“Boxed Cooking Experience”

We’ve been using Blue Apron throughout the past year or so, and most recently, we made their Swedish-style turkey meatballs. I told the kids that we were having meatballs for dinner like the ones we get at IKEA, and I got cheers in response. “YAAAAYY!” Then Brandon was like, “um, you better tell them that they aren’t exactly the same meatballs.” (You know how kids can be sometimes with food and expectations and such.) I did, and they were still on board! Cooking time.

Blue Apron Ingredients

Chopping Kale

Cooking on the Antique Stove

The dinner turned out perfectly. Do you use ground turkey very often? Whenever we make meatballs, we’ve always used ground beef, but I couldn’t tell the difference. I suppose this is healthier, right? Right. (All of their meals are chef-designed and between 500-700 calories per serving.) The kids loved ’em too.

Swedish-Style Turkey Meatballs

My Goof

You can skip deliveries any time you’d like, but I wasn’t thinking properly about my schedule last week. We get the Family Plan that comes with two meals, each for four people. We made the Swedish meatballs dinner right away, but then I went out of town the next night! It was the first trip I’d gone on since having Calvin. Brandon’s great at holding down the fort and taking care of the kids, but having all three (and dealing with a baby that’s not fond of taking a bottle) was going to be rough, so he gave our other meal (pan-seared steaks and salsa verde) to his mom. I’ve talked about Blue Apron with my mother-in-law before because she knew that we had been using it, but I don’t think she realized how good the food is until she tried it herself. I got this photo from her while I was away.


Subject line: “Boxed cooking experience.” (LOL.) Email text: “WOW!” (Also, how fun is she? I love that she thought to take a picture.)

Blue Apron adds new recipes every week and we’ve always been impressed by how tasty they are. I wish I was better at planning meals and searching out new things to make, but the truth is, I’m just not. It isn’t one of my strengths, so I love that they make getting a good dinner on the table easier. I want to try making their chilaquiles some time too; I love it but have never made it myself! Same with Thai food, like their spicy thai chicken noodle soup. I would love to know how to make it at home instead of relying on take-out.

Blue Apron is available nationwide with free shipping to over 80% of the country. If you want to try the service out, they’re offering the first 50 readers two meals off of their first Blue Apron order for free! I think it’s such a smart solution for people like us who want to cook, but aren’t great at sitting down to plan everything out and come up with new ideas every week. They’ve made our dinners so much better.

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  • Jeanne
    April 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I would LOVE to try Blue Apron – please push them to deliver to New Mexico and the Entire Middle of the Country! Thanks.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 29, 2015 at 9:56 am

      I suspect it has to do with shipping foods that require refrigeration within certain timeframes, but I’m sure they’re working on it!

  • GG
    April 28, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I’ve been experimenting w/Blue Apron lately too. I made the Spicy Thai Chicken Soup and it is by far one of my faves. I’ve made chilaquiles before just using leftover rotisserie chicken, tortilla chips and a homemade tomatillo sauce. Top w/feta or farmer’s queso and it is a really quick and fun meal. I like pulling the Blue Apron vegetarian recipes and using them to supplement the other meat-based meals I’ve ordered for that week, that way there’s enough leftover for me to bring to lunch.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 29, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Oh, see that sounds easy. I’m honestly terrible at improvising something good to eat! Leftover chicken is just leftover chicken to be eaten the same way to me.

  • WES
    April 28, 2015 at 11:09 am

    For your question about using ground turkey often….yes I do. I will sub it for things where there is a lot of spices used. So I will use ground turkey in chili since there are so many rich spices that I don’t notice a difference between ground beef and ground turkey. I also do it with store bought meatballs because of allergy restrictions, the turkey meatballs don’t have egg in them where as the ground beef ones do. But when I make meatballs at home I generally do ground beef. I will use it in replace of ground chicken for my Chicken Normandy recipe because I find it difficult to find ground chicken.

    I don’t use ground turkey as a substitute for ground beef for either hamburgers or meatloaf.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 29, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Makes sense, thanks! So in a dish like this where the spices are so up front, the meat substitution isn’t so noticeable.

