In the Kitchen with Cook Smarts!

Hi everyone!! I hope you all have had a wonderful week! I had an unexpected extra day to get school work done on Wednesday due to the government shutdown. Luckily, I have a really busy weekend ahead so I appreciated the day off. I can’t say I would appreciate it if I was a paid intern though! Hopefully next week I’ll be able to go back to my externship so it doesn’t mess up my ability to receive credit for the work I’ve done! Anyway —-

Today is a very special day!!! I want to share a service with you that I have used this past week to put delicious and unique dinners on the table for Chris and me. Cook Smarts is a company that was started by a Bethesda, MD native, Jess Dang. This is an awesome service that provides a weekly dinner plan for your family. The four meals are all different and easy to make, and some incorporate ingredients or components from a previous meal.

The meals are very balanced and healthy. I was also happy to see that at least one night usually features seafood and another night is usually meatless. In addition, you can choose from four different versions of the weekly meal plan. There is an original option, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo! Each meal is customizable, so if you want to have one  original meal and another gluten-free you may.

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One of the best things about Cook Smarts, is the complete printable grocery list. After printing, I checked off everything I had in my pantry and added a few extra items. Having a meal plan and a grocery list ready to go made life so much easier! I just bought what I was directed to in the specified amounts and was on my merry way!

Every Friday, the meal plan for the upcoming week becomes available. This way, you can work ahead like I did, or simply plan out your week in advance!

20131003-214606.jpgAnother great thing about Cook Smarts, is that Jess has broken each meal down into “Prep” and “Make.” She even specifies how long in advance certain ingredients may be prepped. I loved this because I like to do a lot of prep on Sunday.

20131003-212446.jpgChris and I moved our meals around a little and started on Saturday instead of Monday. You can do whatever works for you. On Saturday, as I mentioned, we enjoyed a delicious mushroom and pepper pizza with the most amazing sauce!

20130929-193315.jpgIn addition to the awesome pizza, we also had an Italian Chopped Salad. Jess even included a recipe for simple, but delicious vinaigrette for the salad! This one included balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil. Perfect!

20130929-203341.jpgOn Sunday, we enjoyed an AMAZING chicken and eggplant parmesan. I can not say enough good things about this dinner. It was definitely my favorite and it was so simple to put together! It used leftover sauce from the pizza the night before, chicken thighs, eggplant, cheese and not too much else! We were instructed to prepare broccolini on the side, which was a really lovely addition.

20131003-214601.jpgI loved how this chicken and eggplant bake was served sans pasta. You really did not need it! It was so hearty on its own. Also, Chris are every bite of his eggplant, and he claims to hate it! Another nod to the awesome sauce. 🙂

Chris and I enjoyed leftovers from this parmesan bake on Monday. I have a night class on Monday and usually grab something quick in between my externship and class. It was awesome to have such a delicious meal waiting for me!

20131003-214610.jpgOn Tuesday, Chris and I had broiled tilapia. The recipe called for cod, but I knew I had tilapia in the freezer so I just used it instead. Broiling is by far my favorite way to make fish and I loved how simple Jess’ recipe was.

20131003-212431.jpgThe thing I really loved about this dinner is that it was served with a ton of vegetables. I don’t know why, but I always worry that fish will not fill me up without a carb on the side. That was not an issue at all with this meal! The fish was served over cauliflower and sautéed chard. I also made a substitute here – collard greens for chard. It was the only option available at my grocery store. Another really neat thing about this dish was the addition of raisins. I would have never thought to add raisins, but that added a really subtle sweetness that made the dish. Another slam dunk!

20131003-214556.jpgFinally, on Wednesday, we made a pork tenderloin and a festive fall salad!

20131003-212414.jpgThe salad included arugula, apples, celery, sliced almonds, and blue cheese (I subbed feta here, I am not a blue cheese fan). I LOVED this salad! I never add fruit to my salad and I am obsessed with how well the sweet apple paired with the spicy arugula. We also made a vinaigrette for this salad which included olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. I want this salad again right now!!

20131003-212358.jpgThe main event, was a pork tenderloin served over a bed of quinoa. We also made a gravy to go over top with fennel. I used bok choy instead of fennel, because my grocery store was also out of fennel (boo!). I LOVED this dinner as well! The gravy really made the meal – it was shockingly light as well. It was thickened with cornstarch instead of flour to keep the calories low.

Chris and I also enjoyed this meal on Thursday night! It was just as good, if not better on night two!

Overall, I really enjoyed this week of Cook Smarts meals and I am looking forward to another week!

To answer a few questions, Cook Smarts is really reasonable in terms of price. There are three different options to buy plans: monthly, quarterly, or yearly. A single month is 8 dollars, quarterly is 7 dollars a month ($21 total), or annually is 6 dollars a month ($72 total).

These plans are awesome for a busy family or couple! They are also great to break out of a food rut like I was in – I could NOT look at another chicken breast!!

I also think Cook Smarts would be a great gift for a newly wed couple!! Not everyone cooks before getting married, let alone plans out meals and shopping lists. Therefore, Cook Smarts would be an awesome way to get ideas and learn how to plan meals! Plus, Jess includes fun how-to videos for directions on how to chop and prepare certain ingredients that members might not be familiar with.

Right now, each meal serves four, but it is pretty easy to cut this down if you want  (I prepared two tilapia filets instead of four) or you could use your leftovers for lunch the next day! If Chris and I ever have leftovers, I will probably turn them into lunches since I already take my lunch to work anyway. Plus, Chris has been wanting to get into the habit of taking a lunch, so I could easily split our leftovers into two containers and we can go along our merry way! Another way to handle leftovers is to just spread the meals out like I did and enjoy super easy prep and clean up two nights of the week!

I really cannot say enough good things about Cook Smarts! Definitely check the website out! Jess even has an option to do a taste test before you decide to buy a whole week if you’re interested, but want to try it out before diving in. I’m pretty sure if you try it out you will be just as obsessed with Cook Smarts as I am!

That’s all I have for you all today! My parents are on their way here as we speak for a fun filled weekend! I’ll see you all back here next week with a recap!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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3 Comments

Filed under Cook Smarts

3 responses to “In the Kitchen with Cook Smarts!

  1. Ashley, Thank you for such a sweet and awesome review of our service. I’m so glad you’re getting out of your dinner rut and you all got to enjoy some new meals!!! The best compliment is when someone doesn’t like a vegetable and eats it in one of our meals – yay for Chris’ eggplant turnaround!

  2. Pingback: Maple Roasted Carrots | Hudson on the Potomac

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