As the days pass and we get closer to Christmas I want to continue to give you the following 1. music to soundtrack your season, 2. encouraging words to help you feel less alone in a season where it can be so easy to wallow in loneliness, and 3. an array of ideas for this oh so busy season of giving. I will be sharing DIY's, like the "Invitation Keepsake Ornament" found HERE , recipes, decor, multipurpose hacks, small businesses I trust and recommend as well as discounts and deals that I come across. I will also be sharing gifts that I have received or given and would highly recommend. Recommendations is where we will be starting.
I have some of the most beautiful, smart, generous and creative friends that a gal could ever ask for. They keep me reminded of their love and support for me year 'round, but on my birthday they really go above and beyond to make me feel loved and celebrated. This year I received several packages, which is always exciting. I will forever be a child at Christmas when it comes to opening presents. I can't even help it. Blame my mom for making Christmas so awesome. Lol!!
I have a bit of "map key" system when it comes to mail that I receive from my friends. Over the years they have each left their undeniable mark with their mailings. Sometimes my friends forget to put a card in the box saying who the gift is from or a return label that would identify them. It has kinda made getting their mail that much more fun, cause we all know my affection for mail. For example, I have one friend that the return label is usually to an explosives factory, fire extinguisher company, etc. I usually end up texting her asking if I should call the bomb squad to come open this piece of mail. One of my other friends is a momma of three and an Army wife so, to say her hands are always full is a bit of an understatement. However, she never forgets me and for several years in a row her gifts included random parts of toys that her children had thrown into the box with out her knowing. I do my best to get them back to her, but it is hilarious none the less. The text to her usually goes, "are you missing a piece to that leggo battle ship? Cause I think I have it.". Another friend usually tends to forget to put a card in at all. Her goals are usually to drop me a text so I know something is on it's way, but she is a forever busy kind of gal and sometimes that gets forgotten and what usually happens is that it suddenly appears. I rarely actually see the delivery man when dropping off this friends mail. It just appears as if out of no where. The lack of return label or note actually lets me know who it's from. LOL!! She is where this very clever Blue Apron gift came from. When her gifts arrive it usually ends up me texting her asking if she sent (fill in the blank) and her going "I meant to text you!!", LOL!! I love it!! It is something consistent. Something that I have come to expect from them and I love that none of them are the same in their care package mailing ways. It encourages me to be creative in what I send. Anyway, one of my birthday gifts this year was a Blue Apron box.
Blue Apron Egg
Blue Apron is a pre-planned and pre-organized meal delivery. You can order for a family of two or a family of 4. It can be modified for certain specifications such as vegetarian, but all food, ingredients, etc. are assembled in the same space so it is recommended that if you have a severe food allergy that this might not be the service for you. You can order once or you can set up a regular delivery. Blue Apron also offers a variety of supplies, cooking utensils, wine, etc. in their online shop. I received a meal box. It had three meals each serving two so, I had left overs for the next day. The box included three recipes that gave detailed instructions as well as photo's. It also included everything needed to cook the food. Well, everything other than the oil to cook it in, the salt and pepper. My box included a chicken, fish and beef meal each with sides. As I mentioned, each meal has a detailed recipe page, ingredients that are labeled and pre-measured, as well as the meat that each meal centers around.
The box that it is all sent in is layered with a variety of cooling/frozen packing things to keep everything fresh on it's way to your door. I was very impressed by their packaging/cooling system.
Chicken, Potato & Brussel Sprouts
For me this was a great gift!! I sometimes struggle with what to cook/eat. Especially when I am just cooking for me. This gift gave my poor meal planning mind a good rest while technically providing 6 meals. Ya know, seeing as I didn't have to share with anyone. The first meal was baked, breaded Chicken with potatoes and brussel sprouts (pictured above). I absolutely LOVED how everything was already labeled and measured out so that you knew exactly what to add when. It took so much stress out of cooking. I also was so glad that they included a detailed list of ingredients for each recipe and pictures as you follow the instructions. I'm a visual learner so pictures are super helpful for me!!!
My other meals were a fish meal and a beef meal. I didn't get pictures of those because I forgot. My bad. But, the burger was a pimento cheese burger with the side of collard greens. At the moment I am not allowed to eat dairy so, I modified this recipe to better suit my needs by leaving out the pimento cheese. That is another perk to this system. Once you receive your box you can mix and match your items if needed.
All in all Blue Apron is a Stacie Recommended and Discount Diva Approved gift idea for Christmas 2016. When you consider the cost of a restaurant meal, to go meal, or even heading to the grocery to gather up all ingredients for three meals that serve two, this is actually a very cost effect program. Plus they offer discounts for first time customers!
When deciding what to cook for myself, but more so when I have company I have a bit of a rule that I plan by. What am I willing to sacrifice? You are going to sacrifice something, it's inevitable. You will either sacrifice extra finances by eating at a restaurant or ordering to-go food, but that will allow you time with your dinner guest, family/friends, etc. No cooking. No cleaning. No muss. No fuss. Or, you sacrifice time, time spent at the grocery store, time meal planning, meal prepping, actual cooking, serving and then clean up. Taking away from your quality time with your guests or even just your own personal down time. I'm not saying eat out every meal and I'm not saying cook every meal. I'm saying there is a balance and it's up to you to decide what works for you and your family in your day to day. Blue Apron definitely helps out with that decision process now and then.
Blue Apron Recipe Sheets
and Fresh Veggies/Fruit Ingredients
I hope that this little review of Blue Apron helps you if you are considering trying it out or are trying to come up with a creative gift. Happy Meal and Gift Planning!!!