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Dec 29, 201610:27 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Apron Strings and Menu Planning


I read an interesting article recently by Brian Barth at Modern Farmer. The article was about “meal-kits,” the primary example of which is Blue Apron, a service started by, among others, a former chef at the Ur-Foodie restaurant Chez Panisse.

The idea behind Blue Apron and similar operations is that you will receive all of the ingredients for a meal, with detailed instructions on how to prepare everything, without the burden of going to the grocery. I have been skeptical, and it’s still not something I would do, but Barth’s article gave me a different perspective. I didn’t realize that some, if not most, of these companies are sourcing their ingredients from small, local farms.

I am not a hippy, and I do not believe that we can solve the world’s problems if we all go “back to the land.” Large-scale farming makes it possible for us to eat a more varied and nutritious diet than at just about any time in human history. That is, if we want to.

Because for all of the abundance that modern agriculture gives us, a lot of people still don’t have access to fresh produce, or simply prefer to eat prepared foods. To the extent that you decide to order a fast-food pizza instead of cooking because you don’t have the time to shop for ingredients, cook and then clean your kitchen, maybe services like Blue Apron can help.

I tend to shop at my local Rouse’s several times a week. I simply don’t have the sort of mind that’s capable of planning meals for a week, and shopping accordingly. When I’ve tried to do that, I’ve ended up with a lot of unused meat and produce. But I recognize that I’m very fortunate, in that one of my local Rouse’s is three minutes from my office, and only 10 from my home. I spend a lot of lunch hours there, and while that means I don’t get to actually eat lunch, I do get to cook something for my family when I get home.

And what I get to cook is what looks good, or what I feel like making, or what I know my kids will eat. It’s not pre-ordained, and I’ve had the opportunity to select everything that’s going into the meal. I am jealous of people who can menu-plan a week or more in advance. I would love to be able to do that, but apart from staples like milk, eggs, butter, chicken hearts and bread, I can’t say from one day to the next what my kids will eat, let alone what I’ll feel like cooking.

I’m curious, though, and would appreciate your comments and/or emails: how often do you shop for groceries? Because I am starting to wonder whether it is normal for me to recognize all of the people who work at the three Rouse’s I regularly visit, and I am also starting to wonder whether those same people think, “that guy shops here too much.”

I am also curious whether you have used a service like Blue Apron, and if so, why, and whether you liked it? I’d love to follow up on this post with some comments, so please let me know your thoughts. 



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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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