Why You Need Kitchen Tongs

kitchen tongs and potatoes
Kitchen tongs ready for duty

Stop burning your fingers! If you cook a lot, it may occasionally be tempting to reach straight into a hot pot or a pan of cooking food. We understand the impulse, but we must advise against it. A good pair of kitchen tongs is an essential tool. Use them frequently, and they’ll spare you many kitchen accidents. 

silicone-tipped kitchen tongs

Our favorite set of tongs is this smooth silicone-tipped pair, available in both 9 inch and 12 inch (we have both). The soft silicone tip won’t scratch up your non-stick pans, and it’s heat resistant up to 430°F. The locking mechanism and handle loop are designed for easy storage. Lock them in a closed position and place them in a drawer, or hang them on a hook using the silicone loop. 

These are some of the ways we love using our tongs

Grab pasta out of a pot of boiling water

Set your colander aside. You can use tongs to grab noodles right out of pasta water. Just reach in, gently grab, and transfer them to a bowl or a pan of sauce. This method only works for long noodles like spaghetti or fettuccine.  

Flip foods

Whether you’re roasting vegetables or grilling chicken, tongs are the easiest way to lift and rotate pieces of cooking food. Just gently grab and keep turning until whatever you’re cooking is brown on all sides. 

Grab ice 

Hate the feeling of ice sticking to your fingers? You’re not alone. Use tongs to reach into your freezer drawers and grab ice for your favorite cocktails. 

Toss salads 

Don’t leave all the tasty salad toppings resting on the bottom of the bowl. Combine ingredients in a large bowl, add your dressing, and use tongs to vigorously mix a salad. 

Serve…everything 

Grab tongfuls of salad, pick up chicken legs, or lift a few spears of asparagus. Tongs are an easy way to serve food. Just set them in the bowl and let everyone help themselves.

Four Buffalo Sauce Recipes We Love

buffalo sauce chicken

What is Buffalo sauce?

When it comes down to it, Buffalo sauce is just a type of hot sauce. Buffalo flavor gets its signature tart and tangy spice from a vinegar-base and a mixture of spices including cayenne and a hint of garlic. Most Buffalo wing recipes call for mixing the hot sauce with melted butter to balance out the acidic vinegar and add rich flavor. 

Why is it called Buffalo sauce? 

All due respect to the American buffalo, but this sauce is actually named in honor of the city in New York. Most stories about the origin of this tangy condiment point to Anchor bar in Buffalo, NY. Anchor bar has been open in Buffalo since 1935, and is still serving up Buffalo wings today. 

How do I make Buffalo sauce at home?

The easiest way to make a Buffalo-flavored dish at home is by starting with a bottled Buffalo-style hot sauce. Frank’s Red Hot is the old-school favorite. It’s available in grocery stores across the U.S. 

How hot is Buffalo sauce? 

There are dozens of varieties of Buffalo sauce available in supermarkets. The classic Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce is only mildly spicy, but you can find hotter options. If you’re not a fan of heat, you can turn down the spice by adding more melted butter into the mix. 

Buffalo sauce recipes 

Chicken wings are the nostalgic favorite, but Buffalo flavor can do a lot more. These are some of our favorite ways to create a hot sauce-slathered dinner. 

Buffalo-Style Chicken Drumsticks with Blue Cheese Sauce & Celery-Apple Salad

For a game day party or a casual dinner, you can’t go wrong with this iconic snack.

Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwiches with Butter Lettuce & Pecan Salad

For dinner tonight, hearty hot sauce-spiked cauliflower stars in a vegetarian spin on a Buffalo-style sandwich. 

Buffalo Cauliflower Sandwiches with Butter Lettuce & Pecan Salad

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza with Caesar Salad

 Toss roasted cauliflower with buttery hot sauce mixture to make a delicious topping for flatbread.

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza with Caesar Salad

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Carrot-Celery Salad

For an easy spin on classic buffalo chicken, we’re recreating all the zesty, saucy flavors of the dish in these irresistible meatballs. 

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Carrot-Celery Salad

How the Sloppy Joe Got Made

Sloppy Joe Sliders

The Origin of the Sloppy Joe

There’s nothing complicated about a Sloppy Joe.

At its most basic, the Joe is a sandwich made with ground beef and a tomato sauce. The Sloppy Joe’s history, however, is a bit more complex.

