grilled cheese, chicken meatballs with polenta…)

Bonus for first-time customers: Sign up for Blue Apron and get your first two meals free.

What healthy recipes do you make? Anything you’d recommend? Thank you so much!

P.S. Our Blue Apron farm visit, when Anton fell in love with the farmer.

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Blue Apron, a service we really enjoy for our family. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Cup of Jo running.)

  1. Victoria says...

    I eat salmon on the regular, usually bring into work for lunch AND I’ve been taking barre classes for almost a year and am OBSESSED!!! Highly recommend :)

  2. Megan says...

    We gave Blue Apron a try and I was surprised at how much I love it! The food is great- and as a bonus it frees you from having to make a decision about dinner! It’s nice to let one thing go each week and just focus on making good food.

  3. my new go-to healthy recipe is a basic frittata with whatever cheese and greens i have in the fridge, but to make it a little more filling I slice a few sweet potatoes with a mandolin and place them in my pie plate to make a crust. bake for 15 minutes before putting cheese/egg/greens mixture in there then bake altogether for maybe half hour, yummy with valentina hot sauce!

  4. Amy says...

    lovely service, waaaaaaaaay too much packaging for what it is. the planet is heaving under the weight of our convenience.

  5. Annabelle F says...

    We would love to try Blue Apron but sadly, they don’t operate in Canada, and we live in Toronto. Come to Canada Blue Apron!

  6. Mila says...

    Could you please consider indicating up-front which of your posts are sponsored rather than at the end?

    • Kay M. says...

      As a regular reader, I’ve given this some thought, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leading us to click through a sponsored post (especially on a site like this, where they aren’t TOO common)! If you like reading Cup of Jo, it’s nice to lend support by grazing sponsored posts, even if only for a few seconds… sponsors are what allow these talented writers to keep up their consistently good work and put dinner on the table :)

  7. Courtney says...

    Just signed up, I’ve been meaning to try this, thank you for posting and for the discount!

  8. Veronica says...

    barre 3. It’s down and inch, up an inch, down an inch, up an inch.

  9. T says...

    Thanks for highlighting wild Alaskan salmon!
    As you know, it tastes so much better and is a sustainable resource, unlike farmed salmon.
    Next time you run out of salmon recipes, or other seafood ideas, I suggest you look up the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute website for ideas: you’re able to choose the seafood species, type of dish you’re preparing, and they have dozens of recommendations. They also have cooking tips (you can cook salmon frozen, for example) and information on the fisheries if you’re curious about how they’re harvested.

    http://recipes.alaskaseafood.org/

    Enjoy!

  10. Andrea says...

    I enjoy blue apron as well. Quick, fresh and flavorful. And most of all easy. We don’t waste any food, never have left overs, have learned a lot of great kitchen technique basics. I’m glad you’re recommending it!

  11. lorie says...

    sold. just signed up for 2. this is going to be the delicious ingredient that will turn my new year’s resolution to cook muy delicioso!

  12. Kellyn says...

    These companies are too wasteful…even with the take back recycling the shipping and packaging back and forth is excessive.

    I spend 2-3 hours on a Sunday cooking for the entire week. You could use the recipes from here or hello fresh or any other site that posts for free…

  13. This looks delicious! I run out of salmon & veggie combinations all the time. My favorite easy salmon is putting a big Ol’ dollop of our favorite chipotle salsa sticking it in the oven and topping it with avocado slices and serving it on top of a lightly dressed arugula salad. If I don’t use salsa, then it’s mustard or pre-made pesto or whatever other fish sauce concoction!

    I love to go grocery shopping and enjoy cooking but I ain’t gonna lie having a day off while my hubby follows a recipe card and has all ingredients available while I sip on wine sounds like a good plan! Though I may still have to put earbuds in or step away because there’s a BIG chance I’ll here…babe what do I do with this? ;)

    xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  14. Louisa says...

    I went through to sign up, and on the very last page I find that it’s a $20 discount, and not “first two meals free.” Maybe that’s 2 free servings?

