It’s tempting to just order pizza or carry-out, but I want to feed everyone delicious and healthy food.
Name: Alice Martin
City, State: Ellicott City, MD
I cook for: my family – 2 kids (7 and 10), husband and me!
I cook because: I care about what we eat, and where our money goes. And we love food!
Outside of the kitchen I: help raise 2 great kids, work full-time, play with our Great Dane, and rehab back from foot surgery.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal: Roasted Butternut Squash Chili
How did you learn to cook?
Growing up, I watched my mom cook delicious traditional Chinese, but alas, no recipes or even measurements. Just one spoon into salt, and then sugar, and a swirl of this, and a swirl of that.
I was in college when the Food Network began, and it became my background “music” while I studied. I cooked basic dishes throughout college, and was more adventurous with baking.
It wasn’t until I had my kids that I really started to look at proper nutrition, quality ingredients, and then finally – time management!
What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?
I’d say I have two – first, to measure ingredients instead of just winging it, AND second, breaking my habit of bottled salad dressings.
Surprise, things taste really good when the exact proportions are right.
What have you learned since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
I’ve learned to really plan – my version before was to just walk through the grocery store and buy vegetables and proteins on sale, and then once home, I’d end up doing the same preps – usually Asian (over rice) or Italian (over pasta!).
With Cook Smarts, I love filling up the fridge, and using everything by the end of the week! I wasted so much trying to buy things on sale, and even from my good intentions with getting things in season.
I participate in a CSA, so I have to substitute sides or ingredients to use whatever we get. I like to read the prep steps, even if I can’t get them done; it helps me figure out which nights will work best.
“I’ve learned to really plan…I love filling up the fridge, and using everything by the end of the week!”
Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.
We have a full house for Christmas, and it’s tempting to just order pizza or carry-out, but I want to feed everyone delicious and healthy food. I usually buy and re-heat the meats, and add homemade sides and appetizers.
This past Christmas Eve, I decided last-minute to make a ridiculously delicious Cook Smarts salad with roasted fennel and homemade dressing. (Last minute like an hour before everyone arrived!) I was happy to be able to serve such an interesting dish to a large crowd.
What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
I love my veggies, and I’m so glad Cook Smarts lets me see how recipes can be veg-ized. It shows me how recipes are flexible.
Saying that, veggies can really add a lot of prep time – and Cook Smarts’ tutorials have really helped. I thought I knew the best way to wash gritty greens, or cut up carrots!
Thanks, Alice! We applaud you for not taking the easy way out and giving in to pizza or take-out. Once in a while is okay, but we’re sure your family is enjoying the wide variety of yummy dishes that you are cooking now. Especially the ‘with-measurements’ Asian stir-fries!
To join Alice and cook meals like her favorite Roasted Butternut Squash Chili, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!