Review: Blue Apron

When I was working at Google last year, the commute could easily become 1.5-2 hours each way on a bus. So I’d end up leaving on a 6:40am bus, coming home around 6-7pm, even 8pm at times. So naturally, Brian and I ended up eating out a ton. The price and calories start to add up, and you have no control over the ingredients going into your body.

I have a few recipes that I do well, and I sort of just rotate them without experimenting much. When I try something new, I usually do a cost/time analysis. I ask myself How much time and money will it require to make, and will the finished product taste better and be more convenient than if I were to order it out? For example, I love Pad See Ew with crispy tofu, but we live walking distance to at least 5 Thai restaurants, where the meal for two is around $20. Therefore, this is not something I make at home. Does that make sense?

A dear friend recommended Blue Apron, and I figured it was worth a shot. I like the concept: A box arrives one day per week (we picked Wednesday) with the ingredients to make three meals during the week. Everything from a pinch of oregano (which we actually don’t even have stocked) to a couple of cage-free eggs or a cup of organic milk. It arrives in the cutest containers, with color-coded stickers for each of the three meals.

The meals for our week were:

Review Blue Apron_recipes

What I love about Blue Apron is the creativity of the meals. Each recipe has a beautiful card with a picture of the dish on the front (and the ingredients you need) and step-by-step instructions with photos of how to make the meal on the back.

The price for two people to make three meals per week is $60, which ends up costing roughly $20/meal (or $10/serving). This is about what we’d spend out on a quick week night meal out, so I’d say it’s a pretty fair price. The serving sizes are on the larger side, and we were satisfied after each meal.

The pros: 

  • Creative meals that I wouldn’t have thought of myself (they have a culinary team & renowned guest chefs working on recipes)
  • Having the exact amount of ingredients for each meal
  • Knowing exactly what’s going into your body
  • Each serving is between 500-800 calories
  • Spending time cooking with your significant other

The Cons:

  • Weekly choices aren’t always the best (especially if you don’t eat meat)
  • Lots of waste (cardboard box, ice packs, excess packaging)
  • Took us a little longer than the instructions suggested (1 hour or more for each meal)
  • The mountain of dishes to do afterwards

Do I continue to use Blue Apron? When the recipes for the week are outstanding, you bet! If I could order one or two recipes per week, I’d probably do it more often, but three per week is a lot for us. Now that I’m not enjoying the Google perks of breakfast, lunch, and snacks anymore, I’m not able to skip the grocery store completely. So in that respect it just makes sense to plan our own meals.

However, if you’re looking for the perfect housewarming or back to school gift, I’d highly recommend gifting a week of these meals. It’s great if you love to cook or for a fun date/girls night.

If you have any experience with Blue Apron or any other meal service, I’d love to hear about your experience. Any others I should try?


Enjoying Coffee at Home

I love a $5 latte or pour over out as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s nice to save a little money (for your travel fund) and enjoy a cup at home. With the right tools and delicious ingredients, a well-brewed cup of coffee is simple to make at home. Here’s a few tips:

  1. Always buy good beans: Some people love a cup of Starbucks, but I do not happen to be one of them. I don’t ever buy coffee beans at the grocery store; instead I buy from local coffee purveyors. My personal favorites are Tesora (medium roast) by Philz
    or the Oromia, Guji blend by Sightglass. I buy them both in the actual coffee store
    and pick the bag based on when the beans were roasted (which is usually just a couple of days prior). I suggest finding a quality local spot, and I’m sure you’ll
    taste the difference.
  2. Use a quality grinder: If you’re grinding whole beans (which I recommend you do), it’s all about the size of the grind. Make sure you’re making the right size grounds for your coffee maker, and for a smooth cup it’s important that all the grinds are a consistent size. Aficionados will tell you to use a burr grinder, which is a bit expensive. If you use a blade grinder like I do, be sure to grind in bursts. If you pulse the grinder, you’ll get a much more evenly ground result. Different-sized coffee grounds will dissolve at different rates, leaving some grounds under-extracted and others over-extracted. These under- and over-extracted grounds will add sour and bitter flavors to your coffee.
  3. Warm up your coffee mug: We use our electric tea kettle to heat up water and pour it into our mugs for just a couple of minutes while the coffee is brewing. Instead of taking the heat from your coffee to warm up the cup, this method keeps your coffee warmer for longer.
  4. Brew with filtered water: Coffee is mostly made up of water, so it’s important to use filtered water and avoid the minerals and additives in tap water. You don’t have to dump in a bottle of Fiji, but be sure to at least run the tap water through a basic filter. We use a KitchenAid coffee maker with a built-in water filter.
  5. Add fresh ingredients: I drink my coffee black 99% of the time, but on the off chance I use cream or sugar, I specifically use the freshest ingredients. My favorite indulgence is to froth a bit of milk and enjoy a café au lait with a touch of honey for sweetness. Oh, and you can’t forget the warm socks and Biscoff cookies… perfect for a cold and rainy day!

Enjoying Coffee at Home2

Have I missed anything that helps when enjoying coffee at home? Would love to hear your thoughts!

5 Tips For Serving Wine

I’ve done my fair share of wine tasting since moving to California. In fact, my first year and a half was spent working for a wine importer in the Napa Valley. I did the public relations for over 30 brands, working with value wines to the most expensive wine in the world. With the summer holidays quickly approaching, I’m sharing my top 5 tips for serving wine correctly.

5 Tips For Serving Wine_angela

“La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin” 

  1. Drink what you like. Don’t stress over buying the perfect bottle to go with the steak or chicken dish at your barbecue or holiday gathering. You’ll be serving so many diverse dishes that it’s bound to go with something.
  2. Find a trusted wine merchant. Chances are if you’re buying wine from Safeway or Stop & Shop that you’re choosing from the wine labels that are mass produced. Personally, I prefer to look for smaller labels with an interesting story. I really enjoy visiting places like Kermit Lynch (in Berkeley, CA) or Le Dû (in New York City), where I end up spending around the same amount as I would at the grocery store but on a higher quality bottle.
  3. Choose your stemware carefully. A well-made glass will highlight the aroma and enhance the flavor of your wine. Avoid buying cute glasses made of thick glass and opt for a tapered thin glass instead. My favorites are Riedel, Spiegelau or Fusion. You can also find quality stemware at places like Williams-Sonoma.
  4. Serve wine at the correct temperature. Unless you’ve made sangria, don’t ever add ice cubes to a glass of chardonnay. A temperature that’s too warm will emphasize the alcohol, and temperature too cold will mute the flavors and aromas. If you want to get precise, read these tips on the perfect serving temperature by Wine Spectator.
  5. Almost always decant your red wines. I highly recommend decanting your red wines, which will make the aromas and flavors more vibrant. Pour into a decanter for about 30-45 minutes before serving, or at the very least open the bottle early and let it breathe.

5 Tips For Serving Wine_dinner

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 tips for serving wine! If you have any questions or something to add to the list, please leave a comment.