    I thought “two free meals” was too good to be true!

    • Steve says...

      I agree with you. You can’t TRY a week. You must pay $40.00 after the discount and will get 3 “meals” – 6 portions. I was told by a friend theat she got the first week FREE to try. That’s what I wou;ld do but not this deal.

    • Kelly Libby says...

      I’ve tried this before and the food is very high quality. Salmon or other nice cuts of fish plus sides for 6 for $40 is a pretty awesome price. I used the discount, then post-posted for a few weeks. There’s all sorts of ways to use these meal services that fit you.

  15. Oh gosh reading all these comments I think I am missing out living in France and I thought Starbucks was the only thing I Missed!

  16. K says...

    Totally unsponsored comment here: I was very skeptical of this service but my BIL passed on a free week to us and we tried it. I consider myself a good cook but the weeknight/after work meals were killing me – planning, shopping, cooking the minute I stepped in the door – I wasn’t feeling very creative or healthy and LOTS of food was going to waste. But I felt silly going with Blue Apron – after all, I’m a good cook! I like farmers markets! Why did I need it?
    I’m only 3 weeks in but I LOVE it. It has changed my after work cooking experience. It’s definitely more prep than a grilled cheese or scrambled eggs – but I was sick of that or default pasta. I still feel like I’m cooking which I personally love. Every meal has been really good and I’m eating more fish because I hated wondering about fish buying at the supermarket and worrying about where it came from. I like that everything is unprocessed, no boxes or mixes. We are eating WAY less take-out and cut down on mid-week restaurant going so we are justifying the cost that way.
    I too was worried about waste but I do recycle everything and remind myself that I’m not making a trip in a car to the supermarket. Even though I sometimes laugh about getting 3 potatoes or one lemon, my food waste is way, way down.
    Overall I’ve been very pleased and my kid is actually eating her meals more. We get the two person plan, have enough to eat dinner (including some for her) and leftovers for lunch the next day.
    I’m only commenting like a gushy fangirl because I read all these sponsored posts and was dubious. But I wanted to say for the fence sitters that this real human really likes it.

    • SG says...

      Same!! I was skeptical because I was like I’m a great cook, I have so many recipes saved- but when you come home and are exhausted it can feel like a lot. I love that I always have enough leftover for a lunch (I do the 2 person plan for myself) AND there is some prep so it doesn’t feel ridiculous, but you end up with well rounded, interesting and delicious meals.

  17. Kate says...

    I really, really struggle with this Blue Apron business. My parents barely cook, so I sent them a week as a gift (basically started a subscription and then canceled it), and they loved it. They found it a lot of work, but tried new things and loved the food.
    That said, I find the amount of packaging really off-putting, and eating Alaskan salmon in New York is simply not local. There is great Atlantic seafood too! If you really can’t do the shopping yourself, some cooking is always better than no cooking, but as I work on transitioning to more local options and less packaging, these posts just leave me sort of perplexed.

  18. Annie says...

    I love Blue Apron! It is a lot of prep, but I’m not kidding when I say I’m SO much more comfortable in the kitchen (and I just did it 1 – 2 x month for a couple of months). I also love not having to grocery shop or think about dinner, and it’s good for getting out of a food rut and trying/preparing new things.

    The only thing I don’t love about it though – the meat. Most of it is okay, but I just feel like I get SUCH better quality at Central Market. I’m sure it’s a cost thing, and again, the chicken and most fish have been okay. That being said, paying $60 for chicken and veg dishes isn’t a great deal.

  19. I left this comment on another blogger’s site- I have to admit, I love the Blue Apron sponsored posts. I don’t think I’ll ever subscribe (although with the amount of travel I’m doing over the next month I’m sorely tempted!!) but these posts do give me recipe inspiration. For their service, I do think they are well priced, but we would definitely see a spike in our food spending for this + regular grocery needs. I also echo the packaging/waste issue. I love seeing the posts, though!