Some attribute the original Sloppy Joe to a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa, where, many years ago, in 1930 a cook named Joe added tomato sauce to his “loose meat” sandwiches. Voila: a new between-the-bread offering, and the sandwich’s official name. (Loose meat sandwiches continue to be a staple in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest.)

Others say that the original sandwich was born at the iconic restaurant in Key West, Florida, Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

And then there are those who say that the concept of the sandwich was dreamt up in Havana of all places, at Sloppy Joe’s saloon, which recently re-opened after a half-century hiatus (!).

But while people may contest where the “official” Sloppy Joe was born, the concept of mixing meat, cheese, and bread is so simple that it’s no surprise that Sloppy Joe soon it became an American favorite.

Sloppy Joe Sandwich Ingredients

Loose meat sandwiches

Let’s start at the origin: the loose meat sandwich.

And the origin of that Midwestern delicacy? Well, as ground beef gained popularity in the 19th century, it became renowned as a nourishing and economical food option: it delivered lots of protein for your money. Fillers (like bread crumbs, ketchup, tomato paste, cheese, etc.) were often added to stretch the meat and the ground beef mixture was then turned into things like meatballs, meatloaves and stews. The loose meat sandwich was just another way of using that meat in a creative manner, one that stretched the meat even further because of the carb-filled bun.

While the name leaves something to be desired, in the Midwest loose meat sandwiches are very much a culinary tradition, particularly in Iowa. If you watched the sitcom Roseanne in the late 1980s and early 90s you may remember the loose meat sandwiches that were served up at the Lanford Lunchbox.

Sloppy Joe’s: A Cuban Specialty?

If there’s one restaurant that has become synonymous with the sandwich, it’s Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida, which opened on December 5, 1933—the day Prohibition was repealed.

Originally launched under a different name, it was none other than Ernest Hemingway who encouraged rebranding the bar as Sloppy Joe’s. But it had nothing to do with a sandwich. Nope, the name was adopted from Jose Garcia Rios’ Havana Club, which sold liquor and iced seafood.

“Because the floor was always wet with melted ice, his patrons taunted this Spanish Joe with running a “sloppy” place,” said Donna Edwards, Sloppy Joe’s Brand Manager. “The name stuck.”

But why do so many people order Sloppy Joes at Sloppy Joe’s? While some say we have that chef back in Sioux City to thank for it, we can’t forget about the Cuban connection.

“A loose beef sandwich was on the menu at the original Sloppy Joe’s in Havana,” confirmed Edwards.

Either way, the Key West version of Sloppy Joe’s has been serving the sandwich since the beginning, Today, the joint sells more than 50,000 Sloppy Joes a year.

The Manwich

Manwich, slush burger, yum yums, dynamite, spoonburgers, tavern sandwich; a Sloppy Joe can be called by many other names. The most well-known however is Manwich. Much as we’d like this to constitute a reference to the SJ being a man’s favorite sandwich, this nickname derives from a brand of canned Sloppy Joe sauce that was launched by ConAgra Foods and Hunt’s in 1969.

Marketed with the slogan “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a manwich is a meal,” it’s no surprise that this one-pan meal became so popular during the 1970s and 80s, and for many years, Americans made their Sloppy Joes straight out of a can.

Sloppy Joe Goes to School

Just like people in the early 20th century saw cooking with ground beef as a smart economical choice when it came to nourishing food, school cafeterias embraced the Sloppy Joe even more firmly than the patrons in Key West. Why? A question of value and nutrition. And so, the messy sandwich got a bad reputation as cafeteria food.

“I think the origination of placing Sloppy Joes on school menus likely came from a need for a fulfilling a hearty meal with a minimal cost,” says Robert Jaber, Director of Office of Food and Nutrition Services for District of Columbia Public Schools. “The Sloppy Joe, if served properly, can be the perfect combination of economics, nutrition, heartiness, and student acceptance – it’s a perfect fit for a school menu.”

But as we all know, it’s rare that kids care about money and nutrition; they just want to eat, which means that ultimately, the popularity of Sloppy Joes is all about taste. “It’s funny—It must just be the mixture of spices and sauce which people love,” says Margo Livingston, Kitchen Manager of Stonepark Intermediate School in Charlottetown, Canada, adding that “with Sloppy Joes you can throw some veggies in there and they don’t know the difference.” As Jaber adds, they’re also “a comfort food, especially in the colder months,” which might be why so many of us have childhood memories of the sandwich.

