Cook Smarts Review & Giveaway

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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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.

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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.

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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!

customized_shopping_list_

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.

meal_plan_archives

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

how_to_chop_avocados

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.

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

Chorizo_Breakfast_Tacos_from_Cook_Smarts

Soyrizo Breakfast Tacos (gluten-free)

Ingredients
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.

TV_Taco_Dinner_Cook_Smarts

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!

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.

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387 Comments

  1. My biggest challenge is that our meal planning involves rotating the same food all the time. My husband and I are in a real food planning rut!

  2. My biggest challenge is incorporating proteins other than chicken. I am not red meat fan; so chicken, chicken and oh, did I mention chicken.

  3. My biggest challenge is finding enough time to make a home-cooked, healthy meal when getting home from the gym at 8:30/9:00pm. Typically, I end up making/eating whatever is easiest, rather than what my body truly needs. Meal planning ahead of time would definitely help make my dinner options a bit easier.

  4. My biggest meal planning challenge is actually finding the time to go to the grocery store! I love to sit down and plan for the week, but actually making it to the grocery store can be a big challenge!

  5. My biggest meal planning challenge is pleasing others! I share my home with my two younger siblings, and it is nearly impossible to come up with new, HEALTHY, creative dinners that we all enjoy! And since I am trying to balance so many things at once, I usually end up grabbing takeout for them and throwin the same old stuff together for myself. A Cook Smarts subscription just might make all the difference!

  6. My biggest challenge is trying to find recipes that both my boyfriend, best friend/roommate, and I enjoy (we all three live together). We all have different tastes, with mine being the healthiest. I’m always trying to get them to try new fruit and veggie packed meals, but sometimes, it’s a no go. I NEED this website in my life! Haha. Help me feed my housemates!

  7. My biggest challenge is coming up with creative paleo-inspired meals for my husband and I that can be made quickly to fit in with our busy work and training schedules.

  8. My husband is currently in his residency, so his schedule is all over the place! It’s so hard planning meals when I never know how many people will be around to eat them…thank goodness he loves leftovers.

  9. I inevitably forget an ingredient or two at the store. It is so frustrating. I think the shopping list feature would really help me! Also quick meals are a necessity so 30 minute meals are perfect!

  10. My biggest challenge is cooking for one. I always make too much, then I eat too much… I would plan if it was al little more simplified.

  11. My biggest challenge is finding the time to cook dinner after a long day at work! Meal planning is just what I need and hopefully Cook Smarts is a start to that!

  12. I’m terrible at meal planning. I never even think of it until I’m at the grocery store and trying to decide what to make for the week. I undoubtedly forget to buy ingredients (making a second trip to the store necessary) or buy things that I already have 3 of at home.

  13. My biggest challenge is finding healthier meals that my husband would actually eat. Everything on your meal plan looked delicious though!

  14. My biggest challenge is planning! I love to cook, and when I go to the store I can never decided what I want to make that week. I end up buying too much and wasting $$$.

  15. My biggest challenge is trying to get ideas from the husband and kids on what they would like to eat for the week. Usually no one has any ideas for me but the kids sure can complain when they don’t like what we are having. 🙂

  16. My biggest challenge is finding the time to shop, cook, and get my boyfriend and I together, sitting down, and eating! Busy lives means a lot of Subway. It’s sad when a homecooked meal is the ultimate luxury.

  17. I always buy a bunch of fresh veggies and fruit, but by the time I get home I feel tired and overwhelmed by prepping them for dinner. I feel like I am constantly throwing food away because it’s spoiled!

  18. The biggest challenge is keeping to a budget and having all the stuff I need. I often make one meal that is enough for 4 and end up eating the same one meal all week long.

  19. I find recipes online on the weekends when I make my list and then just ‘wing it’ when dinner time rolls around during the week so I end up wasting ingredients or using too many of something that was meant to be for another meal as well.

  20. My biggest challenges are healthy-fying meals without my husband hating them and coming up with meal ideas week after week.

  21. my biggest meal challenge is I tend to stick to the same foods over and over and would really like to branch out in the dinner department 🙂

  22. My biggest meal planning challenge is LAZINESS! I actually really LOVE planning the meals. The problem is that I’m too lazy to buy the ingredients and cook everything haha.

  23. My biggest meal-planning challenge is cooking for one. There just aren’t enough recipes out there that don’t make for endless leftovers…

  24. I think my biggest challenge is coming up with great ideas for meals that are quick. I love that Cook Smarts are quick meals with tons of tips – especially the food prepping part!

  25. My biggest meal-planning challenge is that no matter what I’ve got in mind, my boyfriend always has super-specific cravings that are nothing near what I had in mind. That said, if I actually got him involved in customizing our Cook Smarts plan for the week, that might make all the difference!

  26. I am also a Sunday Meal Planner. It took me over 2 hours yesterday to meal plan because I was stumped on what to make. I also have a 9 month old, so having meal plans sent to me would save so much time, and allow me to spend more time with my daughter!

  27. My biggest challenge is making enough food for myself and my (very active) husband! Lately I’ve just been encouraging him to have another snack later when our meals are on the smaller side.

  28. I love my Sunday prep days. My biggest problem in meal planning is deciding/finding new recipes to cook when it is just me – I always resort back to the same old things. I don’t mind some leftovers but I don’t want to have 8 servings of something left. Even after freezing by the 4th time, I’m done with that specific meal.

  29. My biggest meal planning challenge is what I can make at home (versus a drive through) that we can eat in the car 3 nights a week driving kids around to sports activities. Ugh! Sandwiches and wraps get really old fast!

  30. Whenever I menu plan, I always leave one thing off from a recipe. This service would make sure that doesn’t happen!!

  31. My biggest challenge is picking out recipes that use the same ingredients so that we don’t waste as much food or money.

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