Cook Smarts Review & Giveaway

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

387 Comments

  1. I love to try new recipes and hate getting into a food rut! My biggest challenge is finding new to me recipes that are simple and delicious!

  2. This sounds amazing! I’m always looking for new ideas for meals, since I tend to get stuck in ruts with the same meals over and over again.

  3. My biggest meal planning challenge is trying to incorporate leftovers into the next’s nights dinner as well. I always tend to over-purchase things at the grocery store and go over budget – urgh!

  4. Mmm, those breakfast tacos look good!

    My biggest challenge is coming up with new ideas. I tend to repeat meals a lot, so it would nice to have some fresh ideas!

  5. My biggest challenge is reining in my boyfriend! He loves to cook and has grand plans but his recipes are often very involved and we end up eating super late. While I love eating his meals, I need some new options for delicious food that won’t take hours to prepare.

  6. Quick question, Tina – Will you continue to use CookSmarts when you have to start paying for the subscription yourself?

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

  7. My biggest meal planning challenge is taking the time to sit down and figure a menu for the week. Cook Smarts would definitely help! It’s the worst going into the supermarket with no plan, especially on a Sunday!

  8. My biggest challenge with meal planning is syncing my calendar and time! Sometimes, after either working late, going to this commitment or that meeting for a group I’m involved in, or going to the gym or tennis, I tend to either just grab something on the way home from said event or throw together something easy that is really bad for my body. I feel like Cook Smarts would help me come up with better solutions to fuel my body and prep for my week better (even with the crazy calendar I keep!)

  9. My biggest challenge is learning to cook (and grocery shop) for only one person without having too many leftovers!

  10. I’ve recently become gluten free for health reasons and have had difficulty being creative with meal planning. This would be a great jumping off tool!

  11. my biggest meal planning challenge is getting to the store. I feel like we make numerous trips during the week b/c we never have enough time to do a “big shop”
    maybe if i had an organized list already laid out for me it would be easier.

  12. It seems I never have enough ideas to make a full week’s worth of meals. I always end up repeating the same 2 meals week after week. It would be nice to find some easy meals for variety

  13. I love to cook, but often get in a rut. Eating gluten and dairy free sometimes makes it hard to come up with a variety of meals for the week.

  14. My biggest challenge is coming up with things to bring to work with me for lunch. I really need to start doubling my dinner recipes so I have a quick, healthy lunch prepped for me. It’s easier said than done!

  15. My biggest meal planning challenge is my lack of involvement. My boyfriend, Noah does all our meal planning, but I definitely think he would enjoy Cook Smarts. And if I ever take the reigns for a week, it would definitely help me out!

  16. My biggest challenge is not having enough time so I could really use some healthy and quick meals that can easily be doubled to pack for lunch the next day as well.

  17. My biggest challenge is creating an efficient shopping list from my meal plan that doesn’t leave me short on ingredients or stuck with extras for weeks.

  18. My biggest challenge is balancing trying new recipes with not spending too much money on specialty ingredients I know I won’t use much in the future. This service looks awesome!

  19. I live alone and I’m very busy between school and work, so the last thing I want to do when I get home is think of something to make. This site would really help me plan for the week ahead, so I’d spend less time in the kitchen and more time being able to study!

  20. My schedule is so unpredictable that my meal planning has to be pretty flexible too. This service seems like it could really help!

  21. Lately I’ve been stuck in a rut, mostly b/c my CSA box has been the same everyweek so I keep rotating through a few recipies to use the ingredients.

  22. Oh man I love this! My fiancé and I just moved in together and I really struggle figuring out how much food we need to get two of us through the week! I also would love help figuring out creative ways to use leftover ingredients!

  23. My biggest challenge is cooking the right ammount of food for my husband and me. Sometimes I make too little and my husband is still hungry and I don’t have any leftovers for lunch. Sometimes I make too much and end up eating the same meal for the whole week! I like that this service uses the same ingredients in multiple meals!

  24. I cook the same five meals each week, and eat leftovers the other two days. I’m in a food rut! This site looks easy to use and helpful 😀

  25. My biggest challenge is getting input from my family! I get the same answer you do from my husband and my son always says he doesn’t care, then complains about whatever I make!

  26. As a full time single working mother I need any help I can get!! This service would be a tremendous help when I am stumped for what to cook!

  27. I have one somewhat picky eater (hubby) and one very picky eater (13 yr old daughter) to cook for and the hubby says “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” when asked about what he would like for dinner.

  28. I love to meal plan! I eat six meals a day so it’s imperative I take the time to map out how I plan to eat each week. Once completed, eating clean is a breeze! My biggest challenge would be finding that time to plan. Between a full time job and an addiction to the gym, it can be tough! I loved this post- seems like you had an incredible week using Cook Smarts. Thanks for hosting!

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