Sloppy Joe Sandwich Filling

Sloppy Joe Variations to Make On Your Own

As a comfort food, Sloppy Joes are certainly a staple, and while we most often think of them as a cafeteria food, you can find upscale versions at restaurants across the country. From serving the sandwiches with aged cheddar to using challah buns, there’s a different variety depending on what you want. But why wait to go out? Using quality meat, or even chicken, making good Sloppy Joe’s at home is easy and a fun way to incorporate a classic comfort food into your weekly meal plan.

Some ideas for fun spins on a traditional classic:

Add vegetables. Chop up some carrots, dice a red bell pepper, sauté some mushrooms.

Use fresh herbs. A little thyme or oregano will liven up the dish.

Or all kinds of spices. You can change the flavor profile of your Sloppy Joes by adding different spices like cumin, curry powder, or chipotle. You can even try an Asian inspired Joe with Sambal Oelek and Hoisin sauce.

Embrace fusion. You might also want to give Sloppy Joe Tacos or Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese a try.

Make the sauce with wine. Just like a good meat-based pasta sauce benefits from a red-wine base, so will your Sloppy Joes.

Mix in sun-dried tomatoes. You can change up the tomato flavor by using sundried tomatoes in addition to the tomato base in your recipe.

Go vegetarian. Switch out ground beef for a veggie protein.

This post was written by Anna Brones, a food and travel writer based in Paris, France who has a love for bikes, coffee and all things organic. 

Chef Tip: Use Your Microplane Every Day

microplane with citrus

What do shaved chocolate, garlic paste, and freshly-grated Parmesan have in common? Two things: they’re all ingredients that can finish a dish with a powerful punch of flavor, and they can all be easily created at home with a Microplane. 

For most tasks in life, you get out of them about what you get into them. This is true of work, hobbies, and personal relationships. The more the work, the greater the reward, right? This is not true with a Microplane. With this one tool, the effort-to-reward ratio is way out of whack. 

Let us give you an example: grating garlic into a fine paste and then zesting a lemon will take about three minutes with a Microplane. Now put those ingredients in a bowl and toss them with roasted vegetables. In about five minutes you’ve transformed a standard side dish into a scene-stealer. The payoff is almost too good to be true. 

A Microplane can also help you get the most out of your ingredients. Let’s think about those roasted vegetables again for a minute. When it comes to garlic, the finer you chop it the more flavor you can get out of it. One smashed garlic cube will give your dish a hint of mellow garlic flavor. When it’s grated with a Microplane, that same cube can turn a whole tray of vegetables into a pizzeria-flavored delight. For zesting a lemon, this tool will create shavings small enough that they won’t end up getting caught in your teeth. 

The perks don’t stop there. Peeling ginger can be an annoying and wasteful process. If you use a Microplane to grate ginger, you don’t need to peel it first. If you want to tone down the spice in a dish, you can finely grate the peppers. This ensures that no one accidentally gets an extra large chunk of Jalapeño in their lunch. A Microplane is also excellent for grating whole spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Working with whole spices will give you a more powerful aromatic punch than pre-ground cinnamon that’s been sitting in a cupboard for months. 

A Microplane is light and maneuverable, so taking it out is effortless. It’s strong, so it can shred hard cheeses as easily. This thing is basically begging to be used. Try storing your Microplane vertically in a container on your countertop. That way it will catch your eye while you cook, prompting the question: what have you grated today? There’s always something you can finely zest to make dinner a little better, and this tool makes it easy.

the many things you can microplane

Many of the most delightful things in life are not technically essential for basic survival. Fresh ginger doesn’t make a stir-fry more filling, and grating garlic won’t add much nutrition to your roasted vegetables. When you’re cooking at home, It’s easy to skip those little finishing touches that aren’t adding any extra fuel to your plate. Fortunately, with a Microplane, it’s also easy to not skip those steps. Motivation is precious, and with this simple sheet of metal, you can conserve it for more arduous tasks. You’ll barely have time to second guess yourself before you’re making it rain parmesan all over your nightly pasta.

Grab this essential tool for yourself at the Blue Apron Marketplace.

Take a Bite out of Stress

In honor of Stress Awareness Month, we’re looking to foods that have the power to soothe. Sometimes when you’re feeling tense, a conscious indulgence is just what you need to bring you back down to earth. 

Soothing Pantry Essentials 

Chocolate 

A 2009 study measured a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol in subjects that consumed 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks.

