Blue Apron v. Plated v. Home Chef v. Hello Fresh

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Lo and I are no strangers to cooking.

But sometimes you get tired of making the same old things, and the process of finding recipes on Pinterest, narrowing them down to a few specific meals, making a grocery list of ingredients, picking them up, forgetting something, going back to the store, then trying to pull up those recipes again to actually make the things…..is daunting, to say the least.

So we decided to try out one of these new fangled food boxes…4 different ones, actually.

And I’m going to tell you what we liked and didn’t like about each one.

(I’ll even tell you which is our favorite and why, so if you’re into spoilers go ahead and scroll allllll the way down for that part.)

Similar things about all 4 services:

  1. You get all the ingredients you need for 3 meals for 2 people, for what breaks down to about $10/person/meal
  2. They include step by step recipe cards on how to prepare each thing
  3. Each has an online dashboard where you can “skip” weeks that you don’t want to receive deliveries, and in most cases you can customize your meals to a certain extent

But each box had it’s own pro’s and con’s:

BLUE APRON

This was the first box we ever tried, and cards on the table: it’s been about 2 years since we’ve ordered this, so things might have improved. Overall we didn’t find the recipes to be very flavorful, and the ones that involved meat didn’t seem to have quite enough meat included for us to really feel full. (Note: my friends Aly and John said they got this box recently and that the portions were big enough for leftovers, so it sounds like Blue Apron likely responded to customer feedback and made some improvements since then). What we DID like, was that the instructions were really fun and very step by step. So we learned some cool cooking techniques, most notably, PLANTAINS ARE SO EASY TO COOK AND SO GOOD. I still make them regularly as a side dish.

PLATED

One week is a hit. One week is a miss. Lots of instances where things were missing or proportioned incorrectly so if you’re not paying attention you can definitely use too much of something and ruin the dish. They also recently launched an online store for cooking related products and gear, which I guess is a convenient upsell for people who are completely new to cooking. Not my fave, though, clearly.

HOME CHEF

After getting Blue Apron and Plated, I created a binder with clear page protectors to save the recipes we really loved for future use. It ended up becoming the best cookbook ever. But then we got Home Chef, and our first box included a binder, and all of the recipe cards are hole-punched already, which I thought was a really smart and cool added bonus. Overall: the meals were pretty simple – some so simple I couldn’t imagine they would even taste good – but it’s all so well-thought out that even basic things were very flavorful. The only down side was that we felt there were too many unimportant steps included in the recipe breakdown. i.e. things that took 3 separate steps / pots could easily be combined into one step / pot.

HELLO FRESH (THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE)

I keep going back and forth, but all things considered this one is my favorite. Firstly, they keep the recipes fairly simple and don’t overcomplicate the steps. If she can be cooked together at once, they tell you to do it that way. Still lots of fun, minus theatrics. They also do a good job with portions and overall food freshness, and I know this is a small thing but it really makes the process more convenient: they package the ingredients for each meal together. So you don’t have to manually sort things and then try to figure out how to place them together in your fridge so that you know what’s what.

If you’re interested in trying the food box concept in general, I’d recommend signing up for each on different weeks so you can weigh your own pro’s and cons.

Plus, they all have special discounts for first time signups, so initial boxes are heavily discounted.

 

3 Things I Forgot About Yoga

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Yesterday I went to my first yoga class in almost 2 years.

That’s a long hiatus considering how often I was going for years…

But I just turned 31, and decided that it’s time to start prioritizing my health again.

So I found a studio near my new house, looked up the class schedule, and found a one hour evening flow class, and booked (and paid for) my spot online to make sure that I didn’t punk out.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

photo from a few years ago @ Life Yoga Studio in New Orleans – by Suzy rivera

Sure, I’ve taken lots of classes in the past, but I’d never been to this particular studio before, and I had no idea what the instructor would be like, or if I’d walk into a room full of handstanding, pretzel-bodied yogis prepped for a way more advanced class than I was ready for.

I reminded myself that everyone starts somewhere and tried to quiet the self-judgement going through my head.

Still – I almost didn’t go…

As I approached the front door, I was super confused about how to get inside….was there a class going on right on the other side of the door that I couldn’t see? Should I knock? Try the door? Wait for someone else to arrive and see what they do? No. I read the sign. It says “enter through side gate.” *whew*

I walked through an unexpectedly cute and spacious garden before entering the small studio.

Immediately, I was greeted by the warmest, friendliest handshake and ‘nice to meet you’ from the instructor, Katherine.

With still almost 30 minutes til class time, she showed me around and let me get set up in the shala.

Inhale.

Exhale…

And then something really really magical happened.

In this empty room that I’d never been in before, all alone, I suddenly felt completely relaxed, safe, and at home.

That’s when I remembered what I loved so much about this practice, but somehow forgot…

Yoga people are really fucking nice

As the room filled up and my self-consciousness of being 15 pounds heavier than my last practice kicked in, I was actually relieved that other students offered friendly, genuine ‘hello’s!’ as they entered. Throughout the practice, no one was there to show off or ‘outdo,’ we all just breathed together.

There’s always something new to learn

When class began, the instructor announced that we’d be spending the entire class working up to one, single, challenging pose. SHIT. As the class progressed, I was fairly certain it was going to be Eagle Pose – one that I’ve always found not just difficult, but super uncomfortable once I was able to get into it. Nothing about this pose ever made sense to me. I wanted to UNWIND, not feel like I was being tied into a knot. But guess what I found out: it was uncomfortable because I’d been doing it wrong the whole time. Katherine broke down the pose into such individual components that I was able to see the difference between what I was doing (squeezing my shoulders and hips and everything else into a tight knot in order to hold the pose) and how it’s supposed to be done (relaxing the shoulders and hips and pressing the elbows and knees together with a gentle lift). Towards the end of class, we were all in Eagle Pose, and I felt my back begin to actually stretch out, and it felt so amazing that I almost cried with relief.

Yoga classes are like mini retreats for the soul

I walked into class exhausted from the work day and super stressed out. With every exhale, all of that melted away. And when it was over, I walked out clear-headed, relaxed, and yet energetic. I felt…happy.

In the past, this excitement would have fueled me to immediately sign up for a daily yoga challenge package or build some kind of unrealistic practice schedule.

But one thing I have learned about myself over the past few years is that I constantly set unrealistic goals, and then feel disappointed in myself when I don’t reach them…

So for now, I’m easing back in slowly, one week at a time.

 

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