Cook Smarts Review & Giveaway

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Hi, friends!

As you might remember, I had the opportunity to use Cook Smarts last week to plan our dinners, and I really enjoyed the experience. This post is sponsored by Cook Smarts, but I would be more than happy to tell you guys about this meal planning service even if it wasn’t. I truly love meal planning, and if you’re a fan too, I think you will really enjoy this service. It gives you great ideas for meals, but it is also really customizable at the same time.

So, in general, I really like meal planning, but sometimes it’s tough to come up with new recipe ideas week after week. I often ask Mal for his input, but he usually gives me the old “you know what I like” response, which is cute, but not at all helpful. So when I was offered the chance to try Cook Smarts for free, I was all about it because, each week, the service emails you four healthy recipes along with a grocery list. Meal planning took no time at all last week, and I felt so efficient whipping up a dinner menu (with fun, interesting meals!) and grocery list in a matter of minutes. It was awesome.


If you missed my meal planning post from last week, it looked like this:

  • Sunday: Out to dinner
  • Monday: Pepper Steak Stir Fry (Cook Smarts)
  • Tuesday: Pineapple and Cashew Curried Fried Rice with ground chicken (Cook Smarts)
  • Wednesday: Chorizo Breakfast Tacos with Roasted Potatoes (Cook Smarts)
  • Thursday: Potato and Chorizo Dobladas
  • Friday: Wedding
  • Saturday: Wedding

Three out of the four meals I planned were from the Cook Smarts menu for last week, so, as you can see, I didn’t use all four of the recipes emailed to me in my meal plan. Mal isn’t a huge fan of salmon or curry, so I nixed the Baked Salmon with Curry Sauce and replaced it with a meal of my own. This is totally cool because Cook Smarts lets you customize your meal plan and shopping list. You can select to “do not make” a particular meal and a grocery list will be populated without those ingredients. Genius.

I printed out the grocery shopping list below, went through and crossed off items we already had at home, and then went to the store to buy the rest. It was so easy. I really loved this feature!


Additionally, if you don’t like one of the recipes on the current week’s meal plan, you can easily swap it out with another Cook Smarts recipe. With a subscription, you can access all of the meal plan archives and even search the recipes by name or ingredient based on your own taste preferences. And if a new week’s meal plan comes out and you aren’t totally loving the recipes listed, you can even find a whole new week of meals in the archives and use that instead.


I also really liked that each recipe is customizable based on a variety of diets. You can choose between the original, vegetarian, Paleo, and gluten-free recipes for every meal. In our house, this was really helpful. Mal and I tend to eat a Paleo-esque diet with dairy, potatoes, and beans mixed in, so I liked being able to click back and forth between the different recipe options to see how I could best personalize our meals.

One of the most helpful features of the meal plan was the “smarts from the team” sidebar, which includes tips and tricks for making your weekly meals more efficient. Last week, for example, there was a brief explanation of soyrizo (in case you’ve never heard of it) with possible substitutions for it. There was also a note about making extra rice and curry sauce if you’re following the meal plan to simplify and speed up the dinner-making process. I love having ingredients already prepped and ready to go, so I thought this was pretty awesome.


Speaking of prep, I loved that each recipe gave you instructions for preparing ingredients ahead of time. If you’re a Sunday cook-up person, this is super duper helpful!


All of the Cook Smarts recipes we used last week were easy to follow and took around 30 minutes to cook. All of the Cook Smarts recipes aim to be under 30 minutes of active cook time.


On the prep instructions above, you might have noticed some orange text, which are hyperlinks to how-to videos. For this particular recipe, you can learn how to chop an onion or slice/cube an avocado via video. Cook Smarts has all sorts of cooking videos to help teach you how to cook and do it more efficiently.


Ok, time to share Mal’s and my favorite recipe from last week. The Soyrizo Breakfast Tacos were so easy to make and soooo delicious, I asked Jess, the owner of Cook Smarts, if I could share it on CNC and she agreed. It’s definitely one of those delicious, go-to weeknight recipes. Mal and I made these after CrossFit one night, so we were hungry and just wanted to eat, so I was really happy with how easy it was to make this meal.

Mal offered to help me cook, so I could snap some photos for the blog, which was much appreciated. With two people working together, this meal came together in no time. If we had prepped the onion and avocado beforehand, it really would have come together fast.

mal cooking

We ended up using chorizo instead of soyrizo (taste preference), and we didn’t make the roasted potatoes, but only because we thought the tacos would be enough food for us and they were.


The Chorizo Breakfast Tacos turned out so well. Mal and I both devoured them. This recipe is definitely a keeper!


Soyrizo Breakfast Tacos (gluten-free)

amounts are for 4 servings

  • Green onions – 2 stalks, chopped
  • Onions – 1/2, diced
  • Eggs – 6 to 8, whisked
  • Avocado – 1, sliced or cubed
  • Soyrizo – 1 lb. (I used ground chorizo)
  • Gluten-free tortillas – 8
  • Sour cream or creme fraiche – for serving over breakfast tacos
  • Hot sauce – for serving

Roasted Potatoes with Paprika

  • Baby or new potatoes – 1 1/2 lbs., quartered
  • Olive oil – 2 tbs.
  • Paprika – 1 tsp.
  • Ketchup or hot sauce – for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. {Check out our how to roast vegetables video.}
  2. Place potatoes in a sheet pan and then cover tightly with foil. Bake for 10 minutes on top rack.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add in 1 tbs. cooking oil and then diced onions to heated oil with a dash of salt. Saute for ~3 minutes, until softened. Add in soyrizo (remove from casing). Saute for another 3 minutes. Remove from skillet.
  4. Return skillet back to heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add in eggs and then lightly scramble until you get them to the consistency you want. Remove from heat.
  5. After potatoes have steamed for 10 minutes, take them out and toss with olive oil, paprika, and a generous sprinkle of salt. Roast for another 10 to 15 minutes uncovered, giving them a shake midway through.
  6. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Spoon eggs and soyrizo into warmed tortillas. Top with avocado, sour cream, and hot sauce. Enjoy potatoes dipped in ketchup or drizzled with hot sauce.