Lavender 

The aroma of lavender promotes relaxation. Try baking a lavender shortbread to fill your whole home with this feel-good scent. Scan the code for a recipe. 

Simple shortbread recipe
A quick and easy shortbread

Sweet Potatoes 

The tryptophan in simple carbohydrates can promote production of serotonin, a chemical associated with happiness and a sense of well-being, in your body. Choosing to eat a whole, nutrient-rich carbohydrate like a sweet potato makes this an all-around good decision.

Steaks & Smoky Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemon Aioli
Steaks & Smoky Sweet Potato Wedges
with Lemon Aioli

How to Make Cooking More Relaxing

Cooking doesn’t need to be all about a frantic rush to get dinner on the table. We believe that things will taste a little better if you let yourself unwind and enjoy the process. That means turning off the little voice in your head that’s telling you to hurry up and get things done, and finding a way to be present. If nightly dinners stress you out, try a few of our favorite ways to make cooking more relaxing. 

Turn on some music 

Sometimes all it takes to unwind is a song that you can sing along to. Pop on your favorite playlist or tune into the radio and let someone else pick the tunes. 

Lose yourself in little tasks 

Preparation steps like trimming beans, shelling peas, and picking herbs don’t require much conscious mental effort. Use these moments as a time to relax your mind, and let the repetitive nature of this process soothe you. 

Shaping dumplings is a perfect soothing task

Have a glass of wine 

This is all about enjoying the process, right? Pour a glass of your favorite wine and enjoy a few little sips during those slow moments. 

Ask for a hand

If you’re making dinner, you’re already amazing. There’s no need to be a hero, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Enlisting someone else can help things run smoothly, and it can be a lovely time to catch up on your lives. Friends, partners, and kids can all be excellent sous chefs. 

Make cooking more relaxing with family

Read the whole recipe first 

This is always good advice. Reading the entire recipe before you dive into cooking can prevent stressful surprises. You don’t want to get halfway through the recipe and realize that you were supposed to preheat the oven, or that you’re missing an essential pantry item. Of course, with a Blue Apron box, you’ll always have exactly the ingredients you need on hand.

Eating Well, Not to Lose Weight

cauliflower grain bowl
A shawarma cauliflower grain bowl from the Blue Apron Wellness menu  

All too often, the conversation around healthy eating is centered around weight loss. Eating is about so much more than that! A diet full of healthy foods can improve energy levels, brighten your mood, and have dozens of health benefits. Don’t worry, even with a healthy lifestyle, there’s still room for dessert. We caught up with Registered Dietitian Anne Mauney from the healthy lifestyle and recipe blog fANNEtastic Food to hear how she uses intuitive eating to support her health and get enjoyment from food at the same time. 

eating well with anne mauney
Anne with a balanced, delicious meal

Blue Apron: What are some reasons to eat well?

Anne Mauney: The main reason is to feel good physically and to stabilize energy levels, but it’s important to remember that eating well can mean totally different things to different people. I think that that’s one of the places where people get caught up: there are so many places to find different advice, but eating well for your body might look totally different than eating well for someone else’s body.

It’s more important to tune in and ask yourself, “What foods feel best for me physically, and in what amounts” versus, “what does this random person that I follow online eat” or whatever.

Blue Apron: So what exactly, does intuitive eating mean?

Anne Mauney: I’m a dietitian, and I have always focused on intuitive eating in my private practice with my clients. 

You know how you eat when you’re a kid? You eat when you’re hungry, you stop when you’re full. It’s not that complicated. Over the years, diet messaging comes in, and we find ourselves not always listening to what our bodies are saying.

Intuitive eating is a way to get people back to eating in a way that feels good. It’s about noticing how foods feel for you, and understanding your hunger and fullness levels. Removing the guilt around food is really important too.

Blue Apron:What is a tip that you would give someone who is familiar with the idea of intuitive eating, but isn’t sure where to start?

Anne Mauney: I always have my clients start by looking at their day as a whole. A food mood journal can be really helpful here. This isn’t a diet or weight loss food journal, where you’re putting portion sizes and things like that, but it’s more just a way for people to actually tune in, basically. It’s easy to just get so busy that you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating. You’re getting too hungry. Then once you’re too hungry, you’re overeating as a result, and you feel too full.

