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This Is What I Struggle With Most As An Empty Nester

Blue Apron for empty nesters

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. As always, all ideas and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

While our youngest son Sten still lives at home with us, he’s also an adult with his own life and schedule. So we’re nearly empty nesters, and adjusting to our new lifestyle has presented some unique challenges!

But today I’ve partnered with Blue Apron to share my story about those challenges, especially the ones I’ve encountered in the kitchen, and what I’ve been doing to overcome them and rebuild my cooking confidence. I’ll also be sharing some useful tips that can make cooking easier for empty nesters, plus a great offer from Blue Apron that you definitely won’t want to miss!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

The Challenges Of Adjusting To An Empty Nest

As parents, we’re accustomed to our lives more or less revolving around the needs of our kids. We invest a considerable amount of our time and effort into feeding them, teaching them, shuttling them to and fro, and doing our best to keep them safe and healthy.

But eventually, the time comes when our kids are old enough to leave the nest. Transition between life as full-time parents and life as empty nesters can be unmooring, so much so that many parents experience feelings of sadness, loneliness, and even loss of purpose, otherwise known as “empty nest syndrome.”

Even though my job keeps me busy and my kids live close enough that I still see them fairly regularly, adjusting to being (almost) empty nesters has still been a challenge in many ways. And as surprising as it sounds, the challenge I’ve been struggling with most recently is cooking!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Struggling In The Kitchen

I’ve spent the last two to three decades cooking for a family of six, which means I’m pretty set in my ways in the kitchen. So after a few months of attempting to cook dinners for two to three people (including myself, my husband Dave, and sometimes my youngest, Sten), it has become clear that I have no clue how to cook meals for just a few adults!

The pandemic has only heightened this problem, because I’ve been cooking almost every night since we haven’t been eating out as often. My once trusty and reliable family-favorite recipes have been filling our fridge with leftovers that go uneaten, and at this point we’re all bored to tears of the same meals we’ve been eating for months!

It recently got to the point where I knew something had to change. I’ve had great experiences with Blue Apron in the past, so I decided to order a few meals, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Why Blue Apron Is Ideal For Empty Nesters

After a couple of weeks of cooking Blue Apron meals for our new smaller crew, I only wish I had thought of it sooner! Here are just a few of the benefits I’ve experienced while using Blue Apron over the past few weeks:

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Convenience

Life these days is plenty complicated, and stressing about what to make for dinner certainly wasn’t helping me relax. Getting everything I need to make two or three Blue Apron meals shipped right to my door takes a lot of pressure off, and it’s saved me plenty of last minute trips to the grocery store or drive-thru already!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Variety

Since we’ve been eating the same meals over and over since early spring, we were desperate to add some variety to our meal rotation. With 23 weekly chef-designed recipes to choose from, variety is a staple of the Blue Apron experience!

As silly as it may sound, “recipe fatigue” is a real thing, and it can be surprisingly draining too. But Blue Apron makes it easy to shake off recipe fatigue and make dinnertime interesting and exciting again!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Inspiration

After decades of deciding what to cook based on whether or not my family would eat it, trying to decide on new recipes to try felt really overwhelming! But Blue Apron’s easy-to-follow recipes and conveniently pre-portioned ingredients have given me the confidence to start expanding my own culinary horizons.

I’m now choosing recipes that I doubt I ever would have tried on my own, and I’m discovering new tastes and flavors that I absolutely love! For example, I recently made seared duck for the first time as a Blue Apron meal, and not only did I love it, but I’m already planning to make it again!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Flexibility

While I do see myself continuing to order Blue Apron meals for the foreseeable future, it does give me peace of mind to know how flexible the plans are. I can skip a week whenever I want to, change the number of servings based on who’s at home with us, or even cancel should I feel the need.

And with the year we’ve been having, we all know how valuable flexibility can be in such uncertain times!

3 Bonus Cooking Tips For Empty Nesters

Blue Apron for empty nesters

1. Downsize Your Cookware

When you’re cooking for two, it doesn’t make sense to keep hauling out your massive pasta pot or your extra-deep sauté pan every night. You’ll find it a lot easier to make appropriate portions of food when you’re cooking in standard sized pots and pans (and your post-dinner cleanup will likely be easier too!)

Blue Apron for empty nesters

2. Measure Amounts

The process of “unlearning” certain cooking habits can be really hard! For example, I’ve found that I can’t really “eyeball” measurements anymore, because I always end up defaulting to the amount I’m used to using!

In order to break those habits, I’ve gone back to measuring things out carefully so I can develop a new instinct for smaller measurements. Blue Apron has already proven helpful with this, because I get to see exactly how much of an ingredient goes into two servings of different types of meals!

Blue Apron for empty nesters

3. Splurge Strategically

One of the benefits of buying less food as empty nesters is that you can afford to eat better! You can use some of the money you save to splurge strategically on things like high-quality meat and seafood, organic produce, quality olive oil, fine cheeses, and more.