  • Jane
    April 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I’m quite curious about Blue Apron, the meals always look delicious and you’ve got me craving Swedish meatballs. One question though – I assume, reading between the lines (when you mentioned giving the other dish to your mother-in-law because Brandon would be home alone with three kids) that you wouldn’t recommend this as a ‘quick and easy for single parents’ type of thing? Are these more for when you’ve got plenty of time in the kitchen and not too many tots running around?

    • wooly
      April 29, 2015 at 5:32 am

      It looks to me like they don’t pre chop anything for you – unlike some other pre-packaged meal services. So, that could make it more time consuming. The one I use chops everything for you and sauces are pre-mixed.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 29, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Right, they don’t pre-chop anything, so there is a little bit of prep to be done. Really though, we were just concerned because this was the first time Brandon would have all three kids for several days by himself. Calvin never took easily to a bottle, but now he flat out refuses it (we’ve gotten him to at least get his milk from a sippy cup), so it was going to be a bit of a challenge to keep him happy.

  • The Office Stylist
    April 28, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve heard about Blue Apron lots of times but I haven’t gotten around to try it. I think this could be a super fun way to get the family cooking together. Everything looks so delicious!

  • Lauren
    April 28, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    This is the last time I will read your blog. I’m sorry, I’ve held on as long as I could but now I just feel exploited. Of the last ten posts, half were sponsored posts, three were just links to other people’s creative endeavors, and two were original content– yesterday’s post and the one about trying out rugs. Talk about making your readers feel like you’re just using them for ad revenue (this on top of naturebox? yikes.). I get that this blog supports your family, but there used to be rich, meaningful content for readers as well. That’s WAY fallen by the wayside.

    You may not care about losing one reader, I get that. But I did genuinely love your blog and found it as a real source of inspiration, so I’m writing this out of sadness. I do hope that in addition to teaching your students how to make money blogging you also teach them to take care of the long time readers that helped get them to the point that they *can* make money from their blog.

    Best wishes.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 29, 2015 at 10:05 am

      I’m sorry, I hadn’t thought about the frequency in that way. There are a lot of sponsored opportunities coming my way right now, and I’m saying yes to the ones that I feel are a good fit and trying to schedule everything out so that there isn’t more than one a week. I got a bit overwhelmed with some other things that have come up lately though, so I haven’t been able to get five posts up per week as I’d like to, and it tips the balance toward being more sponsor-heavy. I’m sorry to lose you, but thank you for calling it to my attention. I’ll be more mindful of how it feels for my readers moving forward.

      • AS
        April 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm

        I’m going to echo Lauren’s sentiments upthread. I keep coming back and trying to find content that is entertaining and aspirational and useful. I’ve been a quiet reader for years and I follow you on all social media. I’m tired of being web traffic for a blogger to parlay me into an array of content sponsorships that don’t bring value to your brand or to the reader experience in your context of “Transforming the So-So”
        I understand as a business owner that sometimes the day is not long to address everything on the to-do list. But these sponsorship opportunities are there because you have an audience that cares and wants to consume what you have to say as Making it Lovely. I care, I promise… or I wouldn’t be telling you this. It’s not coming from a place of anger, more from a place of disappointment and honestly upset at how big corporations have spoiled this medium for people who were daily readers of the content. I’m boycotting the NatureBoxes and Blue Aprons and lightbulb peddlers.

    • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
      April 30, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      Well …. h-e-l-l-o. Are you an 9 year old Lauren?? Who is insisting, or forcing you or anyone else to purchase a product? NO!! So, skip the advertisement(s)! For blog-sponsorships (what I refer to them as) another way to bring insight to folks. Maybe make a mini living. There are many great products in USA! Ask Martha Stewart!! Got to be grateful about that Lauren. Your text is too angry. Not necessary. (“I’m sorry???” Why are you apoligizing? Immature.) Jeesh.

      • Kaite
        May 3, 2015 at 6:04 pm

        The only problem is, by skipping sponsored posts, I’m skipping at least half of the entire blog. Or just constantly scrolling for something (anything?) that isn’t sponsored, or an ad, or a link to some other website. I mean, you have to really work to find something written by her that isn’t advertising something else.