Start with a food mood journal where you note what you’re eating, focusing on what your hunger and your fullness levels are. This can be a really helpful tool to look at your day as a whole, and just say, “Are there times of the day that I notice I’m constantly getting a little too hungry, and then, as a result, often a little too full?” Because it’s really hard to eat intuitively or just mindfully if you’re way too hungry. A food mood journal can also be a great way to assess WHY you are getting too hungry at certain times of day. Are meals/snacks too spaced out? Or are you not getting a balance of carbs, fat, and protein at your meals? There’s a lot to explore!

A pattern that I see often is people try to “eat healthy” early in the day, and as a result they don’t eat enough. Then, later in the day, they find themselves bingeing on something in the pantry. It’s not that they have no willpower, it’s just that they literally set themselves up for that by getting too hungry.

Focusing on the hunger and fullness scale, and reacquainting yourself with what that feels like, can be really helpful and a great place to start your intuitive eating journey.

Blue Apron: How do you take that into consideration when doing your own meal planning? 

Anne Mauney: One thing that’s important to me is making sure that all of my meals contain carbohydrates, fats, and protein. I really love that Blue Apron’s wellness meals are really balanced with the macronutrients, because that’s important too.

Often, especially with breakfast, I’ll see people will skip the protein and just have carbs. Then at lunch, people are skipping carbs, maybe just having a salad. If you’re missing different macronutrients at your meals, they’re not going to be as satisfying or give you as much staying power. That can set you up for an energy crash and sugar cravings later on in the day.

Blue Apron: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Anne Mauney: I’m pregnant, so I need two full legit breakfasts. My first breakfast with my toddler around 7:00 AM was a banana, egg, and ground flax seed pancake (here’s the recipe: High Protein Pancake Recipe) that I make a lot. It sounds kind of gross, but it’s really good and it’s super easy—my toddler absolutely loves it too! You basically just mash banana, whisk a few eggs in there, and then put some ground flaxseed in. Your banana is the carb, there’s protein from the eggs, and then healthy fat from the ground flaxseed.

For my second breakfast I had some scrambled eggs in a tortilla with black beans, avocado, feta, and arugula. Again, just making sure you’ve got a different mix of fats, carbs, and protein. I don’t always eat eggs at both of my breakfasts, but it’s what worked today!

Pregnancy changes all the rules of eating. I’ve really had to tune in to all this all over again. Especially with my first pregnancy a few years ago, I really had to just start over, basically, with intuitive eating. The things that I had been eating were just not satisfying me like they normally did, just because I had so much hunger. For me, it’s about just being okay with listening to what your body wants, and if that’s multiple full meals first thing in the day, then I go for it. 

Blue Apron: When we separate the conversation about eating well from the conversation about losing weight, what do we gain?

Anne Mauney: First of all, I think we get back pleasure from food. One of the things that diet culture can make people forget is that food should actually taste good. We should get pleasure from food.

We also gain long-term sustainability. What I’ve found, not only in research, but also in work with my clients, is that it’s just not sustainable to focus specifically on weight loss. You’re not building long-term habits that you can actually continue to do. 

You might be able to follow a more restrictive or extreme approach for a little while, but then you fall off the wagon and boomerang back the other way, which leads to weight cycling. If you’re focusing on eating well with an intuitive eating approach, you can focus on building small, sustainable habits that are going to be things that you can keep up over time.

With more restricted diet approaches, there’s often a lot of guilt involved. When you’re told you shouldn’t eat a certain food, you’re going to want it more. Then what ends up happening is that, maybe you avoid that food for a while, but then eventually you’re going to have it. Then, instead of just having it, and enjoying it, and moving on, you end up feeling really guilty. The “screw it” mentality comes in, where you say, “Okay. Screw it. I’ve already had one slice of pizza. I’m going to have the entire pizza, because I’m never eating this pizza again, because I’m not supposed to eat it.” Restrictive diets naturally leads to this binge/restrict cycle and ultimately to worse health outcomes in the long term.

I always ask my clients to focus on adding rather than subtracting. Rather than thinking about what food or thing to subtract from your diet, try thinking about what you can add to it to balance it out. For example, think about adding veggies, or adding a carb to lunch so then you’re not having sugar cravings later.

Blue Apron: So you don’t consider any foods “forbidden?”

Anne Mauney: I think it’s actually really important to your honor cravings. With diet culture, there’s a sense that “Okay. I have this craving but I’m not allowed to have that food, so I’m going to try and have a lame diet version of whatever it is I actually want.” Then, what happens is you basically end up just binging on something else later because you’re just not satisfied.

