Have you seen those meal delivery services popping up all over Facebook and Instagram? You know, where they deliver all the ingredients and you make the recipes? I have been dying to try them because literally my least favorite chores in the universe (besides putting my duvet back in the cover) are meal planning and grocery shopping.

Blue Apron contacted us and asked if we would be interested in trying out a week’s menu if we would share what we thought about it and I seriously couldn’t say yes fast enough. This post has been sponsored by Blue Apron, but any thoughts, opinions, and slightly over-the-top enthusiasm about having fresh groceries delivered to my doorstep are completely my own.

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what is blue apron

Blue Apron has a couple of different options depending on your needs; they have a 2-person plan, which includes 3 meals, or a 4-person plan where you can either get 4 or 2 meals depending on your needs. One thing I love is that the meals are all complete; you don’t have to worry about coming up with side dishes. For the Family Plan, it comes out to $8.74 per meal (although I felt like the serving sizes were very large, more food than I generally eat and definitely more than my kids eat, so we stretched the meals considerably. My family consists of my husband, my kids who are 10, 7, and 2, and me, and there was more than enough to go around.)

It was fun for me to make recipes I might normally skip over, either because I knew I’d have a hard time finding the ingredients or because it was just kind of out of my comfort zone. During my Blue Apron week, I used fresh ramen noodles, baby bok choy, miso paste, and flat iron steaks for the first time AND I made my very first soft boiled eggs. It felt like we were eating restaurant food, just at home (in fact, I learned that chefs in training wear blue aprons, hence the name. And you really do feel like a chef. Or at least I did. But I have a vivid imagination.) All of the produce are super fresh and all ingredients come portioned for each recipe, so if the recipe calls for 2 green onions, you get 2 green onions, not a bag full of green onions that you might not use up.

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(Yes, it’s 90 degrees in Louisiana and he’s wearing his fleece and his sunglasses inside the house. It’s complicated being a toddler.)

This was a really fun way to get out of my dinner rut, but it would also be a great gift, whether it’s for a newlywed couple or maybe a family with a new-ish baby (like where they’re easing back into real life, but meal planning and grocery shopping is still so daunting). I like that it didn’t replace all our meals for the week, just enough to introduce new and fun things into our menu rotation. So if you’re interested in trying this out,  the first 100 readers will get two meals from their first Blue Apron order for free if you follow this link.

How does it work

Right now, Blue Apron delivers to most of the United States and they’re continuing to add locations (next month, Texas!) After you choose your plan, the ingredients are delivered early in the week in a refrigerated box, so everything stays fresh and cold. You’re welcome to skip deliveries or cancel at any time, so if a particular menu isn’t working for you or you’re going out of town or if cash is tight, it’s easy to skip a delivery.

what I made

I got to try out their Turkey Meatloaf with Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Sautéed Snap Peas, Spiced Pork Chops with Cheesy Mashed Potatoes & Garlic Spinach, Spring Miso Ramen with English Peas, Pea Shoots, & Soft Boiled Eggs, and Hoisin & Ponzu-Glazed Steaks with Roasted Carrots & Garlic-Ginger Rice. They were all different and delicious–there’s a wide variety of cuisines and cooking styles, so it was fun to step out of my comfort zone.

My family’s favorite was the Spiced Pork Chops with Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Spinach. To get started, bring a large pot of water with a large pinch of salt to a boil. While the water is heating, wash the Yukon gold potatoes, garlic, and grate the Monterey Jack cheese.

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Chop the potatoes (you can peel them first, but I like the peels on my mashed potatoes, at least when I use thin-skinned potatoes),

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When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook for 18-20 minutes or until tender. Turn off the heat and drain. You can either return the potatoes to the pan or be like me and whip them up in a stand mixer (I like them super light and fluffy.)

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Add heavy cream, butter, some Parmesan cheese, and that shredded Monterey Jack cheese  from earlier to the potatoes. Mash or whip them until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then cover and keep warm (I popped mine into the oven set to the lowest setting.)

While the potatoes are cooking, wash the spinach and pat dry with paper towels.

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Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until wilted (you might need to work in batches.) Transfer to a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. If you’d like, finely chop the drained spinach and wipe out the pan. Set the spinach aside.

While the potatoes continue to cook, pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and the spice blend

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(it was smoked paprika, mustard powder, instant flour, dried thyme, and ground nutmeg.)

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In the same pan you used to cook the spinach, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the seasoned pork chops and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm (I put them in the same oven I used for the potatoes.)

To make the pan sauce, make sure the pan you cooked the pork chops is still hot. Add the pork demi-glace (if you’re just making the recipe, look for demi-glace near the bouillon in the grocery store; if you can’t find any, you could substitute soup base) and 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining breakfast until combined. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm. Rinse and dry the pan.

In the same pan you used to make the sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high  until hot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 30 second-1 minute or until golden and fragrant. Add the chopped spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds-1 minute or until well combined and heated through. Turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the cooked pork chops, mashed potatoes, and with the pan sauce.

Blue Apron Spiced Pork Chops

To print out this recipe, you can get it HERE (to make your own spice mix, I’d mix 1 teaspoon flour, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and a pinch of nutmeg). If you’re looking for more recipe inspiration, their website is full of recipes, including these Turkey Meatball Sliders with Red Leaf and Cucumber Salad, Panko-Crusted Cod with Roasted Asparagus and Creamy Dill Farro Salad, and this Italian Wedding Soup.

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