Ashleigh: Overcoming Cooking Challenges One by One

“Being able to cook allows me to save money and eat healthy by avoiding processed foods!”

Ashleigh: Hero in the Kitchen via @CookSmarts
One of the good things about cooking is that you’re always learning and discovering new things, whether it’s a new ingredient or a different technique…or just learning to cook in general.

Take Ashleigh, for instance, our Kitchen Hero who was once intimidated by cooking meat, and is now a pro at cooking all kinds of meat! She now works on staying focused and hopes to prepare meals a day in advance.

But of course, that’s what being a Kitchen Hero is all about – taking the initiative to get in the kitchen and cook, and to learn and grow from all the delicious meals that are created. Just like Ashleigh says, ”Don’t be afraid to try new things…You might find some new foods you like, or that it wasn’t that challenging to make after all.” Read her Heroes in the Kitchen story below.

Name: Ashleigh Meeker
Age: 32
City, State: Durham, NC
I cook for: my husband and myself!
Outside of the kitchen I: enjoy spending time with my Dog Maggie (see pic), traveling, and hanging out with friends.
Being able to cook allows me to: save money and eat healthy by avoiding processed foods!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal: Orange-Sesame Beef Stir-Fry (pictured eating by Frog above)

How did you learn to cook?

I am still learning how to cook! I started cooking when I got married in 2012. Cook Smarts has been helpful, because I definitely got overwhelmed at the beginning, trying to meal plan and read recipes (and most of the time the recipes seemed to be in a foreign language). It’s nice to have the meal plan/grocery list made for me, and then just click on a video to learn a new technique. It definitely got me out of my chicken/quinoa/steamed veggie rut!

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

I think my biggest cooking challenge in the past was having VERY high expectations for myself even though I was a beginner. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make very complicated things – for example, I tried to make the “scientifically perfect cookie” recipe I found on the internet and ended up exploding 2 sticks of butter all over my kitchen.

My main challenges now are using too many bowls and utensils for one dish (I mis-judge size a lot), and burning/cutting my fingers because I’m not focused.

How has your cooking routine changed recently?

After we got married, my husband and I would go out to eat for lunch every day at work and then a few times during the week. Once we bought a house and had a mortgage payment – that did not work as well!

I recently started working from home which has made it easier to cook every night and give us leftovers for lunch the next day. I try to go grocery shopping Friday evening (no one is at the store; it’s great!) and then I will figure out which night I want to cook each meal based off our schedule for that week.

I would love to get to the point where I make some of the items in advance before the week starts, but I am not there yet.

“It’s nice to have the meal plan/grocery list made for me, and then just click on a video to learn a new technique. It definitely got me out of my chicken/quinoa/steamed veggie rut!”

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

This is going to sound lame, but I am proud that I can cook MEAT! I was so intimidated to cook meat before learning how to cook and avoided it completely. I now feel comfortable cooking all types of meat, which my husband is happy about.

What advice would you give to other home cooks who want to cook more homemade meals?

Definitely keep your fridge/pantry stocked. My biggest barrier to cooking is not having enough food in the house to work with.

Also, don’t be afraid to try new things that you think you or your family won’t like or that seem too intimidating to cook. You might find some new foods you like, or that it wasn’t that challenging to make after all (not counting the scientifically perfect cookie; that was hard!).

Also, recruit someone else in the family to help you clean up!


We definitely agree about recruiting someone in the family to help with the clean up! (We hope Frog helps out, since he gets to indulge in some tasty Orange-Sesame Beef Stir-Fry!) It’s great that you have overcome some cooking challenges, and are facing new ones head on. We’re happy to have you as one of our Kitchen Heroes. Thanks, Ashleigh!

Ashleigh's Favorite @CookSmarts meal: Orange-Sesame Beef Stir-Fry
To join Ashleigh and cook meals like her favorite Orange-Sesame Beef Stir-Fry, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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