If there’s something that you’re really craving, and nothing else is going to satisfy that, then I think it’s important to just have whatever it is you actually want. Put it on a plate, and focus on actually enjoying the process rather than quickly squirreling it away. Allowing yourself to actually get pleasure from that experience rather than having it be shameful. Just be sure you aren’t going into the experience too hungry, because that will make it harder to slowly savor your food and enjoy it! 
If you want to learn more about intuitive eating, I have a post on my blog called “Intuitive Eating While Working From Home” that is quite relevant for a lot of us being homebound right now! I also have an “Intuitive Eating for Runners” specific post, too.

Look for recipes with the Wellness label on the signature for 2 menu to find meals designed in collaboration with nutritionists with your holistic health in mind.

Self-Care Tips to Incorporate in Your Routine

Feeling your best takes more than just making delicious, healthy meals. Blue Apron has dinner covered, and Jess from The Golden Girl is here with self-care advice on five other ways to be kind to yourself.  

self-care tips from jess
Meet Jess, the brains behind the Golden Girl

Go out of your way to give someone a compliment 

I know this seems counterintuitive to put on a self-care list, but I find that sometimes the best way to boost my mood and happiness is to help others. 

It’s hard not to feel great after doing something nice for someone, or completing a simple action that can make a big difference in someone else’s life–even if it’s just giving someone a compliment. (Complimenting doesn’t just benefit the receiver of the compliment, it boosts the happiness of the complimenter, too!) 

This could look like venmoing your friend $5 to buy her a coffee after a rough week, taking a moment to properly thank the person checking you out at the grocery store, donating to, or volunteering for, a cause that is important to you, etc! 

Move for 20 minutes 

I really hate reading “work out” as a tip when it comes to self-care. When I need self-care the most is when working out is the LEAST appealing, so instead, I like to challenge myself to just MOVE for only 20 minutes.

It doesn’t have to burn a bunch of calories, and it doesn’t have to be for very long. It should be something that SOUNDS appealing (not something you have to force yourself to do!) Like going for a walk, or doing a gentle 20 minute yoga flow. Just the act of getting some movement in will make you feel so much better. If you pick something you love, it won’t feel so daunting. 

Escape with a good book 

I don’t know if it’s just me, but watching a TV show just doesn’t provide the same mental benefits that reading does. One of the best ways for me to escape reality is to get lost in a great book. I also think it’s important to read the right book for the emotional state you’re currently in. There’s a time for thrillers, love stories, fluffy books, etc.

Actually take a lunch break! 

There are many amazing benefits to working from home, but one of the drawbacks is that we are often tempted to work straight through the WHOLE day without any breaks. Breaks are so important! We all need them not only for our metal sanity but also productivity. 

Remember that you are always entitled to a lunch break, even if you’re working from home. Be protective of your lunch hour and don’t take meetings during that time, and put your “do not disturb” notification on your work chat. Take that time to indulge in something just for you–watch your favorite show while eating your lunch, paint your nails, or, like I said above, dive into your book for a half-hour! You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel. 

Take time to create something with your hands (that doesn’t involve a screen!) 

This is one of the reasons I love cooking so much–it’s so therapeutic and a great way to unwind, disconnect, and if you’re cooking with a loved one, is a great thing to do together. Not to mention, enjoying something delicious that you made yourself always makes you feel good–it’s a great confidence builder, too! This is why I love Blue Apron so much, it removes the stress of shopping and meal planning, but still allows me to be creative, and most importantly, relax, and enjoy the moment! 

Aside from cooking, it could be knitting, painting, drawing, playing a music instrument, experimenting with photography–whatever! Anything that engages you creatively and allows you to disconnect. Looking for more great ways to take care of yourself? The Blue Apron Wellness menu makes tackling healthful eating easy.

Are Meal Kits Worth the Money?

The average American household wastes between 30-40% of the food that it purchases, according to a study conducted by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Let’s say that your monthly food budget is $400. Wasting 30% of that would mean throwing out $120 each month, and that’s the low-end. Does that number scare you? Don’t worry, we can help. 

dinner with dog
No food waste might mean fewer scraps for your dog

Meal kits like Blue Apron cut down on food waste

It’s that simple! Blue Apron meal kits include everything you need to make a meal, and nothing that you don’t. That means no forgotten produce sadly wilting in the back of the fridge. Each Blue Apron dinner is also perfectly portioned for either 2 or 4 servings. So no more sniffing leftovers and guessing whether or not they’re still good. Boom. Food waste eliminated. 