        Honestly, Lauren has a point. I feel like ad revenue when I read this, and the posts that ARE original content are about stuff way way WAY out of my price range. I feel like this blog used to have great, original content, but’s that’s kind of gone out the window. Nicole isn’t FORCING anyone to buy a product, but reading her blog just feels like watching an endless commercial loop. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I find myself coming here less and less.

    • Jenny
      May 15, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Nicole has a young baby and didn’t take much of a maternity leave. I think she can be forgiven for a few posts that are lighter on content. It’s also a lot harder to make money blogging than it used to be. (Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge has written about this in a thoughtful way, if you’re interested), so bloggers are needing to do more sponsored content.

  • JC
    April 29, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I also have 3 children, and because mine are substantially older than yours at 13,1 and 9 I’m actually now very good at meal planning, shopping and cooking each week. It takes time, you’ll get there! I nursed all 3 to 12 months so I get the frenzy that evenings are at your house. Anyhow……..for those of us at the other end of the spectrum I was happy to see that Blue Apron includes downloadable PDF files of their recipes! I printed out Baked Empanadas de Picadillo and it will go into my dinner rotation next week. My point is, the service can meet the needs of those of us who are not in a position to require delivered meal solutions! YAY, everyone wins.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 29, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Yes, I love that the recipes are available for everyone! It makes the service valuable to people in different ways.

  • Nic
    April 29, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I’ve been doing Blue Apron when I’ve been feeling uninspired. I really like trying their meals with ingredients I can’t pick up at a normal market so I usually end up with a lot of the asian-inspired meals which works for me. And the portions are huuuuuuge.

    Otherwise, I’ve also been doing The Fresh 20 meal plans because their grocery list is limited and they keep me eating non-processed foods consistently.

    I also use Instacart to deliver my groceries which helps make it possible for me to cook a lot. Sounds like I have a whole team of people helping me with dinner lol.

  • sara
    April 29, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I was so bummed to find out that Blue Apron does not accommodate for food allergies. (My little guy has a peanut allergy.) Friends have been raving about their service, and I wish we could try too!

  • erin
    April 30, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I just wanted to weigh in on the above discussion and say that (as another long-time reader–since Eleanor was just a couple of months old!) I don’t mind the sponsored posts. I have always thought you handle those types of posts well, considering how potentially awkward and polarizing they can be. I remember reading one post of yours (I think it was for Mrs. Meyers) and not even realizing it was sponsored until the very end. Very well done! Ha!

    I haven’t been counting the past posts to see how much was original and how much wasn’t, but I suppose I don’t consider sponsored posts to be unoriginal. You still have to try the product, write about it, agonize over whether people will be offended by it (or is that just me? Because that’s totally what I’d be doing.) Anyway. My point is I believe you’re a thoughtful person and you care about your readers, and you’re approaching the sponsored content the same way.

    Oh, and I honestly liked the lightbulb posts. I loved seeing the difference they made.


    • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
      April 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      I {{heart}} sponsored posts! Live and learn is my motto. Fun to try. Lightbulbs are great! No complaints here. Ha!

  • Amy
    April 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I’m a little confused. It says they give you 3 meals a week. Do you get all three meals on the same day? And do most people only get the option of the meals being sent on wed, thur, fri, sat? Why cant I choose monday or tuesday?

  • Marcee ... ILLINOIS
    April 30, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    For some reason ground turkey tastes bitter to my buds. We do not buy beef or pork. Instead, I use all white ground chicken. A bit dry yes ….. olive oil to the rescue! Last weekend, a craving for meatloaf was on my brain. Very delicious with gc. Add whatever spices, etc you enjoy tasting. I made a glaze of 2 teaspoons melted butter, ketchup, brown sugar + honey, plus spoonful of apple cider vinegar. Green peas, carrots, mashed potatoes made a fab meal. A small dinner salad works also. Leftovers are perfect for cold sandwiches later in the week!

  • Kelly
    May 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I went to sign up but sadly they do not have just a true vegetarian plan. When I was selecting my preferences, I could uncheck beef, pork, lamb, shellfish, and fish but that is it. Once I was done unchecking it said it would poultry and vegetarian meals.

    It is probably for the best since the price would be a bit high for a vegetarian meal. I do wish there was a similar service that considered vegetarians a bit more and even adjusted the price for those of us who aren’t getting the steak or shrimp or whatever. Any suggestions of other companies?