Having access to all of these easy, healthy meals made meal planning and cooking so simple (perhaps even somewhat effortless) last week. Of course, I could have searched the internet or flipped through cookbooks or magazines for recipe ideas, but I really liked having four delicious recipes and a customized grocery shopping list sent right to my inbox. I am also really impressed with everything that comes along with the Cook Smarts subscription, including everything from the healthy recipes and cooking tutorials to personalized shopping lists and the user-friendly website. If you are interested in trying Cook Smarts for yourself, you can sample meal plans for free here. If you like what you see, you can sign up for a subscription for as little as $6 a month, which is a great deal if you ask me!

Ok, giveaway time! I loved using Cook Smarts so much, I asked Jess if I could away a subscription to a lucky CNC reader, and she loved the idea. So here’s your chance to win a 3-month subscription to Cook Smarts!


To enter: Just leave a comment on this post about your biggest meal planning challenge. I’ll randomly pick a winner on Wednesday morning. Good luck!

The post is brought to you by Cook Smarts.



  1. Having a 1.5 year old (who is not a picky eater) and a husband who IS a picky eater makes meal planning so tough for me. I feel like I’m a short order cook half the time since I’m constantly making two different kinds of meals almost every night.

    I also work full time, so my evenings are full of feeing my daughter, putting her to sleep, prepping our lunches for the next day, and then cooking for my husband and I, which means we eat around 9pm every night!

  2. My biggest challenge is getting in a variety of different meals! We seem to always go to the same ol’ same ol’ and it’s getting old!

  3. We get home after 6 most evenings and are hungry then! I need some new ideas for quick, tasty, nutritious meals that do not require a lot of time to fix.

  4. Figuring out ingredients that will last through the week, instead of buying a bunch of different ones and trying to use up all the produce!

  5. My biggest meal planning issue is figuring out something EVERYONE will eat! Sometimes I just eat something different :/

  6. For me it’s time; I’d love having a shopping list to take that element away. Awesome option to be able to customize!

  7. My biggest meal planning challenge is balancing one-shot wonders (meals that don’t have leftovers) with make one, eat all week meals so that we can have leftovers for lunch all week!

  8. this sounds like a new way to organize new to you recipes to try and good rotation stand bys….would love to try it

  9. My biggest challenge is feeling tired after work. I LOVE cooking, but after a 9-hour day, its often the last thing I feel like doing.

  10. I get home from work around 7 and I want to eat dinner ASAP. I would love to have my meals planned out for me! I’m a vegetarian, so it’s exciting to see they offer a veg option!

  11. My husband is in his medical residency and working about 80 hours a week, so he has no time to help me with meal planning. I work and I’m in school 2 nights a week, so for the remaining nights we might have to spend together, it would be amazing to have our meals planned for us! It would make my Sundays much easier!

  12. My biggest challenge is eating a Gluten free diet. I have been diagnosed with Celiac disease and it is difficult to find recipes that I like that are quick and easy to prepare. My doctor wants me to eat natural foods vs. processed foods (and eliminate most, if not all, the preservatives!!). Often I am preparing the same thing over and over again.
    One of the reasons I love your blog is that I get to see other possible recipes to try. The Cook Smarts system seems like a dream come true!!

  13. Hey!
    My biggest meal planning challenge is trying to think out an entire week and cook for myself as I live on my own. Having an idea of what to cook all week while managing law school and not wasting food would be amazing!

  14. We go through periods where food is boring for us–we don’t feel like making the tried and true recipes, and we need something new but don’t have the energy to experiment when nothing sounds good. This would be an awesome tool for us I think.

  15. I find it tough trying to keep variety in my eating whilst cooking for one person on a limited budget – it’s so tempting to just stick to large batches of the same thing, especially since I only get home from work in the evenings around 8pm. Cook Smarts sounds like a great tool!

  16. The biggest meal planning challenge for us is realistically planning meals for the week that we will actually eat. For example, if I plan five meals, it’s not always the case that I’ll make all of them- despite buying all the ingredients. It’s hard to be realistic about what the week holds in store for us time wise. Plus, sometimes I try to find quick healthy meals that turn into a much longer process than I planned.

    This would be an amazing tool for us! Thanks for introducing us to the option.

  17. I am a vegetarian and my family all eats meat. It would be nice to have meat recipes to choose from and adapt them for me.

  18. I love cooking healthy foods and will experiment away with veggies! I need good options to use for when I’m entertaining people, and give them new, healthy, creative ways to cook.

  19. I can go meat free for days but my husband loves meat. I compromise and eat it more but I tend to make the same recipes over and over and when I try something new it’s never good.

  20. The biggest meal planning challenge is definitely the fact that my hubby and I have COMPLETELY different tastes. For him, every meal needs meat and variety, but I can eat the same thing every night… as long as it doesn’t include meat!

  21. The toughest thing for me when meal planning is trying to find something different. I feel like I am seriously stuck in a rut and cannot dig myself out of it! Help!

  22. If you like Cook Smarts, you should check out Blue Apron! It’s Cook Smarts on steroids: not only do they send you weekly recipes and instructions, but they also send you all the ingredients you need to make them! I tried it on a whim, and I have become addicted. It has introduced me to so many recipes and ingredients.

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