The best part? While you’re saving money, you can still try new things. Maybe you’ve never had Zaatar, or Calabrian chile, or Togarashi, but you’re eager to try. Buying a whole jar of a spice can be expensive, and most recipes only call for a teaspoon or two. Blue Apron sends you the exact amount of seasoning that you need. There’s no need to make that upfront investment, or to clutter your spice drawer with seasoning you might not use frequently. 

If that’s not enough, think about your time. Time is money, and meal kits save you time. There’s the time you would spend meal planning, the time you would spend going to the grocery store, and the time that you would spend running back to the grocery store when you realize you’re actually out of eggs. Your time is valuable, and Blue Apron can help you reclaim a few precious hours. 

The story doesn’t end here. In addition to saving money, a study from the University of Michigan showed that the food waste reduction and simplified last-mile emissions make Blue Apron a more sustainable option than a home-cooked meal from a traditional grocery store. 

Who doesn’t want to try new things, save money, and help the planet? Accomplish all three by ordering a Blue Apron box here.

Ideas for a Romantic Date Night at Home

date night cheese plate
Nothing says romance like a sumptuous cheese plate

Let’s face it: we’ve been at home for a long time. If you happen to live with your romantic partner, it’s possible that things are getting … a little less romantic than usual. It might feel like a pointless amount of work, but we promise that putting in the effort to get dressed and create a romantic date night at home will help lift your spirits. 

Relationships are personal and unique. No two are exactly the same, but all relationships should have an element of mutual respect. Taking the time to create a special evening together is an easy way to make your partner feel respected and special. Of course, this is about everyone, so split up the work and make sure each partner feels like they’re getting special treatment. 

A date at home doesn’t have to be a lot of work to feel special. Here are some tips from the Blue Apron Team that will help you turn up romance and have fun doing it. 

Easy Date Night Ideas

  1. Light a candle during dinner! Come on, this is romance 101. Just make sure it’s not scented. The aromas from the candle can distract from the aromas in the food. 
  1. Take time to set the table and create ambiance. We all love to eat takeout on the couch sometimes, but for a romantic night at home, you’ve got to bust out the real silverware. Lay out whatever you have that makes sitting down and eating feel elevated. Think placemats, silverware, napkins, your favorite plates, fancy glassware, etc. 
  1. Dress up (or at least put your ‘fancy’ sweatpants on)! Treat your at home date like you would a special night out. Once dinner is done being prepped––finishing in the oven, or warming on a heating tray––pop away from the kitchen to do a quick change. It helps shift your mindset and separate the (work)day and the cooking experience from the lovely shared meal together.
  1. Turn up the music. Set up a playlist beforehand with some of your favorite songs. It’s a great way to set the tone you want for your evening. If you’re cooking a specific type of cuisine, it’s also really fun to put on some music to go with that. Some bistro music or classic Italian tunes will really transport you. and make the whole experience more enjoyable. Dance breaks (preferably at a hands-off cooking moment) highly recommended.
  1. Don’t sign up to cook a stressful meal. Look for dishes that can be made (at least partially) ahead of time, or focus on things that can be served at room temperature. If you choose a dish that you can handle comfortably it will give you and your partner flexibility to enjoy the evening. Being stressed out is not a good look!  
  1. Choose the recipe and read it together in advance. Life is full of surprises, but the cooking process doesn’t have to be. If you read the entire recipe in advance, you can be sure that you know where all your tools are and you won’t be caught off guard by any long resting periods hiding the middle of the recipes. This is also a good time for you and your partner to divide up the tasks. One person can cook the protein while the other preps the sauce, or you can divide tasks by course. 
  1. OR Let a chef choose dinner for you! Not to brag, but Blue Apron meal kits are delicious. If you order a meal from Blue Apron, you and your partner can work with clear instructions to create a chef-designed meal without the stress of finding a recipe or going to the grocery store. If you feel like flexing your creative muscles, you can fill out the menu with your favorite dessert. 
  1. Lay on the compliments. It’s date night! Nothing is overcooked or underseasoned, because everything is cooked with love. Leave your Top Chef judging jargon at the door and focus on the good things in life: romance and second helpings. 

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just celebrating each other, a date night at home can only make things better. Here’s a bonus tip: don’t forget the wine.

