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The perks of meals by mail

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I have a confession: I miss my Blue Apron account.

I know, I know, I’m a bad Carbondalian. I live right at the roundabout, too, so I’m within walking distance from the City Market and a quick ride (it’s a Prius, promise!) from Mana Foods, but I almost never shop at either.

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That’s because since moving here, I almost never cook. Back when I lived on the Front Range, I’d have a dozen people over for Sunday “family dinners,” but I had a secret weapon behind my hostess-with-the-mostess cred: Trader Joe’s. For less than $50, I’d have enough pop-in-the-oven appetizers to please any palette (and in Boulder, they were all present). But I’d also try to make at least one honest, basically from scratch main attraction for everyone to share.

Here, our close-knit vibes mean I don’t have to make a Facebook event to share a meal among friends. I just have to go to Carbondale Beer Works. Or Mi Casita. Or the Pour House. Or… you get the idea. Chances are, my friends will already be at whatever venue I wander into on a particular evening. It’s nice and all, but I’m also hemorrhaging money going out to eat all the time.

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So, I decided I was going to cook again. But I’d look up some extravagant recipe I wanted to try, and by the time I was at the checkout line with the myriad ingredients required to make said showstopper, my bill would be more than it would have been if I’d treated myself to a night at Allegria.

Undeterred, I’d come home and pull out my Pampered Chef collection. I’d chop and prep. I’d set timers. And in the end, I’d have a killer meal. I’d also have two thirds of my groceries left — a collection of foodstuffs designed to perfectly combine into this one, specific meal. I’m a recipe girl; I wasn’t blessed with the kind of creativity that allows a chef to look at a random hodgepodge of produce and create something new and scrumptious. No, I’m the kind of girl that needs a baseline. Tell me what to do, and then I’ll add a few bespoke touches and call it almost mine.

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And so, having spent just as much as I would have had I just done what I really wanted — go out to one of our fine eateries and let a professional feed me — and with much, much more waste than if I’d just risked not entirely finishing my meal at a restaurant, I gave up.

Enter Blue Apron. For $59 a week, a box would show up every Thursday, full of high-quality ingredients in the exact amounts required for the three included recipes. And the portions were almost always big enough that the love of my life and I would have leftovers for lunch.

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There were only two drawbacks. First, while I wasn’t wasting food anymore, I was significantly increasing the amount of packaging involved in my groceries. Blue Apron has a send-back process in place to reduce the waste, but I don’t think we ever utilized it. Second, the recipes provided great baselines, but unless your tastes are particularly Caucasian, you’d probably find most of the meals kind of bland if made exactly as instructed (I recall getting a curry recipe that didn’t actually involve any curry powder, for instance…).

So, we cancelled. We swore we were going to get better at just making ourselves go to the grocery store. And we did — for about a week. Now I’m back to hemorrhaging.

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