Alina: Cooking Made Simple and Carefree

“I feel like a star chef every night after work because we make recipes we’d never make otherwise.”

Alina: Cook Smarts Hero in the Kitchen via @cooksmarts
Alina is no stranger to home-cooked meals and eating delicious food. Growing up in Russia, she had access to fresh, organic produce from local farmers, and every meal consisted of simple ingredients packed with flavor. But just because she grew up with the best cooks and food doesn’t mean that she always has time to plan and cook elaborate meals! Read Alina’s Heroes in the Kitchen story below to find out how she implements her love of cooking into her busy schedule.

Name: Alina Lloyd
Age: 32
City, State: San Francisco, CA
I cook for: me and my husband.
Outside of the kitchen: I do yoga, run, drink wine, snowboard, and spend time with our amazing friends.
Being able to cook allows me to: bond with my husband after work and stay in control of what I eat.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal: The cream-free corn and potato chowder! We made it twice on the week if was featured.

How did you learn to cook?

I grew up in Russia (Soviet Union at the time) and always watched my Mom cook growing up. Going out to eat was unheard of for average families like us, so everything we ate was homecooked. My family is half Armenian/half Russian, so the meals were an amazing blend of traditional Russian food (meat, potatoes, etc.) with southern spices/herbs of Caucasian mountains. All of our produce was amazingly fresh and bought from farmers at local markets (so everything was naturally organic – although we didn’t know what that meant at the time). We had simple ingredients and every meal was full of flavors.

What’s been your biggest cooking challenge in the past?

Although I’ve always loved to cook, I could never find the time to do it during the week. Cooking always meant: 1) deciding what to cook, 2) going to the grocery store to buy ingredients, and 3) cooking after work. Finding the time to do all three of these tasks on, say, a Tuesday night was impossible (unless we wanted to eat at midnight)…and I’ve never been disciplined enough to do the planning and shopping on weekends. So we would always default to eating out, ordering in, or take-out or making a simple salad.

How has your cooking routine changed recently?

Cook Smarts changed everything for us! If you take planning out of the equation and follow a simple grocery list on a weekend, all that’s left for you is to enjoy the act of cooking itself. I feel like a star chef every night after work because we make recipes we’d never make otherwise…and all you do is follow a simple set of instructions.

“If you take planning out of the equation and follow a simple grocery list on a weekend, all that’s left for you is to enjoy the act of cooking itself.”

What new skill or dish have you cooked that you’re most proud of?

Oh, I’m not sure where to start. I think 90% of the recipes we make via Cook Smarts are completely new to us, and we’re super proud of trying them all. Mediterranean meatballs, beef kebabs, chowder, tacos, Turkish meatballs, adobo burgers…you name it…we’re proud of it all 🙂

What advice would you give to other home cooks who want to be cooking more family dinners?

Do all your grocery shopping on a weekend. That way you already have all the ingredients at home and can whip up an amazing meal in 30 minutes after work. It also forces you to cook (and eat healthy!) because you know those ingredients will go bad if you don’t use them!


We’re glad that we can still be of help to a talented chef like you, Alina. All those delicious food photos you share are extremely mouth-watering!

Alina's Favorite Meal via @cooksmarts: Cream-Free Corn and Potato Chowder
To join Alina and cook meals like her favorite Cream-Free Corn and Potato Chowder, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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