As long as you’re only buying as much as you need, you’ll still be saving money in the long run. And you deserve to treat yourself to some high quality ingredients, especially after all those years of chicken nuggets and fries! ;-)

Blue Apron for empty nesters

Special Offer For OGT Readers: Get $60 Off!

Whether you are adjusting to your own empty nest or could just use an extra hand in the kitchen, Blue Apron is here for you. Get stress-free recipes delivered to your door for easy and delicious meals you can make at home!

And it’s the perfect time to give Blue Apron a try, because they’ve generously offered to give OGT readers $60 off your first 3 boxes! Check out this week’s menu and get started here

Have you struggled with cooking as an empty nester?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • When my boys flew the coop I continued to cook for 4 and we ate for 4 as well even though we were now only 2. Well of course the hubs and I gained quite a few pounds. I love that Blue Apron has options for low carb or WW approved (that’s what we’re on) or other dietary concerns. Makes planning at least one aspect of life a little simpler.
    I like to think our nest isn’t empty – it’s just an older nest, one that’s been well used and certainly well loved. It’s built from layers of feathers from the wings of our family. From us as parents tucking our feathers around the nest to make a a sturdy house, to our kids forever flying in and flying out, leaving little feathers behind in their wake as they came and went. Those little feathers are a nest of memories; some of them smooth, perhaps some of them ruffled at times, but as long as I can look at the twigs and bits of string and the feathers and remember how they once built our little nest, the nest will never really be empty. And that’s how I look at it 8 years and counting. ❤️

  • My dear husband gave me “Cooking for Two” when we were engaged 55 yrs ago. He loves to eat and I enjoy cooking for us. Now that the kids are gone, I now refer to it occasionally for ideas and proportions. America’s Test Kitchen publishes a “cooking for two” cookbook I’m thinking about purchasing. I love watching their PBS show.

  • I am a family of three and I always cook for two and split it three ways. My daughter is a Junior in High School so I am starting to feel the need to learn to be an empty nester. Even if she lives at home to go to college.

  • I’m a widow plus an empty nester; I tried Blue Apron for awhile. I loved the variety of foods, but I didn’t like all the chopping! Also, they didn’t have a single meal option. Leftovers are great but not so many! I’m glad it’s working for you though.

    • There is at least one web site on cooking for one that my aunt likes (she’s in a similar position), and also some cookbooks, if this information is helpful.

    1. My husband and I have been “empty nesters” for a good many years. Making dinner for two was a breeze until my husband was diagnosed to Celiac at the age of 70, we are now 83. It took a week or so but cooking for a Celiac Diet is simple. I always used cornstarch as a thickener, as that is how my grandmother cooked. All meats and veggies are G. F. The G. F. pastas are OK with plenty of sauce, either Prego or Prego Alfredo Sauce. However, I usually just use heavy cream and Parmesan Cheese if we want an Alfredo Sauce and I add some cooked or left over chicken., .
    2. One caveat, Jillee, do not throw out those big pots as those four young adults will be coming home for the holidays, once the wonderful Dr. Fauci and his coworkers find a cure and a safe vaccine for COVID. Until those things occur, stay home, stay safe, stay well, eat those leftovers on what I call “garbage night,” they are a great way to clean out that fridge.
    3. You and your husband will find a new life sans kids, in fact, if you have your health, these can be the best days of your life, especially when you feel that it is safe to eat in a restaurant.
    4. Again, stay well, stay safe and stay home, except for trips to the grocery store, you will meet people who are enduring the same thing as social isolation is difficult at any age. That is why I do not want to have food delivered, our grocery day when we go to two stores, is our “Big Day Out.” :-)
  • I’ve pondered trying Blue Apron for awhile, but I just followed the link and did it because of your post! We’ve tried Hello Fresh and it was good, but I’d like to try other options, too :) Thank you!

  • With the beginning of the blog literally stating “This post is sponsored by Blue Apron.” how does anyone not expect it to be about Blue Apron? Great looking couple – hope y’all are enjoying yourselves!

  • We joined Blue Apron about 6 years ago and loved the variety of meals until every meal seemed to show up using Kale. We had to cancel our member ship when for two weeks both of the meals we received had kale.

  • My favorite meal is “leftovers”. Retired after decades of doing institutional cooking, on a large scale, I have no desire to watch the clock and prepare for the next meal any more. I would prefer to freeze prepared items that can be reheated another time. Usually buying larger packages of meat are less expensive per pound. A fresh salad, vegetable, or side dish can be whipped up to go with the leftovers.

  • I get it. I became a empty nester over 20 years ago. Adjusting was challenging. Then 3 years ago my husband passed, so now the challenge is cooking healthy meals for one. Life if full of changes and challenges.

    • Sherry, I can’t even imagine life without my husband, so we send you our deepest sympathies on the loss of your dear husband. When you are sick of cooking for one, try “take out meals” from your favorite restaurant. When you feel it is safe to eat in a restaurant, ask a widowed friend or another couple to join you, or you can dine alone, you deserve to be very good to yourself.

  • Hi Jillee: I am one of your few male followers, I suppose. I just wanted to say what a great looking couple you and your husband make in the pics in today’s email!

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