We did something super fun when my extended family was here over the holidays …we had our second annual cook-off together! We initially came up with the idea after a little Blue Apron box faux pas (read on for the details), but it ended up being such a great way to switch up an ordinary dinner so I’m excited to share the details in today’s sponsored post. I think this one is proof that good things do happen on accident sometimes – I really hope this will be something you try at home!
How Our Annual Cook-Off Came To Be
Let me quickly explain how the idea came together in the first place. Over a year ago our long-time sponsor Blue Apron wanted to send us some meals to try. But for some reason when the box arrived it contained three dinners that would only serve two people not four (first world problems, I know!). I was not sure what to do because most week nights I barely have time to make one wholesome dinner for the four of us, much less two separate meals to feed everyone! So after discussing the dilemma with my husband (who CAN cook, by the way!) we decided to make the best of it.
We picked a night, roped in the kids, and divided them into two “teams” with us, each making one of the meals. Incidentally we ended up having a blast (and, full disclosure, making a huge mess too!) and immediately decided how super fun it would be to do this again with extended family in town over the holidays. Especially with cooking competitions being all the rage on TV these days, what a fabulous way to truly interact with family members (or friends) rather than just sitting around together!
For about two seconds I considered coming up with the meals and buying all the different ingredients myself when I realized that would take me FOREVER (especially on top of preparing for the holiday dinner!). So the obvious answer was to instead order another Blue Apron box (with four servings this time), which we did, and I’m excited to share how it went for the second year in a row with my family this time (last year we did it with my in-laws).
The Best Part Of The Cook-Off
Well, the best part was really twofold …first, as I mentioned, it was a unique way to get everyone (of all ages!) interacting and having fun together. And second, I was especially excited about getting my niece and nephew in the kitchen with us. The few times a year we’re together it’s normally hard to compete with cousin playtime (for the little one) and, as with any typical teenager, devices (for the older one!). So it was really special that we could all enjoy something together like this.
Speaking of my teenage niece, she does not spend a lot of time in the kitchen at home (or, like most teens, anywhere outside of her room – ha), so I was pleasantly surprised to learn she was actually EXCITED to do the cook-off with us. We all had fun as I mentioned, but best of all it gave her the confidence she could create a wholesome meal all by herself. Afterward she even asked if she could take home her team’s recipe so she could surprise her parents by making it all by herself for them (which they loved, of course)!! Now that is a WIN.
And much to my surprise even my super cute 10-year-old nephew was thrilled to participate. He wanted to be sure I got some really good pictures of him chopping away in our “onion glasses” because he said he’d never chopped an onion before. While my daughters were like “okay, enough mom with the pictures,” this not normally photogenic boy wanted to make sure I was documenting this as much as possible! So sweet.
How To Put Together Your Own Cook-Off!
Putting together a fun gathering like this is honestly easier than it sounds! I really hope you’ll try it and come back to let me know how it goes.
What you need…
- A willing group of family and/or friends
My recommendation is a minimum of 6 and maximum of 9 – depending on how big your kitchen is!
- Fairly divided teams
We had three teams and made sure there was at least one adult on each team. We also had an odd number (7) so we put the two littlest kids together with me to balance things out.
- Cooking Supplies
Make sure you have at least three pots, pans, cutting boards, knives, etc. (or borrow what you don’t have!).
- Food, of course!
As I mentioned the easiest way to do this is to just order a Blue Apron box (see special discount below), although if you have the time you could of course come up with the meals and ingredients yourself. If you order the box of meals be sure it will arrive a day or two before your cook-off.
– For a smaller group of 6 or 7 – get the box of three meals that serves two each
– For a larger group of 8 or 9 – get the box of three meals that serves four each
- Recipe assignments
I let the kids draw numbers to decide which team could pick their recipe first from the three choices. They thought this was fun. :)
- Goal for completion
We decided on a time that everyone should try to have their meal ready.
- A scorecard (optional!)
Just for fun I printed out simple score cards and had everyone rate each meal based on different categories (finishing on time being one of them!). At the end we added up the scores and announced the winners and OH how the winning team was thrilled about their new status. I didn’t have prizes, but definitely an idea for next time.
More About Blue Apron
Blue Apron sends you a box of fresh (perishable) dinner ingredients to your door. Here’s what to expect…
- Ingredients (and easy-to-follow recipes) delivered in a refrigerated box in exactly the right proportions.
- Two types of plans: 2 or 4 servings.
- All meals can be prepared in 40 minutes or less.
- New (to you) recipes and cuisines to get you out of your dinner rut! Each week, they have 8 meals to mix and match from. Your choice!
- There’s no commitment – you can skip or cancel the service at any time.
- They now offer a recycling program for your packaging and are working to develop a sustainable food system.
Updated discount for the 2017 holidays
The first 100 of you to sign up will get $30 off of your first Blue Apron order – so act fast if you want to try it!