Andrea, John & Francisco: Family Bonding in the Kitchen

We cook to eat healthy. To set [our son] up for healthy cooking and eating. – Andrea & John

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We love it when the whole family gets together to spend quality time in the kitchen, cooking dinner together, because cooking with loved ones creates wonderful memories. Our Kitchen Heroes this week are a family of three who splits up the cooking responsibilities to make dinnertime a delicious success. Andrea creates the shopping list, while John does the shopping. They enlisted their son, Francisco, to help them both with the cooking, and now this young Kitchen Hero is a legit Sauce Master! Read more about their Hero in the Kitchen story below.

Names: Andrea, John, and Francisco (Cisco for short, aka Sauce Master)
Ages: Andrea and John (adults), Cisco (13)
City, State: Sacramento, CA (Andrea and John year-round, Cisco in the summer and at Christmas)
We cook for: each other.
Outside of the kitchen we: enjoy hiking, kayaking, and occasional video games.
Our favorite cuisine is: too hard to choose! Andrea loves Mexican. John loves all Asian cuisines. Cisco loves Japanese (especially teriyaki).
We cook: to eat healthy. To set Francisco up for healthy cooking and eating.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Pizza with Spinach-Artichoke Sauce (hold the sundried tomatoes). John has been perfecting his pizza dough recipes and everyone loooooooves the sauce. We eat this at least twice per month.


John: My mom, who is very good cook, got tired of me complaining about meals when I was a kid so she said I should learn how to cook. So I did (with her help).

Andrea: I learned from my parents, who are both good cooks, and from following recipes on my own. I’ve also learned a ton from Cook Smarts.

Cisco is still learning to cook. When a Cook Smarts meal calls for a dressing or a sauce, he is in charge of making it. This started last year when we were having a stir-fry for dinner and John and I suggested that Francisco should try making a stir-fry sauce. He was *very* apprehensive about it and worried that he would mess it up and it would be terrible. After assuring him that we’d help him with it and that it wasn’t a big deal if it was terrible (we can always order out if needed), he agreed. Ever since, when he is with us, he’s been in charge of all sauces as well as dressings. He was previously a 100% hater of all sauces and dressings, but being in charge of this area has made him more willing to try new things, has broadened his palate, and demystified “What’s in this?”


John: Learning how to hand toss pizza.

Andrea: Not overcooking veggies. I’ve gotten much better at this!

Cisco: Making sure to get the measurements of the ingredients right for sauces.

“Planning has been the best thing for us, which Cook Smarts makes so easy.”


We shop according to the meal plan so we hardly ever have any kind of wasted food like we did before Cook Smarts. We have also eliminated staring blankly into the refrigerator asking, “What should we have for dinner?”

tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.

John: Making vegetarian baoxi (this is a Christmas tradition for us now).

Andrea: Pretty much eliminating food waste by making Sunday nights a night where all our leftover veggies get used up. In the winter, I usually make veggie soup, and in the summer, I usually make stir-fry or fried rice.

Cisco: Making my first sauce on my own.

What are your family’s tips for health and success in the kitchen?

Planning has been the best thing for us, which Cook Smarts makes so easy. To plan for lunches, we suggest doubling each Cook Smarts dinner recipe so that each dinner can also serve as lunch the next day.

Thanks, Andrea, John, and Cisco! We absolutely love teamwork in the kitchen, and you guys really make it happen. Andrea, it’s so awesome to hear that you’re becoming a veggie cooking pro and that you reduce food waste by turning leftovers into new dishes. John, sounds like you’re becoming a dough master! Think we can order some fresh pizza dough and baoxi from you? And Cisco, you trying new things and getting involved in the kitchen is a huge inspiration for other folks to get cooking as well. Pretty soon you’ll be coming up with your own sauce recipes that will enhance your homemade dinners!

To join Andrea, John, and Cisco and cook meals like their favorite Pizza with Spinach-Artichoke Sauce, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!


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