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This Is What I Struggle With Most As An Empty Nester

Adjusting to life as an empty nester is full of unexpected challenges. I'm sharing a useful tip that helped me overcome a big stumbling block so you can use it too!

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!

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!

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!

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:

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!

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!

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!

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

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!)

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!

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! 😉

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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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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