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Blue Apron Experiment

I’ve been curious for a while about Blue Apron and other companies that send boxed and pre-measured ingredients as a way of making cooking more accessible. The idea is that it should be easier, providing recipes with fresh ingredients and giving instructions on how to make the recipe, for three meals a week.

But what I wondered was, what would this be like from a mindful eating perspective? So I decided to give it a try to find out.

One of the first things I noticed with Blue Apron is that you choose your plan, which is either for two people or a family. (No options for us singletons.) So the amount of food I got for two people was quite substantial for one person. Here’s the spread of ingredients.

The other tricky part about ordering is that you don’t get to choose what you want. You have a little flexibility in being able to identify if you’re vegetarian, or don’t eat fish, but anything more specific is lost. So this gave me limited choice in what I wanted to eat. (Note that I’ve seen ads for other, similar companies that have more flexibility, such as being gluten-free, or choosing from a variety of menu items.)

I was inspired to try plating the food in a pretty way, to match the photo, but this is when I ran into another problem – the portion sizes. What I cooked was supposed to be for two people, but I couldn’t help noticing that it seemed like it would serve more than that. What I was able to fit onto my medium-sized plate was between a quarter and a third of the recipe.

Even at that, I struggled with the sense that I should be eating a certain amount of it, because I knew that the portions were supposed to be divided evenly in two. So didn’t that I mean I needed to eat the full half? But what if I wasn’t hungry for it? Normally I do a pretty good job of not giving in to this mindset, but somehow I found it harder in this situation and overate on a couple of occasions.

I also found that I was a little frustrated by all the packaging, and the length of time each recipe took to make, which was consistently longer than what was listed on the website. And while the ingredients I got were very fresh, I did think about the fact that they were coming all the way across the country, when I have wonderful fresh produce available from the local farmers’ market.

Overall, while I found it an interesting experiment, I don’t think it’s an approach that works so well for mindful eating, at least for me. I suppose with practice I might do better at ignoring the suggested portion sizes, but that doesn’t help with the limited options of what I wanted to eat. So for now, I think I’ll stick with choosing my own menu, based on local ingredients, and making the amounts I want to eat, and leave the pre-set options to others.

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