How to Have a Virtual Game Day Party

Blue Apron Super Bowl Box Meal Kit
Game day snacks from Blue Apron & Stella Artois

The big game might look a little different this year, but the snacks will be better than ever. 

We’ve teamed up with Stella Artois to create an elevated game-day menu inspired by your favorite stadium bites—because the day’s as much about sharing food and beer as it is about football. Order your Stella Stadium Bites by Blue Apron box and receive a complimentary gift of 4 Stella Artois chalices (ships separately, beer not included). Don’t forget to order your Stella Artois from Drizly ahead of the game (California residents order from Instacart here). 

Tips for Hosting a Remote Football Party

If you look forward to hosting a party every year, here are some winning tips for connecting with friends virtually the day of the big game.  

Show your team spirit 

Decorate with a custom football-themed digital background. Make your own, or just right-click to download one of ours. Don’t forget to share a screenshot with us on social by using #blueapron.

Assemble your roster

Send online invites ahead of the game to make your get-together feel special. Create the digital event ahead of time and include a link in the invitation so everyone knows the game plan.

Cook with a friend

Call up a friend prior to kickoff  to prepare your game-day menu together. Sometimes it’s easier to talk when your hands are busy, and you can help each other troubleshoot if needed. 

Introduce the players on the plate

The most important question at every party: What’s on the menu? Have guests share their favorite items. You may pick up some recipe ideas—and it will give you a chance to show off your Stella Stadium Bites by Blue Apron spread. 

Halftime entertainment 

Supplement the game’s halftime show with a few activities of your own. Coordinate a game, organize trivia, or surprise friends with a special guest. You can hire caricature artists online to draw you and your friends on the field. 

Don’t forget to toast the game with Stella Artois

Pair your delicious bites with the ultimate game-day beer, Stella Artois. 

ORDER NOW ON DRIZLY, CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS ORDER HERE FROM INSTACART

Bonus points: As a gift with purchase, you’ll receive 4 classic Stella Artois chalices! Look for them to arrive separately from your Stella Stadium Bites. To get them in time for game day, order your box by 1/27. If ordered after 1/27, chalices may arrive after the game.

**ALWAYS ENJOY RESPONSIBLY. ©2021 Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A., Stella Artois ® Beer, Imported by Import Brands Alliance, St. Louis, MO.

5 Fragrant Ways to Get Rid of Cooking Smells & Odors

Cinnamon is a natural cooking odor eliminator

There’s nothing more welcoming than the smell of dinner cooking in your home. Unfortunately, after dinner is over, you might not enjoy the smell of a seared steak lingering in your living room. Luckily you have a few options when it comes to eliminating cooking odors. Stock up on scented candles and spice, check out our guide to getting rid of unwanted smells, and don’t let the fear of cooking odors keep you from cooking up the spicy dinner of your dreams.

Ways to Eliminate Cooking Odors

1. Light up your favorite candle

When it comes to scented candles, the options are endless. You can find wonderful options that will make your entire home smell like your favorite spice, citrus, or tree. This is one of the easiest ways to cover up cooking odors. If you’re looking for inspirations, Cupcakes and Cashmere lists their favorite wintry candles here.

2. Bake something

Throwing something sweet in the oven will cleanse the air of any lingering scents from dinner, and also provide you with a sugary treat. If you’re looking for something easy to bake, we recommend one of our five-ingredient sweets like molten chocolate cakes, pear crumble, or pumpkin custards.

3. Brew a spiced drink

Cinnamon is a natural odor eliminator. A vat of mulled wine or homemade hot toddies will fill the air with the aroma of warm spices, but these aren’t just for smelling! Be sure to ladle yourself a cup for a cozy after dinner drink.

4. Create a natural air freshener

If you place a couple of well-chosen ingredients like in a pot of water on the stove, you can create a natural air freshener to eliminate cooking odors. Just select a few of your favorite herbs, spices, or citrus fruits (tip: you can just use the peel), place them in a pot of water, and bring to a boil. The steam that drifts out of the pan will be deliciously fragrant. Check out a few of our favorite flavor combinations here.

5. Rig your fan

If you don’t let smells build up, you’ll have less work to do. Depending on the set-up of your kitchen and your oven fan, you can try setting a fan to blow air out of the window while you cook. Leave the breeze blowing a few minutes after you eat, then turn the fan around and blow fresh air back in.