This post was sponsored by Blue Apron.

For about a year now, I have received Blue Apron recipes twice a week. I don’t get them every week. There are some weeks that are so busy that life circumstances don’t allow for much cooking, and I can easily skip those weeks. But I really do love the weeks where we are not as scheduled, and I time allows me to cook.

I have talked about the advantages of Blue Apron in the past, and I still feel the same way. The convenience factor is huge, especially for someone like myself who doesn’t like to shop. But I also think that I have learned a few things in the kitchen as a result of using Blue Apron over the past year. We will call them secondary benefits.

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I’m a better cook. I have mentioned this before, but I truly believe that practicing and following the Blue Apron recipes has made me a better cook. The recipes are advanced. They aren’t too hard . . . I’ve never taken any classes and I’m able to master every dish I’ve been sent. But they are a challenge, and it has really stretched my abilities in a good way.

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I’m better at chopping vegetables. It may seem like a small thing, but in the realm of cooking and preparing meals, it’s a big deal. The practice of using Blue Apron has made me much better at chopping vegetables. I am no longer overwhelmed by the thought of dicing ad onion. I can make quick work of a garlic clove. And chopping ginger? Not a problem. I will confessed to previously being a lazy chef who relied on pre-cut vegetables from the store. But everything from Blue Apron is whole and fresh, and that is no longer intimidating for me.

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I’m better at improvising. On the nights I don’t have a Blue Apron meal planned, I am much better at looking at the things in my fridge and creating a meal than I used to be. This is something that just comes from experience with trying new recipes. The other night, I had a bunch of random vegetables in the fridge. I remembered a Blue Apron meal I had made the week before: a yummy ramen noodle soup. I managed to make a decent replica of it on my own, just by using the things I had on hand.

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I’m more confident at trying new things. The recipes I was willing to try before tended to look pretty similar to things I had already made. But I am much more willing to try something new now. I am no longer daunted or intimidated by recipes that seem complex, or by dishes that call from more than four ingredients.
I like pork. I really didn’t think I did for most of my life, but I have gotten so many amazing pork dishes from Blue Apron that I am now a fan.
I can cook in one pan. Many of the Blue Apron dishes utilize the flavors from one ingredient for cooking another. For example, many times I cook meat in the juices of veggies, or conversely cook vegetables in the “fond” of cooked meat. A simple concept but not one I fully embraced before.

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I’m not as overwhelmed at the idea of a home-cooked meal every night. I used to feel like I needed a lot of time and preparation in order to pull off a home-cooked meal. I’ve gotten faster and more confident, and I’ve also just made it a part of my routine. I avoid the six o’clock shuffle because I am now accustomed to making the time to cook. In fact, I find cooking to be something I look forward to. Which is probably the biggest gift that Blue Apron has given me.

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Try Blue Apron for yourself to see how it can help you to be a better cook. The first fifty readers will get two free meals on their order here.