  20. E says...

    I ended up canceling my Blue Apron subscription. The meals take SO LONG to cook, the packaging seems downright wasteful, the meat or fish often went bad long before the date on the package, and I usually ended up getting a delivery accidentally because you have to opt-out every week. Just not for me!

    • tracey says...

      Yes, I totally agree. They are too time consuming. It didn’t work out for me.

    • Johanna says...

      SAME.

    • Lisa says...

      I did Blue Apron for almost a year, stopped for about six months and recently switched to Sun Basket, as all of the meals are paleo and I’m trying to eat less grains and dairy. IMO, Sun Basket is WAY better. It is $6 more a week BUT the meals take about half the time to cook, everything is sourced from the west coast (note, Sun Basket is only available on the west coast, I think), and I’ve been way happier with the quality and taste of the meat. I’ve been super impressed with all of the meals I’ve made so far and my husband thinks they are way better than Blue Apron as well.

    • If you’re on the West Coast you should try One Potato. All the ingredients are organic, including the proteins (which is NOT true about BA at all) and nothing takes longer than 30 minutes from start to finish because the sauces and dressings are prepped for you. Also, the recipes are kid friendly, which I found was not at all the case with Blue Apron’s family plan.

    • Kate says...

      Living in Manhattan, I have a small kitchen. Most blue aprons meals require an INSANE amount of prep and I end up using every glass nesting bowl in my kitchen. At the end of 1+ hours of prepping and cooking I would be left with a mountain of dishes to tackle after having just finished a very time consuming recipe. It was exhausting. I did notice toward the end of my subscription that they were making an effort to include simpler recipes but the fact that you have to skip meals six days in advance always got away from me and I would inevitably find an unexpected Blue Apron box at my door.

  21. JUST started barre classes too!!! (aka yesterday was my first class) and i love it. i can’t walk down the stairs but that means its working… right?! ;)

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  22. Theresa says...

    We did Blue Apron for a few months. I have it on hold right now. Meals were a bit more time to prep than we liked. Overall, we thought the food was good and a good variety. We are thinking of trying Gobble in our area. A friend tried Gobble and it was less labor intensive and typically one pan meals, which fits more of what we need for week day meals.

  23. OK, just signed up…interested to see if we will actually cook this food!! I think we will.

  24. Lexie says...

    I like to use Blue Apron about once a month or so! I’ve only had one meal not turn out! I do warn people that the process is a bit more involved, but it has taught me a few things and I DO save money considering I can’t ever seem to eat out with my partner for less than $60!

  25. I’ve not tried blue apron, but I’ve heard good things! if you want to try another I-can’t-believe-I-made-this-at-home dish, try out making tandoori salmon (literally mix up the spices with some olive oil, rub it on the salmon filets, and bake)….

  26. Lindsay says...

    I’d love to hear more about barre3…I keep hearing about it. Also, are you still running?

  27. Neely says...

    We tried blue apron after a post on Cup Of Jo. I cook almost every night of the week anyway and I thought Blue Apron would be fun to try. I was also excited that they come up with interesting meals each week which I find really exhausting. But I found their recipes to be really time-consuming to make, even for an experienced home cook and a little pricey. I’m glad we tried it but it didn’t stick.

    • Jenny says...

      We found the same thing. Interesting but we need fast during the week.

  28. Hannah says...

    I cannot shake the feeling that services like Blue Apron involve quite a bit of waste. I hope I am wrong. Do they provide any information about this?

    • Lexie says...

      I find that I waste so much less produce than when I buy produce at home! If anything ordering from Blue Apron has allowed me to scale back on food waste!

    • Packaging waste- I’m totally with you. Food waste- I was tempted by a great looking recipe that only sends you 1 scallion, because my fridge is where scallions bunches go to die.

    • SG says...

      I recycle pretty much all the packaging the Blue Apron meals come in, and I definitely have less food waste (cooking for one is HARD).

    • samantha says...

      The packaging waste is most of why I stopped using it—even though it’s recyclable it’s still a whole lot of tiny plastic bags and things I wouldn’t normally have. And it drove me nuts that they would send me tiny bottles of common pantry items. If I could opt out of tiny bottles of things like apple cider vinegar and olive oil, i might try it again.

  29. Angel says...

    Thanks for the offer! But the weekly family of 4 price is more than I spend weekly on groceries. Looking forward to hearing about Barre.

    • Kelly Libby says...

      Whoa. I’m amazed. I want to know how your weekly groceries are so cheap!!! I spend more than that for just me in one shopping trip. :(

  30. Anne says...

    Curious how people feel about the Blue Apron packaging? I do love the meals but I always felt kind of bad when I ordered from them about all the extra cardboard and plastic and cooling material that goes along with getting the food to you. Do they use recycled materials?

    • Lexie says...

      You can ship the materials back to Blue Apron for free and they will recycle all the materials for you.

  31. amanda says...

    I wish Blue Apron had a meal plan for just two days a week. I’m rarely up for making dinner at home 3 days a week.

  32. molly says...

    I have done Blue Apron a few different times and its been great! However, my only complaint is that the three times we had fish (salmon twice, cod once) we didn’t like the texture of the fish. It was mealy and mushy. We also don’t usually buy frozen fish, so maybe that is why we didn’t love it – but i am sure whatever fish we buy from whole foods has been frozen at one point, so I am not sure what it was about the blue apron fish. For me personally, I took the fish recipes off our delivery orders. Everything else we have cooked has been fantastic and would recommend their service, just maybe not the fish.

  33. Amy says...

    Looks great! I like getting their emails too. It’s awesome that they willingly share their recipes like that if you want to tackle them on your own!

  34. Janna says...

    I take barre3 classes in Portland- they’re great online or in studio. You should try the location in NYC- the instructors are kind, encouraging, and inspiring. It’s a hard workout, but you feel SO good after.

  35. I’ve been hearing so many great things about blue apron! Definitely looking to give it a try. I had NO idea about salmon being sent to China for processing. Glad blue apron is keeping processing “local.”

  36. V says...

    Blue Apron should really consider adding a gluten free option…I am always tempted to try, but this holds me back!

    • Meg says...

      I eat gluten free, and I order Blue Apron. I only end up ordering once a month (you can skip as often as you like) because I wait for a combo of dishes that are naturally GF or that can be easily made GF, like by giving away the packet of panko and using my own GF breadcrumbs. It can be kind of a bummer, but it’s worth it to try fun, new recipes. Fingers crossed that Blue Apron offers more options for those with food allergies soon!

    • lea says...

      I agree. When I looked at some of the weekly menus, there were so few gluten free options it didn’t really make sense for our family. Yes, we could substitute, but if I have to be running out to the store all the time, it sort of defeats the purpose for us. I sent them a note, and I think they are considering it a possibility for the future.

  37. Mmmm, gruyere grilled cheese…that sounds perfect!

    I think a Farmer Tyler update may be in high demand ;)

    • Ivy says...

      I’m glad it works for your family, Joanna, but it almost seems like more of an activity, rather than a way to cook dinner on busy nights. It would be useful for people who are learning how to cook so they can learn technique and timing, though. For me, I would rather have just the recipes. I’m working on meal planning, which I didn’t really do a lot of until I had children. How is your meal planning going? Do you schedule your BA nights into your calendar?

    • Ivy says...

      I don’t know why that came as a reply. . . Sorry.

  38. Alice Quin says...

    Now I want to hear about the bar classss! I do the daily method in California and am addicted.

  39. lindsay says...

    That meal looks amazing. Drooling at my desk.

    And barre classes?!? I need to hear more.

  40. Sara says...

    You mean when we all fell in love with the farmer? lol

    • Alice Quin says...

      Lol

  41. Mary Jenkins says...

    The recipes look delicious. (That grilled cheese one!) I’m going to have to try this one of these days.